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Fulham preview

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With four sides with very real ambitions of finishing fourth this season, the margin for error is getting smaller and smaller as we head towards the final stretch of the season.

In isolation a return of a point from a trip to Fulham would be considered a profitable return, but given what is now at stake you have to say that coming away with all three points is fast becoming a must - which would also set us up nicely for the home game (in hand) against Everton in midweek. A return of six points from the two games would really put us in a strong position regardless of results elsewhere.

Looking at all four sides who are battling one another (ourselves, Tottenham, Aston Villa and Liverpool), all are currently showing some signs of form and don't particularly look like dropping too many points so the slightest slip up will surely see other sides taking advantage.

Fulham (now also represented here on SBNation) of course coming into the game on the back of a tremendous victory of Juventus in Thursday's Europa League tie and this will have given them a huge boost. Despite a relatively small squad and progress in both the FA Cup and Europa League, there results in the league have not been hampered. A settled squad that appears to be very well managed by Roy Hodgson (who should be a candidate for manager of the year), they do come into the game without a victory over us at Craven Cottage since November 2005.

Our problems of late have been the way in which we have started games, but equally slow have been Fulham, who have only scored two first have goals in the last eleven Premier League games. Roberto Mancini has been talking about trying to continue where we left off at Sunderland and get off to a fast start:

"It is important to start well and I feel it was two points lost.

"We have to continue on Sunday like we did in the second half when we had seven or eight chances to score. Maybe if we had taken them we would have won the game."

Team wise, we know of one enforced change with Wayne Bridge being ruled out but Mancini will be faced with a decision as to whether to start with 4-4-2 - likely with Roque Santa Cruz coming in, or persisting with the 4-5-1 with Bellamy and probably Adam Johnson supporting Carlos Tevez with the Patrick Vieira likely to come into the side to join Nigel de Jong and Gareth Barry.

Fulham have shown they possess a great mental resolve in being able to overturn the deficit against Juventus in the way they did, but what shoouldn't be underestimated is the spirit and fortitude that our squad possesses at present. Talk is one thing, but it does look the squad is very focused on attaining fourth position.

Whilst a draw seems the obvious result (seven of the past thirteen between the two sides have ended in a stalemate) I do think we will come through a very close game with all three points.

Prediction - Fulham 1 City 2.