Fulham manager Martin Jol believes Fulham will find themselves in a “relegation battle” if they do not pick up points over the festive period.
The Cottagers lost a number of key players during the summer but begun the season surprisingly well.
Things, though, have taken a turn for the worse of late and Jol has only led his side to one victory in their previous 10 matches.
That poor form has seen them plummet in the table and the Dutchman knows they need to improve in the coming games, starting when Southampton visit Craven Cottage on Boxing Day.
“We wanted that win last week against QPR but I don’t think we were good enough,” Jol said.
“Against Liverpool we didn’t show our strength and hopefully we can pick up the points not because it is a vital game for us. It is a vital game for them as well.
“We are in a good position, we have got a good cushion but if we don’t pick up the points in the next week or so then we’re really in a relegation battle with other teams.”
Jol believes Southampton are one of the sides that will around the dropzone come the end of the season, but will not be taking them for granted on Boxing Day.
“Sometimes they showed they can get the results and sometimes their weaknesses have been exploited, like we have,” he said.
“You saw a big contradiction with Aston Villa, losing 8-0 at Chelsea after winning at Liverpool the week before.
“That is the Barclays Premier League for you. It is unbelievably strong so you have to be strong in your organisation and you need your players that can make the difference.
“I feel we have got these players and hopefully they will be available. Even when they’re not, we have got other players that can do the job, but the margin is a bit thin between being successful and not successful.”
Jol may well be able to welcome back one of those key players, with Bryan Ruiz rated 50-50 for the match after a hamstring injury.
Steve Sidwell returns after a one-match ban, but Mahamadou Diarra and Mladen Petric are doubts, while Damien Duff is definitely out.
Southampton’s only injury concern is likely to be that of captain Adam Lallana, although Jol is wary of their other attacking options.
“I don’t think it matters,” he said of the left winger. “If you see them, they had Jay Rodriguez and we had a close look at him.
“He was quite expensive and they bought him. They have Gaston Ramirez, who has over £10million and is a good player.
“He can play on that flank and if you see Jason Puncheon on the other flank, he has done very well.
“They also have Emmanuel Mayuka, who we had a look at as well. He was £6million or £7million.
“They have a few players that can fill in that role. We have to do that all the time so why couldn’t they come up with a solution?”