Writer: Andrew Joyce
Date:Saturday February 27 2010
Stadium of Light
After the glory of knocking the current UEFA Cup holders out of the Europa League, in midweek, it`s back to the Premier League this weekend for a Sunday afternoon fixture against struggling Sunderland. Can Fulham make a dramatic improvement on their awful away form or is this a home banker?
Ahead of the clash Damien Duff has spoken, briefly about returning to the north-east, commenting,
"I had a difficult few years up in the north-east but I`m just happy to be back playing and thankful to be playing good football with a good team and a good manager, and long may it continue. It`s always going to be hard going up there [to Sunderland] but we`ll keep working hard and see what comes."
Three points would be nice Damien!
Steve Bruce enters this fixture without the services of Henderson and Reid, both of whom are injured and also without the services of Meyler who is suspended.
Steve Bruce will however be able to welcome back Lee Cattermole who returns from suspension.
Sunderland could line up as follows:-
Gordon, Mensah, Ferdinand, Turner, Hutton, Richardson, Cattermole, Cana, Campbell, Jones, Bent
On his day a class striker and one of the best target men around, let`s hope it`s an off day then!
Roy Hodgson will be hoping that Bobby Zamora can shake up the Achilles knock he picked up against Shakhtar Donetsk. If not, our top scorer will join an injury list that contains such names as John Pantsil, Clint Dempsey, Andrew Johnson and Paul Konchesky.
Nicky Shorey was illegible for the European jaunt but comes back into contention for the visit to the north-east.
If, as expected Zamora does miss out, we suspect that David Elm will deputise giving Roy a starting eleven of:-
Schwarzer, Baird, Hughes, Hangeland, Shorey, Duff, Murphy, Etuhu, Davies, Gera and Zamora (or Elm)
The Irishman had an outstanding game in midweek, shuffling backwards and forward to eliminate the threat posed by Donetsk. Hopefully he`ll be able to get forward a bit more in this fixture and show us his attacking strengths.
If you are looking for a feast of goals, this is probably not your fixture!
The last three encounters between the sides have produced just two goals, a no-score draw, a 1-0 win for Sunderland and a l1-0 win for Fulham, the last of these being back in December 2009 when Bobby Zamora was on hand to score the only goal of the game
Martin Atkinson is the man in the middle.
It`s always hard to predict a Fulham victory away from home in the Premier League. Results this season have shown that you invariably fall flat on your face if you do so. However, Sunderland are a team in trouble, struggling to put together a string of results and with their confidence ebbing away. Fulham, in stark contrast, are buoyant following their superb success in the Europa Cup and may see this as a chance to stamp their mark on that awful away record. But tiredness, after the long trip, could creep in so I`m going to sit on the fence and go for a 1-1 draw.
Next up for Fulham is an attractive FA Cup Quarter-Final tie against Tottenham Hotspur next weekend.
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Date:Saturday February 27 2010
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