Writer: Andrew Joyce
Date:Saturday December 5 2009
After the narrow victory over CSKA Sofia in the Europa League, its back to the Premier League with a home fixture against much improved Sunderland. After dropping two points to Bolton Wanderers last time out, Roy Hodgson will be looking for a maximum return on Sunday afternoon.
After returning from injury in midweek (and missing a penalty) our club captain has spoken about the risks a certain Darren Bent carries when he`s an opposition player, remarking,
"I played alongside Darren and I`m a bog fan of his because he always gets goals."
"You might not see him for 80 minutes in a game but he will keep running and if he gets a chance he will put it away."
And as for that penalty miss in midweek,
"I apologised but the lads know most of the time I`m pretty reliable."
"Mentally I didn`t concentrate enough. Maybe I was guilty of strolling up to it thinking I would score and as soon as you do that, you start missing."
It`s okay Danno, you`re forgiven!
After shuffling the starting eleven for the recent Europa clash with CSKA Sofia, Roy Hodgson will be looking to bring back Damien Duff, Clint Dempsey and Aaron Hughes.
But, Simon Davies, who recently made a comeback after a long absence, will require an assessment on the calf injury he sustained on Wednesday night.
Definitely out though are Andrew Johnson, Diomansy Kamara and Dickson Etuhu.
After being out injured since the Hull fixture, our captain will be looking to make up for lot time in the Premier League, no penalty misses please though Danny!
Steve Bruce brings his Sunderland team to Craven Cottage on the back of a poor performance at Wigan last weekend. His squad will have to make do without the injured duo of Craig Gordon and Lee Cattermole.
John Mensah is also out with a calf problem although Kenwyne Jones may return despite picking up a dead leg playing for the reserves in midweek.
Many scoffed when Sunderland paid big money for him from Spurs but the striker has delivered the goods and could force his way into Fabio Capello`s World Cup plans.
Last season this would have had home win written all over it but this season Sunderland, with Steve Bruce in charge, are a much different proposition. Some astute buys have added a new dimension to their play and Fulham will have to work hard to get any reward. However, Roy Hodgson was very astute with his selection in midweek for the visit of CSKA Sofia and the return of Clint Dempsey and Damien Duff could just give us that impetus to carve out a narrow victory. I`m going for a 2-1 Fulham win.
Taking charge of this Premier League fixture is Mike Dean
Our last encounter with Sunderland saw us defeated 1-0 back in January, at the Stadium of Light, with Kenwyne Jones getting the only goal of the game. In all league fixtures between the two clubs, Sunderland have a healthy lead over us having won 20 times compared to our 13 times with a further 13 having been drawn. Incidentally, in our last five encounters with the Black Cats, we`ve not beaten Sunderland.
After entertaining Sunderland we`re back on the road in the Premier League with what looks like a tricky away fixture at Burnley.
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Date:Saturday December 5 2009
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