Odds: Sunderland 5/4, Draw 12/5, Fulham 12/5
Each of these sides finished closer to the relegation zone than they would have liked last season so both teams will be looking to get of the mark quickly so get out of danger. Paolo Di Canio has had a full preseason to stamp his mark on this side while Martin Jol will believe that the additions he has made push his team forward.
By all accounts the Sunderland players have been put through a grueling preseason fitness regime that will enable them to out work teams even if they can not out play them. Di Canio has had money to spend on shaping his squad bringing in no fewer than 11 players including goalkeeper Vito Mannone and striker Jozy Altidore.
Fulham have added vital cogs to their squad including Maarten Stekelenburg, a replacement for Mark Schwarzer, and Adel Taarabt who worked with Martin Jol at Tottenham.
It will be a tight match as it always is between these evenly matched teams but you have to give the edge to the home side as Fulham have been notoriously poor away from Craven Cottage for the last few seasons. Di Canio’s men will get off to a good start but there’s no guarantee how long that will last.
Both sides had fairly average preseason results, Sunderland picked up a win against Tottenham in Hong Kong. Fulham lost to Parma and Werder Bremen in their schedule but you can expect them to be more focused when Saturday comes around.
Sunderland are without Steven Fletcher, Wes Brown and Lee Cattermole through injury whilst Fulham don’t have any injury concerns to worry about
Last season’s reverse fixture:
Goals from Fletcher, Cuellar and Sessengon defeated 10 man Fulham despite a strike from Mladen Petric brought the game to 2-1. At the time it was only Sunderland’s second win of the season.
image: © Ben Andreas Harding