6:00am Thursday 24th October 2013
By Adam Leitch
Saints are this weekend aiming to return to the Premier League’s top four and extend a remarkable home record that spans almost 80 years.
Victory over Fulham at St Mary’s on Saturday will guarantee Saints at least a temporary return to the Champions League spots with a host of other fixtures being played on Sunday.
And the omens look good for Mauricio Pochettino’s side.
Amazingly, Fulham have only ever won one of their league away trips to Saints – and that was way back in 1935 when Ramsay MacDonald was Prime Minister!
The total record reads impressively for Saints, who have notched up 19 wins and eight draws in the 28 league meetings between the sides on the south coast.
However, Fulham have got closer in recent years, with four of the last five encounters at Saints ending in draws.
Last season saw Martin Jol’s men come closer than ever to ending their barren run at Saints.
Jose Fonte’s last minute leveller, his second goal of the contest, gave Saints a 2-2 draw a year ago this month.
Former Fulham and Portsmouth midfielder Sean Davis has been generous in his praise of Saints ahead of the fixture.
“I’ve not really been surprised by how well Southampton have done this season,” he said.
“I watched them towards the back end of last season and what I was most impressed with was the way they pressed in numbers high up the pitch.
“They weren’t frightened to press the ball high and if you do that, and you’re brave doing it, then you can win the ball back in the opponents’ half and attack straight away.
“I’m maybe a bit surprised they’re as high as sixth, but I’m not surprised at the improvement they’ve shown because the manager has had the whole of pre-season to talk to the players and show them exactly what he wants.
“They’ve got a lot of young players and young players are hungry and want to improve and want to succeed in one of the best leagues in the world.
“That can only be a good thing for a team.”
Saints go into the game having suffered just one defeat all season.
That 1-0 loss at Norwich at the end of August is the only blip on a brilliant Saints record this campaign, in which they have otherwise gone unbeaten over ten matches in all competitions.
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