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Preview: Charlton Athletic vs. Fulham

Sports Mole previews the Championship London derby between Charlton and Fulham.

Charlton Athletic will be looking to show their supporters that Friday's defeat against struggling Millwall was a blip and that they can continue their impressive recent form until the end of the season.

However, they face a London derby with a Fulham side who are still not assured of Championship survival as they are seven points above the drop zone with six games remaining.



Charlton Athletic

Head Coach Guy Luzon of Standard Liege looks on during the UEFA Europa League Group G match against HNK Rijeka on September 18, 2014© Getty Images

The Addicks' season was almost in danger of being remembered for a publicity stunt more than on-field performances after Bob Peeters was sacked in January following a run of one win in 12.

Guy Luzon initially struggled to turn Charlton's fortunes around in the early part of his reign, but the Israeli coach has presided over a run of five victories in their last seven outings to pull the South London outfit into the top half of the table.

His team did slump to a defeat against relegation-threatened Millwall at the New Den on Friday, but otherwise Charlton are one of the in-form teams in the English second tier. Indeed, only Bournemouth and Middlesbrough have better records than the side from The Valley in recent weeks.

Luzon's men are not mathematically out of the running for a playoff place, but the Addicks will need an amazing slice of fortune to get anywhere near the top six come May.

However, Charlton may feel that a promising finish to a sometimes turbulent campaign could pave the way for a tilt at promotion next season.

Recent form: WWLWWL



Fulham

Fulham caretaker manager Kit Symons looks on during the Capital One Cup Third Round match between Fulham and Doncaster Rovers at Craven Cottage on September 23, 2014© Getty Images

After relegation from the Premier League last season, Fulham fans may have been forgiven for thinking that their team should be in contention to reclaim their top-flight status at the first attempt.

However, Felix Magath presided over a nightmare start to the campaign, which saw Fulham loitering at the bottom of the Championship in the early weeks.

Inevitably, the German coach and his punishing training methods were cast aside in September in favour of former Cottagers defender Kit Symons, who took over the team on a caretaker basis initially.

After five wins in nine games, Symons was awarded the role on a permanent basis, but Fulham have been unable to pull away from the relegation battle and Friday's 4-1 home defeat at the hands of playoff-chasing Brentford did nothing to help their survival bid.

The West London outfit, who were in the final of the Europa League only five years ago, have only won once in their last six games, a 2-0 victory at Huddersfield Town, in a bizarre match which saw Terriers forward Nakhi Wells miss two penalties and Alex Kacaniklic score direct from a corner.

Fulham's run in may give them hope of securing their Championship status as they do not meet a top-10 team until their final two fixtures of the season, which gives the Cottagers an opportunity to confirm their survival before that time.

Recent form: LLDLWL



Team News

Richard Lee of Brentford in action during the Sky Bet League One match between Coventry City and Brentford at Sixfields Stadium on September 29, 2013© Getty Images

Brentford loanee Richard Lee could make his first start in goal for Fulham after he was unable to feature against his parent club on Friday.

Fellow loan signings James Husband and Danny Guthrie are likely to continue for the visitors after making their debuts against the Bees.

Scott Parker may face a race against time to return from an illness which kept him out of Friday's fixture. If he remains sidelined then Ross McCormack is expected to keep the captain's armband.

Charlton will be without Chris Solly after the defender was sent off in the defeat to Millwall, while Yoni Buyens completes his two-game ban for picking up 10 yellow cards this season.

Johnnie Jackson may be in line for a return, having been sidelined since mid-February with injury, although Luzon opted not to use the former Tottenham Hotspur midfielder at the New Den.

Charlton possible starting lineup:
Henderson, Bikey-Amougou, Fox, Gomez, Johnson, Gudmundsson, Diarra, Cousins, Bulot, Eagles, Watt

Fulham possible starting lineup:
Lee; Grimmer, Bodurov, Turner, Husband; Fofana, Guthrie, Tunnicliffe, Kacaniklic; Woodrow, McCormack



Head To Head

Fulham have largely enjoyed the better of things against Charlton in recent meetings. However, the Cottagers' 3-0 win at Craven Cottage was the first league fixture between the pair for almost eight years.

The Addicks have not beaten their London counterparts since a Talal El Karkouri goal secured Alan Curbishley's team a 2-1 win at The Valley in 2004.

Fulham's recent good record against Charlton includes a 4-0 FA Cup third-round victory at the Cottage in 2012, thanks in no small part to a hat-trick from Clint Dempsey.


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We say: Charlton 2-1 Fulham

Charlton did slump to a surprise defeat against Millwall last time out, but they have otherwise shown promise of late and will look to finish the season on a high. Fulham have also conceded 72 goals during the current campaign, only Blackpool have let in more. That defensive record suggests that the Addicks might edge this one.


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Jota attacks for Brentford during the Capital One Cup Second Round match between Brentford and Fulham at Griffin Park on August 26, 2014
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Tables
TeamPWDLFAGDPTS
1Liverpool34267177205785
2Manchester CityMan City33272486226483
3Tottenham HotspurSpurs332211064343067
4Arsenal33206766402666
5Chelsea34206857362166
6Manchester UnitedMan Utd33197763441964
7Leicester CityLeicester34145154645147
8Wolverhampton WanderersWolves33138124142-147
9Everton34137144644246
10Watford33137134748-146
11West Ham UnitedWest Ham34126164252-1042
12Bournemouth34125174961-1241
13Crystal Palace34116174046-639
14Burnley34116174260-1839
15Newcastle UnitedNewcastle34108163243-1138
16Southampton3399153954-1536
17Brighton & Hove AlbionBrighton3396183253-2133
18Cardiff CityCardiff3494213063-3331
RFulham3455243276-4420
RHuddersfield TownHuddersfield3435261967-4814

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