Southampton vs Fulham: Cottagers needing to salvage some pride with pressure off

Fulham already having relegation confirmed makes this something of a dead rubber, but an intriguing one nonetheless.

When: Saturday, May 15, 15:00 GMT

How to watch: Sky Sports

Best Bets

James Ward-Prowse to score anytime at 6/1 (Sky Bet)

Southampton to win by two goals at 9/2 (Bet365)

Josh Maja to score last goal in the match at 13/2 (Sky Bet)

What might have been a dramatic relegation clash will now be something of a dead rubber as Southampton entertain Fulham in the Premier League.

With three games still to play, Fulham's fate has already been sealed, and they will be relegated this summer along with West Bromwich Albion and Sheffield United.

Southampton, meanwhile, are just four places above Fulham, but they have a 13-point advantage, so they can breathe a sign of relief and try to climb the table between now and the end of the campaign.

Last Three meetings

Fulham 0-0 Southampton (December 26, 2020)

The reverse fixture between these teams this season was certainly not a classic by any stretch of the imagination.

Southampton were in decent form back then and looked to have won it when Theo Walcott had the ball in the net with just five minutes remaining.

However, VAR intervened, and Fulham escaped with what looked like a decent point, particularly given manager Scott Parker was absent due to a positive Covid test.

Mountain pressure: The season has been an uphill climb for Ralph Hasenhuttl
Mountain pressure: The season has been an uphill climb for Ralph Hasenhuttl

Southampton 2-0 Fulham (February 27, 2019)

This match proved to be the final game in charge of Fulham for former Chelsea and Leicester boss Claudio Ranieri, who was sacked the following morning.

The sacking was not without justification either, with the Italian winning just three of his 17 matches in charge of the Cottagers and losing eight of his final nine games.

In truth, this contest at St Mary's was over by half time, with Oriol Romeu and James Ward-Prowse scoring the goals inside the first 40 minutes.

Fulham 3-2 Southampton (November 24, 2018)

As it turned out, one of those matches that Ranieri won in charge of Fulham came against Southampton in something of a thriller. It was also his first game in charge, meaning his Fulham tenure started and ended against the Saints.

They got off to a poor start when Stuart Armstrong put Southampton ahead in the 18th minute but went in at half-time in front courtesy of goals from Aleksandar Mitrovic and Andre Schurrle.

Armstrong levelled with his second early in the second half, but Mitrovic had the last word by netting the winner just after the hour to end a run of six consecutive defeats for Fulham.

Premier League head-to-head

Southampton wins: 4

Draws: 7

Fulham wins: 4

Southampton goals: 23

Fulham goals: 19

Fulham failings

If you are looking for a reason why Fulham are going down, look no further than their misfiring attack.

Midfielder Bobby Reid tops their goalscoring charts with seven goals, but main man Mitrovic has managed just four all season. The Serbian has now been relegated in each of the three Premier League seasons he has played.

Aleksandar Mitrovic remains unavailable for Fulham against Sheffield United
Aleksandar Mitrovic remains unavailable for Fulham against Sheffield United

January signing Josh Maja has also struggled to find the next, scoring just three since his arrival.

Fulham have scored seven fewer goals this season than anyone else in the Premier League with the exception of Sheffield United, who have had a wretched campaign.

That must be especially frustrating for Scott Parker considering the Cottagers have a better defensive record than many of the teams sat comfortably in mid-table.

Saints' defensive sins

Southampton's problems this season could not be further from those with which Fulham have contended.

Danny Ings, who has struggled with a hamstring injury of late, and James Ward-Prowse have been regular goalscorers this season, and Che Adams has also carried a consistent threat.

However, defensively they have incredibly inconsistent and capable of collapsing at any moment. This season they have lost 9-0 to Manchester United and conceded five a piece to Tottenham and Manchester City.

Jan Bednarek (right) was given his marching orders on a dismal night for Southampton at Old Trafford
Jan Bednarek (right) was given his marching orders on a dismal night for Southampton at Old Trafford

Those problems have not just manifested themselves against the top teams either, with fellow-strugglers Newcastle and West Brom putting three past them in matches too.

Goalscorer bets

It's a tough one to call in many ways. Which one will come out on top? Southampton's shocking defence or Fulham's goal-shy attack?

Ward-Prowse will be a constant threat from set-pieces and distance, so he looks at attractive bet to open the scoring at 6-1 or anytime at 5/2.

A no goalscorer bet at 7/1 may also be worst considering given the fact it's something of a dead rubber.

Also consider Josh Maja for Fulham. The former Sunderland man is likely to start on the bench, so 13/2 to score the final goal of the game looks like value, particularly given Southampton's leaky defence.