High flying Fulham head to the South Coast on Sunday to face fourth from bottom Southampton looking to bounce back from last weekend’s narrow 2-1 loss to Manchester City.
Despite selling star players Moussa Dembele, Danny Murphy and Clint Dempsey over the summer Jol has led his side to 3 wins in their opening six games with their defeats coming to West Ham and the Manchester pair of United and City, both of whom knew they had been in a game.
Summer signings Mladen Petric, Hugo Rodallega, Kieran Richardson, Dimitar Berbatov have helped plugged the gaps while the form of former Irish international Damien Duff has been an added bonus for Jol. The veteran midfielder has scored three goals already this season one more than the equality rejuvenated Steve Sidwell who has stepped up to fill the gap left by Murphy’s departure.
Southampton meanwhile came into the top flight with an impressive home record last season in the Championship however they have found life in front of their home fans difficult this season with Wigan and Manchester United both winning in St. Mary’s.
Nigel Adkin’s men could be turning a corner however after securing back to back wins at home over Aston Villa and Sheffield Wednesday and the former Scunthorpe manager is hoping that his side can build on that.
“You have to be positive at home. We have been very good at St Mary’s over the last few years and again starting this season” he said.
“The atmosphere in the last home game when we beat Aston Villa 4-1 was electrifying. It was fantastic.
“The supporters lifted the players, the players lifted the supporters so everyone was together as one.
“We produced an excellent performance and got an excellent win. We’re under no illusions, though, as Fulham are going to be a tough team to beat.
“We don’t think we’re just going to turn up and going to win. Fulham have had a very promising start. They’re very organised, have good players and have won games this season.
“We know we’ve got to be at the top of our game, like every game in the Barclays Premier League, but we’ve got to go and look to win our games at home.”
Southampton welcome back French midfielder Morgan Schneiderlin after he missed last weekend’s loss to Everton while former Celtic keeper Artur Boruc could be in the squad after playing for the U21 side midweek.
Fulham boss Martin Jol is sweating on the fitness of a number of players ahead of the trip to St Marys with Mladen Petric struggling with a calf injury. The Croatian forward could join fellow striker Dimitar Berbatov on the sidelines with the Bulgarian rated as having only a 10% chance of playing due to a thigh injury.
Simon Davies and Mohamed Diarra are also out however Keiran Richardson could feature.
Prediction: Draw – Southampton have yet to taste victory since their return to the Premier League and while they have put in some impressive performances luck has deserted them at times, especially against City and United. Resilient Fulham will be looking to cement their strong start to the season and the signs for this game are it will be a fourth draw of the season for Nigel Adkins men and a first of the season for Jol’s.
Rickie Lambert: The former Rochdale striker has scored four goals so far this season and he will keen to prove Grant Holt’s midweek comments right after the Norwich striker claimed he deserved to be given an England call up by Roy Hodgson.
Damien Duff: The former Chelsea midfielder seems has made a stunning start to the season and he will hope to add to his tally of three goals against Southampton.