Andy Reid heads for Fulham knowing Sunderland need to strike a balance between attack and defence if they are to end their poor run away.
The 27-year-old midfielder has played a key role in the Black Cats’ excellent sequence of results at home, which has brought them victories over Arsenal and Liverpool as well as Blackburn, Hull and Wolves.
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However, he has also been part of the side which has picked up just four points from a possible 21 on the road, only one of them in their six trips since the opening day of the campaign.
Defeat has come at Stoke, Burnley, Brrmingham, Tottenham and last weekend, Wigan, and that failure is all the more galling as they were within minutes of a famous victory at Manchester United when only an unfortunate Anton Ferdinand own goal rescued a point for the champions.
The inconsistency which has spawned those contrasting sets of results is a source of intense frustration for manager Steve Bruce, who has been delighted with the football his team has served up at home, but puzzled by their inability to reproduce it on their travels.
But Reid for one admits Sunderland may have to be a little more adaptable and not always rely on their passing game away from home.
He said: “It’s about getting a balance. If you knock it long all the time, you will be found out, and if you try to pass it all the time, then you will be found out.
“It’s not always possible because you come up against different problems every week.
“In the Premier League, you come up against teams that play long ball, you come up against teams that are particularly strong at defending long balls.
“You can’t do one or the other the whole time, especially for a team like us. We have to mix it up.
“We have to get the ball down and play, but also at the right times not be afraid to knock it long and look to get on the second ball and play in the opposition’s part of the pitch.
“It’s about getting the right balance.
“We all watched Chelsea and Arsenal on Sunday. Chelsea are under a little bit of pressure, the ball breaks and John Terry could maybe play a five or 10-yard pass into midfield, but decides he wants to smash it long and get it up the pitch so he can get his team up the pitch, they can re-group and play from there.
“Maybe at times, that’s what we need to do as well. Chelsea at the moment, along with Manchester United, are one of the best teams in the country, if not in Europe, so if you can’t learn from them, then you can’t learn from anybody.”
Bruce’s men will attempt to address their away form at Craven Cottage full in the knowledge that Fulham, who are only two places and a single point worse off than their visitors this weekend, will provide stern opposition.
Roy Hodgson’s side have lost one of their last eight league games and kept their Europa League hopes alive with a 1-0 win over CSKA Sofia on Thursday night.
However, the Black Cats have taken four points from the six they have contested at Fulham since their return to the top flight and are determined to add to that tally on Sunday.
Reid said: “Since I have come to Sunderland, we have picked up a couple of good results down there, so hopefully it continues that way.
“We are fully aware it is going to be a very, very difficult game. They are a strong team at home, they are organised and they are going to be difficult to beat.
“They have got quality as well, we know that, so we have to try to impose our quality on the game, mix it up at times and hopefully get the result we need.”