With both sides sat solidly in midtable and out of both domestic cups, there is a risk that Stoke City’s trip to Fulham could produce the kind of underwhelming fare that is normally reserved for end-of-season dead rubbers.
Luckily in games involving Martin Jol’s side, a touch of magic is never too far away when Dimitar Berbatov is on the pitch.
The mercurial striker has the talent to illuminate any game and with his goalscoring record against Stoke, this could well be one game in which he particularly sparkles.
Having struck five times previously against them, Berbatov clearly enjoys the unique challenge of taking on Tony Pulis’ famously tough rearguard.
And with Fulham always good for a goal or two at home, particularly against ‘lesser’ opposition, Jol’s big summer signing looks well priced at 19/4 to be the fastest starter in Saturday’s early kick-off and grab the opening goal.
Should that be the only difference between the sides – as it was when Stoke won 1-0 in the reverse fixture – then new customers using the free £20 bet they receive when registering with bwin could really cash in with a £460 win from Berbatov/1-0 in the scorecast market.
However, with Fulham on a less than fantastic run of three regular-time wins in 17 matches, one goal might well prove enough for Stoke to pinch a result and Fulham/Draw at half-time/full-time is 13/1.
Indeed, the draw arguably looks the most inviting of the 3Way odds at 23/10, with Fulham solid favourites at 21/20 and Stoke 13/5 to pick up only their second win at Craven Cottage since 1968.
Pulis’ team seemed to get back on track with a 2-1 win over Reading last weekend which returned them to the top half of the table and they will fancy a fightback, even if they fall behind, with lead-draw 17/5.
The presence of former England duo Peter Crouch and Michael Owen is particularly key for the Potters, who have lost just 22% of games in which either have played and they are 17/2 and 11/1 respectively to get the final goal.
With 40 points still the target for both Jol and Pulis, the scoring is unlikely to veer far from the two-goals-per-game ratio that this fixture has averaged in the Premier League and under 2.5 goals is evens.
And given Fulham’s new-found solidity in conceding just two goals in their last three league games, I’m backing them to continue another of this fixture’s streaks by making it five home wins in a row in a game of under 2.5 goals at 333/100 – probably with Berbatov having a major hand in the victory.