Preview: Fulham vs. Wolverhampton Wanderers

Preview: Fulham vs. Wolverhampton Wanderers

Three points and three places separate Fulham and Wolverhampton Wanderers in the Premier League table as the two clubs prepare to close gameweek 13 at Craven Cottage on Monday night.

Marco Silva’s side fell to a 3-1 loss to Aston Villa before international football took precedence, while Wolves snatched victory from the jaws of defeat in a 2-1 win over Tottenham Hotspur a fortnight ago.

For the first time in 33 Premier League games, Fulham marksman and ex-Wolves talisman Raul Jimenez – who prepares for an emotional reunion with his old employers this weekend – found the back of the net when the Cottagers faced Aston Villa two weeks ago, but the die had long been cast.

Before the Mexico international registered his first goal of the season, Antonee Robinson had turned the ball past Bernd Leno – his second own goal of the season – to propel Villa into the ascendancy, and further strikes from John McGinn and Ollie Watkins preceded Jimenez’s consolation 20 minutes from the end.

Many a visiting team have tried and failed to knock down the walls of the Lions’ impenetrable Villa Park fortress in 2023, so defeat to Unai Emery’s Champions League chasers was certainly forgivable, but an unsightly sequence of three defeats and a draw from their last four Premier League games is less so.

The wildly inconsistent Cottagers are sleepwalking towards a perilous position in the table, as they occupy 15th place with 12 points to their name – albeit while sitting comfortably seven clear of Sheffield United in 18th spot – and Fulham now return to a ground where two of their three league wins have come this season.

The Cottagers have only managed a paltry 10 goals in the first 12 weeks of the season too – to put that statistic into wider context, ex-striker Aleksandar Mitrovic already had nine at the same stage last term – although they have only lost back-to-back home games once since the start of the 2022-23 campaign.

Possessing all the motivation necessary to respond to their contentious loss to Sheffield United on November 4, Wolves could hardly have wished for a better time to face a Tottenham side low on morale and playing personnel in the wake of their devastating defeat to Chelsea.

A wave of fresh injuries and suspensions initially had little effect on the Lilywhites, who needed just three minutes to draw first blood at Molineux through Brennan Johnson, and the emergency central pairing of Ben Davies and Eric Dier repelled Wolves’ futile attacks as the clock wound down.

There were shades of O’Neil’s team’s loss to Manchester United on the opening weekend as several opportunities passed them by, but only 10 minutes after his number went up on the board in green, Pablo Sarabia had volleyed in a stunning equaliser before laying off Mario Lemina for a sensational injury-time winning goal.

O’Neil – no stranger to last-gasp wins over Tottenham following Bournemouth’s astonishing comeback success in April – could not help but sprint down the touchline in pure ecstasy as Wolves cemented a 12th-placed ranking after 12 games, and the visitors are within touching distance of a top-half place.

Goalmouth action has been a guarantee in Wolves fixtures since the start of September, as O’Neil’s team have scored and conceded in each of their last 10 games in all tournaments, and not since a 5-0 dismantling in March 2012 – where Pavel Pogrebnyak scored three – have Fulham beaten their Molineux counterparts in a Premier League contest.

Fulham Premier League form:

Fulham form (all competitions):

Wolverhampton Wanderers Premier League form:

We say: Fulham 0-1 Wolverhampton Wanderers
After a double-figure sequence of breaching opposing rearguards and failing to keep their own back door bolted shut, Wolves may only see the net ripple at one end of the field this weekend, as Fulham’s lingering offensive concerns are yet to be fully resolved.

While Jimenez and Traore will have an added incentive to come good during Sunday’s reunion, we have faith in Wolves to pick up where they left off prior to the hiatus and continue their assault on the top-half places with a slender Monday night triumph.

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