Fulham V Cardiff at Craven Cottage - Match Preview

Jol hopes for a bit of luck

Martin Jol is aware success and failure in the Barclays Premier League is determined by fine margins and hopes, for once this season, luck is on the side of Fulham against Cardiff on Saturday.

The Cottagers beat Everton in the Capital One Cup on Tuesday to end a six-match winless sequence at home, but are still chasing a second league win of the season following the opening-day defeat of Sunderland.

"The difference between being successful and not is nothing," said Jol, who was booed following Fulham's most recent home league game, the draw with West Brom.

"If we had won the game against West Brom, we would've been in the top half of the table."

Instead, Fulham enter this weekend's fixtures lying in the relegation zone.

Yet Jol is boosted by the prospect of fielding on-loan Aston Villa striker Darren Bent up front alongside Dimitar Berbatov, having had limited opportunity to do so in the early weeks of the season.

Fulham are without first-choice goalkeeper Maarten Stekelenburg (shoulder), winger Ashkan Dejagah (calf) and defender Matthew Briggs (hernia), but defender Aaron Hughes (thigh) and midfielder Bryan Ruiz (ankle) could return if they pass fitness tests.

Jol has confidence the temporary move for Bent will pay dividends this term, with the England striker's start yielding two goals, despite being curtailed by injury.

And Jol hopes Cardiff's open approach will aid his side, but he is also wary of the newly-promoted Welshmen.

"If you look at Cardiff, they're very organised," Jol said. "They've got pace up front and they've always got some activity. They'd like to hurt you.

"It's not a walkover, of course not. It's a strong team with good qualities. They've invested a few bob as well.

"It won't be easy, but how many games are easy in the league?

"It's never easy. They will come at you, they will try to have a go.

"You get more space and normally it's easier. If you get more space with the players we've got - and we've got some space up front now - hopefully we can make it easier for ourselves.

"If not, I can live with a narrow win as well. Hopefully we are strong enough."

Cardiff boss Malky Mackay hopes his side can add to Fulham's early-season woes on Saturday, but feels it is too soon for Cottagers' boss Martin Jol to be coming under pressure.

The Bluebirds head to Craven Cottage looking to pick up their first away win as a Premier League club, knowing a defeat could put them in the bottom three by the end of the weekend.

Fulham currently occupy a spot in the relegation zone after taking just four points from their first five games.

Their stuttering start means Jol's position is already under scrutiny, but Mackay believes their Capital One Cup win over Everton shows the Fulham manager and squad have more than enough ability.

Mackay said: "People have an opinion in football and these days with the social media aspect it is highlighted even more.

"But Martin is an experienced manager who has a group who have just gone and beaten Everton on Tuesday night. It just shows you the strength of the team.

"They are a club who have been in the Premier League for a good number of years and they are very stable.

"I was present at a couple of games on their Europa League run. I was a guest for the games against Juventus and Rosenborg and it was a great atmosphere.

"They know exactly where they are, and invariably the fans are pretty middle of the road people in terms of their expectations, I would imagine."

While Cardiff enjoyed an eye-catching win over Manchester City just two games into their maiden Premier League season, they have now gone four matches in all competitions without tasting victory.

Mackay knows there is still plenty of football to be played, but is relishing the task of getting back to winning ways and securing a landmark victory.

"We realise it is an away game and that's tough as you have seen every week," he said.

"But we are relishing going up there even though it will be a tough task.

"I know the individual skill that at least half a dozen of their present team have got and they have five or six individual match winners and an experienced manager, so we have a task in hand but we are looking forward to it.

"Every week there is a challenge in the Premier League and there is no easy week.

"If you ever start thinking like that, then good luck, because I am not sure you will last very long.

"It's about making sure you treat everyone with the same importance and it is the same as last year.

"We go through the structure and game plan and go in with the correct attitude which we should every week."

Mackay must decide whether to hand Peter Odemwingie a first Premier League start for the club after scoring in the Capital One Cup defeat at West Ham.

Left-back Andrew Taylor will make his 100th Cardiff appearance, while right-back Kevin McNaughton has joined Bolton in an emergency loan deal.

Source: PA

Source: PA