Fulham vs Cardiff preview: Scott Parker expects 'one of the toughest' games of the season
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Last Updated: 27/04/19 7:12am
Fulham caretaker boss Scott Parker believes tackling Cardiff as they fight to stay in the Premier League will be one of the toughest games his side have faced this season.
The Cottagers' own fate was sealed at the start of April, following Huddersfield back to the Championship. Which side will join them in dropping out of the top flight, though, has yet to be confirmed.
Cardiff gave their survival bid a shot in the arm with victory at Brighton, before then losing at home against title challengers Liverpool last weekend.
With just three points between them and the Seagulls, Neil Warnock's men will be desperate for a maximum return from their trip to Craven Cottage.
Fulham have won both of their matches since relegation was confirmed with a 4-1 defeat at Watford, but Parker - who replaced Claudio Ranieri at the end of February - knows just what challenge awaits on Saturday.
"They come on Saturday fighting for their lives, and I'm looking at this game thinking it's probably one of the toughest we've had, certainly since I've been here, due to the manager we're facing and the fact the team is scrapping," Parker said.
"I think we realise the challenge and we'll get that message into the players for the weekend."
Warnock has admitted he is surprised Cardiff are still fighting for Premier League survival, and says his team have the opportunity to make "history".
He said: "I think you have got to be [surprised] really from the situation we have been in since day one. We knew it was going to be difficult but one-by-one we have overcome all the doom and gloom predictions.
"We've enjoyed it. We've still got our biggest challenge ahead. It's an opportunity for the lads to write their names in history.
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"The pundits did not give us any hope of staying up, and quite rightly so when you look at our different circumstances compared to other clubs. We've never thrown the towel in, even with heavy defeats.
"We appreciate what our fans have been like, they have been with us the whole way and if anything they have got louder and louder.
"They can forgive other things if you are trying hard. We've really put every ounce in. Whatever happens this season it would be one of my biggest achievements.
"I think the players are the same. You can point at our mistakes but all I have asked is they do their best week in, week out."
Fulham could have defender Alfie Mawson back in contention following a long-term knee problem for the visit of relegation battlers Cardiff.
Midfielder Tom Cairney should be available again after missing last weekend's win at Bournemouth following the birth of his child. Andre Schurrle may sit out Saturday's game as his wife is due to have their baby.
On-loan Manchester United defender Timothy Fosu-Mensah continues his recovery from a knee ligament problem, while goalkeeper Marcus Bettinelli (knee) and midfielder Lazar Markovic (calf) are also in rehabilitation.
Cardiff midfielder Joe Ralls has been ruled out for the remainder of the season with a hamstring injury while Harry Arter is facing a battle to recover from a calf strain.
Callum Paterson (ankle) and Sol Bamba (knee) remain long-term absentees.
- Fulham have lost just one of their last eight meetings with Cardiff in all competitions (W3 D4), though it was the reverse fixture back in October (2-4).
- Cardiff have won all three of their Premier League meetings with Fulham, picking up a 2-1 victory in their only previous visit to Craven Cottage in the competition.
- The home side haven't lost any of the last 23 Premier League meetings between two promoted clubs (W15 D8), since Leicester won 1-0 at Burnley in April 2015. The last seven sides to win away at a fellow promoted side have all avoided relegation.
- Cardiff have lost nine of their 11 previous Premier League games in London (W1 D1 L9), with their only victory in the capital coming at Fulham in September 2013.
- Fulham have won their last two Premier League games, last winning three in a row in the competition back in March 2012 under Martin Jol.
- Fulham have kept a clean sheet in their last two Premier League games, as many as they had in their previous 37 games in the competition.
- Cardiff have lost seven of their last nine league games (W2), conceding at least twice in each loss while keeping a clean sheet in both wins.
- Cardiff are looking to secure back-to-back top-flight away wins for the first time since February 1957, having won at Brighton in their last game on the road.
- Aleksandar Mitrovic has scored the winning goal in five of Fulham's six Premier League victories this season. The Serbian has scored the highest percentage of his side's winners among all players in the competition this season (83%).
- Cardiff's Bobby Reid has scored in each of his four league starts against Fulham in the league, also providing an assist in the Bluebirds' 4-2 win in the reverse fixture in October. In fact, against no side has he scored more league goals than he has against Fulham (4).
Cardiff have to win and hope that Brighton don't beat Newcastle in the late game, it's that simple. I watched Fulham against Bournemouth and they were the better team, the keeper made a few good saves but they deserved to win.
They've got a bit more about them than Huddersfield, they just can't defend and make such, such silly mistakes, the ones you'd expect kids to make. But I think Cardiff will keep it alive at least until the late kick-off.
PAUL PREDICTS: 1-2