Get set for Southampton’s return to Premier League action at Fulham with our in-depth match preview, in association with SportPesa…
Fulham vs Southampton
Saturday 24th November, 3pm GMT
Referee: Michael Oliver
Assistants: Stuart Burt, Harry Lennard
Fourth official: Andre Marriner
WHAT’S AT STAKE?
One look at the Premier League table already underlined the significance of this game for both teams, but the appointment of Claudio Ranieri as Fulham manager has added to the media interest.
Ranieri replaced Slavisa Jokanovic in the Craven Cottage hot seat over the international break, and will take charge of his first match tomorrow.
For Saints, it is an opportunity to get a first victory on the board since Mark Hughes’s side last visited the capital at the start of September, winning 2-0 at Crystal Palace.
There was a sense of injustice about the 1-1 home draw with Watford last time out, and Saints will hope to exploit Fulham’s leaky defence, which Ranieri will have had limited time to work with on the training ground.
Fulham: Ranieri will have to do without central midfielders Kevin McDonald and André-Frank Zambo Anguissa, but could have Joe Bryan available after the left-back returned to training last week.
Goalkeepers Marcus Bettinelli, Sergio Rico and Fabri are all fighting to be the new manager’s first choice between the sticks, and Ranieri has confirmed he is keeping his options open.
Southampton: Hughes declared top scorer Danny Ings “a big doubt” for the trip to west London after the striker hobbled out of the Watford game in the first half.
Mohamed Elyounoussi (hamstring) and Mario Lemina (thigh) both reported knocks following international duty but could be fit to play, while Ryan Bertrand is suspended after picking up his fifth yellow card of the season against the Hornets.
Watford (h) 1-1 (Gabbiadini)
Man City (a) 1-6 (Ings)
Newcastle (h) 0-0
Bournemouth (a) 0-0
Chelsea (h) 0-3
Liverpool (a) 0-2
Huddersfield (a) 0-1
Man City (a) 0-2 (Carabao Cup)
Bournemouth (h) 0-3
Cardiff (a) 2-4 (Schurrle, Sessegnon)
Claudio Ranieri: “I repeated to everyone in the squad what my philosophy is, and I think they understand very well. My message is that the team is a good team, but now it’s important to show a fighting spirit.
“It’s not easy to change direction, but it’s important to try and do the very best all together, with a good spirit, and to be astute tactically. You cannot arrange everything in a few days.”
Mark Hughes: “I think it’s always important, whether you’re top, middle or bottom, to take points off the teams around you. Clearly Fulham are close to us and it’s an opportunity for us to take maximum points.
“It’s a little bit difficult to really gauge where they’re at in terms of preparation, formation and personnel because of their new manager, but it’s about what we do. We have to go out there, execute what we talk about and what we prepare for – if we do that, they’ll find it very difficult.”
Fulham: The Londoners started the season scoring freely, but it’s their defensive record that has seen them sink to the foot of the table.
Aleksandar Mitrovic and Andre Schurrle have a very respectable nine goals between them. The Serbian is a powerful focal point, dangerous in the air and a confident finisher who isn’t shy in shooting from anywhere within range.
Southampton: Pierre-Emile Højbjerg continues to impress as the driving force of the Saints midfield, while Manolo Gabbiadini is up and running for the season after scoring his first goal of the campaign against Watford.
Elsewhere, Alex McCarthy and Stuart Armstrong enjoyed successful international breaks. The goalkeeper won his first cap for England, while the Scot was a key man as his country racked up seven goals in two games to earn promotion in the Nations League.
Last five meetings:
January 2018: Fulham 0-1 Saints (Ward-Prowse)
February 2014: Fulham 0-3 Saints (Lallana, Lambert, Rodriguez)
October 2013: Saints 2-0 Fulham (Lambert, Rodriguez)
December 2012: Fulham 1-1 Saints (Lambert)
October 2012: Saints 2-2 Fulham (Fonte 2)
DID YOU KNOW?
- In all competitions, Southampton are unbeaten in their last six meetings with Fulham (W3 D3), winning the last three without conceding.
- Fulham have lost their last six Premier League games – they’ve not lost seven league games in a row since a run of 11 between December 1961 and February 1962.
- Fulham have conceded 31 goals in their 12 Premier League games so far – only in the 1925/26 second tier campaign have they conceded more at this stage of a league season (34).
- Fulham are without a clean sheet in their last 16 Premier League games, conceding at least twice in 14 of those.
NOT AT THE GAME?
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