Martin Jol’s Fulham side travel to the North-East to take on the Black Cats.
Sunderland will once again be without their captain, Lee Cattermole, as the combative midfielder continues to struggle with a knee injury and Martin O’Neill has admitted the 24-year-old may need to have surgery if an injection does not clear up the problem. Fulham, by contrast, could have Simon Davies available for the first time in almost a year after the winger overcame his own long-standing knee complaint. Fans should not expect too many goals on Saturday – the Stadium of Light has seen fewer than any other ground in the top flight this season.
Venue Stadium of Light, Saturday 3pm
Last season Sunderland 0 Fulham 0
Referee Mark Halsey
This season’s matches 13 Y30, R2, 2.46 cards per game
Subs from Pickford, Westwood, Cuéllar, Bardsley, Mangane, Kilgallon, Vaughan, McClean, Noble, Lynch, Laing
Injured Cattermole (knee, Apr), Rose (hamstring, 17 Mar), Brown (knee, unknown)
Form guide LLLDWW
Disciplinary record Y42 R0
Leading scorer Fletcher 10
Subs from Etheridge, Somogyi, Hughes, Baird, Kacaniklic, Frimpong, Davies, Enoh, Richardson, Frei, Emanuelson, Na Bangna, Rodallega, Petric, Manolev
Doubtful Enoh (knee), Frei (match fitness), Na Bangna (knee), Richardson (calf)
Injured Diarra (knee, Apr)
Form guide WDLWLD
Disciplinary record Y30 R1
Leading scorer Berbatov 9
Sunderland’s 3-1 victory at Fulham in November was their first win in seven league games against the Whites.
Only once before have the Black Cats beaten Fulham home and away in a top-flight season – that was in 1949-50, when they went on to finish third.
The Black Cats have lost three successive Premier League games for the first time under Martin O’Neill. They are enduring their worst run since suffering four consecutive defeats between March and April 2011 under O’Neill’s predecessor Steve Bruce.
Sunderland have won only one of the 12 league games in which they conceded the opening league goal this season, losing 10 of those matches.
They have kept nine clean sheets so far – Liverpool (10) and Manchester City (12) are the only sides with better records in the top flight.
Craig Gardner is set to make his 200th appearance in English football (including matches for Aston Villa and Birmingham), while James McClean is one shy of 50 Premier League games (all for Sunderland).
The Whites are yet to lose a Premier League match in which Dimitar Berbatov scored for them (W4, D3).
Berbatov has scored seven of his nine league goals this season in the first half of matches.
They have kept back-to-back clean sheets. The last time they recorded three successive shut-outs was in February 2010.
9/4 on a draw: Sunderland vs Fulham Betting