By Aidan Elder | Chief sports writer
West Ham United v Fulham
Saturday 12.45pm – Sky Sports 2
This counts are the first London Derby of the season and it arguably counts as the least interesting. That’s actually a back-handed compliment if you think about because the early signs are that both the Hammers and the Cottagers have the potential to enjoy relatively comfortable seasons.
Sam Allardyce will have more been grumpy than normal to see his well-organised defence get ripped apart at Swansea, but they’ve got three points on the board and considerable room for improvement within the squad. Whether or not Andy Carroll can contribute to that improvement remains to be seen, but it’s nice to have a £35 million striker to turn to, even if he’s actually worth about half that.
The last few days of the transfer window haven’t been kind to Martin Jol. Clint Dempsey and Moussa Dembele aren’t around any longer and they are big players for Fulham to lose. Fans can lie to themselves and pretend Dempsey isn’t as important as the hype suggests, but Dembele is definitely a loss and it’ll be hard to find some to step into his energetic shoes. Still though, they’ve got enough talent not to fall to pieces immediately.
Contrary to the popular cliché, the form book doesn’t always go out the window when it comes to derbies. Fulham’s performance at Old Trafford is a cause for optimism, but the loss of Dembele isn’t. West Ham won’t be as bad as they were last week, so a stalemate is on the cards.
The ‘I don’t like giving predictions’ prediction: 1-1 Draw at 5/1