In the world of clichéd, media trained footballers, let us thank God for Nicklas Bendtner.
The sheer mention of his name will get Arsenal fans irate with expletives, but let’s be honest, with the exception of Mario Balotelli very few players in the Premier League offer such unintentional comedy value.
Even allowing for the huge chasm between Bendtner’s ability and what his ego believes he is capable of (sample quote: “if you ask me if I am one of the best strikers in the world, I say yes”), here is a bloke who can somehow manage to be photographed being thrown out of a nightclub without wearing any trousers.
Take this week. Bendtner scored in both of Denmark’s international friendlies, yet his exploits were overshadowed by a drunken incident with a Danish fan after Tuesday’s 2-1 win over Finland, with the Gunners loanee involved in a fracas that left him offering a signed shirt by way of apology.
All in a day’s work on Planet Bendtner, but for all his madcap activity on his day he remains a capable striker who has found his level at Sunderland and I think he can continue his barmy week with the first goal against Fulham at the Stadium of Light on Saturday.
A match between sides with identical records (W2 D4 L5 Pts 10) looks likely go the way of the home side, so the 11/2 on Bendtner to open the scoring (3/2 to score anytime) is fair enough given he is now injury free and has seven goals to his name this term.
Only two of those have been for Sunderland, but given the appalling start that placed manager Steve Bruce under considerable pressure, that is a reasonable enough return.
However, since a 1-0 reverse to arch rivals Newcastle, Sunderland have been in the goals at home scoring nine in four matches and I think Bendtner can add to that on Saturday.
By contrast, Martin Jol is seemingly burdened by the same affliction that previous Fulham managers have suffered from, namely an inability to score – let alone win – away from home consistently enough
The Cottagers have scored just three away goals in the Premier League this season (and two of those were at Wigan, so I’m not even sure that they count) and remain as powder puff as they were under Mark Hughes, Roy Hodgson and Lawrie Sanchez.
Yes that’s right; there was a time when Lawrie Sanchez was a Premier League manager. No, I don’t know how it happened either.
Considering Fulham’s shot-shy nature – six of their 14 league goals came in the thumping home win against Queens Park Rangers – it would normally take a leap of faith to imagine they will score but Sunderland have been shaky at the back, conceding seven in five home games.
If you fancy them to net then Clint Dempsey ticks all the boxes at 7/1 for the first goal and 2/1 anytime.
I’m a big fan of Dempsey (he’s a regular fixture in my Fantasy Football teams) and with seven goals this season for club and country I’d prefer him to the obvious call of Andy Johnson, who may be looking back to his best this term but has found league goals hard to come by in recent years, scoring just 13 league goals since summer 2008.
Finally, it is worth noting that five of the last six meetings have featured under 1.5 goals, which includes three 0-0 draws. No goalscorer is 27/4.
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