Fulham: Red Card to Brede Hangeland Leaves Big Void to Fill in Defense
During Sunday's match between Fulham and Sunderland in the English Premier League, Fulham defender Brede Hangeland was sent off in the 30th minute, and like most red cards it changed the entire match.
Hangeland has been a rock in the Cottagers defense since his move to the club in 2008 from Copenhagen.
The sending off of the Norwegian center back left a gaping hole in the Fulham defense that no one else on the club's roster could fill.
Manager Martin Jol decided to bring on Philippe Senderos six minutes after the red card in place of midfielder Girogios Karagounis, but that did not help the London club in the second half.
The absence of Hangeland was not felt until the second half when Sunderland went on a scoring spree.
The first goal they scored came off of a counter attack after John Arne Riise had hit the post, and the man caught out in the counter was Senderos.
Senderos was caught going forward in the attack and was not able to track back in time to deny Steven Fletcher a goal scoring opportunity.
The second goal for Sunderland came off of a corner kick where midfielder Steve Sidwell was caught marking defender Carlos Cuellar in a clear mismatch.
Cuellar easily leaped over Sidwell and headed home his first goal in a Sunderland uniform.
If Hangeland was still in the match, both goals would not have happened.
Although he would have ventured forward on the attack before Fletcher's goal, Hangeland would have had a shot at stopping the Sunderland forward from getting a clear chance on goal like he did.
Hangeland's absence was exploited more on the second goal as the lack of size in the penalty area for Fulham on set pieces was easily exploited by Cuellar.
With the red card for Hangeland comes a three-match suspension that will cause him to miss matches against Stoke, Chelsea and Tottenham.
It is obvious that the Cottagers will miss Hangeland against three clubs will three different attacking styles.
Against Stoke, the aerial abilities of Hangeland will be missed because they possess one of the tallest men in world football in forward Peter Crouch.
For the derby match with Chelsea, a veteran presence in the back four will be needed against the agile Chelsea attack, with Senderos being the best choice that Fulham have on the bench to partner Aaron Hughes as a replacement for Hangeland.
Senderos is not known for being spectacular in defense and he could easily get picked apart by the Blues' attack.
The Tottenham match provides a problem with speed as well.
The good news for Fulham is that Spurs' aerial threat in attack, Emmanuel Adebayor, was also shown a red card this weekend and will be suspended for that match as well.
Regardless of who is in the attack for the next three opponents for Fulham, the absence of Hangeland will be felt.
Do not be surprised if the Cottagers fail to earn a single point in those next three matches without Hangeland, as the Norwegian defender means that much to a club looking for top eight finish this season.
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