Fulham vs Burton Albion Preview: Can the Cottagers continue their surge towards the play-off places?

Fulham will be looking to continue their recent good run of form at home in The Championship as they take on Burton Albion at Craven Cottage on Saturday afternoon.

Fulham vs Burton Albion Preview: Can the Cottagers continue their surge towards the play-off places?
Fulham vs Burton Albion Preview: Can the Cottagers continue their surge towards the play-off places? (picture: Getty Images / Ian Walton)

Fulham will be looking to continue their recent good run of form at home in The Championship as they take on Burton Albion at Craven Cottage on Saturday afternoon. 

The Cottagers picked up a huge three points last time out as they won 1-0 at the Riverside against fellow promotion hopefuls Middlesbrough. The victory came in dramatic style as Oliver Norwood converted a controversial penalty in injury time.

As for the Brewers, their poor run of form continued with a 3-1 defeat to Queens Park Rangers at the Pirelli Stadium. It looks like it is going to be a tough ask for Nigel Clough to keep the club in the division against the odds yet again. 

How they've fared so far

They made a slow start to the season but Slaviša Jokanović’s side have finally started to find some consistency in recent weeks. After losing out to Reading in the Championship play-off semi-finals last season, many expected them to be challenging for automatic promotion this time round. Despite the fact that this has not turned out to be the case, they are still well in the mix for the play-offs.

They are currently sat in eighth place, just one point behind Sheffield United and 10 points behind Derby County in second place. This is not a bad position to be in at this stage of the season as a lot can still change between now and May. A key reason behind their surge up the table is that they have won four of their last five league outings. This run has included wins against many fellow promotion hopefuls such as Middlesbrough, Ipswich Town and Cardiff City.

A key reason why the Cottagers should be seen as genuine promotion contenders this season is because of the amount of attacking threat that Jokanović has at his disposal. The likes of Ryan Sessegnon and Aboubakar Kamara are their two highest scorers with seven and six goals respectively so far this season. However, with the likes of Tom Cairney in midfield, they really have players capable of finding the back of the net all over the pitch.

As for Burton, it has been another season of struggle under the management of Clough. Everyone connected with the club does realise that they are ‘punching above their weight’ by being in the Championship in the first place, but Clough’s job of keeping the club in the division remains a very difficult task. The job he has done at the club since he took over should not be underestimated.

They are currently just one point off getting themselves out of the relegation zone which would be a huge boost mentally for everyone involved. One positive for the Brewers is that they are not alone in their struggles this season. The likes of Sunderland, Birmingham City, Bolton Wanderers, Hull City and Barnsley all also have genuine relegation fears and have struggled to pick up wins so far this season.

Despite their form being poor of late, Burton have shown that they do have the potential to pick up a positive result on their travels. They picked up three consecutive away wins over the festive period against Bolton, Reading and Sheffield Wednesday, so Fulham should certainly not underestimate their opponents in this one. 

Last time they met 

The Cottagers last played Burton in the Championship in a 2-1 defeat at the Pirelli Stadium in September. Stephen Warnock’s first goal in more than three years gave the home side the lead before Norwood drew the Cottagers level before half-time. However, Lucas Akins restored his side’s lead shortly after the restart and this was enough to secure all three points. 

Team news 

Fulham's midfield maestro Cairney is a doubt for this match after missing the last two games with a knee injury. However, forward Floyd Ayite will have an assessment on his calf injury which has kept him on the sidelines for a significant amount of time. 

As for Burton, Clough will be unable to call upon Will Miller as he has recently been ruled out for the season with a knee injury. However, he could opt to bring in Martin Samuelson who is currently on loan with the Brewers from Premier League side West Ham United