It is most definitely do-or-die for Southampton at St. Mary’s this afternoon against a Fulham side who showed glimpses of their finest football in the eight-goal thriller against Leicester City on Monday afternoon. Only a win will do for the Saints today, but even if Reuben Selles’ side get the three points they could still find themselves relegated if Everton and Nottingham Forest pick up points. A dismal campaign has seen Southampton register only six wins and employ three managers: even though Selles started well, the south coast club have become detached from the rest of the relegation-threatened sides in recent weeks.

The dramatic 4-3 defeat at the City Ground on Monday was a devastating blow to their chances of avoiding the drop. Southampton showed plenty of spirit in recovering from a poor start, but – as has been the case all season – their tenacity and promise in forward areas was undermined by poor defending. A gap of nine points between themselves and their rivals seems too vast to bridge with only a few games to play, especially given a growing injury crisis. Selles will be without Romain Perraud and Armel Bella-Kotchap for the rest of the season with Tino Livramento, Mohammed Salisu and Juan Larios likely to miss the visit of Fulham and forward Che Adams facing a late fitness test.

Fulham will travel to Southampton full of confidence after returning to winning ways against the Foxes in some style after three successive defeats. The Whites will need to make a bit of history this afternoon, having just once in 31 league visits to Southampton – a second-tier victory in October 1935. Indeed, only one of the 21 top-flight meetings has ended in an away win – Southampton’s 3-0 victory in February 2014. Marco Silva’s side are vying for their fifteenth Premier League win of the season, having equalled the club record for victories with the success over Leicester, and their seventh top-flight away win would set a new record, exceeding the six wins away from Craven Cottage achieved first in 1960-61 and then again 1962-63 under the stewardship of Bedford Jezzard.

The Cottagers’ are aiming to end the season with their highest Premier League points total – eclipsing the 53 points gained by Roy Hodgson’s side when they finished seventh and qualified for the Europa League in 2008/09. Whilst the Whites have pushed the top four close this season, their relative strength – certainly compared to the pre-season predictions – has been achieved by being particularly severe on the sides in the bottom five of the table. Fulham have registered 25 out of 27 points against the current bottom five, with their only failure being in October’s goalless home draw with Everton back in October. Silva’s free-scoring side are also two goals away from matching their highest total – an even 50 – in 2003-04 and 2004-05 under Chris Coleman.

They will have added firepower this afternoon as they welcome back Aleksandar Mitrovic following his eight-game ban after being sent off in the FA Cup quarter-final defeat at Manchester United. The Serbian striker should come straight back into the starting line-up having trained with the rest of the squad throughout his suspension and will be targeting a twelfth goal of the season, which would make this his most successful Premier League campaign. Dropping to the bench would be harsh on Carlos Vinicius, especially after he scored one and made another in the win over Leicester on Monday, but Mitrovic is so vital to Fulham’s fortunes, it would be unfathomable – and a step back to the Scott Parker days – to leave him out here.

MY FULHAM XI (4-2-3-1): Leno; Tete, A. Robinson, Adarabioyo, Diop; Palhinha, Reed; Wilson, Willian, Cairney; Mitrovic. Subs: Rodak, Cedric Soares, Duffy, Lukic, Dibley-Dias, Decordova-Reid, Kebano, Harris, Vinicius.