Fulham-Southampton Preview

TOM BENNETT (STATS European Football Writer)
The Associated Press

Southampton will be looking to continue their excellent start to the season when they welcome Fulham to St Mary's on Saturday.

Mauricio Pochettino's Southampton (4-3-1) have lost just once in the league all season, finding themselves four points off the top of the table and sandwiched between the Premier League's established top seven clubs. A 1-1 draw against Manchester United last weekend was the latest success story for the south-coast club, and Pochettino has credited his players' hard work off the pitch for their explosive start.

"From the start of the season, the team has been putting in an amazing effort," said Pochettino. "They've been having double training sessions every day and it's now, at this time of the season, that we're reaping the benefits of the effort that we put in."

Saturday's visitors Fulham (3-1-4) suffered a poor start to the season, with manager Martin Jol coming under increasing pressure from the home crowd. However, wins in their last two league games, including a remarkable performance to beat Crystal Palace 4-1 on Monday, have changed the mood around the club, with owner Shahid Khan coming out in support of the manager.

"He is the man for me," said Khan. "You have to keep in mind he is a very experienced guy and the start we have had, whether you're Martin Jol or any Fulham supporter, you're not happy and we can do better, and our players are a lot more talented and they proved that on Monday night.

"I think, and have believed this for quite some time, that we have great players and some of those are new to Fulham and some of them have been here for a while. It was a break-out moment and I hope this now continues."

Fulham have injury doubts over Brede Hangeland (back), Matthew Briggs (groin) and Aaron Hughes (groin), while Southampton have no reported injuries going into the game.

Both meetings between these clubs last season ended as draws, with Southampton coming from behind on both occasions to take a point. The Saints have failed to win any of their last seven top-flight matches against Fulham, but six of the last nine meetings between the two have been drawn.

The Saints have the best defensive record in the league so far this season, conceding just three goals in their eight matches. Pochettino's side have kept clean sheets in each of their last three matches at St Mary's, having kept just three home clean sheets during the whole of last season.

No team has faced more shots on their own goal in the Premier League than Fulham this season (147), while no team has conceded more corners (65). Striker Darren Bent has two goals from his two substitute appearances in the league, but has failed to find the net in any of the four games that he has started.

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