Southampton face another trip up to London this weekend as they entertain Championship side Fulham at Craven Cottage as the FA Cup third round gets underway.
For Southampton, this could be a welcome distraction to their atrocious league form which has seen just one win in 10 matches and they look to get back on track with a victory against Fulham.
As for Fulham, they are right in the middle of a race to reach the play-offs in the Championship after claiming three wins out of their last five.
Saints come into this one on the back of a disappointing 2-1 defeat to Crystal Palace on Tuesday evening, whilst the hosts come into the game with great confidence after beating Ipswich Town 4-1 during the week.
Fulham struggled in the opening weeks but have somewhat made a recovery of late and are right in the hunt to reach the play-offs, so this match may not be the top of their priority.
As for Saints, it’s a chance to bring some confidence into the side after not winning since the end of November. This came against Everton and provides a pleasant opportunity for Mauricio Pellegrino and his side.
Saints have disappointed on the road though, winning just one match on their travels which came against Crystal Palace in September.
Whilst Saints need to take this match seriously, it could offer some chances for some of the fringe and younger squad players to get a go in the team as Pellegrino goes in search of claiming a much needed victory.
Fulham isn’t the worst fixture that Saints could have been tasked with to get their season back on track. The game is set to be played in front of near 5,000 travelling Saints fans.
The two sides haven’t met since 2014 when Saints claimed a comfortable 3-0 victory in their return season to the Premier League.
In terms of team news, Saints remain without Cedric Soares and Charlie Austin, who have both missed the Christmas period with respective ankle and hamstring injuries. Wesley Hoedt will also miss out after sustaining concussion in the draw at Manchester United. Frenchman Jeremy Pied will also miss out having picked up an injury against Crystal Palace. The extent of Pied’s knock is yet to be confirmed.
Fulham are at a full bill of health for his encounter in terms of injuries and suspensions, although you’d expect Fulham to rotate as their priority lies in the Championship promotion race.
I’d expect Saints to dominate much of the ball throughout this contest but you’d think that their quality would shine through in the end as the last thing both teams want is a cup replay in a couple of weeks.
I believe that Saints will just nick this by 2-1 on Saturday afternoon.