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Fulham away at Sunderland:- Match Preview

last updated Friday 01st March 2013, 4:02 PM

Fulham manager Martin Jol
Fulham manager
Martin Jol
Martin Jol
The projected target among clubs fighting for their Premier League survival is 38 points so this fixture carries greater significance for a Sunderland side still looking over their shoulders.

They have lacked consistency all season but the key question is whether their confidence has dipped after suffering three straight league defeats for the first time under Martin O'Neill.

This time last year the Black Cats were five points better off in 12th position, but right now they are within sight of the troubled clubs below so this week's rallying call from John O'Shea is well timed.

Fulham have four points fewer than at this stage last term, but what is identical is their away record - two wins, five draws and six defeats. Their poor form on the road will offer a degree of hope for any worried Wearsiders.

In fact, in the corresponding fixture in November it was Sunderland who banished their away day woes with a 3-1 victory, claiming their first league win on the road for nine months.

I was at Craven Cottage that Sunday afternoon and the turning point was undoubtedly the first-half dismissal of Brede Hangeland. Fulham had the edge until his red card for a two-footed lunge on Lee Cattermole, and even with 10 men they still forced Simon Mignolet to make two important late saves.

Sunderland must rediscover their touch for scoring goals at home after three successive blanks at the Stadium of Light in league and cup, but last week's change of formation will offer encouragement.

Danny Graham partnered Steven Fletcher in attack at West Brom, with Stephane Sessegnon switched to the right. Any strike pairing needs time to gel but the early signs were promising.

I witnessed Sunderland's last home match against Arsenal and if they can start how they finished that day then Fulham could be in for a busy afternoon.

Martin Jol's men are themselves not totally safe from the threat of relegation but if they can add to their away wins at Wigan and West Brom then any lingering fears will surely fade away.


  • Sunderland's 3-1 victory at Fulham in November was their first win in seven league games against the Whites.

  • Only once before have the Black Cats beaten Fulham home and away in a top-flight season - that was in 1949-50, when they went on to finish third.

  • Sunderland

  • The Black Cats have lost three successive Premier League games for the first time under Martin O'Neill. They are enduring their worst run since suffering four consecutive defeats between March and April 2011 under O'Neill's predecessor Steve Bruce.

  • Sunderland have won only one of the 12 league games in which they conceded the opening league goal this season, losing 10 of those matches.

  • They have kept nine clean sheets so far - Liverpool (10) and Manchester City (12) are the only sides with better records in the top flight.

  • Craig Gardner is set to make his 200th appearance in English football (including matches for Aston Villa and Birmingham), while James McClean is one shy of 50 Premier League games (all for Sunderland).

  • They have won just three of their last 18 league games.

  • Fulham

  • The Whites are yet to lose a Premier League match in which Dimitar Berbatov scored for them (W4, D3).

  • Berbatov has scored seven of his nine league goals this season in the first half of matches.

  • They have kept back-to-back clean sheets. The last time they recorded three successive shut-outs was in February 2010.

Source Ian Dennis at BBCSports
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