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Fulham - Southampton Preview: Cottagers look to avoid being dragged into drop zone by relegation-threatened Saints
The hosts have won just one in their last 10, although are boosted by the return of Steve Sidwell from suspension, while the visitors teeter on the edge of the bottom three
By Andrew Kennedy
Riise, Hangeland, Hughes, Riether
Baird, Sidwell, Richardson, Kacaniklic
Clyne, Yoshida, Fonte, Shaw
Puncheon, Ramirez, Rodriguez
Martin Jol is without Damien Duff (unspecified) for the clash at Craven Cottage, while Mahamadou Diarra (knee), Mladen Petric and Bryan Ruiz (hamstring) are all major doubts as the west Londoners look to bounce back from last weekend's 4-0 defeat at Liverpool.
Hugo Rodallega is likely to return to the starting XI, while Steve Sidwell will return from suspension to replace Giorgos Karagounis as the Cottagers go in search of a much-needed three points to avoid talk of a relegation battle this season gathering further steam.
Southampton, who sit above the drop zone thanks to goal difference only, look once again to be without captain Adam Lallana (knee) for the Boxing Day trip to the capital.
Emmanuel Mayuka took his place in Saturday's 1-0 home loss to Sunderland, although Nigel Adkins may hand an opportunity to Jay Rodriguez this time round. Otherwise, expect the Saints boss to name an unchanged side.
|DID YOU KNOW?|
- Fulham have a poor record in Boxing Day fixtures in the Premier League, having only won once. Fortunately, that victory came against Southampton in 2003.
- Martin Jol's men saw off Newcastle 2-1 last time out at Craven Cottage, although a run of just one win 10 has left them only five points above the relegation zone.
- The hosts have only ever beaten Southampton three times in the Premier League, all of them at home, with their last triumph coming in September 2004.
- The Cottagers have scored in all of their past 12 fixtures apart from one, with Tottenham successfully shutting out their London rivals with a 3-0 win earlier this month.
- Southampton's only Boxing Day victory in the Premier League came in 2001, when they saw off Tottenham 1-0.
- A late Jose Fonte (right) header - the defender's second of the game - earned the Saints a 2-2 draw in October's reverse fixture between these two sides.
- The Saints are the cleanest team in the English top flight so far this season, having picked up just 15 yellow cards in the 17 games they have played.
- Nigel Adkins men are yet to keep a clean sheet on the road this season, and have lost six of their seven away trips so far, although they did taste victory at Loftus Road in November with a 3-0 win over fellow Premier League newboys QPR.
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Top 3 Predictions
Fulham 2-1 Southampton
- 16.46 %
Fulham 2-0 Southampton
- 11.39 %
Fulham 1-1 Southampton
- 8.86 %
|England - Premier League (EPL)||Dec 26, 2012||Fulham 1 - Southampton 1|
|England - Premier League (EPL)||Oct 7, 2012||Southampton 2 - Fulham 2|
|May 19, 2013||Swansea 0 - Fulham 3||EPL|
|May 12, 2013||Fulham 1 - Liverpool 3||EPL|
|May 4, 2013||Fulham 2 - Reading 4||EPL|
|Apr 27, 2013||Everton 1 - Fulham 0||EPL|
|Apr 20, 2013||Fulham 0 - Arsenal 1||EPL|
|Returns:||Fulham £75.00||Sign up with bet365 for a free bet up to £200|
|Returns:||Draw £70.00||Sign up with William Hill for a free bet up to £25|
|Returns:||Southampton £410.00||Sign up with William Hill for a free bet up to £25|
|7||John Arne Riise||Defender|
|6||Jose Rocha Fonte||Defender|
|21||Guilherme Do Prado||Midfielder|
The midfielder was missing for last weekend's trip to Anfield, and his return from suspension will be a timely boost for Martin Jol. Three points would dampen any relegation worries, and Sidwell can provide the midfield drive and gusto to combat Southampton and guide his side to victory.
With good form evading both these sides in the build-up to the festive fixtures, don't expect either side to excel or grab the game by the horns at Craven Cottage. Home advantage favours Martin Jol's men, but the Saints should head back south with a point.
Times In GMT
Live Final scheduled Suspended Cancelled Postponed