Fulham hope to expose porous Saints - Game preview - Southampton (a)

Mike Hewitt - Getty Images

Nigel Adkins' side have conceded 18 goals in only six games and, even without Berbatov and, potentially, Petric, Martin Jol will hope to expose a leaky Southampton defence.

Fulham travel to the South Coast to face Southampton on Sunday afternoon for the first time since 2005 and, with an away win already behind us in the Premier League this season, things are more upbeat than usual.

That win came at the DW Stadium against Wigan Athletic and while it was hardly the most inspiring of victories, the benchmark has been set and Martin Jol will be eager to exploit a porous Saints defence.

Nigel Adkins' side have conceded 18 goals already this term, in only six games, and sit in 17th place with three points to their name.

They looked somewhat more convincing in their last home fixture, a 4-1 hammering of Aston Villa. Despite going behind early on, they showed that they have a quite potent attacking line up that can, in certain circumstances, outweigh their leaky back line.

And, it is also worth noting, an early season fixture list that has included Manchester City and United, Arsenal and Everton has hardly offered a flattering reflection of their current Premier League status.

Fulham, though, have had an invariably easier start to the campaign. Solid wins over Norwich City, Wigan and West Bromwich Albion leaves the Craven Cottage side sitting pretty in ninth place - a position we'd do well to retain until the very end of the season.

Last time out, we were humbled by Manchester City at home but the resilience shown in places will please Jol who will be keen to see a similar defensive shift on Sunday.

In the 2005 fixture, a thrilling 3-3 draw was played out at St Mary's as a Liam Rosenior own goal gave the home team a share of the spoils.

There's no John Pantsil in the Fulham team to commit a similar fraud this time, and there will also be no Simon Davies and Mahamadou Diarra due to injury.

Dimitar Berbatov is unlikely to feature - Jol says there is a 10% chance - as his injury picked up ahead of the City tie continues to keep him out.

The same applies to Ashkan Dejagah and also Mladen Petric, but Kieron Richardson is set to return to the fray. It leaves Jol withHugo Rodallega as the only 100% fit striker.

For Southampton the only injury concern is Jack Cork, who will not feature.

Score prediction: Saints 1 - 2 Fulham

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