This Saturday Tony Mowbray’s Red and White army travel down to Craven Cottage, to face Marco Silva’s Fulham. This will be the 65th between the two clubs, with the winner advancing to the FA Cup fifth round…
It has been a brilliant return to the Premier League for Fulham, the Cottagers currently sit 7th in the table, having accumulated 31 points from 21 games. They could finish in a European spot, this would be a massive accomplishment for Marco Silva’s men. Summer signings such as João Palhinha, Bernd Leno, and Andreas Pereira have made a big impact at Craven Cottage. Not to mention, Aleksandar Mitrovic has stepped up to the Premier League, and is currently Fulham’s top scorer with 11 goals so far this season.
Marco Silva has been playing the 4-2-3-1 formation, and the system has been successful for his side. Fulham have recorded an average possession stat of 47%, which is very good for a newly promoted team.
As a whole, Fulham are now a well-organised Premier League side and it appears that they have moved past their 'Yo-Yo club' phase. I wouldn’t be surprised if they go close to full strength on Saturday, they are sitting pretty in the league and could see this as an opportunity to go on a cup run.
Sunderland have made some big strides in the transfer market this week, with Frenchmen Pierre Ekwah and Isaac Lihadji signing for the club. As well as this, the loan signing of Leeds striker Joe Gelhardt looks imminent and Nottingham Forest midfielder Ateef Konate (also French) could be on his way. As for outgoings, Leon Dajaku has been loaned out to Swiss Super League side FC St.Gallen until the end of the season and Bailey Wright is being linked with a loan move away. It looks to be a busy end to the transfer window for the Black Cats, after a very slow start to the month.
Unfortunately, the skipper Corry Evans has been ruled out for the rest of the season, having suffered damage to his anterior cruciate ligament. The young Lads really need to step up now, and personally I would sign an experienced midfielder to take his place - although that looks unlikely.
So, my prediction is unfortunately a 3-1 Fulham win. I want to be optimistic but Fulham have too much quality. Carlos Vinicius, Manor Solomon, and Bobby Decordova-Reid will score for Fulham, whilst Amad Diallo will score for the Lads and continue his impressive form. I’ve got no doubts that the Lads will put in great application, and leave everything out there on the pitch. If we beat Fulham that would be huge for our confidence going into the rest of the season, but I think Marco Silva is going to take this seriously and put out a very strong side.
MY PREDICTED SUNDERLAND 11 (FORMATION 3-4-3 COULD ALSO ADJUST TO 4-2-3-1)
1 Anthony Patterson, 6 Danny Batth, 5 Dan Ballard, 42 Aji Alese, 20 Jack Clarke, 32 Trai Hume, 24 Dan Neil, 25 Edouard Michut, 10 Patrick Roberts, 16 Amad Diallo, 14 Ross Stewart.
MY PREDICTED FULHAM 11 (FORMATION 4-2-3-1)
1 Marek Rodak, 2 Kenny Tete, 21 Issa Diop, 4 Tosin Adarabioyo, 33 Antonee Robinson, 10 Thomas Cairney, 12 Nathaniel Chalobah, 14 Bobby Decordova-Reid, 21 Daniel James, 11 Manor Solomon, 30 Carlos Vinicius.