Fulham-Norwich City Preview
LONDON (SE) - Norwich City will be looking to end a poor run of form when they welcome Fulham to Carrow Road on Saturday afternoon.
Chris Hughton's Norwich (6-10-9) are without a win in eight in the league, but a 10-match unbeaten run earlier in the season means they remain seven points clear of the relegation zone with 13 games remaining.
"We're a very honest football club and a very honest group of lads," said Hughton. "When we had the good run there was definitely no getting carried away with that. The poor run we had, it's about the possibility of getting out of that spell. We knew we were going to have those dips.
"There has been no talk of relegation, but you have to fight every single game. We now have a fixture period to the end of the season with no cup games and we need to make sure our consistency levels are good enough to get the points we need."
Saturday's visitors Fulham (7-7-11) are level on points with Norwich and in danger of getting sucked into trouble at the foot of the table having won just two of their last nine league games.
"If you leave it until the end of the season you've always got a problem; you don't want that," Cottagers gaffer Martin Jol said. "What I always say is get to 35, 36 points as soon as possible, before the last couple of months of the season. We need four, five wins, and 40 points is the focus and target for us.
"I have been in this business longer than most managers and abroad you can say the bottom three at winter are likely to go down. But in England there are always surprises. You need fighting spirit in every game. This is the highest level and we want to get out of trouble as soon as possible."
Norwich are without John Ruddy (thigh), while Anthony Pilkington is doubtful (hamstring). Fulham have concerns over Steve Sidwell (knee), Dimitar Berbatov (hamstring), Kieran Richardson (calf), Kerim Frei (groin), Mahamadou Diarra (knee) and Simon Davies (hip).
The Canaries have a terrible record against Fulham, failing to win any of their last 11 meetings in all competitions - losing nine - and being outscored 27-4. The omens aren't good for Hughton's side going into this game either. They have managed just two goals in their last five games and have failed to win any of their last four at Carrow Road after managing five home victories on the bounce up to mid-December.
The London club has won just two games on the road all season, but hopeful Berbatov is fit. They have not lost any of the six games in which the Bulgarian has scored.
Fulham hammered Norwich 5-0 when these teams met at Craven Cottage on the opening day of the season, with Mladen Petric scoring twice on his debut.