Fulham vs Stoke City: Under-strength Cottagers

Fulham have to put thoughts of glory in Europe behind them (at least temporarily) to snatch a home win against Stoke on Wednesday.

John Painstil

Painstil enjoys his wins

Roy Hodgson has made no apologies for prioritising the Europa League since his team elbowed its way into the finals of the competition with a extra-special 2-1 win over Hamburg last week.

Safe from relegation and with a mid-table(ish) finish in the bag, Fulham would be forgiven for lacking motivation in their encounter with Stoke – the side’s penultimate league game of the season.

Stoke are also safe from the drop, but without European glory to distract them will be keen to end their season with a couple of wins that could bump them up a couple of places and earn the club a much needed cash bonus.

In the reverse fixture the Potters grabbed all three points in a 3-2 victory. But Stoke are famously stronger at home than away – in part because their narrow pitch suits Rory Delap’s aerial bombardment from throw ins.

They have won just three times away from home this season, compared with Fulham’s 11 league triumphs at Craven Cottage – the latter’s record beats higher placed teams including Everton and Villa.

Hodgson will no doubt rest his key players; his team’s 3-2 win over West Ham on Sunday was achieved without a clutch of first teamers including Bobby Zamora, Damien Duff, Brede Hangeland, Aaron Hughes, Zoltan Gera and Danny Murphy.

Stoke will need to improve on their woeful scoring record, however, having failed to hit the back of the net in seven of their last 11 encounters. They have drawn a blank in four of their last five pairings with Fulham.

With so much quality lacking from the Fulham side, pundits are rightly shortening odds of a Stoke victory. Nevertheless, at around 3-1 a cheeky punt on an away win could still be worthwhile.

Best bet: Stoke win @3.95 on Betfair

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