FULHAM are the opponents for the first of two home games in a row for Sunderland – the second is Wigan – and fans will expect no less than victories in both.
That’s where the pressure will come from for Sunderland’s players.
It’s the opposite of the match they played at Old Trafford where there was zero pressure on them because there was zero expectation. If you’d asked fans before the Manchester United game whether they would accept a 1-0 defeat, they would probably have taken it as a respectable result in the Premier League champions’ back yard.
In contrast, fans will expect nothing less than a win over a Fulham side who, like Sunderland, have failed to live up to pre-season expectations so far.
It will not be easy though and Sunderland supporters and players can not afford any complacency against Martin Jol’s men.
For some reason, the Londoners have a reputation for not travelling well, for not fancying it.
But on their last trip to Sunderland they won 3-0 and the season before that drew 0-0.
So whether they travel well or not, they certainly don’t seem to travel too badly when it comes to making the trip to Sunderland!
Bobby Zamora and Andy Johnson are a more than useful strikeforce and any team which has those two up front will fancy their chances of nicking a point or three.
Sunderland have to be positive though.
They have home advantage and have enough quality to give Sunderland a really good game on their day.
It’s a shame about Connor Wickham’s injuries but there have been encouraging signs from the team generally and from Stephane Sessegnon and Nicklas Bendtner in particular in recent weeks. So hopefully we’ll see Sunderland do well in this week’s game against Fulham and next week’s match against Wigan to set us up nicely for a busy December.
READ the full column in Tuesday’s Echo