As Fulham are
still in two cup competitions, this is one which they will
want to progress in as well as the Europa League, following
their impressive 2-1 win at Shakhtar Donetsk. But the
squad that Roy Hodgson has assembled at Craven Cottage may
be at a point where it is stretched to it's maximum.
With limited funds, the manager has brought together a group
of players he has consistently got the best out of and with
some of the players seemingly surplus to requirements
elsewhere, he has breathed new life into their careers.
Simon Davies and Bobby Zamora were moved on from Spurs,
while Paul Konchesky was passed over after a loan spell at
White Hart Lane and their subsequent moves have found them a
spiritual home at Fulham. Murphy dictates the Fulham
game from midfield and while he has not got the pace of his
younger days, his passing is still pin-point and he gets
forward far enough to get a good return of goals for a
midfielder. Alongside him, Davies is still energetic
and gives and goes well enough to need tracking and he is a
player who was a little hard done by when Spurs let him go.
Konchesky is a tough-tackling defender, with a powerful
shot, but does lack a little pace and if Tottenham can get
the ball behind him, it might prove a useful way to the last
third. Zamora is perhaps the most surprising of the
four in that he looked out of his depth at White Hart Lane,
but is having a good scoring season and has got some very
good goals. He is being touted for a place in the
England squad, but his injury record is not great and I
think that there are probably more deserving cases ahead of
him in the reckoning to be in Fabio Capello's squad for
Schwarzer has proved over the last two seasons that he is a
very good keeper, who has erased a lot of the errors in his
game, but for a tall man, he is still no that great in the
air and while Peter Crouch has a lot of free-kicks given
against him, his presence might encourage Schwarzer to come
for balls he shouldn't. Beatable on one-on-ones, a
quick break past the back line could expose him.
Hangeland is a much sought after defender and has committed
his future to Fulham, where he is a pivotal figure in the
back four. His height and power make him a useful
asset at both ends of the field and there is a resolve about
him that means he is very difficult to get past.
However, he might cancel the presence of Crouch out of the
game, he could be provided with more problems to solve
should Pav partner Defoe, as the Russian's movement could
pull Hangleand out of position. Of the other
defenders. Chris Baird is a journeyman who is solid but not
outstanding, while Stephen Kelly is well known to Spurs
fans, although is not a regular at the Cottage. A fine
attacking full back, his place in the team has been reduced
to a subs role on more occasions than not. Another
full back who Roy Hodgson has drafted in is Nicky Shorey,
who was frozen out at Aston Villa and has spent a loan spell
at Nottingham Forest and now at Fulham. John Pantsil
is a player that Hodgson has brought the best out of, after
having a torrid time at West Ham United, but he might still
be injured and not be able to feature in this match.
Aaron Hughes seems to be a first choice in the middle of
defence, but he is mobile if not dominating, while having
been signed by Manchester United, Chris Smalling is the talk
of the town, although not many people have seen much of him.
A tall young man, he has looked a little rough around the
edges when I have seen him for Fulham and England Under-21s.
they will miss Clint Dempsey, who was just coming into form
when he got injured, although they have brought in Stefano
Okaka on loan form AS Roma, but he has missed a couple of
open goals in the games he has played and might be used to
cover for Zamora, who should be fit again after injury.
The only other option would be Erik Nevland, who is a short,
but nippy striker, who can turn well with his back to goal.
David Elm is
a young Swedish wide midfielder who caught the imagination
in the summer's European Under-21 championships, but has
been used sparingly so far. Blessed with pace and a
good dribbling skill, he might be one that the manager
brings on carefully. Hungarian Zoltan Gera is quick
and has a good eye for a pass, but also can finish well if
given the opportunity, while Damien Duff likes to run at
players wide on the right, either to play the ball into the
box or to cut inside and have a shot. Bjorn Helge
Riise, former Liverpool midfielder Arne's brother, is a
tackler in the middle of the pitch, but the only action of
note he took par tin at White Hart Lane was to divert
Bentley's free-kick past Schwarzer, while Jonathan Greening
is a Carrick-lite style player, who has not been a regular
in the side. Dickson Ethutu is the physical presence
in midfield, but has suffered injuries and absence to play
in the African Cup of Nations.
With an away
draw and a home win against the Cottagers already this
season, Spurs will know that Fulham are a little Jekyll and
Hyde, but the away game showed that they are capable of
turning it on and without Heurelho Gomes, Spurs might have
taken a bit of a battering. In the home game, Fulham
were a shadow of that team and Spurs ran out 2-0 winners.
In terms of this game, I think the home team will be looking
to progress and Spurs will also be keen for a semi-final at
Wembley. I think it will probably be a more open game
than one might expect for an FA Cup quarter final, but both
sides have good attacking options and I think the fire-power
in the Tottenham front line will just edge it ...
- Fulham 2 Tottenham Hotspur
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