Fulham vs Brighton and Hove Albion
After a fantastic first-half performance which brought them a 1-0 lead over Tottenham Hotspur last Sunday, Fulham fans were hoping that the day would end with their side just four points adrift of safety. Instead, two concessions after the break turned the game on its head, with Spurs’ 2-1 triumph leaving the Cottagers seven points behind Newcastle United in 17th spot.
It is for that reason, together with the identity of their opponents, that Tuesday’s clash with Brighton is a must-win for Claudio Ranieri’s men. If Fulham are to reach the magical 40-point mark this term, they need to average around 1.7 points per game between now and the end of the campaign, which means there can be no slip-ups in fixtures like this one.
It is no secret that Fulham’s defensive shakiness has been their Achilles heel in 2018/19, with 51 goals conceded in 23 matches. Ranieri will take heart from his team’s attacking performance against Spurs, though, with new signing Ryan Babel looking dangerous as part of a front three which also featured Aleksandar Mitrovic and Andre Schurrle.
That trio is capable of causing problems for an Albion backline which has kept just one clean sheet in their last 13 Premier League outings, and only one away from home all season. With that in mind, it is worth backing Mitrovic score anytime at 6/4 with Betfair.
It is Brighton’s overall record on the road which will give Fulham most hope: Chris Hughton’s charges have lost eight of 12 games on their travels this term, a return which could get even worse on Tuesday night.
TIP: Fulham to win (29/20 with BetVictor)
Bournemouth vs Chelsea
Maurizio Sarri badly needed the penalty shoot-out victory over Tottenham which sent Chelsea through to the League Cup final last week. The Italian had come under pressure following his team’s insipid performance at Arsenal a few days previously, with a 2-0 loss at the Emirates Stadium meaning the Blues are now just three points clear of the chasing pack in the race for the top four.
The arrival of Gonzalo Higuain on loan from Juventus has also helped to lift the mood in the blue half of west London ahead of Wednesday’s trip to Bournemouth. Eddie Howe’s side may have beaten West Ham United 2-0 in their last top-flight encounter but they have been in dire form in recent months, collecting just 10 points from a possible 45.
That run has seen them fall out of contention for seventh spot – the Cherries now occupy 12th position in the table – and a tricky February fixture list could see them fall further down the standings.
Chelsea, for their part, have largely been reliable in the games they are expected to win this term, while 19 goals conceded in 23 games means they have the third-best defensive record in the division. Bournemouth have only failed to score twice at home in 2018/19 – which is why they are only 4/9 to score (William Hill) – but Chelsea should still prove too strong at the Vitality Stadium.
TIP: Chelsea to win (4/6 with Coral)
Southampton vs Crystal Palace
Ralph Hasenhuttl has done a brilliant job at St Mary’s so far, lifting Southampton out of the relegation zone and into the relative sanctuary of 15th place. After losing his first game in charge to Cardiff City, the former RB Leipzig head coach has guided his new team to four wins and a draw (at Stamford Bridge, no less) in seven league encounters.
The south coast side are playing with a great deal more aggression and intensity these days, and it now feels more likely that they will finish in mid-table than below the dreaded dotted line.
Palace are on a decent run of their own, even if they cannot match the Saints’ return of 13 from the last 21 available. Roy Hodgson’s side have lost to Chelsea, Watford and Liverpool in that timeframe but have generally performed well even in defeat, while they were excellent in victories over Leicester City, Manchester City and Wolverhampton Wanderers.
Palace have scored in nine of their last 10 matches in the Premier League and will probably find the net here – you can back both teams to score and over 2.5 goals in total at odds of 11/8 with William Hill.
Nevertheless, home advantage should help Southampton through against an opponent who they beat at Selhurst Park back in September. Back the Saints to pull further clear of the drop zone this midweek.
TIP: Southampton to win (29/20 with Betfair)