Premier League Preview: Fulham v Stoke City
By Football News
Struggling Fulham will seek to arrest a five-game winless run in the Premier League when they welcome Stoke City on Saturday.
Martin Jol's side slipped into the bottom three with a last-gasp 2-1 defeat to Cardiff City last weekend and they have not won at Craven Cottage in their last seven league matches.
Fulham's home record against Stoke does offer some cause for optimism, however, with the London club having prevailed in seven of their last eight meetings.
Dimitar Berbatov's first-half strike proved the difference last season, but the Bulgarian striker is yet to score a league goal this term.
In fact, no Fulham player has managed more than one goal in the top flight so far in this campaign, although Berbatov and Darren Bent were both on target in the 2-1 League Cup victory over Everton.
Their hunt for a first league win since the opening day will be hindered by the absence of Scott Parker, who lasted just seven minutes of the Cardiff clash before being withdrawn with a calf injury.
Fellow midfielder Ashkan Dejagah is also set to miss out with the same problem, having featured just once this season, in the League Cup first-round triumph against League Two Burton Albion.
And defender Aaron Hughes is also ruled out after suffering a knock in training.
The visitors, who have not won in three league matches, tend to struggle on the road and this weekend's clash will mark their 100th away game in the Premier League.
With just 15 wins so far, Mark Hughes will know that his side will have to up their game if they are to pile more pressure on his Dutch counterpart.
The Welshman has few selection concerns to contend with, although he confirmed that Jonathan Walters faces a late fitness test.
"Jon Walters is the big doubt for the game, but apart from that we are okay," he said. "We have one or two bumps and bruises in the camp, but nothing that should keep any of the lads out of the game on Saturday."
Meanwhile, Hughes has been quick to play down the prospect of facing his former club, having resigned from his post at Craven Cottage in 2011 after less than a year in charge.
"I don't think I am going there with a point to prove," he insisted. "I am sure that most Fulham supporters will have looked at the job that I did there and be very happy with it. We had a slow start but made a very strong finish, and ended up in eighth position in the Premier League, which was a fantastic finish for us.
"In hindsight, maybe I made the wrong decision (to leave). When I was there I had a few doubts about one or two things, and maybe saw things differently to others.
"But I am here at Stoke now though and my sole focus is on going there, performing to the best of our abilities and winning the game. They had a disappointing result last time out and we have been good away from home, so we are going there in good spirits."