Fulham V Sunderland at Craven Cottage - Match Preview
Updated Saturday, 5th May 2012
Jol targeting record haul
Manager Martin Jol thinks Fulham could smash their record Barclays Premier League points total this season.
Fulham have won four of their last six league games and moved level with eighth-place Liverpool on Tuesday after registering their first-ever win at Anfield.
The Londoners currently have 49 points - four short of their club record, which was achieved in 2009 while England manager Roy Hodgson was in charge.
Jol's team host Sunderland on Sunday and then travel to Tottenham on the final day of the season and the Fulham boss thinks beating the club record is a serious possibility - something he would regard as an amazing achievement considering that they have played 14 Europa League games this term.
"If we can get six points it will be 55," Jol said.
"First we said 40, then 50 and it almost looked undoable, but now I think we are in a fantastic position to get even more points on the board.
"In 2009 they got 53 but I think in that season they didn't play in Europe, and the season after they did and it cost them some points.
"This year we played in Europe so to have 50 points or more after playing in Europe would be fantastic."
Fulham's current position would have been unthinkable at the start of the campaign, when Jol's position came under scrutiny after it took until October for the Dutchman to register his first league win since his appointment.
The 56-year-old has masterminded a big turnaround in fortunes since and has got the best out of players like Clint Dempsey and Damien Duff while making the hugely effective loan signing of Stuttgart forward Pavel Pogrebnyak.
Had the club not had the rigours of playing in the Europa League to deal with, Jol reckons his team could be fighting the likes of Chelsea for a top-six finish by now.
"We did well after Christmas, maybe after being out of the Europa League," he said.
"I think if you look at the stats we would be in the top six or something. Our good form is not just over the last six games."
Striker Andrew Johnson missed Fulham's games at Liverpool and Everton due to an adductor injury and will be absent again.
Jol himself missed the two games on Merseyside due to a chest infection but will be back in the dugout on Sunday after making a full recovery.
Sunderland defender John O'Shea and striker Nicklas Bendtner are fighting to be fit having both suffered foot injuries in training this week, but manager Martin O'Neill is hopeful they will make the game at Craven Cottage.
Midfielder Craig Gardner is available after serving a one-match ban and defender Titus Bramble (Achilles) is back in training but short of fitness.
Black Cats skipper Lee Cattermole is targeting a strong finish to a challenging season as he sets his sights on the new campaign.
The 24-midfielder heads into Sunday's encounter with his club sitting in 11th place in the table with title contenders Manchester United due on Wearside on the final day next weekend.
There is still work to do if Sunderland are to repeat last season's feat and end the campaign in the top 10, but given that they were languishing in the relegation zone when O'Neill arrived to replace Steve Bruce in December, they are more than satisfied with their current lot.
Cattermole said: "It has been a first season for me when I have lost a manager during the season, which was a shame.
"But the new manager has come in and we have bounced back and made it a good season.
"We have just got to finish on a high note for next year."
O'Neill has inspired a concerted fightback by the players he inherited from Bruce, and although a run of six league games without a win, but with just a single defeat, has taken some of the gloss off that recovery, the belief he has instilled is a cause for optimism.
Cattermole said: "He has brought a lot of life to the club. There has been a real buzz about the place.
"We got safe a lot quicker that people thought. It has tailed off a little bit, but if we can finish on a good note and finish strongly, it will be a nice way to finish."
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|Team lineups: Liverpool v Fulham 01 May 2012|
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|Team lineups: Everton v Fulham 28 Apr 2012|
|24 Apr 2012|
|Kelly targets big finish for Fulham|
|22 Apr 2012|
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|21 Apr 2012|
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|Team lineups: Fulham v Wigan Athletic 21 Apr 2012|