Fulham v Newcastle United (Fri)

Rafa Benitez

Newcastle boss Rafa Benitez is one of two Champions League-winning managers in the Championship this season, alongside Aston Villa’s Roberto di Matteo

BBC coverage

How to follow:
BBC Radio 5 live, BBC Radio London, BBC Newcastle; live text commentary on the BBC Sport website

Rafael Benitez’s Newcastle United begin life back in the EFL with a trip to west London to face Fulham.

The Magpies are among the favourites to seal an immediate return to the top flight, with Dwight Gayle and Matt Ritchie among eight summer arrivals.

Fulham saw Moussa Dembele and Ross McCormack, who scored 40 goals between them in 2015-16 depart this summer.

Centre-back Tomas Kalas and forward Sone Aluko are among seven signings set for their debuts.

The Whites finished 20th in the Championship table last season, 11 points above the relegation zone.


BBC Radio London’s Phil Parry:

“With Fulham boss Slavisa Jokanovic saying he is lacking ‘four or five experienced players’, it will be difficult to assess their chances until the end of the transfer window.

“The Serb has strengthened the Whites’ defence over the summer but now needs to add goals to the side following the departure of Ross McCormack.

“Playing Newcastle, who look strong contenders for promotion, in the opening game may look tough but it could be a chance for Fulham to catch the Magpies cold.”

Match Facts

  • The home side has won the last seven meetings between these sides, with four of those for Fulham at Craven Cottage.
  • Newcastle have kept just one clean sheet in their last 25 away league games versus Fulham – a 1-0 win in December 2007. They’ve lost the last five since then.
  • Fulham have lost just one of their previous seven opening day games (W3 D3), keeping five clean sheets during that time.
  • Newcastle have won just one of their last eight season openers (D4 L3), but this will be their first in the second tier since 2009 (1-1 v West Brom).
  • The Whites both scored and conceded in 33 of their league games last season, the joint-highest number in the top four tiers of English football (level with Morecambe).

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