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Fulham welcome Sunderland -- PL Match Preview

last updated Friday 10th January 2014, 1:41 PM

Fulham manager Rene Meulensteen
Fulham Head Coach
Rene Meulensteen
Rene Meulensteen
Having commentated on Fulham's second-half capitulation at Hull City over Christmas, I had them down as relegation certainties

That day in East Yorkshire they were spineless in defence and toothless in attack, a combination that could only have one outcome. But significantly that day they were missing Scott Parker and Dimitar Berbatov, while the back four had a makeshift feel to it.

Keeping Parker fit and just keeping Berbatov will be pivotal in their hopes of survival. There's bound to be interest in the Bulgarian during the transfer window but in selling him, Fulham risk losing their chief asset in the bid to remain in the Premier League.

Looking at Rene Meulensteen's squad I firmly believe there's enough quality in it to avoid the drop - just! Recent results support that judgement as either side of the horror at Hull, they beat Norwich and West Ham.

Now they face another fellow struggler, knowing victory would put further distance between themselves and the bottom three.

Although still anchored to the foot of the table, Sunderland should make the trip south in confident mood. On Tuesday they wrote another chapter in their remarkable Capital One Cup story and their 2-1 first-leg success in their semi-final against Manchester United leaves them tantalisingly close to Wembley.

Many on Wearside fear a repeat of 1985 when Sunderland combined an appearance in the League Cup final with relegation from the top flight, but it need not end that way.

Gus Poyet's team have cobbled together a reasonable run recently on the road. They're unbeaten in their last four games, finally securing their first away win of the season at Everton on Boxing Day. A repeat of last season's 3-1 victory at Craven Cottage would bring even greater celebration.

This will be the fourth time I've covered Sunderland this season and I've yet to commentate on a goal by them! But with Fulham's leaky defence that should change this weekend.

Whether they'll return north with all the points is another question and might well depend on the fitness of Parker and the mood of Berbatov.


  • Fulham won the last meeting between the clubs at the Stadium of Light, Pajtim Kasami scoring the only goal.

  • Sunderland were victorious at Craven Cottage last season, winning 3-1 in one of only four successes away from home last season.

  • The Cottagers have won eight of 19 Premier League encounters, with four victories for the Black Cats.

  • Fulham

  • Fulham's 42 goals conceded this season is the most of any Premier League team.

  • The Cottagers have conceded the first goal in a league-high 15 games but have fought back to win three games from losing positions, the joint second best record.

  • They have not drawn a Premier League match in 16 fixtures since a 1-1 draw with West Brom on 14 September.

  • Dimitar Berbatov has scored nine goals in his last nine league appearances in January.

  • Sunderland

  • Sunderland are unbeaten in their last four away matches in the league, their best run since a six-game streak between August-November 1999.

  • They remain the only team in the bottom eight not to have won a game against another side currently in that section of the Premier League table.

  • The Wearsiders have scored only five goals on their travels this season, one-third of their entire league tally.

  • Gus Poyet's side have won just once in the top flight on the back of their four Capital One Cup ties this season.

  • Lee Cattermole has scored just four career league goals, one of which came against Fulham while at Middlesbrough in August 2007.

Source Martin Fisher at BBCSports
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