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Premier League

Saturday 1st January 2011

With a vital third win of the season away at Stoke City, Fulham have the pressure that was building on them easing slightly.  Still not out of the threat of relegation, it was a good place to get a victory and will give Mark Hughes' side a bit of belief coming into the game at the Lane.

Hughes was looking a cert to be the next Premier League manager for the chop (along with fellow West London manager Carlo Ancelotti), but this win will give him a stay of execution, although the pressure may be back on with a bad result against Spurs.  It is unlikely that they will be as attacking here as they were at Stoke and will probably set up with the tactic of stopping our midfield getting beyond theirs.

With some athletic and strong players in the engine room, Spurs might find it hard to break them down, as it is unlikely that Hughes will stick with Murphy and Duff in the middle five.  Salicido might make an appearance to try and add some pace on the flanks to hold Bale up, although they will have the industry of former Spur Simon Davies, possibly combined with the back-tracking of Zoltan Gera, who can also be an astute maker of goals at the other end.  Dickson Etuhu is a strong midfield presence, as is Kagisho Dikgacoi, who can also play in defence.

Up front, little striker Andy Johnson is back and he is nippy and good at penalties, so will need to be carefully marshalled to keep him quiet, but as he plays the lone forward, his strike partner is likely to play off him and is likely to be Clint Dempsey, who will also function as a midfielder for the purposes of stopping Tottenham playing.

In defence, they have been conceding easy goals and Brede Hangeland has been a little guilty of letting players escape him in the box.  Therefore, he will probably be extra vigilant against Spurs and our players will need to make the movement to pull Fulham players out of position and to lose their markers. John Pantsil, Aaron Hughes and Chris Baird have been the favoured back four with Hangeland, so they will be a busy quartet you would think.  Mark Schwarzer behind them will also need to be at his best to keep Spurs at bay, with goals capable of coming from anywhere.  He is usually a good shot stopper, but sometimes miscalculates his angles and his ability to deal with high balls is not always that convincing.

Spurs will be missing Jermain Defoe and Younes Kaboul through suspension, but with a strong squad there should be enough decent cover for Harry Redknapp to select from and with Rafael van der Vaart in the team, with Luka Modric performing to his usual level, Spurs could go on to win well ...

PREDICTION : -  Tottenham Hotspur    3      Fulham    1

For more information on the opponents and their history, including full result history of matches between the two teams, click here.


TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR : -  Ledley King (out - groin); Tom Huddlestone (out - ankle); Jamie O'Hara (out - back); Jonathan Woodgate (out - groin); William Gallas (out - hamstring); Jermain Defoe (out  - suspended 2nd of 3); Younes Kaboul (out - suspended 1st of 3); - (-); - (-);

FULHAM :  -  Matthew Briggs (out - ankle); Moussa Dembele (out - ankle); Frederik Stoor (out - groin); Bobby Zamora (out - broken leg); Philip Senderos (out - shin); - (-); - (-); 


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Tottenham Hotspur   1    Fulham   0      (Half-time score : 1-0)

Premier League
Venue : White Hart Lane  
Saturday 1st January 2011
Kick Off :  3.00 p.m.
Crowd :   35,603
Referee :  Mike Jones (Cheshire)
Fulham kicked off and played towards the Paxton Road end in the first half.
Weather :  -  Drizzle, mild
Teams : - 
Tottenham Hotspur :

  1  Gomes

  2  Hutton  (22  Corluka 27)
13  Gallas
20  Dawson (c)       
32  Assou-Ekotto     

  7  Lennon
12  Palacios
14  Modric
  3  Bale

11  van der Vaart  (  8  Jenas 83)

  9  Pavlyuchenko  (15  Crouch 66)

Unused subs: 
39  Pletikosa

19  Bassong
21  Kranjcar
30  Sandro

Fulham :

  1  Schwarzer

  4  Pantsil     
  6  Baird
  5  Hangeland
18  Hughes

16  Duff  (11  Gera 82)
13  Murphy
20  Etuhu
23  Davies

23  Dempsey
  8  Johnson

Unused subs: 
  3  Salcido
32  Halliche
26  Dikagoi
27  Greening

15  Kamara

Colours : -  (kits courtesy of
Tottenham Hotspur

Scorers : -  
Tottenham Hotspur

Bale 42



Cards : -  
Tottenham Hotspur  

Dawson (foul)  25
Assou-Ekotto (foul)  87



Pantsil (foul)  18


Match Report : -  
If Spurs are being hailed as the 'Entertainers' of the Premier League, then Fulham must surely be the 'Cure for 'Insomnia' of the Premier League, as their arrival at the lane appeared to come with no more intention of going home with a point and although they came close to achieving their aim, their performance was neat without being exciting and functional without being too threatening, so a 0-1 defeat was about all they deserved.

The passing movements Fulham put together might have been pleasing to the eye, but the lack of a finishing end product was perhaps reflective of their poor league position.  While they were making neat triangles, they were not putting any realistic threat on Heurelho Gomes' goal for the majority of the match.  While Tottenham also failed to make Schwarzer work too hard in the first period, they did manage to grab a goal and should have added more in the second period, when they were attacking their favoured Paxton Road end.

Neither side made much of the possession they had in the early stages, with Fulham over-hitting balls and Spurs being a bit careless in their passing in the Fulham half.  When there was a half-chance, it was almost created by Fulham in the 11th minute, when Dickson Etuhu was put through into the box, but a combination of Dawson and Assou-Ekotto did enough to hamper him from having a shot and then dispossessing him.  Murphy hit a shot a few yards wide from distance, but without really troubling Gomes and then, as Alan Hutton cleared a ball away, Andy Johnson left his studs showing and the Scot kicked them, thus causing him to limp out of the game in the 27th minute, with Vedran Corluka replacing him at right back.

With half an hour gone, Spurs made a good break and had Modric running through the midfield to release Lennon on the right, but the little winger came inside where it was a bit more congested and his shot was half hit with his left foot, leaving Schwarzer an easy pick up.  Corluka was looking to link up with Lennon at every opportunity and put him into the box a few minutes later, but the winger's pull back was behind van der Vaart and picked off before it got to Modric.  The first proper save of the match came in the 32nd minute, when the ball ran to Benoit Assou-Ekotto and he struck a shot from 30 yards that Schwarzer dived to his left to save, but had to grab it at the second attempt and the Aussie keeper had to adjust his dive to stop a bouncing Pavlyuchenko 20 yard shot a couple of minutes later.

Then three minutes before the break, Spurs took the lead with an unusual goal.  Rafael van der Vaart had already hit the wall with one free-kick and when Spurs were awarded another in a central position for a foul.  VDV's shot appeared to be going well wide, but as it reached the penalty spot, Gareth Bale met it with a glancing header that left the Fulham goalie standing and the ball hit the net to his right hand side.  It was either a quick piece of thinking by Bale or a perfectly well-worked training ground routine, but whichever it was, it gave Spurs a 1-0 lead just before the half-time whistle.

Tottenham almost added a second within a couple of minutes, as van der Vaart drifted away from a Fulham player and set Gareth Bale free in the left hand channel.  As he got inside the area, he unleashed a left foot shot that had Schwarzer going the wrong way, but the keeper managed to keep the ball out with his legs.  Then, for the first time in the half, the Spurs goal came under any sort of real threat and Damien Duff got some space on the right to cross into the near post area, but the ball was intercepted before Andy Johnson could get there by William Gallas' extended leg.

The half-time break saw the appearance of Spurs favourite David Ginola, who always says the right things when he comes back to White Hart Lane and got a warm round of applause from the fans.

The temperature seemed to dip in the second half, with the drizzly rain stopping as play got underway.  It was to be a half when Spurs were pushed back by a more aggressive Fulham side, but some of which looked like it was due to Spurs tiring after finishing two successive games with ten men.

Gomes produced an acrobatic flying catch to cut out a dangerous Duff cross and then the Irish winger got on the end of Simon Davies' deep left wing cross to take a touch to bring the ball down and then fire with venom at goal.  Although tight to the line and beyond the far post, his shot was full of power, but luckily for Tottenham, it lacked accuracy and flew too high.  In between, Spurs fashioned a move that saw Rafa go tight to the dead ball line on the left wing and somehow nudge the ball around to get past two players, who were close to him, then prod it across goal, but unfortunately, Aaron Lennon's run had taken him in front of the ball and it was cleared away.

Danny Murphy was at the heart of much of Fulham's passing, but it lacked any real penetration and the lack of goals means it is not hard to see why Fulham currently dwell in relegation zone.  And the former Spurs midfielder does not have the legs to carry him about the field as quickly as he once did.  Conversely, Simon Davies replicates some of the effort he put in as a Tottenham player, but he is not brought into play as much as he should and his use of the ball today fell below the standards he normally produces.

The game fell into a lull after about 50 minutes and it was ten minutes before there was a shot at goal and even that was well off target as Dempsey tried his luck from 30 yards and hit the back of the lower tier of the Park Lane.  Spurs had a chance when Pav was set free by Luka Modric, following van der Vaart's sliding challenge on Hangeland as the lumbering centre half tried to bring the ball out of defence.  unfortunately, it was not one of Pav's best days and his heavy touch saw Schwarzer come off his line to claim the ball.

In the 63rd minute, Spurs were grateful to Heurelho Gomes and Michael Dawson for protecting the lead.  Davies' reverse pass to Andy Johnson who was running to his left, saw the striker produce a left footed shot back across the keeper.  Gomes did well to react, but could only palm the ball down and it was right in front of goal, where Dempsey was bearing down to touch home the loose ball.  However, Michael Dawson got there first and the ball hit him, taking it towards his own line.  The Spurs skipper was quick enough to react and clear the ball to safety before Dempsey could take him and the ball into the net.

It was a worry when Gallas went down and needed treatment on his hamstring injury, being strapped up to carry on, but he played a full par tin the performance at the back that showed astute management by Harry in bringing him in, while Arsenal had to spend big money on lesser quality replacements.  Gallas' determination to get in first and to win showed through and his Arsenal past might now be put behind him by some Spurs fans, as they see the benefits he brings to the Spurs team.

Bale showed he still has some practising to do with his right foot, as his shot over the bar from ten yards out ended a fine move on the right wing, with Palacios freeing Corluka into the box and he pulled a low ball back for the Welshman to shoot too high in the 74th minute.  There was a similar finish four minutes later, when Crouch, on for Pavlyuchenko, nodded down a corner and Michael Dawson lashed a volley over the crossbar.

Fulham made a like for like substitution with Gera coming on for Duff and Spurs replaced the tiring VDV with Jermaine Jenas.  JJ was soon in the action as he blocked a shot that came in from the edge of the box by Davies, with this following equally good blocks by Palacios and Dawson, as the Tottenham defenders threw themselves in to maintain the lead.

The chance to wrap the game up came five minutes from time and when Gomes' throw-out put Lennon away down the right, his pace took him away form the Fulham defenders.  However, as he cut into the box, he choose to shoot, Jenas much better placed to his left in lots of space.  To add insult to injury, neither the referee nor linesman saw that the ball had taken a BIG deflection over the goal for a corner and awarded a goal-kick !

Assou-Ekotto got caught in possession on the halfway-line and had to haul back Dempsey to stop him getting away, earning a yellow card and Crouch's height came in useful from the resulting free-kick, as he headed away with Hangeland threatening.  But it was then Tottenham's turn to attack, with Jenas putting Modric in for a little run and ending with a shot that went off target from 20 yards out. 

Aaron went on another run with plenty of space on the right, but this time he did pass it, to Crouchy on the edge of the box and the forward got too close to the bal and didn't get enough power in his shot leaving it straight at the goalie and a straightforward task for him to stop it.  A goal in the last minute of the game would have made added time a little more comfortable, but Spurs continued to go forward, as they have been doing for months now.  Bale used his massive lungs to reach a long pass from Benny and played it off Pantsil for a corner, which was worked short by Modric to Jenas, who cut into the box to curl a shot just beyond Schwarzer and the far post.  Only a last minute (that turned into a last two minutes, as referee Jones played on and on until Fulham didn't score) scare, when the ball pinged about the Tottenham box, but the massed ranks of white shirts got it away and the final whistle finally sounded to bring the curtain down on a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

Three winnable games had been won.  Not all as easily as we would have liked, but what had come out of the festive games was a determination and grit that has not been seen in the Tottenham side for some considerable time.

So, some sort of relief to be back to some resembling normality as Spurs ended the game with their full complement and won with a clean sheet.  Not that keeping clean sheets has been the norm this season, but hopefully, it will become so.  With the news that Harry Redknapp has been told the club are in discussions to bring David Beckham to Tottenham, it seems like 2011 is beginning like some sort of fantasy ... and it could be one that sees the former England captain having to settle for a place on the bench at the most. 

Who would ever have thunk it ??

Simon Dillon


Fan Reaction : -



Fulham are in trouble.

Any team that comes looking for a point and shows little attacking intent must surely be looking at a long relegation struggle.  They only had one real chance and that was after an hour of the game. I'm not sure how they beat Stoke, but I can't see the team winning many more matches with this approach.

With the club normally being draw specialists and bringing in draw specialist Mark Hughes as manager seems to point to only one thing ... one point maximums.

But for Spurs, it was a tougher test and one they came through in the end.  Not a pretty game, but one which they won with one moment of individuality from Gareth Bale, who took the initiative and stuck his head on van der Vaart's free-kick, guiding the ball Gilzean like into the other side of the goal that Mark Schwarzer was going to.

There was little inventiveness in Fulham's play except for the one chance they made with Johnson's shot saved and Dawson tidying up with a clearance facing his own goal under pressure from Dempsey.  The Cottagers tried to build periods of pressure, but they didn't really test Spurs and many of their balls into the box lacked precision.

Spurs put together some neat passing moves and they really needed a second goal in the early part of the second half to kill it off, but they didn't get it, so had to keep plugging away for a third win in a week.  With two games won with ten men and two clean sheets, the nine points have come in very handy, leaving us just four points required to avoid relegation !!

Ted Maul

Fulham look like a side who want to stop others playing than play themselves and this can't be good for their hopes of survival. 

On the other hand, it was these sort of games that gave Spurs a few problems last season (Wolves, Stoke, etc).  So, to come through this with three points, even though we were under pressure for parts of the second half, it perhaps is another indicator that the team is still developing and that the lessons of the past are being learned.

Already they are keeping clean sheets after a long period without one and they are now being more disciplined in keeping all the players on the field at the end !!

The start of another successful year I hope ... and as it ends in a 1 ... well, we can dream can't we ??

Pete Burdett








Other scores this weekend :
Birmingham City 0 Arsenal 3 Saturday
Liverpool 2 Bolton Wanderers 1 Saturday
Manchester City 1 Blackpool 0 Saturday
Stoke City 2 Everton 0 Saturday
Sunderland 3 Blackburn Rovers 0 Saturday
West Bromwich Albion 1 Manchester United 2 Saturday
West Ham United 2 Wolverhampton Wanderers 0 Saturday
Wigan Athletic 0 Newcastle United 1 Sunday
Chelsea 3 Aston Villa 3 Sunday



League Table
  P W D L F A Pts GD
1 Manchester United 19 11 8 0 43 20 41 +23
2 Manchester City 21 12 5 4 33 16 41 +17
3 Arsenal 20 12 3 5 42 22 39 +20
4 TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR 20 10 6 4 31 24 36 +7
5 Chelsea 20 10 5 5 36 18 35 +18
6 Sunderland 21 7 9 5 24 22 30 +2
7 Bolton Wanderers 21 7 8 6 33 28 29 +5
8 Stoke City 20 8 3 9 25 24 27 -1
9 Newcastle United 20 7 4 9 29 31 25 0
10 Liverpool 19 7 4 9 23 24 25 -1
11 Blackpool 18 7 4 7 26 30 25 -4
12 Blackburn Rovers 21 7 4 10 26 34 25 -8
13 Everton 20 4 10 6 21 24 22 -3
14 West Bromwich Albion 20 6 4 10 26 36 22 -10
15 Aston Villa 20 5 6 9 23 37 21 -14
16 West Ham United 21 4 8 9 22 34 20 -12
17 Wigan Athletic 20 4 9 7 17 32 20 -15
18 Birmingham City 19 3 10 6 18 24 19 -6
19 Fulham 20 3 10 7 19 24 19 -5
20 Wolverhampton Wanderers 20 5 3 12 20 34 18 -14


Position before the match :  5th
Position after the match :  4th
Position after the weekend :  4th


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