Brighton & Hove Albion make their first visit to Craven Cottage in the Premier League on Tuesday night, kick-off 7.45pm, as Chris Hughton’s side look to move 15 points clear of Fulham.
Albion’s focus returns to the Premier League after Saturday’s goalless draw against West Bromwich Albion in the Emirates FA Cup, and the Seagulls will be looking to return to winning ways after successive defeats to Liverpool and Manchester United.
The Cottagers are without a victory since the end of December, having lost four consecutive defeats, three of which came in the league, alongside a 2-1 defeat to Oldham Athletic in the FA Cup.
The Seagulls have taken maximum points from their last three visits to Craven Cottage, and remain unbeaten against the London club in six matches, five of which came in the Sky Bet Championship.
Hughton confirmed that Maty Ryan has returned from the Asian Cup and the goalkeeper is available to play against Fulham on Tuesday evening.
Alireza Jahanbakhsh remains at the Asian Cup ahead of today’s semi-final against Japan, therefore will be unavailable, while Jose Izquierdo (knee) and Bernardo (hamstring) remain sidelined through injury.
For Fulham, Alfie Mawson is expected to miss the game, as the central defender continues his recovery from a knee injury. Otherwise, Claudio Ranieri has a fully-fit squad to select from.
The Seagulls ensured their name would be in the hat for the FA Cup fifth-round draw on Monday evening, but Hughton’s men had to settle for a 0-0 draw against the Baggies.
Beforehand, in the Premier League, Albion were narrowly beaten 1-0 and 2-1 by Liverpool and Manchester United respectively, following their 3-1 victory over AFC Bournemouth in the FA Cup third round.
Albion opened 2019 with a 2-2 draw against West Ham United at the London Stadium, with their last victory coming against Everton in the previous match, which saw Jurgen Locadia fire the winning goal.
The Cottagers took the lead against Tottenham Hotspur last time out at Craven Cottage, but second-half strikes from Dele Alli and Harry Winks turned the game on its head and prevented Ranieri’s men from taking points.
Defeats to Arsenal and Burnley came either side of a disappointing FA Cup exit to League One side Oldham, but the London club ended 2018 with a 1-0 win against Huddersfield Town.
LAST TIME WE MET
Albion’s impressive unbeaten run against Fulham looked in danger after the Cottager’s opened up a 2-0 lead following Pascal Gross’s penalty miss for the Seagulls in the opening half.
Andre Schurrle opened the scoring before the break, before Aleksander Mitrovic doubled their advantage, but Glenn Murray fired home in the 67th minute to halve the deficit at the Amex.
With just six minutes remaining, Mitrovic was penalised for handling the ball inside the penalty area — Murray stepped up to level the game from 12 yards, and that’s how it finished on the south coast.
LAST TIME OUT: ALBION
WEST BROM 0
Albion line-up: Button; Bruno, Duffy, Burn, Montoya; Bissouma, Stephens (Propper 63), Kayal; Knockaert, Andone (Murray 83), Locadia (Gyokeres 72).
Subs not used: Sanchez (GK), Dunk, Gross, March.
LAST TIME OUT: FULHAM
Llorente 17 og
TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR 2
Fulham line-up: Rico; Odoi, Le Marchand, Ream; Christie, Chambers, Seri (Cisse 81), Bryan; Schurrle (Kebano 72), Mitrovic, Babel (Sessegnon 55).
Subs not used: Bettinelli (GK), Cairney, Ayite, Vietto.
PLAYER TO WATCH: Aleksander Mitrovic
The Serbian has led the line for the Cottagers in every single Premier League match this season, finding the back of the net on eight occasions in his 23 appearances.
At just 24 years of age, Mitrovic deceives most with his physical presence in the final third, as he showed against the Seagulls earlier this season, when he put the visitors 2-0 ahead at the Amex Stadium.
The striker has worn the captain’s armband in recent matches for the London club, and his qualities in front of goal will be important if Ranieri’s side are to pull themselves out of the relegation zone.