Sunderland vs Fulham Preview: Chris Coleman welcomes former side in bid to end Black Cats' home hoodoo

Sunderland vs Fulham Preview: Chris Coleman welcomes former side in bid to end Black Cats' home hoodoo

Failure to win for Sunderland on Saturday will see them go a full calendar year without a home win - but can Coleman defeat his former side?

Jack McGraghan

Sunderland host Fulham in the Championship on Saturday in their last chance to avoid going a full calendar year without winning at the Stadium of Light.

The Black Cats have a history of ending barren home runs against the Cottagers, winning 2-1 in their final home game of the 2005/06 Premier League season to avoid going an entire season without a home win - with Fulham managed at the time by current Sunderland manager Chris Coleman.

Black Cats looking to build on recent results

Sunderland have improved since Coleman took over with two clean sheets in the Welshman's four games in charge, with last week's 0-0 draw at league leaders Wolves a sign the Black Cats may have a turned the corner defensively.

Individual errors still threaten to cost them however with Callum McManaman and Lee Cattermole sent off against Reading and Wolves respectively, although the latter did not cost Sunderland a point in the end with an off-kilter Wolves unable to capitalise.

Coleman's injury-ravaged side were forced to line up in a back three last weekend and he may have to stick with the same team with their injury problems still troubling them this week.

Top-scorer Lewis Grabban may have been a peripheral figure at Molineux with the plan clearly to sit back and soak up pressure, but the 11-goal striker will pose a much bigger threat at home with his side desperately needing their third win of the season.

Coleman told the media at his pre-match press conference "it won't always be great football to watch", adding "good teams find a way to get results" before stating that his side "will put it right, but the sooner the better".

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Fulham enjoying improved form heading into the Christmas period

After a run of games that saw them go six without a win Slaviša Jokanović's men have won three of their last four matches, scoring eight goals in the process.

The Cottagers are 12th in the Championship prior to kick-off with four points separating them from seventh-placed Leeds, although a further four distance them from sixth-placed Sheffield United in the play-offs.

Last year's play-off semi-finalists need to end the inconsistencies if they are to push for a Premier League return this time around, with last season's star men such as Tom Cairney not producing the goods so far.

Left-back Ryan Sessegnon has continued his impressive form from last season however, netting a hat-trick in the 5-4 win over Sheffield United to become the first 17-year-old to do so in England's top four divisions since Dele Alli for MK Dons in 2014.

Jokanović told the media at his pre-match press conference that Sunderland will be "super-competitive in this game" as "they're desperately waiting for a reaction", but stressed that his Fulham side are looking to "try to dominate Sunderland".

Team news

Coleman will have Dider Ndong available from the bench and McManaman returns from suspension, while Cattermole misses out after his sending off at Wolves last weekend. Paddy McNair is not yet ready to return leaving the injury situation similar to last weekend.

Fulham are without Floyd Ayite, Neeskens Kebano and Lucas Piazon for the trip to the North-East, although the Brazilian has returned to training this week after breaking his leg.

Predicted line-ups

Sunderland (5-4-1): Ruiter; Matthews, O'Shea, Wilson, Browning, Love; Honeyman, Gibson, Gooch, McManaman; Grabban.

Fulham (4-3-3): Bettinelli; Sessegnon, Ream, Kalas, Fredericks; Norwood, McDonald, Cairney; Kamara, Johansen, Ojo.