Making a welcome return from his lengthy suspension in time for Fulham’s trip to St Mary’s, Cottagers talisman Aleksandar Mitrovic made his presence felt in a second-half cameo, as Silva’s side put the final nail in Southampton’s relegation coffin.
Mitrovic’s deputy Carlos Vinicius had already drawn first blood three minutes after the restart prior to Mitrovic’s header, officially condemning Southampton to Championship football for the 2023-24 season and keeping Fulham mathematically in the hunt for European football.
Lying smack-bang in the middle of the table in 10th place, Fulham have a six-point deficit to make up to seventh-placed Tottenham Hotspur with two games left to play, while Aston Villa hold an identical buffer over the Cottagers, whose chances of forcing their way into seventh spot are therefore slim to none.
While Silva’s men should fall short in the continental chase – especially as a trek to Manchester United awaits on May 28 – the Cottagers can reflect fondly on a satisfactory campaign, even if eight defeats from their last 12 have seen Fulham end on a somewhat sour note.
However, the hosts are seeking a third successive Premier League success in the wake of triumphs over Southampton and their eight-goal extravaganza with Leicester City, and a new club record is on the line for the Cottagers, who could win four London derbies in a single top-flight season for the first time ever.
While Fulham were busy dominating one coastal outfit in gameweek 36, Crystal Palace replicated such success when Bournemouth paid a visit to Selhurst Park, as the Cherries became the latest victims of an inspired Eberechi Eze.
The 24-year-old’s ninth and 10th goals of the Premier League season arrived last weekend, as he prodded home a simple finish before picking out the top corner from range in the second half, extending both his and the Eagles’ purple patch with Roy Hodgson at the helm.
Before holding showdown talks with the 75-year-old veteran over his future – having possibly been impressed enough to keep Hodgson in charge beyond the end of the season – Palace can kick their feet up for their closing fixtures with Fulham and Nottingham Forest, comfortably sitting 12th in the standings and level on points with 11th-placed Chelsea, the only side that they can still usurp.
However, amid all the Selhurst Park jubilation, Palace’s recent exploits on the road have left a lot to be desired; the Eagles have lost back-to-back away matches against Wolverhampton Wanderers and Tottenham Hotspur without scoring and have only won twice on rival turf in 2023, although both of those triumphs came under Hodgson.
The Eagles have also been put to the sword in their final away game of the past three seasons and were trounced 3-0 by Fulham on Boxing Day, but the Cottagers have never done a Premier League double over Palace, who are seeking a third consecutive win at Craven Cottage this weekend.