Best Odds: 8/5
Claudio Ranieri is set to make a bow as Fulham new boss this weekend with out-of-form Cottagers playing host to fellow strugglers Southampton.
A consistent run of poor defensive displays have not only left Fulham at the bottom of the Premier League table but it also ended up costing Slavisa Jokanovic his job. Fulham officials have hired the man who wrote history with Leicester City in 2015/16 and will be hoping his vast experience would be enough to save Cottagers from relegation.
The Tinkerman had two weeks during the international break to lay grounds for a new chapter at Craven Cottage and his first test will be the Saturday’s game against Southampton. Fulham have lost six Premier League games on the trot – seven in all competitions – despite putting in some fine performances and Ranieri will be keen to bring results instead of entertainment. Fulham have lost their last three meetings with the Saints, including a 1-0 defeat in the FA Cup, and will be hoping to record their first victory over Southampton since 2004. Not only would a win push Fulham level on points with the Saints but it would also be a much-needed morale boost that could kick-start Fulham’s entire campaign.
Defender Joe Bryan continues to miss out due to a thigh injury. The 25-year-old missed his club’s last six Premier League matches and is still some way off from being fit.
Midfielder Kevin McDonald picked up a muscle injury against Huddersfield which saw him miss the Liverpool game last time out but the 30-year-old is set for an extended time on the sidelines.
Only three points ahead of their weekend’s rivals, Southampton (8) find themselves in a delicate moment. Without a win in their last eight Premier League fixtures, the Saints are slowly slipping into the relegation zone and the forthcoming trip to Craven Cottage could very well decide mark Hughes’ future at Southampton.
As they pack their bags for London, Southampton will be particularly worried about the lack of goals which could prove to be crucial in their effort to grab the much-needed three points. The Saints failed to score a goal in five of their last seven matches and this worrying piece of statistics can return to haunt Hughes’ side. Rubbing salt to the experienced manager’s wounds is a delicate squad situation which leaves Hughes worrying about a suspended player, some close to suspension and two others potentially injured for the Saturday’s showdown with Fulham.
Captain Ryan Bertrand has picked up five bookings and will be suspended for the match.
Mario Lemina and Cedric have four yellow cards to their name, while striker Danny Ings picked up a knock during the Watford clash and remains a huge selection doubt. Shane Long remains out with an ankle injury.
Key Factors to Consider
- Fulham suffered defeats in their last seven matches in all competitions
- Saints have yet to win any of their last eight Premier League games
- Cottagers haven’t scored a goal in 416 minutes of competitive action
- Southampton failed to score in 5 of their last 7 league outings
- Fulham lost all of their last three meetings with Southampton
Fulham will be hoping Claudio Ranieri’s arrival would shake things up at Craven Cottage as hosts aim to put an end to their six-match losing run. Southampton could slip into the relegation zone and lose their manager Mark Hughes who is walking on thin ice with the Saints after failing to win any of last eight matches.
Best Odds: 8/5
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