Writer: Gary Johnson
Date:Friday December 10 2010
The last team we visited London, we outplayed and outclassed the current Champions of England. Let's hope we can do the same three miles down the road at Craven Cottage against out of form Fulham.
Fulham and Sunderland have become the draw specialists with a combined 17 draws between them this season. This will need to change for Fulham as they find themselves above the drop zone on goal difference alone.
Sunderland overcame an awful defensive display against Wolves by beating West Ham last weekend. Steve Bruce will be looking for two wins in a row, something he has only achieved once as our manager.
Bruce spoke about the typical performances we see on the road to skysports.com
He said: 'It's the mindset which is the hardest thing to deal with. Following the defeat to Wolves (3-2 a fortnight ago), on the TV and in the press it was 'typical Sunderland'.
'That is the one thing I have to eradicate. That is the hardest job on my plate, to take the club forward, to get rid of this 'typical Sunderland' tag where we win one, lose one.
'That is the challenge because to be a top club in this league, if we're going to succeed and go on to where we want to be, we have to eradicate the performances we put in against Wolves and West Brom.
'However, when I analyse the season, and we're halfway through near enough, two-and-a-half poor performances out of 16 is not bad.
'If we can repeat that for the next 16 games and go into spring with maybe 40, 43 points or so, then we'll be very happy.
'It means we'll be competing and likely in a position where we are now. That is the challenge - can we stay where we are? I've always said we want to try and be in the top 10.
'But I don't want this tag of ours any more.'
Carlos Salcido is returning for this important game for Fulham after recovering from an ankle injury.
Dembele may miss the game and this could be a big boost for Sunderland.
He never gives the ball away and our midfield will need to be on top of their game in order to stop him dictating the play.
News broke yesterday that Craig Gordon and Asamoah Gyan will both be doubts for this game.
Gyan seems to have travelled with the squad but may not be risked with an injured toe during training.
This will allow Steed Malbranque or Zenden to come in to replace him in midfield.
Truth is, when Mensah plays we win, and thankfully he will start this game on Saturday. He formed a great partnership with stand in Anton Ferdinand and he will be looking to stick to winning ways against Kamara at Craven Cottage.
If selected, ex-Fulham midfielder Steed Malbranque will be making his 400th appearance in English football, while Kieran Richardson stands by for his 100th appearance in a Sunderland shirt.
Mark Hughes has drawn 17 of his last 28 games as a Premier League manager.
Referee: Neil Swarbrick Assistant referees: Andy Halliday & Trevor Massey Fourth official: Mike Dean
Fulham 1 - 1 Sunderland This has nothing but a draw written all over it. Hopefully I can get yet another prediction wrong and we end up with all three crucial points.
Sunderland play the first game on sky next weekend at 12:45pm at the Stadium of Light against Bolton Wanderers.
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Date:Friday December 10 2010
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