Brede Hangeland’s dismissal hands Sunderland the chance to register their first away win of the season. Steven Fletcher and Adam Johnson both play a part in two of the Black Cats’ three goals, while Dimitar Berbatov draws a rare blank as Fulham lose for the first time with the Bulgarian in their starting XI:
On the Up
Without a strike since Gameweek 5, the Scot returned to form with a goal and assist as Sunderland made full use of their extra-man advantage following Brede Hangeland’s first-half dismissal. With four home fixtures in the next four, including double Gameweek 16, Fletcher chose the perfect time to serve a reminder of his capabilities.
The winger added to last week’s goal at Everton by providing a pair of assists as the Black Cats scored more than a single goal for only the second time this season. Johnson had previously failed to produce any attacking returns prior to Gameweek 11 but is starting to suggest he may be finally settling at the Stadium of Light.
Providing he’s injury-free, the Spaniard seems nailed-on at the heart of the Sunderland defence and found the net for the first time since moving to Wearside. His cut-price valuation means Cuellar is another likely candidate for his side’s upcoming fixtures, bearing in mind O’Neill’s side have conceded just three goals in four home games so far.
For many a month he’s flattered to deceive but the Benin international fired home a superb effort to score for the first time since March. If Sessegnon can return to the form that produced seven goals and 12 assists last term, he could be another differential to consider over the next few.
Dismissed for a two-footed challenge on Lee Cattermole, the Cottagers centre-half now faces a three-match ban. Hangeland’s absence should afford Philippe Senderos a chance alongside Aaron Hughes ahead of trips to Stoke and Chelsea and a home clash against Spurs.
A nailed-on starter under Martin O’Neill last term, the winger was omitted from the starting line-up for today’s showdown. The return of Lee Cattermole saw Seb Larsson move to the right and Adam Johnson shift over to the left as McClean dropped out for the second time in three Gameweeks.
The Bulgarian was snapped up by over 230,000 FPL managers heading into today’s game after producing returns in five of his first six starts for the Cottagers. With injuries and dismissals disrupting the hosts’ rhythm, Berbatov returned a rare blank but was nevertheless full of creativity and attacking threat for Jol’s side.
There’s no denying Hangeland’s sending off played a part in today’s result but Jol’s defence continue to leak goals at an alarming rate. Fulham have now conceded three goals in all but one of their last four matches and have shipped 22 this term – only QPR and Southampton have conceded more.
** Just a heads-up to let you know that the Big Numbers article, which usually follows Sunday evening’s Stock Check, should now be published tomorrow. Mark has been laid low by a bug and is having a rare night off.