Sunderland vs. Fulham  0 - 0


Premier League: Sunderland 0 Fulham 0

19 November 2011 18:38

Sunderland manager Steve Bruce is under increasing pressure after his side could only manage a goalless draw with Fulham on Saturday.

The absence of suspended Sebastian Larsson saw Kieran Richardson move to a more advanced role for the hosts, with Phil Bardsley stepping in to replace him at full-back.

Steven Sidwell was missing for the Cottagers after a midweek hernia operation, giving Dickson Etuhu his third start of the season in midfield.

Martin Jol was also forced to make some drastic changes in defence, with the absence of the injured Zdenek Grygera and John Arne Riise, who flew home after his wife gave birth on Friday night.

The first real chance of the match fell to the visitors at the Stadium of Light during the first few minutes, with wantaway striker Moussa Dembele showing great skill on the edge of the area to beat two Sunderland defenders before striking straight at Black Cats' reserve keeper Keiren Westwood.

The hosts began to dominate possession in the midfield and repeatedly looked to threaten the Cottagers' defence. Jack Colback beat the offside trap after a neat pass by Nicklas Bendtner, but the young midfielder failed to find Stephane Sessegnon at the far post, with Mark Schwarzer gathering his attempted pass.

Sunderland then hit the crossbar for the second time in the opening 16 minutes when Egyptian winger Ahmed Elmohamady whipped a ball in to the far post, and Colback smashed a shot towards goal.

Although the first half was largely dominated by the home side, Martin Jol's men began to pile the pressure on in the run-up to half-time, with two chances in quick succession minutes before the whistle.

The first came from a corner which found Bobby Zamora's head, before a second corner moments later saw Etuhu rise above the Sunderland defence and direct a powerful header towards goal, only for tireless midfielder Lee Cattermole to clear off the line.

Bruce's men showed resilience to hold off the visitors, and eventually managed to fashion some chances of their own, the best of which fell to Sessegnon. After Schwarzer flapped at a corner, the 26-year-old found the ball at his feet, but with his back to goal he could only manage to fire the ball wide.

Fulham had a chance to snatch a win after a Sunderland corner led to a two-on-one counter-attack in favour of the away side. Dembele squared the ball for Clint Dempsey who wastefully fired what was arguably the best chance of the match wide of Westwood's goal.

As the final whistle was blown, the players left the field to a chorus of boos from the home fans.

The result keeps the Black Cats and the Cottagers 15th and 16th respectively on the Premier League table.


Premier League preview: Sunderland v Fulham

18 November 2011 01:43

Both Sunderland and Fulham will be desperate for three points when they face each other at the Stadium of Light on Saturday.

Sunderland, who sit 15th, are just a spot above their opponents on the Premier League table, with both sides having won twice, drawn four and lost five matches this season.

The poor form of the two sides early in the season is not reflective of their respective top-half finishes in the league last term, and consequent spending in the off-season.

But despite a poor start, Sunderland have the fourth-best defence in the Premier League which is largely thanks the signings of former Manchester United pair John O'Shea and Wes Brown.

And that is why Black Cats manager Steve Bruce is sweating on the fitness of O'Shea, who played a full 90 minutes for the Republic of Ireland on Tuesday, despite recent hamstring issues.

"It is good that John is fit enough to be back playing for Ireland," Bruce said.

"I just hope that he has no reaction to that game."

Bruce also revealed that striker Connor Wickham has no long-term damage to his knee, with the highly rated 18-year-old set to miss up to six weeks after he was stretchered off in their 1-0 loss to Manchester United at Old Trafford earlier this month.

With Asamoah Gyan out on loan and Fraizer Campbell on the sidelines with a knee problem, Bruce is short on striking options and will be relying on Denmark international Nicklas Bendtner to lead his attack.

Bendtner is in form, having scored for Denmark in their 2-0 and 2-1 wins over Sweden and Finland respectively, in the latest international break, but he will need support if Sunderland are to find their way past a Fulham side who are not conceding that many goals either.

Martin Jol's side have won just three times on the road in 2011 and although they won 2-0 at Wigan recently, it is an area that requires dramatic improvement.

Consistent Europa League commitments have made things hard for Fulham this season and they need to get something from this match before tricky clashes with Arsenal and Liverpool in their next two Premier League encounters.

The likes of Andy Johnson, Philippe Senderos, Simon Davies and Zdenek Grygera are on Fulham's injury list, which does not help when you have a small squad, and all signs point to a Sunderland success on Saturday.


Premier League preview: Sunderland v Fulham

28 April 2011 19:18

Goals will be at a premium for Sunderland when they tackle Fulham at home on Saturday.

The Black Cats go into the match without a recognised senior striker, after Asamoah Gyan and Danny Welbeck picked up hamstring strains in the 4-2 win over Wigan last Saturday.

They join long-term casualty Fraizer Campbell on the injury list, leaving boss Steve Bruce with 19-year-old rookie Ryan Noble, who has yet to start a first-team game, as his only available out-and-out striker.

"It looks like we will be without Welbeck and Gyan for the rest of the season now, which is a massive blow," Bruce told the Sunderland Chronicle.

"Danny has already gone back to Man United because they want to assess him."

"He will not come back to us unless they can get it 100 per cent right, say in time for the last game of the season against West Ham, but that is unlikely given how close to the end of the season we are."

"Gyan has had a scan and we are still waiting for that report."

But on-loan Manchester City defender Nedum Onuoha insists there is no need to panic despite the striker crisis.

Onuoha points to the performances of Stephane Sessegnon and Steed Malbranque, who were pressed into action as emergency forwards against the Latics, as a sign that Sunderland will cope.

"Being at home on Saturday, the emphasis is on us to win the game, whether we have any of the big-name strikers or not."

"It’ll be the time for someone to go and step up because we’ve relied on the strikers too much to score goals this season."

Fulham, meanwhile, can contemplate another season in the top flight after beating Bolton 3-0 at Craven Cottage on Wednesday.

On New Year's Day Fulham were 18th in the Premier League table and looking bound for the Championship.

But since defeating West Bromwich Albion on January 4 they have not returned to the relegation zone and now hold ninth position.

"I've always said my teams are always stronger in the second half of the season," manager Mark Hughes said.
"That's because of the work we do [with the players] on a daily basis. I've said before that we are a top-10 team and now it's up to us to stay there."

A goal in each half from Clint Dempsey and a third from Brede Hangeland gave the home side the points in their first outing at the Cottage since a 3-0 win over Blackpool at the start of the month.

Dempsey is confident his team can continue on their winning ways against Sunderland.

"We're in the top half and it’s always better to be looking up than looking down," the US international told the Fulham website.

"Hopefully we can keep pushing on from here and finish in the top half, because I think we’re a top half team and if we’d have had a few more results we’d be even higher than we are."

"So we just need to keep pushing, keep working hard and hopefully we can add some away wins to help us in that aim."

"There are still four games left and you don’t want to be stressing come the last game, so we’re trying not to think about slipping down the table."

"We’re trying to look up because we feel that we have the quality to be a team in the top half, and that’s the main goal now with four games left."

Premier League table

# Team MP D P
1 38 +64 89
2 38 +56 89
3 38 +25 70
4 38 +25 69
5 38 +5 65
6 38 +19 64
7 38 +10 56
8 38 +7 52
9 38 -3 52
10 38 -7 47
11 38 -7 47
12 38 -14 47
13 38 -1 45
14 38 -17 45
15 38 -20 43
16 38 -16 38
17 38 -23 37
18 38 -31 36
19 38 -30 31
20 38 -42 25
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