The long trip to the land of the Mackems beckons this weekend when Fulham journey to the north-east to take on Sunderland. It`s a fixture that won`t capture the imagination of the media but one that could turn out to be surprisingly entertaining.
In the build up to the clash Martin Jol has issued a hands off warning to one of the players, Moussa Dembele, that could playa pivotal role in getting all three points tomorrow, remarking,
‘There is a lot of interest in good players and I’ve got a few.
‘It’s up to us to keep them here and that’s what we’re trying to do.
‘I think Dembele could develop into one of the best. He’s better on the ball than any other number 10s I know. The only step he has to take now is play more killer balls and finish.
‘Dembele gives us an extra dimension. For me it’s important I’ve got good players.
‘If they are better than average players it’s only good for the club.’
Sunderland Team News:
Steve Bruce has seen his squad change dramatically since we last visited the Stadium of Light. Asamoah Gyan has departed but there have been several notable arrivals, including John O`Shea and Wes Brown from Manchester United and Nicolas Bendtner from Arsenal.
On the injury front, Steve Bruce will be without both Simon Mignolet and Craig Gordon as both are injured. Keiren Westwood will deputize.
Also out are the injured striking duo of Conor Wickham and Fraizer Campbell. The defensive stalwart Titus Bramble will also be absent due to a knee injury.
Player to watch: Nicolas Bendtner
Keen to re-establish himself as a Premiership marksman after his move away from Arsenal. On his day he can be lethal but on other days simply awful lets hope it is the latter.
Fulham Team News:
Martin Jol takes his troops to the north-east without the injured Zdenek Grygera, who is out for six months, whilst Stephen Kelly will also be absent after picking up an injury whilst on international duty with the Republic of Ireland. Aaron Hughes is another who`ll be missed through injury but it`s expected that Steve Sidwell will be available again after shaking off his latest injury.
Player to watch: Bobby Zamora
Didn`t have the best of games for England, on his Wembley debut, so will be looking to get on the score-sheet to keep Fabio Capello`s attention as he contemplates his squad choice for the Euro Finals next summer.
Match Facts & Stats
Looking at the statistics, Sunderland have a poor scoring record against us, they`ve failed to score in five of the last six matches, including, strangely, the last four.
Last time out, Fulham won 3-0 at the Stadium of Light, a rare away day victory. In fact our away day form shows that in the last 100 Premier League games we`ve won a mere 12. Surely it is time for a major improvement.
Two Fulham Premier League away wins on the bounce, after such a barren run, is surely something that dreams are made of. But the opportunity is there to do just such a thing! Sunderland, for all their summer spending, are not in the greatest of form. The new players have yet to bed down into a solid unit and Martin Jol will be keen for Fulham to extend Steve Bruce`s misery. As optimistic as ever, I`m taking Fulham to spring another surprise, on the road, and nick this one 1-0!
Our next fixture sees us welcome Arsenal to Craven Cottage next weekend.