Fulham - Swansea Preview: Cottagers seeking only their second win in 12 games
Martin Jol's men have endured a miserable couple of months, but are boosted by the return from injury of Bryan Ruiz and the absence of Michu from the opposition line-up
By Al Hain-Cole
Riether, Hangeland, Senderos, Riise
Dejagah, Sidwell, Baird, Kacaniklic
Tiendalli, Chico Flores, Williams, Davies
Dyer, Britton, Ki, Routledge
Phillipe Senderos was preferred to Aaron Hughes alongside Brede Hangeland in the 1-1 draw against Southampton on Boxing Day, and he may keep his place in the side against Swansea.
Bryan Ruiz made his comeback from the hamstring injury that kept him out for over a month as a half-time substitute in that game, and could now return to the starting line-up.
Leading scorer Michu is a serious doubt for the visitors, after suffering an ankle injury in the 0-0 draw against Reading, and may be replaced up front by Itay Shechter.
Pablo Hernandez (thigh) is in contention after spending a month on the sidelines, but this match may come too soon for Angel Rangel (calf).
|DID YOU KNOW?|
- Fulham have only won one of their last 11 Premier League matches.
- Swansea have now gone four games without a win. The visitors are 10/1 to win 1-0 with bet365.
- The Swans did the double over Martin Jol's men last season without conceding a goal, and the 3-0 win at Craven Cottage was the Londoners' second heaviest home defeat of the season (behind only Manchester United's 5-0 thrashing).
- Michu may miss his first Premier League match for Swansea on Saturday - without his goals Swansea would be in 16th rather than ninth place.
- Dimitar Berbatov's (pictured, right) goals, on the other hand, have only won the Cottagers three points this season.
- Eight of Fulham's 29 goals this season have been scored by substitutes, the highest proportion in the Premier League
- Swansea have scored 93 per cent of their goals this season from open play, the highest amount in the top-flight.
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Top 3 Predictions
Fulham 1-2 Swansea City
- 13.52 %
Fulham 1-1 Swansea City
- 10.71 %
Fulham 2-1 Swansea City
- 10.2 %
|Premier League (EPL)||29 Dec 2012||Fulham 1 - Swansea City 2|
|Premier League (EPL)||17 Mar 2012||Fulham 0 - Swansea City 3|
|Premier League (EPL)||10 Dec 2011||Swansea City 2 - Fulham 0|
|FA Cup (FA)||24 Feb 2009||Fulham 2 - Swansea City 1|
|FA Cup (FA)||14 Feb 2009||Swansea City 1 - Fulham 1|
|12 May 2013||Fulham 1 - Liverpool 3||EPL|
|4 May 2013||Fulham 2 - Reading 4||EPL|
|27 Apr 2013||Everton 1 - Fulham 0||EPL|
|20 Apr 2013||Fulham 0 - Arsenal FC 1||EPL|
|17 Apr 2013||Fulham 0 - Chelsea FC 3||EPL|
|7||John Arne Riise||Defender|
|20||Jonathan De Guzmán||Midfielder|
It is no coincidence that Fulham's downturn in fortunes over the last month has coincided with the absence of the Costa Rican schemer pulling the strings from the centre of midfield. Ruiz had just started to come into his own before succumbing to a hamstring injury, and his ability to glide around the pitch and pick out a telling pass is vital in filling the void left by the departed Mousa Dembele at the heart of the Cottagers' line-up.
With main marksman Michu likely to be missing through injury, Michael Laudrup will be looking for other players to step up and take on some of the goal-scoring burden for his side. Routledge is one player who has demonstrated an eye for goal this season, as the former Fulham man is his side's second top-scorer with four goals to his name - nine fewer than Michu. The winger has already hit the back of the net more often than in any of his previous Premier League seasons, and he will need to bring his shooting boots to Craven Cottage if the visitors are to unsettle a shaky Fulham defence.
Swansea have shown themselves to be resilient opponents over their last few away games, but will surely miss Michu's cutting edge up front. The return of Ruiz should provide a huge boost to Martin Jol's side, whose leaky defence means that they may have to settle for a share of the spoils for the second consecutive home game.
Times In GMT
Live Final scheduled Suspended Cancelled Postponed