COMPETITION Premier League
DATE Saturday 1st December 2012
VENUE Craven Cottage






This is more like an old-boys reunion than a meeting of Premier League teams.  Spurs visit Craven Cottage and there will be no less than six men who will be facing their old clubs, with four on the Fulham side and two turning out for Tottenham.

Fulham goalkeeper Mark Schwarzer seems like he has been there longer than Brad Friedel has been in football, but the Australian keeper has been a fine servant for the Cottagers and while his height is an advantage for a keeper, his use of that advantage is not always employed when crosses come in.  A god shot stopper, he sometimes lacks accuracy in working out his angles.

The defence of Sascha Riether, Brede Hangeland, John-Arne Riise and Phillipe Senderos has been disrupted by Hangeland's sending off against Sunderland a couple of weeks ago.  That dismissal saw Fulham go on to lose 1-3 and without the tall Norwegian ,Tottenham will be looking to capitalise on the absence of the big man.   The most likely replacement for Hangeland would be Aaron Hughes and Spurs could cash in on his entry into the back four.  A solid player, Hughes can lack positional sense and be pulled out of place.  Defoe might gain some joy by utilising his movement to create gaps for others to move into.   Stephen Kelly,  Kieran Richardson and Chris Baird are other options and Jol may deploy one or both of the last named to do some work in the midfield.

former Chelsea winger Damien Duff is still going and works the touchline well, while another ex-Pensioner Steve Sidwell is having a good run in the side, but he lacks a little in pace and his distribution is not always that accurate.  Former Greek captain Giorgos Karagounis is a hard working midfielder, who does have the ability to score from around the edge of the box.   Mahamadou Diarra is the former Real Madrid midfielder, who his tall and strong in the tackle and he would probably take precedence over two youngsters in Kerim Frei and Pajtim Kasami.  Frei is a youngster who has played at all youth levels for Switzerland and then went on to play for Turkey's national side.  Currently on loan at Cardiff City, he is being given experience before Jol integrates him into the team.  Kasami is a former Lazio and Liverpool youth player, who has found it hard to break into the Fulham first team.

Dimitar Berbatov needs no introduction and is a player who looks effortless in his play, sometimes drawing criticism from the crowd for laziness, but he sues his skill to reduce the amount of running he has to do.  A clinical and cool finisher, he is a player who will need to be neutralised.  Mladen Petric has been a minor hit with Fulham fans, scoring an average of one in two this season, but he ahs only featured eight times, so more consistency might yet see him become a useful member of the team.  At 31 he might be finding it harder to overcome injury, but he has played at some good European clubs and is a useful goal-getter.  A player who is used to the English game is Hugo Rodellega and the former Wigan Athletic striker is physically large, but does not always use his strength to his advantage.  

Spurs will have a tough task, as Martin Jol will want to prove a point to Daniel Levy, even though there is supposedly no bad feeling between them, but BMJ has his professional pride.  Expect Fulham to work hard in midfield to close Tottenham down and to try to get the ball to Berbatov in and around the box.  The key to any success Spurs might find is the pace of breaking out from the back and catching Fulham short on numbers.

A nip and tuck game but with Spurs to edge it by the odd goal.

PREDICTION Fulham    1      Tottenham Hotspur   2
Click here for more info on opponents - stats v thfc , history, etc.
Simon Davies misses out on facing Tottenham, with a hip injury and hamstring injuries keep Alex Kacaniclik and Bryan Ruiz out, while Brede Hangeland serves the third of his three match ban in the stand.  Kieron Richardson is fit again after recovering from a hamstring pull.
Mousa Dembele and Clint Dempsey return to their old club, but Tottenham will be missing Scott Parker (Achilles) , Younes Kaboul (knee), Benoit Assou-Ekotto (knee) and Emmanuel Adebayor (third match of a three match suspension).  Steven Caulker should return after illness.

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Fulham  0 (0)     
Premier League
Saturday 1st December 2012                              
Venue :  Craven Cottage
Tottenham Hotspur  3 (0)

Kick off  15:00
None Sandro 55
Defoe 72
Defoe 77



Bale (simulation) 23
Gallas (entering the field of play without permission) 58


Crowd :   25,426 Weather :  Dry, but cold
Referee :  Chris Foy (St. Helens) Assistant Referees :  M. McDonough; R. Ganfield
Fourth Official :  Jon Moss (Leeds) -
Tottenham kicked off and played towards the Hammersmith end in the first half.
Fulham : kit Tottenham Hotspur : kit

  3  John-Arne RIISE
16  Aaron HUGHES
  4  Phillipe SENDEROS
27  Sascha RIETHER (  2  Stephen KELLY 29)

24  Ashkan DEJAGAH
  7  Steve SIDWELL
19  Mahmadou DIARRA
21  Karim FREI (16  Damien DUFF 62)

10  Mladen PETRIC (20  Hugo RODELLEGA 79)
  9  Dimitar BERBATOV (c)

Unused subs: 
  6  Chris BAIRD
14  Giorgos KARAGOUNIS

  25  Hugo LLORIS

33  Steven CAULKER
20  Michael DAWSON (c) (13  William GALLAS 17     )

19  Mousa DEMBELE (46  Tom CARROLL 84)

  7  Aaron LENNON
  2  Clint DEMPSEY
11  Gareth BALE       (22  Gylfi SIGURDSSON 62)

18  Jermain DEFOE   

Unused subs: 
24  Brad FRIEDEL
18  Kyle WALKER
27  Iago FALQUE

Manager :  Martin Jol Manager :   Andre Villas-Boas
Sponsor :   FXPro Shirt sponsor :  Aurasma
Kit Supplier :  Kappa Kit Supplier :   Under Armour
Match report

An unusual game at Craven Cottage ended 3-0 to Spurs despite a poor performance, but a bit of luck and the team exhibiting some lethal finishing put Fulham away.  with two wins in the previous week, this three points took Spurs into fourth, just behind a stuttering Chelsea on goal difference.  And in that the club are sitting well-placed with some potentially winnable games coming up.

Spurs fielded both Clint Dempsey and Mousa Dembele against their old side and the receptions could not have been more different.  The American was booed with every touch, while Dembele was given a good reception and a good hand when he was substituted.  Tottenham had Steven Caulker returning from illness and Kyle Naughton came in for Kyle Walker, who was left on the bench.

The first half was, in general, a messy affair, with neither side getting any rhythm going nor getting much in the way of meaningful efforts on goal.  Five minutes into the game, Dempsey took a pass on the edge of the Fulham box and turned Phillipe Senderos, but could only put his shot wide of Schwarzer's right hand post with only the keeper left to beat.  With fifteen minutes gone, Spurs were hit by an injury to Michael Dawson, who has played well since he returned to the first team.  In making an interception in his own area, he went down holding his thigh and limped off with a pulled hamstring. Spurs brought on William Gallas in his place in the middle of the back four.  Fulham also had to make a change when Sascha Riether went off, with former Spur Stephen Kelly replacing him.

Mladen Petric seemed to have a shoot on sight policy, with efforts flying in from all over the place, with one flying over and a break down the left saw a ball played inside Naughton for Riise to put a low ball in to the near post, where Petric met the ball, but Hugo Lloris got down at his post to save well.

A better chance for Fulham came when Berbatov was involved twice with back heels that put Dejagah away on the right and then set up Karim Frei for a shot from the edge of the box, but the ball felw way over the bar. If he had hit the target, it might have been a worrying moment.

Just before half time, Aaron Lennon got away on the left and pulled a low ball back to Gareth Bale in the middle of the goal, but it was a little bit behind him and he could only squirt out a shot that went off target. Jermain Defoe got Tottenham's only shot on target in the first period in added time.  It was that sort of game.

Was this a result of the effort put into the last two games ?  Personally, I think we were just a bit below par on the day and weren't firing like we have been used to.

One of the main talking points at half time was Bale's second booking in successive games for diving.  Is it that travelling at the pace he does, it only take a little to knock him off balance or is it that he doesn't want to take the kicks and so goes down as the challenge comes in to protect himself ?   Only one person knows the answer to that and with referees seemingly aware that the Welshman is developing a bit of a reputation, we can expect more cautions for this offence.

The second half could be any worse .. .could it ?

Fulham started well, as Sidwell fired a shot wide after being put in by Petric, who had taken the ball off Sandro near the centre circle. Ten minutes into the half, Sandro picked up a ball inside from the right and with nobody coming to close him down, the Brazilian strode forward to shoot at goal from 35 yards out. The ball dipped and swerved on Mark Schwarzer and the keeper dived under the ball, which flew up into the net off the keeper's hands.

The goal came out of nowhere really, when compared to the game up until that point. Things started to open up, with Defoe putting Bale in on the left side of the box five minutes later and the Welshman's stinging shot was beaten out by Schwarzer. Worse for Spurs was the fact that Gareth was left holding his left thigh and he soon made his way off with what looked like a hamstring problem. Gylfi Sigurdsson came on in his place on the left side of midfield.

There was little pattern to the game and when Sigurdsson got the ball on the edge of the box on the left with former Gooner Phillipe Senderos in front of him, he moved forward, turning the defender inside out, before going outside him. Getting free, the Icelander pulled the ball back into the path of Jermain Defoe, who thumped the ball low through Schwarzer's legs to double the Spurs lead in the 72nd minute. His finish form just outside the six yard box was the sort of chance Defoe thrives on.

Clint Dempsey was out to silence the home crowd's displeasure with his move to Tottenham and in the 77th minute, he played a neat pass between two Fulham defenders for Defoe to run in on goal and from just inside the box, he curved a shot past the goalie to make it 3-0 and seal the win for Spurs.

It was all Tottenham now, with Sigurdsson getting away on the left and trying to bend a shot round Schwarzer, but the keeper dived left to push the ball away. With just eight minutes remaining, Fulham had their best chance, with substitute Hugo Rodellega getting his head to Damien Duff's cross and heading the ball down, but it was straight at Lloris and he got down to make a comfortable save.

While Fulham tried to maintain pressure on the Spurs goal, their final ball was lacking in quality and the Tottenham defence was able to keep the clean sheet that will help build confidence and understanding with the new goalkeeper.

While the score-line looks pretty comprehensive, the game itself was untidy and wasn't the best I've seen, but the way Spurs were able to win and win well in a game where they didn't play well was good to see. Admittedly, Fulham were poor on the day and against a side playing well, Spurs might suffer if they are not up for it.

But it was good to see Dempsey integrating into the side more, Dembele's return and the side continuing to play attacking football after Gareth Bale went off. While there is no doubt that Bale is integral in our progress as a club, the side must learn to do without him, as suspension beckons if referees keep booking him for diving and injury beckons if he doesn't take evasive action.

So, the three points put Tottenham fourth on goal difference behind Chelsea and in front of West Bromwich Albion, who are all on the same points. There is still a long way to go this season and lots of points to be won and lost.

With 23 games still to play, if we finish in the same place come the middle of May, then hopefully this time, we might get the Champions League spot that will continue the club's growth.

Purcell Cole



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Other scores during this week :
Arsenal 0 Swansea City 2 Saturday
Liverpool 1 Southampton 0 Saturday
Manchester City 1 Everton 1 Saturday
Queens Park Rangers 1 Aston Villa 1 Saturday
Reading 3 Manchester United 4 Saturday
West Bromwich Albion 0 Stoke City 1 Saturday
West Ham United 3 Chelsea 1 Saturday
Norwich City 2 Sunderland 1 Sunday
Newcastle United 3 Wigan Athletic 0 Monday




League Table
  P W D L F A Pts GD
1 Manchester United 15 12 0 3 37 21 36 +16
2 Manchester City 15 9 6 0 28 11 33 +17
3 Chelsea 15 7 5 3 24 15 26 +9
4 TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR 15 8 2 5 28 23 26 +5
5 West Bromwich Albion 15 8 2 5 24 19 26 +5
6 Everton 15 5 8 2 25 19 23 +5
7 Swansea City 15 6 5 4 23 17 23 +6
8 West Ham United 15 6 4 5 19 17 22 +2
9 Stoke City 15 5 7 3 15 13 22 +2
10 Liverpool 15 4 7 4 19 18 19 +1
11 Arsenal 15 5 6 4 23 15 21 +8
12 Norwich City 15 5 7 3 13 21 19 -8
13 Fulham 15 4 5 6 25 26 17 -1
14 Newcastle United 15 4 5 6 17 21 17 -4
15 Aston Villa 15 3 5 7 12 23 14 -11
16 Wigan Athletic 15 4 2 9 15 28 14 -13
17 Sunderland 14 2 7 5 13 18 13 -5
18 Southampton 15 3 3 9 21 32 12 -11
19 Reading 14 1 6 7 19 27 9 -8
20 Queens Park Rangers 15 0 6 9 11 27 6 -16


Position before match :  7th
Position after match :  4th
Position after the weekend :  4th

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