Fulham vs Bournemouth preview: Slavisa Jokanovic staying calm despite mounting pressure

Slavisa Jokanovic has played down the significance of Fulham owner Shahid Khan’s show of support ahead of his side hosting Bournemouth in the Premier League on Saturday.

Last week’s damaging 4-2 defeat at Cardiff left Fulham in the bottom three and followed reports the manager’s job was already at risk.

Fulham host Bournemouth on Saturday when they will again be expected to secure three valuable points, despite Khan’s move to ease the pressure on Jokanovic by insisting he remains convinced of his abilities.

The fact that Fulham spent large sums of money on new players following their promotion contributed to perceptions their manager was struggling, but Khan wrote in his programme notes for the Bournemouth fixture: “Don’t believe anything you read.

“The sensational and fictional headlines related to Slavisa; I’m in equal parts amused, astonished and disappointed (by them).

When asked about Khan’s comments on Thursday, Jokanovic said: “It’s great. (But) generally I’m not the kind of person who needs a shoulder for support.

“I am calm, I do my work and live in the present but they are great words from the owner’s side.”

Bournemouth’s good start to the season was checked last time out by the stalemate with Southampton and manager Eddie Howe expects an improved performance in west London.

“Last week was a really good reminder that we have to be at our best to win games in this league,” he said.

“We’re pleased to this point. It’s been a pleasant start but that’s all it is. We know how quickly football can change.

“Everyone is very closely knit together at this football club – it’s a special club. I love working with the players – their attitude is second to none.

“I have a lot of respect for Fulham and their manager, their style of play draws a lot of praise and I have a lot of respect for that way of working.”

Team news

Fulham’s only confirmed absentee for Saturday is injured left-back Joe Bryan. Tom Cairney has returned to full training but faces a late fitness test.

Bournemouth have no major injury concerns but Howe may look to shuffle his pack following the 0-0 draw with Southampton.

The Cherries boss admitted a couple of players picked up knocks in the game against Saints while Junior Stanislas and Jordon Ibe are pushing for their first Premier League starts of the season.

Opta stats

  • Fulham and Bournemouth have never met in the English top-flight – their last league meeting was in the Championship in March 2015, with the Cherries winning 5-1.
  • Fulham have won just two of their last 16 games against Bournemouth (D5 L9) – their last win against them was in a third tier game in January 1994.
  • Bournemouth have won four of their last eight Premier League games against sides from London (W4 D2 L2), as many as they’d won in their previous 25 such clashes (W4 D6 L15).
  • Fulham have conceded six more Premier League goals than any other team this season (25) – the highest total at this stage of an English top-flight campaign since Southampton in 2012-13 (26).
  • Fulham have afforded their opponents more shots on target than any other Premier League team in 2018-19 (61).

Merson’s prediction

Fulham’s defending…. deary me. I have not seen anything like it. I have seen some teams defend badly in this league but I have not seen a team defend like Fulham. They are all over the place. They think they are playing five-a-side after work – they are so open. They played against Arsenal like Arsenal play against Barcelona: you have a shot, we will have a shot. It’s alright in the Championship doing that but you need to be flexible in this league.

I cannot see anything but an easy Bournemouth win. That front three will fill their boots.

PAUL PREDICTS: 1-4 (33/1 with Sky Bet)

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