Week six of the 2020/21 Premier League season will see a London derby take place at Craven Cottage as bottom-of-the-table Fulham host Crystal Palace.
A fruitless first four games summoned concerns that, similar to their last top flight stint two years ago, Fulham might struggle to make the step up from Championship football. But while that worry remains, at least they now have a point to their name.
In fact, the Cottagers will feel they should’ve gained three from their trip to Sheffield United last weekend. Striker Aleksandar Mitrović missed a second half penalty before Ademola Lookman put the visitors ahead with 13 minutes of play remaining, but Billy Sharp equalised late on from the spot for the Blades, who in turn also conjured their first point of the campaign.
Palace, meanwhile, were victorious in their first two assignments of the season against Southampton and Manchester United but have failed to win since — they’ll be targeting a third triumph here.
The Eagles led rivals Brighton & Hove Albion for no fewer than 70 minutes in their previous match, with talisman Wilfried Zaha putting them ahead early on, but surrendered their lead in the dying embers of the game courtesy of an Alexis Mac Allister goal.
This game comes too early for Fulham’s Terence Kongolo and Harrison Reed, but both are nearing recovery from their respective knocks.
Kenny Tete and Joachim Andersen remain long-term absentees for the hosts, while midfielder Josh Onomah has been excluded from the 25-man Premier League squad for the first half of the season courtesy of a knee injury.
For Palace, Gary Cahill could recover from a problem sustained in the draw with Brighton, but James McCarthy and Wayne Hennessey will both likely miss out on this game due to injuries picked up on international duty.
Forward Jordan Ayew is self-isolating after returning a positive test for COVID-19, whilst it is not yet clear whether Martin Kelly, Scott Dann and Max Meyer will return following their absence from the squad last weekend.
Fulham — Areola; Aina, Adarabioyo, Ream, Bryan; Cairney, Anguissa; Cavaleiro, Loftus-Cheek, Lookman; Kamara.
Crystal Palace — Guaita; Ward, Kouyaté, Sakho, Mitchell; Eze, Riedewald, McArthur, Schlupp; Batshuayi, Zaha.
Fulham manager Scott Parker, speaking to the official Fulham website:
“Take aside how successful Roy’s been, to think he’s had the horsepower and the drive for a long, long time now, it shows you how good he is at what he does — it’s remarkable.
“He’s doing a fantastic job. I played under Roy for a short space of time with England. He’s a well-detailed, organised coach. I think you see that in his Crystal Palace team.
“It was a tough decision, obviously, because the players we left out [of the 25-man squad], I know they can help us as well. It’s not been easy, but it is what it is, it was a decision we had to make, and we now go with the 25 I’ve selected.”
Crystal Palace manager Roy Hodgson, speaking to the official Crystal Palace website:
“I’m not surprised Scott’s gone into management. I’m very pleased to see him doing so well at the job and I certainly don’t have any surprise whatsoever after his playing career ended that this is the route he’s taken.
“The player they’ve signed that I know well, Ruben Loftus-Cheek, is an outstanding signing in my opinion because we have such a high opinion of him here. We’re expecting a very difficult game.
“They had a difficult start and seem to be getting better. I’m expecting them to build on the Sheffield United result and move steadily up the table because I think they have the quality of players to do that.”
The Eagles completed the double over their opponents here in 2018/19, winning both ties 2-0 — should they secure a third consecutive victory over the Cottagers, it would be the first time they've done so in 90 years.
It would also be the first time in Palace’s history that they have won consecutive away fixtures at Fulham.
Three of Fulham’s last five home victories over the south London outfit were attained by a 1-0 scoreline.
How to watch
Fulham vs Crystal Palace will be broadcast live on BT Sport Box Office, the stream available for a one-off fee of £14.95. Kick-off is at 15:00 BST.
Alternatively, a highlights package will become available on the Sky Sports Football YouTube channel shortly after the final whistle.
BBC’s Match of the Day airs at 22:20 BST and will cover the best action and analysis from all of the day’s Premier League fixtures.
There will also be a live text commentary on the match right here at VAVEL UK — make sure to follow along!