Newcastle United travel to Craven Cottage to face Fulham in the Championship on Friday night, and are firm favourites to come away with all three points to go into the weekend top of the pile.
The Magpies have spent £50M this summer to strengthen the side and retained the manager who almost turn their form around during the tail-end of last season. Will they comfortably see past the perennial underachievers?
Fulham’s poor home form bodes well for Newcastle
Fulham finished 20th in the Championship last season with 51 points from 46 games. The Londoners suffered a staggering 19 defeats in a campaign that saw them fighting for survival for the majority of 2015/16, and their form at Craven Cottage was particularly woeful. Only Milton Keynes Dons suffered more home defeats (13) than Fulham (10) in the Championship last season, and only MK Dons conceded more goals (37) in their own backyard (36).
As a result of such poor home form, Newcastle United will be hoping to take advantage by getting the new season off to a winning start. Fulham’s supporters have grown disgruntled at the mismanagement of the side in recent years, and could well grow frustrated during Friday’s clash. Since their relegation from the Premier League, the London side haven’t won either of their two opening games on home soil, and their inferior head-to-head record might also be a telling factor.
Summer transfer activity sees Newcastle in a league of their own
Newcastle United spent £50M this summer on eight players to strengthen their first-team, and it means manager Rafael Benitez has a squad infinitely more talented than Fulham’s. Dwight Gayle (£10M from Crystal Palace), Matt Ritchie (£10M from AFC Bournemouth), Grant Hanley (£5.5M from Blackburn Rovers), Matz Sels (£5M from KAA Gent), Ciaran Clark (£5M from Aston Villa), Mohamed Diame (£4.5M from Hull City), Isaac Hayden (£2.5M from Arsenal) and Jesus Gamez (free from Atletico Madrid) were signed and should help lead the Magpies to success in the promotion race.
Fulham lost two key attackers from their squad – Ross McCormack (£14M to Aston Villa), Moussa Dembele (£250K to Celtic) – in addition to letting another 16 players leave this summer. Such an overhaul will take time for Fulham to recover from, especially considering they’ve brought in eight players to mould in a club that continues to underachieve. And with the Magpies boasting two wins from their last three head-to-heads with Fulham in the domestic league, Newcastle United are 1/1 to win against Fulham this week. Can the Magpies deliver in Friday’s opener?