Saints in search of first win in three against stuttering Fulham
Southampton to win 2-0
Southampton were well beaten by Manchester City in their last match, despite the Saints putting in a good performance and keeping the scoreline to just 1-0.
In fact, the Saints have conceded no more than a single goal in each of their last four matches, showing a solidity to their defensive play.
The defeat will not worry them or knock their confidence, but after that result and a draw in their previous match, they’ll be keen to return to winning ways here.
Fulham almost had us conned that they had turned a corner a few weeks ago, securing a couple of wins and moving themselves out of the bottom three places.
Since then, they’ve lost one and drawn three of their last four matches and have been overtaken by a much-improved Burnley side, who look as though they will continue to rise up the table.
Southampton will fancy their chances here.
Form Guide (all comps): WLDDD
Reasons to be cheerful:
Three draws on the bounce suggests more solid play
Only defeat in recent run came against Man City
Reasons to be fearful:
Still rooted in the bottom three despite upturn in form
Southampton have the quality to punish them
Fulham manager Scott Parker will be quite proud of how his players have performed over the past month or so, considering the position that they were in before their recent good spell of form.
They were firmly rooted to the bottom of the table for four consecutive weeks before wins against West Brom and Leicester helped propel them out of the relegation zone.
Now, despite a win and three draws from their last five matches, they find themselves back in the bottom three due to Burnley’s improved form.
That being said, The Cottagers have only conceded twice from their last three matches against the likes of Liverpool, Brighton and Newcastle, which shows much improvement on the weeks earlier in the season.
Their challenge now will be to keep picking up points with the same, if not better, consistency, though their match against this Southampton side will be tough going.
Star Man – Alphonse Areola
The Fulham goalkeeper has been one of their best players over the last few weeks, helping to reduce the number of goals the London side are conceding.
Reasons to be cheerful
Style of play suits their quality players
Only recent defeats have come against City and United
Reasons to be fearful
Could be without star striker Danny Ings
Fulham have been solid recently
Southampton will see this as a great opportunity to rediscover their winning form against a side currently sitting in the bottom three.
From their last six matches, the only sides the Saints have dropped points against have been Manchester City, Manchester United, Arsenal and Wolves. Fulham are certainly not in that category which should boost their chances of success here.
They may, however, have to do it without injured striker Danny Ings, who limped off against City last weekend. Ings has been absent for several games earlier in the season, which Southampton coped with well, however coming into the busy festive period, they’ll miss him badly.
Ings has only scored six out of their 19 goals this season, with others like Che Adams and Ward-Prowse showing their qualities in front of goal.
They should be too much for Fulham.
Star Man – Theo Walcott
Has only two goals from nine matches, but his overall play has been fantastic of late and caused plenty of problems for City last weekend.
Southampton will boss the match
Fulham must look to keep things tight
Win could take Saints back into top four
Understandably, a win would do both sides a lot of good right now.
The Saints have been dispossessed of their top four spot following two matches without a win, while Fulham desperately need the points to drag themselves out of the relegation zone.
Fulham’s need is arguably greater, but Southampton’s quality, even without the injured Ings, should see them claim the points here.
Southampton to win 2-0