Sunderland v Fulham Preview

Time to preview the game against Fulham as we look for two wins on the bounce. Our boys go in full of confidence having overcame adversity on several occasions against Wigan Athletic the weekend gone, although we can't discount Fulham, on a high from beating Bolton midweek and bumping themselves up to 9th place in the process.

It's gonna be especially tough for us with no strikers, but we did manage to score three goals without Asamoah Gyan and Co last time out.

How will we fare this time around though? Well here's the team news, the keys to the game and our predictions...

SAFC Team News

It wouldn't be a... well... day without there being some injury news, and this Saturday is no different. Asamoah Gyan - done for the season says Steve Bruce. Danny Welbeck - also done for the season as per Brucey, and now one of our last remaining hopes, Ryan Noble has a 'knock' and will sit out the Fulham game! What will we do? Well this is what we will do...

The team pretty much picks itself, but we'll run through it all anyway. Simon Mignolet will continue between the sticks, backed up by Trevor Carson. It's as simple as that whilst Craig Gordon continues to be injured.

There's actually some good news as far as the defence is concerned, where Phil Bardsley continues to prove he's a double-hard bastard by recovering from his concussion to take over from Anton Ferdinand in defence. Across the rest of the defence we'll see Ahmed Elmohamady at right-back, with Nedum Onuoha & Michael Turner in the middle. John Mensah is in with an outside chance, and could well be sat on the bench after being rated at "50-50" in Steve Bruce's latest presser.

The midfield and attack will be the same that finished against Wigan. Lee Cattermole will captain, and sit alongside the very impressive Jack Colback in the middle, providing a platform for Jordan Henderson, Steed Malbranque and Sulley Muntari to support stand-in striker Stephane Sessegnon.

Kieran Richardson might see a bench spot too, as like John Mensah, he's rated at "50-50" too.

Last week saw the first time in ages that the team did what we've all been crying out for, a midfield that gets forward. Hopefully they'll pick up where they left off against Wigan, and come flying out at Fulham early doors and disrupt them.

Stephane Sessegnon takes a key role in holding the ball up, which he can do fairly well to be honest. His close control is fantastic, and is much stronger than you'd think. Holding the ball well, and dropping deep to allow others to run on will be crucial, lets hope he does it.

Look to see some youngsters make up the numbers on the bench, notably Craig Lynch, the only fit, proper striker at the club right now.

Bruce's (and my own) Probable Team:
Mignolet; Bardsley, Turner, Onuoha, Elmohamady; Colback, Cattermole, Muntari, Henderson, Malbranque; Sessegnon

From the Fulham side...

As mentioned in Fan Focus, and on our own Podcast, I think the key to stopping Fulham is Danny Murphy. If we can stop him, we can stop plays building. Steed Malbranque, buzzing around Stephane Sessegnon will be key to this when we aren't in posession. He needs to get amongst it and don't give him time to turn picking the ball up from the defenders.

Other worries from the Fulham side for me are the obvious ones. Clint Dempsey is an obvious talent, and has a knack of scoring crucial goals, and also we will need to be very mindful of Brede Hangeland at set pieces.

Michael Turner's decent enough in the air, and will no doubt be charged with marking Hangeland in these situations, but Hangeland is very very good, and will be the main man to cause panic in defensive situations.

Prediction

Last week I predicted a 1-0 win, and it ended 4-2. However, I'm going for another 1-0 win as we're without strikers, and Fulham have a very stingy defence away from home.

1-0, Stephane Sessegnon to get the goal midway through the second half for me in a tight affair.

Lets hope it happens, and Ha'way The Lads!

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