With Fulham in
good form as manager Roy Hodgson has got them playing good
football and got them winning, it is not perhaps the best
time to meet them. We have a good record over them at
the Lane in the past, but it might be that this time out,
they give us more to think about.
With a passing
game, the Cottagers seem to have responded to Hodgson's new
style and he is getting the best out of a group of players
who struggled last season before he took over near the end
of the campaign and kept them in the Premier League.
Now they are
in 9th position with the best home record in the league and
are a more formidable proposition than previously.
Spurs will need to produce a performance of good quality and
effort to match the visitors and get anything from the game.
former Boro keeper Mark Schwarzer has had a revival in form
and he performed well against Tottenham at Craven Cottage a
few weeks back. Spurs will need to test him more
rigorously and we know from previous encounters, that he is
prone to make mistakes, so the more he has to do, the more
likely one might creep into his game. In front of him,
the back four have been solid this season, with central
defender Brede Hangeland taking many of the plaudits for his
displays. Tall and imposing, he reads the game well,
making useful interceptions before the ball gets anywhere
near the danger zone. Paired in central defence with
ex-Newcastle United defender Aaron Hughes, they are
developing a good partnership, with Hughes dropping off for
the second ball. John Pantsil had a rough time at West
Ham United, where he never settled and has copped a lot of
flak for throwing himself to the ground when confronted by
Ricardo Fuller in the match at Stoke recently, but when he
concentrates on playing, he is quick over the ground and
likes to get forward. On the other flank, there is yet
another player who graced the Lilywhite shirt, albeit
briefly. Paul Konchesky had a reputation as a tough
tackler and that was as far as it went, but now he is being
encouraged to get forward along the wing and he has started
to play a bit of football to go with his fearsome
reputation. Chris Baird is more often called form the
bench to add some defensive strength to the back four or
midfield, if they are defending a lead towards the end of
familiar to Spurs fans will be Simon Davies, who was perhaps
shown the door a bit early here. His energetic running
and good ability on the ball makes him an important link man
and his displays for Spurs were always of a high quality.
American Clint Dempsey is a former striker and Hodgson has
got him playing just behind the strikers and a couple of
goals have shown he can get into the box to good effect.
Lots of newspaper speculation has linked Jimmy Bullard with
a move to Tottenham, but the all action style of this
midfielder earned him an England call up, following in the
footsteps of his team-mate Danny Murphy, another former
Spurs man. His experience and perceptive passing will
be vital to Fulham on the day, as they are without the
talented former West Bromwich Albion schemer Zoltan Gera
there may be a more physical presence in the shape of
Dickson Etuhu ,as the Cottagers attempt to win away for the
first time this season. Tough tackling, he is an
athletic middle man, who has not had the best of luck since
breaking through at Manchester City as a youngster.
The front men
for Fulham will be Andy Johnson and yet another ex-Spur
Bobby Zamora. Johnson has carried on doing what he has
been doing at all his other clubs. Scoring goals.
His reputation is besmirched by his ability to drop to the
floor, but there is no doubting his goal-scoring record.
With a defence which is likely to be unfamiliar in playing
together, they need to make sure they know who is going to
pick up the little striker. Conversely, Zamora will
find them, as his physical presence, especially in the sir,
will need no invitation to visit himself upon Michael
Dawson. He is pretty quick and although his touch is
not perfect, he can make space for himself in tight
situations in the penalty box, so needs to be marked tightly
... but not too tightly. Erik Nevland is an
experienced striker, who spent some time at Manchester
United and was an international with Norway, so will need to
not be taken for granted should he be used.
been a missing link in our play, despite the good run under
the management of Harry Redknapp, but it might be that some
fresh faces could spruce the team up a bit. Aaron
Lennon is becoming an integral aspect of our attacking play,
but his good work needs to be finished off and hopefully,
Les Ferdinand will have been drilling it into the students
of his goal-scoring classes, that they need to be in the
area and to hit the target.
If they can
manage that, they should be able to rack up three
post-Christmas points ...
: - Tottenham Hotspur 2 Fulham
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