Fulham are the visitors to St Mary’s on Saturday evening for a 5.30pm kick-off in the Barclays Premier League.
Saints head into the game on a five match unbeaten league run, and aiming for an opportunity to remain without defeat on home soil so far this season, as they look to maintain their solid start to the campaign which has left the team in sixth position going into this weekend.
A 1-1 draw at Manchester United last Saturday saw Southampton’s defence breached for the first time in five attempts, but the record of just three goals conceded in the top-flight so far this term is the best is the division and second only to Italian side AS Roma in domestic European competition.
Saints return home where they went on a successful run of three wins in all competitions prior to last weekend’s trip to Old Trafford. Victories over Crystal Palace and Swansea City in the Barclays Premier League sandwiched a Capital One Cup success over Bristol City.
Visitors Fulham picked up a morale boosting 4-1 win over Crystal Palace on Monday evening to make it back-to-back victories in the Barclays Premier League. The Cottagers had recorded just one league win prior to those successes, and as a result now sit in a much healthier 14th position in the table.
Martin Jol’s men have taken 10 points from their opening eight Premier League games, but on current form are not a side to be taken lightly with Monday’s game also proving that the visitors’ goal-threat extends beyond the firepower offered from the likes of Darren Bent and Dimitar Berbatov.
Wonder strikes from Pajtim Kasami and Steve Sidwell at Selhurst Park suggest that the Cottagers have found their touch in front of goal
Current Saints star Steven Davis ex is a former Fulham player. They were the club he moved to from Aston Villa, before going onto join Glasgow Rangers.
A feature-length interview with Steven is inside this weekend’s edition of the Matchday Magazine ‘SAINTS’ which is available to purchase on Saturday in and around St Mary’s stadium, priced at £3.
Mauricio Pochettino revealed that Steven Davis is his only concern for the game after the midfielder picked up a knock in training towards the end of the week.
Gaston Ramirez could return to the squad after missing out last weekend.
Fulham’s Maarten Stekelenburg is likely to remain between the posts after the goalkeeper came through his return to action from injury in Monday’s win over Crystal Palace.
Scott Parker also came through his second match in Fulham colours, with manager Martin Jol facing a dilemma of whether to stick with the team that won so comfortably at Selhurst Park, or take more of a conservative approach this time around.
“Fulham are a team that knows how to play football very well.
“They have a lot of good, talented players so it’s going to be a very tough game for us. We’re fully-aware that we are going to be facing technically-gifted players.
“Throughout the season they’ve been using a 4-4-2 system and defending very deep – we’ve noticed that’s how they’ve played against most teams. That’s how their footballing philosophy is executed.”
“You could see that even before the change of manager they [Southampton] have a good team. They started off with players like Ramirez and Jay Rodriguez – who we couldn’t get because he was too expensive - and then after that there was Osvaldo who I thought about making a bid for years ago, and then they did it with Wanyama too. They are all good players and they’ve done well too, they got the players in and they’ve done well.
“There’s only one team in Europe with a better defensive record and that’s Roma. They’ve only conceded three goals and they’ve got strong assets and if you look at their midfield it’s unbelievable there’s stamina and strength and at the back, they’re organised. I think it’s a good team because they are solid but they also get forward too.
“We’ve been analysing teams for weeks in advance and we think we’ve found areas where there are weaknesses. Our game plan will also be to get forward and to score goals, but you have to be defensively solid as well.”
Last season Saints hit back late on to take a 2-2 draw in the game at St Mary’s. Jose Fonte’s brace either side of Fulham’s goals earned the hosts a deserved point.
It was a stalemate in the reverse fixture too, as Rickie Lambert’s second half penalty rescued a 1-1 draw at Craven Cottage on Boxing Day.
Prior to then, our previous Premier League meetings with Fulham came in the 2004-05 season with Saints earning a draw on home soil but slipping to a 1-0 defeat at Craven Cottage.
It was a similar story a year earlier when Saints were defeated 2-0 away from home, but held Fulham to a goalless draw at St Mary’s.
In fact, that’s the only goalless draw in the last twelve meetings between the two teams.
Saturday's game is the 62nd all-time meeting between the two teams. Saints have the upper hand with 22 victories to Fulham’s 18. A further 21 games have ended level.
Andre Marriner will referee Saturday’s game, and he will be assisted by Mr M Mullarkey and Mr D Bryan. J Linington is the fourth official.
Don’t forget to check out the Family Fun Day activities around the stadium which begin from 2pm on Saturday. Have your cameras at the ready to send into us via social media using the hashtag #SFCFFD.
You can listen to live commentary courtesy of BBC Solent on Saints Player, where you can keep up to date with all the stats and scores from around the country.
Mauricio Pochettino and Jose Fonte spoke to Saints Player ahead of the game, and you can watch their interviews, as well as the gaffer’s press conference in full now.
And if you’re coming to the game, don’t forget to take your smartphones and join in with #MarchingIn on our social media channels. Tweet us @SouthamptonFC or comment on our official Facebook page and upload images onto Instagram with the #MarchingIn for a chance to appear in our Matchday Magazine for the visit of Hull City.