On Saturday, Newcastle face Fulham in the league. Fulham are currently sitting in seventh place, five points adrift of sixth. United will be hopeful to come out victorious if they wish to extend their lead at the top and get one step closer to wrapping up the league title.
The last time both teams met was on the opening day of the season. The result came as a shock to most United fans. The game was built up greatly and many expected a win for the Magpies to start off their Championship glory.
It’s fair to say that United underestimated the Cottagers massively and were bossed from the first whistle to the last. We were well and truly embarrassed. Rafa’s men lost 1-0 on the night, and it was a harsh wake-up call for The Magpies.
Fulham’s form has gone under the radar recently. They’re on a six-game unbeaten run, winning four and drawing two.
Their last loss in the league came against Birmingham early in February. Fulham were unlucky to lose as their defender, Fredericks, got sent off early in the second half. The Blues took advantage and stole a goal from a tight game. A fair result would have been a draw.
Jokanovic’s side have put in some fantastic performances which have proven their doubters very wrong.
Fulham’s last performance was an exemplary one, when they came back to earn an impressive draw against fourth-placed Leeds. Fulham’s key player, Tom Cairney, picked out the top corner with an upper echelon strike from outside the box which left the Leeds United goalkeeper stunned.
This goal came in the 95th minute of the game which denied Leeds the victory which would have meant they could have tightened the gap from third place Huddersfield Town. Instead, Fulham maintained a five-point gap to a play-off place as Sheffield Wednesday drew 1-1 to relegation fighters Burton.
I can certainly see United struggling come Saturday afternoon. It can’t be ignored that Newcastle’s away form is far more superior to their form on Tyneside.
In the past few games, we have seen United defend and not have a lot of the ball. We have been playing on the counter attack and that has seemed to be working as we have gained seven points out of a possible nine points from fellow promotion rivals.
Fulham are a balanced side who have lots of players that could offer a threat to a potentially fatigued side in Newcastle United. Last time out, Sonny Aluko was in fine form as he put a good strike past Matz Sels.
Another player who looked to be a threat was the match-winner of their previous game, Tom Cairney. He is their top goalscorer in the 2016/2017 campaign, netting eight goals this season. Cairney is arguably the fan favourite at Fulham and he will certainly be a difficult player to deal with on Saturday.
I sincerely hope that Newcastle take Fulham seriously and do not assume they’ve won the league already. Brighton closed the gap on Tuesday night and are still in with a chance of finishing top of the table at the end of the season.
So what do I think will happen on Saturday?
My prediction for Saturday’s game is that it is going to be a tight one. Both teams will look to win on the counter-attack. Fulham will be happy to come away from this game with a point, and a draw would be a disappointing two points lost from a United perspective.
Taking my black and white tinted glasses off, I predict a 1-1 draw. Fulham will look to score first so they can sit and defend to protect their lead, however, I think United will score in this match up purely down their sheer quality up top.