Fulham Season Preview | Premier League Betting Pick & Prediction
Henry Browne/Getty. Pictured: Harrison Reed.
Welcome to Action Network's Premier League team previews, where our soccer experts will break down each and every Premier League team ahead of the season, which starts on August 11. In this edition, we'll take a look at Fulham.
Premier League Season Preview – Fulham
For a team that drastically over-performed to finish in 10th place the way Fulham did, regression will be coming in a big way. Marco Silva has turned down a lucrative offer from Saudi Arabia to stay in West London, but it seems that Fulham's best player Aleksander Mitrovic is on his way out the door, which is going to be a catastrophic loss to a team that is already going to regress.
It starts at the striker positon. You could make the argument that Aleksandar Mitrovic was the most important player to his team in the Premier League. He was a 0.67 xG per minute striker and when he was in the lineup (he missed 14 matches last season), he created 14.9 of Fulham's 35.63 xG. In the 14 matches without Mitrovic, Fulham averaged 0.88 xG per match. With Mitrovic in the lineup, they put up 1.37 xG per match.
He also makes a massive difference because of Fulham's style of play. They want to get the ball out wide and swing in crosses because Mitrovic is a dangerous aerial threat, winning close to 4.5 aerial duals per 90 minutes (91st percentile in Europe’s top five leagues). Fulham have completed the second-most crosses into the penalty area of any team in the Premier League. They signed a completely washed up Raul Jimenez to replace him, so Fulham’s attack is going to be dreadful this season.
Now for the Fulham defense. For most of the season it was held up by 34-year-old American Tim Ream, who played almost every minute until he broke his arm late in the season. Per understat, Fulham conceded 71.4 expected goals, which was the most in the Premier League. They signed Calvin Bassey from Ajax to help bolster their defense, but he is more of a ball carrying and progressive pass center back rather than an elite defender.
Fulham are also going into the season dealing with some injuries. With Mitrovic gone their best player Joao Palhinha is likely going to be out for a while with a shoulder injury, leaving a gaping hole in the middle of the pitch.
Things could really crater for Fulham this season given the negative regression they are due for. With Mitrovic gone where are the goals coming from in this side? Carlos Vinicius and Raul Jimenez showed last season that they are completely inefficient strikers and Fulham's entire tactical plan is designed to cross the ball into Mitrovic, so without him I don't know what they are going to do to stay.
The best price you can find out there on Fulham to be relegated is +350, which is a good price because they are one of the five-worst teams in the Premier League heading into the season.
Pick: Fulham to be relegated (+350 via bet365)