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Huddersfield v Fulham preview

Premier League
Sky Sports Main Event & Football, 7.45pm Monday

Slavisa Jokanovic has replaced Jose Mourinho as the most under-pressure manager in the Premier League but he can strengthen his position by leading Fulham to victory over Huddersfield at the John Smith's Stadium.

After Fulham spent more than £100m on new signings in the summer there were high hopes that they could flourish in their first season back in the top flight.

But they have picked up just five points, have by far the worst defensive record in the division and have shortened to 10-11 in the relegation betting.

Fulham must improve defensively if they are to stand a chance of top-flight survival and there were encouraging signs on Thursday when they lost 2-0 at Manchester City in the fourth round of the EFL Cup.

It was far from a full-strength City side but Gabriel Jesus and Leroy Sane were in the hosts' starting line up and Fulham showed an improved desire to defend, which should stand them in good stead against the Terriers.

Huddersfield do not possess anywhere near as much quality as a second-string City and are also under heavy pressure after slipping to the foot of the table.

Expectations are being well managed and even though they are without a win in ten games, manager David Wagner is 20-1 in the next manager to go betting.

He may take some comfort from those odds but there is not much solace in the relegation betting, with Huddersfield 2-5 to finish in the bottom three.

They have had a tough set of fixtures – facing four of the big six and seven of the top ten – and it is reassuringly tight at the lower end of the table with only five points covering the bottom seven teams.

But Wagner admitted there were very few positives to take out of the 3-0 loss at Watford nine days ago, which could have been even more damaging had the Hornets been more clinical with their counter-attacks.

The big worry for Huddersfield is that performances seem to be getting worse and their perceived poor luck in earlier games had more to do with a lack of quality and composure in front of goal.

Struggling to score goals is a long-term problem for Huddersfield, who were only the 14th highest scorers in the Sky Bet Championship when they were promoted in 2016-17.

They were the joint-lowest scorers in the Premier League last season – alongside Swansea – and the lowest this term, having notched just four times in ten games.

Huddersfield haven't scored in their last seven home league matches and a failure to net against Fulham would equal a record set by Manchester City when they failed to score in eight successive home league games between January and May 2007.

It feels like a match where something has to give, with either Huddersfield scoring a home goal or Fulham keeping a first Premier League clean sheet of the season.

Given the lack of confidence in both camps the first goal is likely to be crucial but Fulham should have the advantage because, quite simply, they have better attacking players.

A lot of Fulham's impressive attacking play has been overlooked because of their shabby defending but Borussia Dortmund loan signing Andre Schurrle has sparkled, scoring four goals, and Aleksandar Mitrovic was a sensation early on with five goals in six games.

Ryan Sessegnon, scorer of a superb goal in the 4-2 loss at Cardiff, is another potential match-winner and the recent recovery from injury of key midfielder Tom Cairney is a massive boost.

Defensively Fulham still have a lot to prove but it should be easier to shore up a defence than suddenly find a source of goals and, at odd-against on the draw no bet, the Cottagers are worth chancing.

Recommendation
Fulham draw no bet

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Match in Focus

19:45 TODAY SKY

Ireland v N Ireland

Home WinDrawAway Win
Key stats
  • Ireland have two clean sheets in nine home games
Expert verdict
This will be a friendly in name only and looks set to conjure up goals in the first Irish derby since 2011. Both sides are out of form and bottom of their Nations League groups but will be motivated to perform under the lights of the Aviva Stadium. The return of Kyle Lafferty should be a big boost for the visitors.