Writer: Andrew Joyce
Date:Monday January 26 2009
Stadium of Light
It`s a return to Premier League action for Fulham this Tuesday as they face a long midweek trip to Wearside to take on Sunderland. It promises to be a tough fixture but one Fulham dare not lose for fear of being sucked back towards the bottom half of the table.
In his pre-match build-up, Roy Hodgson has spoken about the necessity to improve our away record, stating,
'We need to start ensuring points away from home. During our good run we picked up points away but we weren't getting wins. Three draws only equate to one win. We are aware of that."
'It's a question of being able to reproduce the good performances we had during that run and getting that small margin working in your favour that turns a draw into victory. "
'I don't think we're that far away. I'd be more concerned if we never had a chance away from home and were playing poorly.'
But Roy, those stats still look awful!
Ricky Sbragia rested his main strikers, Kenwyne Jones and Djibril Cisse, on Saturday in the dour 0-0 draw with Blackburn Rovers but we suspect they`ll be on from the start to face us.
Kieron Richardson is unlikely to feature due to an ankle injury and Nyron Nosworthy and Craig Gordon are also out but Teemu Taimo is available again after serving a one match ban for five yellow cards.
Sunderland from - Fulop, Colgan, Bardsley, McShane, McCartney, Ferdinand, Collins, Whitehead, Malbranque, Leadbitter, Tainio, Edwards, Yorke, Reid, Henderson, Diouf, Cisse, Jones, Murphy, Healy, Chopra.
I had hoped that Spurs would sign him before this fixture but it doesn`t look as if it`s going to happen, therefore, we`ll need Brede Hangeland to battle away against the powerful ex-Southampton forward and deny him the time to provide the knock-downs for the advancing midfielders to capitalise on
Roy Hodgson will be hoping that no knocks have materialised in the aftermath of the hard FA Cup tie at Rockingham Road. With Jimmy Bullard now history, Roy will need to decide whether to stick with Leon Andreasen in midfield or opt for Dickson Etuhu to play alongside Danny Murphy. Other areas he`ll need to ponder over are whether to recall John Pantsil in place of Fredrik Stoor and whether to recall Bobby Zamora in place of either Zoltan Gera or Clint Dempsey.
Here at Vital Fulham we have a suspicion the starting eleven will have a familiar look to it and predict Roy will go with:
Schwarzer, Stoor, Hangeland, Hughes, Konchesky, Davies, Etuhu, Murphy, Dempsey, Johnson, Zamora
If we go down the road whereby former players do well against former clubs and invariably score this could be the night Dickson Etuhu shows us what he`s worth!
Sunderland enter the fixture with a home record that isn`t far better than our away record. Current stats show that they`ve won 3, drawn 2 and lost 6
Could this be our first Premier League away win of the season?
A second tough away trip in the space of four days for Roy and his team, Sunderland is never an easy place to go and a defeat would leave us looking at two successive away day defeats, not a good omen as we hope to push onwards and upwards. The spectre of not having won away from home, in the premier League, this season continues to haunt us and as much as I`d love to see the spell broken up on Wearside my head is going to rule my heart and suggest the best we`ll come away with is a point, possibly in a 1-1 draw!
Portsmouth, at home, provide the next opposition.
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Date:Monday January 26 2009
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