After the international break Fulham return back to Premier League action with a long old trip up to the North-East to face the Black Cats.
The team will be hoping to put the disappointment of the unjust loss against Spurs a few weeks ago to the back of their minds. Having won just four of our last 42 away fixtures in the league you can never be massively hopeful on an away day, but perhaps this is the season we start to turn this round. And we’ve got every right to be hopeful with this fixture. The Black Cats have only won on three of the 14 meeting between us in the Premier League and at that they’ve only scored in six of these games, not doing so in five of the last six. While in games at their ground the record shows its fairly even with two wins a piece.
Last years trip to Wearside was a good one for us. Not just because my friend Jon bought me lots of beer while I was up there, but also because we thumbed our nose at the media who love to remind us of our poor away form and picked up a big three points. Many of the traveling Fulham supporters weren’t hopefull when the sheet showed there would be no Hangeland in the side, but with a spirited showing we left as three nil winners.
After making his first start for England during the week, Bobby Zamora will hopefully return fired up. As the final twenty minutes against Sweden showed, when Bobby is removed from a team they really miss him. Although not always a prolific scorer he’s an important cog in the machine. Able to not only score himself, he also sets goals up, brings others into play and is able to hold up the ball superbly. Although not fashionable to many members of the media, since finding his feet at Fulham he’s come on leaps and bounds and looks like he’s on his way to making himself at home in the England squad.
Fulham were fortunate to recover all of their players without injuries from the international break, with many of them returning to Motspur Park wearing their hats on the side of their heads following good results. Duff and Kelly will be full of the joys after seeing themselves effectively halt all plans they had for a summer holiday next year, Dempsey come ever closer to becoming Team USA’s all time top scorer and Brian Ruiz put in a good show against World and European champions, Spain.
Aside from long term injuries to Davies and Grygera, Kelly picked up a groin strain while away with the Republic and Sidwell will face a late fitness test after having a hernia operation during the break. Aaron Hughes and Senderos will both be available for the match too after overcoming injuries.
With Andy Johnson returning from absence in our last outing, Jol will have to decide between Dembele and AJ up top. With Sidell possibly missing out Dickson Etuhu will be readying himself to start alongside Murphy. With just the two possible changes I’d expect much of a muchness with the Fulham formation and system. Though much has been made of Newcastle being able to feature an unchanged side in the majority of their games this season, Fulham have only had 20 different players take the field this season – the lowest in the division.
With our away form you really have to struggle to see us winning too many games away from the Cottage. We’re more than capable of beating most sides in the league and we usually give a good account of ourselves, but with little or no reward. With a couple of reasonable sides with good defences I expect it to be a close affair. In a fixture that doesn’t often produce goals I’ll guess it’ll end one nil.
Probably to the home side.