MX23RW : Monday, September 24 06:10:04
May 3, 2014 at 3pm UK at ​bet365 Stadium
StokeStoke City
4-1
Fulham
Odemwingie (39'), Arnautovic (54'), Assaidi (73'), Walters (82')
FT(HT: 1-0)
Richardson (80')
Parker (65'), Dejagah (75')

Preview: Stoke City vs. Fulham

Sports Mole previews the Premier League clash between Stoke and Fulham at the Britannia Stadium as the Cottagers try to reignite their survival campaign.

Only time will tell how much Fulham will live to regret the two late goals conceded to Hull City last weekend.

The Whites were 2-0 up with 75 minutes of the action played at Craven Cottage when Nikica Jelavic and Shane Long, three minutes from full time, struck to deny them vital points in their battle against the drop.

Felix Magath's side have still picked up seven points from a possible 12 to stay within one point of safety, but a survival campaign ignited by consecutive wins over Aston Villa and Norwich City is threatening to fall short due to their failure to correct long-standing defensive problems.

Their total of 79 goals conceded is by far the worst in the Premier League and sloppy mistakes at the back have cost them against both Tottenham Hotspur and Hull, recent matches in which they given accomplished performances in all but one area.

It is too late for Magath to make radical changes in personnel, but it remains to be seen whether the German, an experienced escapologist across Europe, sticks with a 3-5-2 formation or reverts to 4-5-1.

Iranian winger Ashkan Dejagah, who scored off the bench against the Tigers to take his tally to four goals in nine games, may be used as an impact substitute again as Fulham set up to frustrate a Stoke side known for keeping the ball under Mark Hughes.

A central midfield three of Scott Parker, Steve Sidwell and Mahamadou Diarra will make up the visiting engine room, allowing Lewis Holtby greater freedom to support lone striker Hugo Rodallega.

Club-record signing Kostas Mitroglou, who cost the Cottagers £12m from Olympiacos in January and has only started once since, is still injured, as are Damien Duff, Dan Burn and Giorgos Karagounis.

Hughes spent one successful year at Fulham before a failed spell at Queens Park Rangers, but he is now rebuilding his managerial reputation at the Potters, who could still achieve some Premier League bests.

They have not finished in the top half in six seasons since their promotion in 2008, and currently sit 10th, while two wins from their final two games will be enough to set a record-high points total.

Ryan Shawcross is suspended after being sent off in the 1-0 defeat to Tottenham, and joins fellow centre-back Robert Huth, who has not played since November, on the treatment table.

Marc Muniesa could be asked to deputise, with Erik Pieters returning to play at left-back. Jonathan Walters, Charlie Adam and Oussama Assaidi are all pushing for recalls in the attacking midfield positions.

There will be no Britannia Stadium sendoff for Matthew Etherington, who intends to end his five-year spell with the club in the summer, but is sidelined this weekend with a serious muscle strain.

Fulham could be relegated this weekend, if they lose and both of Norwich and Sunderland are winners.

Recent form

Stoke: LDWLWW

Fulham: DLWWLL

Possible starting lineups

Stoke: Begovic; Cameron, Wilson, Muniesa, Pieters; Whelan, N'Zonzi; Arnautovic, Adam, Odemwingie; Crouch

Fulham: Stockdale; Heitinga, Hangeland, Amorebieta; Riether, Diarra, Sidwell, Parker, Riise; Holtby, Rodallega

Sports Mole says: 1-1

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Felix Magath, Manager of Fulham looks on during the Barclays Premier League match between Fulham and Newcastle United at Craven Cottage on March 15, 2014
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Preview: Fulham vs. Hull
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TeamPWDLFAGDPTS
1Leeds UnitedLeeds95311971218
2Middlesbrough9531113818
3West Bromwich AlbionWest Brom952222121017
4Sheffield UnitedSheff Utd95131511416
5Wigan AthleticWigan95131411316
6Derby CountyDerby95131310316
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8Bristol City94231411314
9Nottingham ForestNott'm Forest9351119214
10Sheffield WednesdaySheff Weds94231414014
11Norwich CityNorwich94231313014
12Blackburn RoversBlackburn93511111014
13Aston Villa93421514113
14Swansea CitySwansea934276113
15Bolton WanderersBolton9333912-312
16Queens Park RangersQPR9315715-810
17Birmingham CityBirmingham916278-19
18Stoke CityStoke92341216-49
19Rotherham UnitedRotherham9306614-89
20Reading92251213-18
21Hull City9216916-77
22Millwall9135713-66
23Ipswich TownIpswich9054612-65
24Preston North EndPreston9126918-95

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