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Preview: Sunderland, Baby, We Better Try To Get It Together...

I'd generally consider these two to be rubbish, but you know Zamora's going to come down with a case of the Akinbiyi's
I'd generally consider these two to be rubbish, but you know Zamora's going to come down with a case of the Akinbiyi's

It's good to be back after the international break, and even (as some have said) if it's 'only Fulham' it's good to have a game which means something back in our lives.

Let's be fair though here, Fulham are a decent and solid side, but one we should really be looking to beat. Especially at home, and we should be looking to set the tone for the forthcoming run of games against similarly beatable sides in Wolves, Wigan and Blackburn.

So, how are we going to do it? Are we going to do it? And who the chuffing Nora is going to be playing? Well everybody, it's all in our preview, so get reading...

Sunderland Team News

Changes are afoot in our starting line-up. Connor Wickham is out until the new year, whilst Sebastian Larsson serves a suspension for a series of yellow cards which he didn't really need to pick up.

Keiren Westwood continues in goal, and will be well rested having sat on various benches around the continent during the break.

In front of him we could well see the welcome return of John O'Shea to the starting line-up having proved his fitness midweek by managing 90 minutes against Estonia. I've no doubts that Bruce will throw him straight in to the line-up, at the expense of Phil Bardsley. The rest of the back four fills itself in - Michael Turner, Wes Brown and Kieran Richardson.

In midfield, Sebastian Larsson will be a massive miss, but at least it's only for one game. As much as we'd all tinker with formations and all that, there's little escaping the fact Ahmed Elmohamady will come in as a straight swap. Jack Colback and Lee Cattermole will anchor the midfield. There's an outside chance David Vaughan will return, but the bench seems a more likely destination for the Welshman.

The left of midfield and in attack however is where I think there will be significant change. Ji Dong-Won should replace Connor Wickham, but I've a feeling Ji will be stuck out wide as Bruce has tended to use him, and push Stephane Sessegnon into attack with Nicklas Bendtner.

With options light on the attacking front, don't be surprised to see reserve team hat-trick hero Ryan Noble given a spot on the bench.

Fulham Team News

Fulham come to town with a few injuries and players missing themselves, with a key absentee being Zdenek Grygera, a summer signing from Juventus and having just established himself in the right-back position will miss best part of the rest of the season.

As to who wil take his place, it's likely that it will be Aaron Hughes, who has been strangely left out of late by Martin Jol, as Chris Baird has stolen a march on him in the centre of defence. All that shopping he's been doing with the missus must be starting to pay off.

The rest of the Fulham side, much like ours, picks itself. For me the key dangers are the same one's that have been Fulham's for the last few years, starting with Danny Murphy. Murphy has been rather unfairly derided of late with many commentators saying he can't cut it any more. To me, and several Fulham fans, he's been doing the same high-quality work he always has done.

The other main one for me is Bobby Zamora. A player akin to Ade Akinbiyi, which here is used as a compliment. Zamora is 'one of them players' who we'll give stick to, dismiss as rubbish and no doubt he'll get three of his six goals a season against us. I'm concerned as to how Brown and Turner will play him.

Of course you can't ignore Clint Dempsey or Moussa Dembele either. Actually, Fulham are a decent team aren't they? I've tended to see them as a team that just perpetually 'exists' without any real excitement but maybe things are changing.

Predicted Line-Ups

SAFC: Westwood; O'Shea, Turner, Brown, Richardson; Elmohamady, Colback, Cattermole, Ji; Sessegnon, Bentdner.

Fulham: Schwarzer; Hughes, Baird, Hangeland, Riise; Duff, Sidwell, Murphy, Dempsey, Dembele, Zamora.

Classic Encounter

There's hasn't been many classics between ou two sides (perhaps an omen?) So I'm not going back too far. 2005/06 was a pretty terrible season, even by Sunderland standards, however this was a game we actually won. In what was one of the worst teams in recent memory, we overcame Fulham 2-1 thanks to goals from Chris Brown & Anthony Le Tallec. No seriously, it happened. Truefaxx about this game, I won some tickets to be in a box for the original fixture, which was abandoned becauseof snow. Didn't get to go to the re-arragnged one. Sad face.

Get Rich Quick

Well you know what this is now. The title of it is practically becoming a mick-take due to the infrequency of the wins, but I'm going to keep plugging away for the rest of the season. Hopefully nobody is keeping track of how I'm doing. With that in mind, here's my double-lock-shoo-in-oversized-novelty-item bet ofthe week... Wes Brown scored first at 40/1. Come on Wes, you've had a good season, it's about time you got a goal.

Song For Whoever

Well I'm not sure this sort of feature was what the Walrus Of Love had in mind when it was written, but it sure is fitting. Sunderland are indeed my lover, and I do want them to get it together in the next few weeks as the run-in pre-Christmas is entirely winnable.

Ladies & Gents, this week's song is for well, Steve Bruce? No, that sounds wrong. All kinds of wrong. The team in general...

It's Barry White with "Baby We Better Try To Get It Together". If you've got better suggestions for future games, and there's every chance you do, go ahead and bother us on Twitter - @RokerReport.


And back down to earth a little, time to make some predictions for the game. I'm sticking with my 2-0 from the Podcast this week. I think we've got enough to get over the line. I don't for one second think this will be a game to remember, more an in and out, job done sort of deal. Bendtner brace. Here's hoping I'm right!

Ha'way The Lads...

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