The latest busy week of action in the Championship sees a third match day taking place this weekend and it gets underway at the Liberty Stadium on Friday night when Swansea City host Fulham in a clash between two top six sides.
Both these teams have shown some good stuff this term and have the chance to enhance their credentials in the top six although Fulham will have ambitions much loftier than that, and have an opportunity to show their worth here.
Swansea were among the early pacesetters in the Championship this season, but three matches without a win combined with a couple of other sides catching fire has seen them fall off the pace, but they have a chance to reconnect with those above them in this match. The bigger issue is probably that they have only won two of their last eight matches so the Welsh outfit will be looking to regain that winning feeling here.
An area where they can certainly improve is in front of their own fans where they have only come out in top in one of their last five outings, losing three in that spell. Admittedly they chose the right one to win against their arch rivals Cardiff City, but even so that is a run which they will be looking to end here. Just three goals in those five games at least gives a pretty strong indication of where they need to improve.
After a stumbling and stuttering start to their campaign, the penny looks to have dropped for Fulham, who head across the Severn Bridge having won their last three matches and are starting to show the sort of form which make many believe they would win the title this season. There are still issues over them defensively, but their attacking trio, whichever combination Scott Parker goes with, are loaded with quality to counter their weaker back line.
Although there are a lot of goals in this Fulham side, they don’t tend to come in their away matches. Away games for Fulham have yielded just 16 goals in eight matches, which is the exact opposite of those at Craven Cottage. That suggests they sit a little deeper on the road and look to play on the counter, but actually when you watch them on their travels that isn’t actually their style at all so that is a weird one.
Swansea could be without Mike van der Hoorn who picked up an injury in the draw with Huddersfield in midweek. That could be an issue for Swans boss Steve Copper with Ben Cabango in line for his first league start.
Fulham have a couple of doubts of their own with Aboubaker Kamara and Bobby Reid both doubtful so Anthony Knockaert could be set for a recall after he sat out the win against Derby in midweek as the Cottagers go after a fourth straight win.
Swansea City might well have their days between now and the end of the season but I’m not convinced it comes here. I’ve thought all along that Fulham were the best team in the Championship and if Phillip Cocu thinks that, as he suggested after seeing his Derby side lose to the Cottagers in midweek then who am I to argue? Swansea might be sitting sixth, which is a good position for them, but they are a fading sixth rather than a strengthening one.
The lack of creativity in the Swansea side has to be a concern, especially against a powerful attacking side like Fulham, who the chances are you are going to have to outscore them, especially when the home side could be missing their best defender. Fulham aren’t always convincing away from home but this does look like a chance to pick up three points. I’ll take the visitors with the draw cover.
Back Fulham (0AH) to beat Swansea City for a 4/10 stake at 1.82 with BetVictor