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Big Match Preview: Fulham

After suffering heartache in the Sky Bet Championship play-offs last season, Fulham currently sit four points off the top six in 13th, without a win in their last three outings.

Meanwhile, with just two losses this campaign, City occupy fourth spot in the division, and will hope to continue their impressive start by securing their fourth consecutive win in West London.

Here’s a closer look at tonight's opponents.

FACTFILE

Formed: 1879
Nickname: The Cottagers
Website: www.fulhamfc.com
Twitter: @FulhamFC
Ground: Craven Cottage
Capacity: 25,700

Honours:
First Division: 2000/01
First Division runners-up: 1958/59
Second Division: 1931/32, 1948/49, 1998/99
Second Division runners-up: 1970/71
Third Division runners-up: 1996/97
Third Division: 1987/88
FA Cup runners-up: 1975
Europa League runners-up: 2010
Intertoto Cup: 2002

Last season:
League finish: 6th (lost in the play-off semi-finals)
FA Cup: Fifth round, lost to Tottenham Hotspur
EFL Cup: Third round, lost to Bristol City
Top scorer: Tom Cairney and Stefan Johansen, 13 goals
Average attendance: 18,498

HOW DID THEY GET HERE?

Having been relegated from the Premier League in 2013/14 after 13 consecutive seasons in the top flight, Fulham – the oldest-established football team from London to have played in the Premier League - are now a well-recognised outfit within the Championship.

Last season they mathematically secured a place in the play-offs by beating fellow promotion hopefuls Sheffield Wednesday on the final day of the season, but lost in the semi-finals to Reading.

This term, the Cottagers have won just one of their last eight league matches at Craven Cottage and are on a run of 16 matches without a home clean sheet in the Championship, last keeping a shutout in a win back in January against Barnsley.

Fulham will hope to return to winning ways this evening and edge closer to the top six, but will come up against a City side who have won on each of their last three visits to West London.

Slavisa Jokanovic is hoping to guide Fulham to the Premier League as he did with Watford

MEET THE GAFFER

After relieving Kit Symons of his duties at the Cottage, Fulham went over 50 days without a head coach, before striking a deal with with Slavisa Jokanovic.

Jokanovic began his managerial career in 2007, winning two consecutive doubles with Partizan, before leading Watford to the Premier League.

Contract talks then broke down at Vicarage Road so the former Chelsea player took charge of the Israeli side Maccabi Tel Aviv, where he guided them into the Champions League group stage for the first time in their history.

His return to English football then came just six months later after the Cottagers agreed compensation for Jokanovic.

Since becoming the Fulham boss in 2015, Jokanovic has a 40.4% win percentage, and after the club’s 2-0 win at Ashton Gate in February, his contract was extended with the West London outfit until 2019.

Tom Cairney races forward for the Cottagers

STAR MAN – Tom Cairney

The fit-again captain marked his first start since August with Fulham's dramatic equaliser in the 1-1 draw with Bolton on Saturday.

Cairney has endured a frustrating start to the campaign, having already missed two months of action due to a knee injury, but is determined to now help the Cottagers reach the top flight after last season’s play-off disappointment.

The midfielder was influential in the last campaign and was subsequently named the EFL player of the year and made the PFA Championship Team of the Year.

Such performances led to Newcastle bidding £20million for his services in the summer, but Fulham rejected the offer and Cairney penned a contract extension until 2021.

His ability to retain possession, pick out a pass, and his vision for shooting from all areas of the pitch makes him a real handful, and Lee Johnson’s side will be well aware of how to frustrate the 26-year-old this evening.

Marlon Pack celebrates his equaliser at Craven Cottage

MEMORABLE MEETING 2015/16

Fulham 1-2 Bristol City

Goals: McCormack 3, Pack 69, Tomlin 90.

City fought back from 1-0 down to earn a crucial victory at fellow Championship strugglers Fulham.

After Joe Bryan was denied by Andrew Longergan in the opening Ross McCormack demonstrated his masterclass when he dispatched quite a brilliant lob, sending a shot sailing over Richard O'Donnell to give Fulham a third-minute lead.

But Marlon Pack levelled midway through the second half when he picked out the bottom corner with a precise low shot, before Lee Tomlin sent the near 4,000 strong City supporters into raptures with his 90th minute free kick.

The defeat left Fulham just one point above the relegation zone, while City side moved four points ahead of third from bottom Rotherham, bolstering the survival prospects for Lee Johnson’s side.

Fulham: Lonergan, Madl, Burn, Amorebieta, Fredericks, Cairney, Parker (O'Haraat 80), Tunnicliffe, Garbutt (Reamat 77), McCormack, Dembele (Woodrow 85). 

City: O'Donnell, Matthews (Ayling 90), Flint, Baker, Golbourne, Freeman (Reidat 45), Pack, Bryan, Tomlin, Wilbraham, Kodjia (Odemwingie 45).

AND FINALLY...

Officials
Referee: Scott Duncan
Adam Crysell and Robert Hyde
Fourth Official: Charles Breakspear

Betting (via SkyBet)
Fulham 19/20
Draw 11/4
City 13/5