Clint Dempsey. One of the most well-liked players on the club. One of the most coveted players on the club. And someone who quite possibly could be playing his final match at Craven Cottage in home white. It’s a sad reality that I haven’t exactly wrapped my head around just yet. As an American, Clint’s a major – not the only, but a big – reason why I began to support Fulham. To think that he could be moving on is heartbreaking to be honest. But I know that Clint will always be a Cottager. Always. If he goes, I’ll support him wherever he chooses. I’m a Clint Dempsey fan for life.
So now that we’ve gotten that out of the way and cast a horribly depressing shroud over this preview post, we might as well get into the nitty gritty of the standalone match.
State of Fulham:
The Cottagers just came off one of the most roller-coaster trips to Merseyside ever, getting thrashed by Everton at Goodison Park, then turning around and winning for the first time all-time at Anfield against Liverpool. The Reds played horrible and the Toffes played exceptional, so they’ve seen the spectrum.
The Cottagers are just four points away from their highest Premier League point total ever (53 in the 08/09 season). It’s been a season of change and a season of future promise for the club that deserves to be capped with a strong finish. However, these games really don’t have a lot of meaning, and I would love to see some youngsters get some playing time. Martin Jol recently said he wants to get younger but he also isn’t going to hand the team to undeserving youth, so here’s the perfect time to give Alex Kacaniklic, Kerim Frei, Pajtim Kasami, David Stockdale, etc the chance to prove they belong.
Craven Cottage is a fortress, and a 9-5-4 record at home this season with a +9 goal differential shows how they’ve taken advantage of most opportunities at home. This should play into the match as well.
State of Sunderland:
In 11th place with 45 points, the Black Cats have an equally dismal road record this season as Fulham at 4-5-9 with a -9 goal differential (which oddly enough happens to be the EXACT opposite of Fulham’s home record stated above. Statistical anomaly alert!) and coming to a place like the Cottage should prove to be anything but easy. They played Fulham at the Stadium of Light earlier this season to a horribly boring 0-0 draw.
Speaking of horribly boring draws, Sunderland has drawn in 5 of their last 6 matches, including 3 0-0 draws. YAWN. The only non-draw during that span was a 4-0 drubbing at the hands of Everton (where have we heard that befo……..ohhhhhhh….)
They could have a mass exodus during this transfer window, which is just as similarly important to them as it is to Fulham. Nicklas Bendtner could be moving on (although he did say a return to Arsenal is pretty unlikely). Stephane Sessegnon has been linked with PSG and Arsenal and could be on his way out, with it rumored he’s not happy in the Sunderland area of England. Asamoah Gyan, on loan to UAE side Al Ain who just won the Pro League title with Gyan’s help, has made it look like he’s going to stay there. Youngster Ryan Noble, on loan to Hartlepool United, has said he might want to stay there. Unfortunately on this note, Martin O’Neill was told he has to sell before he buys, so that could pose some problems replacing these exits.
This seems like a pretty easy fixture, given both Sunderland’s poor away and recent form. However, Fulham never make the easy ones look easy, do they? I’m going to go out and say 2-1 to Fulham, but 3-1 could be likely as well. Then again, don’t be surprised with a draw, seeing as the Black Cats sure do love their draws. You have a prediction?
I would like to ask all those going to the match a massive favor. Because I won’t be there, I have to garner support on the interwebs. Please, for the love of god, cheer Dempsey as loud as you can every time he gets the ball. I don’t care if every Fulham fans leave without a voice. That’s how it should be. If he does in fact leave, I want his last time at the Cottage in a home white to be one of the most memorable days of his life. Make his REALLY rethink leaving, if he’s leaning that way. And if he’s leaning towards staying, remind him what staying would mean to us fans.
Folks, you have to realize, if Clint Dempsey decides to stay with Fulham, it means we’ve turned a corner. It means we’ve become a desirable club where the positives outweigh the lack of Champions League football. It means we have some of the best fans in the league – which we do – but we need to show it. Please, cheer your lungs out for the man. He’s given more to this club than we could ask for, and let’s make him know we appreciate it.
Final final note:
It’s my birthday for this fixture, so let’s get a win for that too