Fulham travel to Sunderland -- Match Preview

last updated Saturday 17th August 2013, 9:52 AM


Fulham manager Martin Jol
Fulham manager
Martin Jol
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Martin Jol
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While many Sunderland supporters would settle for a pleasant mid-table plod through the campaign, they are equally realistic that yet another year of transition awaits.

The appointment of Martin O'Neill in December 2011 was supposed to herald a much-needed period of stability, yet within 16 months he was gone, with his side precariously close to a return to the Championship.

His successor, Paolo Di Canio, was effectively handed a seven-game season using O'Neill's freefalling squad and the Italian emerged with almost hero-like status from the successful challenge.

Now it's time for a full 38-match campaign with a group of players that represent his blueprint for success.

Jozy Altidore and Vito Mannone have limited experience of English football, while El Hadji Ba, Cabral, Modibo Diakite, Valentin Roberge and Emanuele Giaccherini have none.

Neither, though, had a mercurial Di Canio when he burst emphatically onto the scene as a 29-year-old with Sheffield Wednesday in 1997 and it's that admirable self belief, allied to his stoic nature, that he'll be transmitting to his new recruits now.

An opening-day visit from a much more settled-looking Fulham represents an awkward test for a side who'll be even more reliant on their new boys, as David Vaughan and Craig Gardner are both suspended, with Wes Brown and Steven Fletcher injured.

The potential debut of the Cottagers' new striker Darren Bent will add even greater intrigue - he left Sunderland for Aston Villa under somewhat of a cloud.

With the next seven league visitors to Wearside being Arsenal, Liverpool, Manchester United, Newcastle, Manchester City, Chelsea and Tottenham it does make this weekend's match even more significant for the Black Cats.

    Head-to-head



  • Fulham are unbeaten in their last four trips to Wearside (W1, D3).


  • Four of the last 10 games between the sides have ended goalless, while only three of those matches saw both sides score.



  • Sunderland



  • The Black Cats won just one of their final eight home games last season.


  • However, they have not lost a match at the Stadium of Light since Paolo Di Canio took over (W1, D2).


  • They managed just two headed goals in 2012-13 - a Premier League low.



  • Fulham



  • The Whites have begun the last four seasons by keeping clean sheets (W2, D2). The time they conceded on the opening day was in 2008, when they lost 2-1 to Hull.


  • However, Fulham have only won one of seven Premier League games when they started the season away from home (at Portsmouth in 2009).


  • Martin Jol's men gained only five points from losing positions last term, the worst record in the top flight.
























Source Alistair Mann at BBCSports
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