Sunderland v Fulham - Match Preview

last updated Friday 13th September 2002, 11:52 AM
Fulham Manager Jean Tigana Based on last year's end of season statistics Sunderland versus Fulham might be billed as a potentially tight affair, but after a handful of games in the new campaign the omens are oh so different.

It's hard to believe that Fulham are the side that failed to score in 15 Premiership matches last term given their somewhat free-scoring start to 2002-03. Jean Tigana's team have notched an average of 2.25 goals per game this term and paraded their fighting spirit for all to see on Wednesday night by coming from two goals down to defeat capital rivals Spurs.

Midfielder Sylvain Legwinski notched the winner and is now the club's chief predator with three goals. However, record signing Steve Marlet will be hoping to challenge for that title after netting a hat-trick for the reserves in midweek. A recall looks imminent for the Frenchman.

But while the Cottagers are basking on cloud nine, spare a thought for Peter Reid. After witnessing his side take four points off Leeds and Manchester United respectively, the Black Cats' boss saw his side crumble in the Tees-Wear derby. The former Everton midfielder cited a combination of defensive errors and lack of punch in attack as the main causes of defeat: "My two wide men had a lot of the ball and put in a lot of crosses but we didn't get on the end of anything."

Sunderland Fulham Div Avg
Games Played 5 4  
Goals 2 9 6
Ave Goals Per Game 0.4 2.3 1.2
Shots (excluding blocked shots) 50 53 52
Ave Shots Per Game 10 13 10
% Shots On Target 34% 43% 42%
% Goals To Shots 4% 17% 12%
Short Passes 1233 1124 1286
Long Passes 471 609 572
Total Passes 1704 1733 1858
Ave Passes Per Game 341 433 372
% Overall Pass Completion 74% 74% 74%
Total Crosses 131 108 111
Ave Crosses Per Game 33 36 22
Completion 31% 31% 26%
Goals Conceded 5 6 6
Ave Goals Conceded Per Game 1.0 1.5 1.2
Tackles 151 118 131
Ave Tackles Per Game 38 39 26
Tackles Won % 75% 84% 73%
Blocks, Clearances & Interceptions 224 123 193
Ave Blocks, etc., Per Game 56 41 39
Fouls 69 57 69
Ave Fouls Per Game 14 14 14
Yellow Cards 7 8 8
Red Cards 0 0 0
stats from opta
Sunderland Manager Indeed Matty Piper whipped over a dozen centres throughout the 90 minutes, yet Sunderland tested Mark Schwarzer with just three efforts from inside the box. As a unit Reid's team have actually launched more balls into the danger area from wide positions than any other top-flight side, so the Fulham centre-backs may have to be at their combative best on Saturday.

Appearing well-equipped to thwart this attacking threat the visitors have by far and away the best tackle success rate in the Premiership and are the only team to have won more than 80% of their challenges to date.

Another gritty display from Tigana's battlers could see them storm into the top six and considering that Sunderland have scored only twice this season they may well fancy their chances of securing maximum points. The home fans can only hope that their newfound strikeforce of Marcus Stewart and Tore Andre Flo can lift the side from the depths of the division and build on previous glimpses of form.

Source:Mark Willis at Planet football

Matchday Referee:
Christopher Foy, St Helens

Lancashire policeman Christopher Foy started refereeing in 1983, became a Football League referee in 1994 and graduated to the Barclaycard Premiership roster in 2001.

Foy only took charge of five matches in his debut season, but made a name for himself by dishing out 19 yellow cards and 1 red.

(Ed. - Ref Foy likes to whistle more than the average so as both teams are amongst the top tacklers in the Premiership he could have a busy day.

The last time Mr Foy reffed a Fulham game was the away defeat at Blackburn last season when he booked 3 Blackburn players. His only other game in recent times was the away victory at Wimbledon in the Cottagers D1 championship season when he booked Rufus Brevett.)
Mr. Foy's score sheet Average Premiership Referee score sheet
Total Match
Total Match
Games 5 16
Fouls 177 35.40 472 29.81
Penalties 1 0.20 3 0.19
Yellow cards 19 3.80 49 3.07
Red Cards 1 0.20 3 0.19

Betting odds S'land Draw Fulham
Coral Evs 11/5 9/4
Hills 6/5 21/10 9/5
Ladbrokes 5/4 11/5 9/4
SuperSoccer 5/4 9/4 7/4
Stanley 5/4 9/4 7/4
Totalbet 11/10 2/1 12/5
For Sunderland, it has been back to the drawing board as their recent resurgence ground to a shuddering halt at the Riverside. Conceding just two goals in their opening four matches, culminating in a victory at Leeds and a gritty home draw to Manchester United, was all too soon forgotten with the defeat to Boro. Defensively Sunderland looked exposed and nowa concerted effort is required against visiting Fulham if they are to get back on track.

Fulham travel north on a high following their stunning comeback against Spurs, with Sylvain Legwinski firing home a last-gasp strike in a 3-2 win after their fellow London rivals had opened up a two-goal cushion.

If The Cottagers continue as they finished with Spurs then the 3 points are already in the bag however it may be more realistic to see a draw as when the two teams last met at the Stadium of Light.

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