Sunderland 0-3 Fulham

Not just back-to-back wins, back-to-back 3-0 wins. How about that? And one of them was away. These are heady times we live in.

Sunderland looked like a team with no forwards and no interest. When you play against a midfield containing Cattermole and Henderson you expect to have a battle on your hands, but according to the BBC Sunderland committed precisely one foul in the whole of the first half. Fulham had it easy, and on another day might have had more.

Hughes picked an interesting side, electing to use Zamora and Gudjohnson as a two man hold-up gang, perhaps reasoning that their excellent interplay skills would be worth trying as a partnership. With Dempsey left at home with a hamstring tweak, Gael Kakuta got a run on the wing. Brede Hangeland was unwell so Philippe Senderos had the unenviable task of slipping into one of the game’s most settled back fives.

All of these moves worked well enough. Zamora and Gudjohnson indeed combined well, and for a time it seemed a pity that we didn’t have Duff and Dempsey steaming in after them to pick up the layoffs.  But credit where it’s due, the two wide men we did have played their parts well.

Kakuta scored the first, and I’ll tell you who he reminded me of when he did so: Diego Maradona. That burst into the area, the half-stumble, the balance, the acceleration, the prod. Watch Maradona in 1986, against Belgium or some of his games for Napoli and you’ll see it quite quickly. Not that Kakuta is another Maradona, but that’s who he reminds me of. Put another way, he resembles Maradona more than anyone else I can remember, in style if not in impact.  So a great goal for Kakuta (not in the usual great goal sense, admittedly), and while he’s certain to return to Chelsea at the end of the season, we must hope that somehow there’s a way to stop this happening.

The goal may have come slightly against the run of play, but Fulham never really looked troubled and there were chances galore on the break. Gudjohnson was having one of those “he’s good but frustrating” days, where his awareness and positioning got him into some amazing situations, but his lack of pace and surprisingly shaky touch didn’t let him take advantage.  Nevertheless, the suspicion is that he’s one of those players who makes teams better regardless of what the naked eye might see, and it’s encouraging that Hughes is giving him a run in the team.  It’s worth pointing out, too, that Zamora was having a typically strong game.

The second Fulham goal was a beauty. Sidwell (who was often seen in advanced positions) charged on to a through ball in the inside left channel and turned the ball back infield from the byline. Simon Davies was motoring infield and his run and Sidwell’s cross coincided perfectly, and the ball flew home decisively.  What a goal, and a nice reward for Davies’ fine return to the team.

Then he got another. Zamora broke down the right, switched the ball infield, Davies (at full pelt again) bundled around/over the goalkeeper and into the net.  Phenomenal stuff from Davies, whose two performances since his return to the side make him all but undroppable.

Intriguing glimpses of what might lie ahead, then. Sunderland were more or less awful in the end, but Fulham beat them with three of our better players missing.  The shame is that the early part of the season was so sticky, but transition is unavoidable in these situations, and this is now really starting to feel like Hughes’ team.

14 thoughts on “Sunderland 0-3 Fulham

  1. Where in all God’s name did Davies get that pace from!? Two games in a row he has been absolutely immense and looked one of the faster players on the pitch. I thought he was inexorably declining. Really impressed.

    Also with the Zamora, Gudjohnsen partnership. Two big, strong, yet very technical and creative players upfront. Might that be the key away from home. Hard to tell as Sunderland didn’t do much to push us. But it does seem like a good way to keep the ball in the opposing team’s half, and — with on-running wide players — score.

    I wish we could keep Kakuta.

    1. Yeah, Davies looked like a winged beast today!

      We have quite a few players who seem to have re-discovered their form as of late and it’s like getting a new signing for free! As a team Fulham is looking surprisingly deep all of a sudden… :-)

  2. A good win all-round! After that first goal it seemed like Sunderland just gave up and started to foul out of frustration. In contrast, the Whites had a lovely stroll through the park and found the goal twice along the way.

    The transition from Hodgson to Hughes was undoubtedly not a smooth one in terms of results, but a lot of people seem to forget that we went through a striker crisis of our own during the first half of the campaign. That Fulham are playing the way they are and are in a very solid table position says as much about Hughes as it does about the team itself: character, determination, and above all class.

    Here’s looking forward to a great 2011-2012!

  3. Just imagine if Dempsey had landed that penalty against Chelsea.

    Like others, I’m really looking forward to next season. Crossing my fingers for the fair play decision.

    On another note: What was Hughes so grouchy about today? You’d think Fulham was taking a five goal flogging.

  4. Good game for Senderos to have as his first game – against a team with no strikers. Could have been terrible if he’d been up against someone useful.

  5. I hate to dampen the joy. The left flank defense was soft, particularly in the first half. Granted, Senderos was rusty. But Salcido and Kakuta were beaten with ease. Liverpool and Arsenal will exploit this. Is it time to try Damien Duff on left back?

  6. Is this what it’s like being a Man United fan? Your team leaves out its best players, doesn’t play well, strolls up the other end to score 3 times and comes away with a second successive 3 points and 3-0 victory.

  7. League record away from home this season to date: two wins and 15 points. Last season: one win and ten points. Decent progress in anyone’s book.

  8. Don’t know how meaningful (or -less) this stat is, but Fulham haven’t won 3-0 on the road since August 30, 2003.

    1. … and when was the last time Fulham scored 3 goals in 4 games out of 7? Must be pre 2000/01 season.
      Answers on a postcard please …

  9. This fact has slipped under the radar, but it’s worth mentioning: Danny Hoesen made the bench on Sunday.

    Gera is gone.

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