COMPETITION Premier League
DATE Saturday 19th April 2014
VENUE White Hart Lane






Having played two of the lower placed teams in our last two matches, we let them have the lead and came back to win 5-1 against Sunderland at the Lane and to grab a late draw with WBA at the Hawthorns last Saturday.  After not being able to recover losing positions, Spurs are now becoming adept at it, but I would rather that we didn't go behind to relegation haunted teams in the first place.

With four games left, Spurs are yet to score in the first 15 minutes.  An oft repeated stat on this site, but it is reflecting the slumberous starts we make to matches and an early goal might set the foundations for a dominant performance and a heavy victory.  With Fulham having earned a 1-0 home win over Norwich City in a match where neither team looked like Premiership material, they will be looking to push on and take more points to help them away from the relegation trap door.  Without the services of our German midfielder Lewis Holtby, who has been a spark plug in the Fulham engine room, they might find it a little more difficult than with him in the team. 

While Dutch keeper Maarten Stekelenburg has been out injured, David Stockdale has come in to show some good shot-stopping reflexes, but he can still be caught out of position, as the defence in front of him looks unorganised, although that was what Felix Magath has been brought in to sort out.   I expect that the manager will go with experience in this match, although he did pick a side with lots of Premier League games behind them to play Norwich.  Maybe, he might throw in the odd youngster to try and unsettle Spurs with the 'unknown' effect catching them out.  But in defence, Brede Hangeland will be in the middle of the back four and alongside him will be ex-Everton central defender Johnny Heitinga.  Hangeland will win almost everything in the air, but he was caught out against Norwich when the ball was on the floor, with Heitninga being a good man marker, but lacking the pace crucial to keep things tight at the back.   Well that Fernando Amorbieta has done, he looks like he is still not used to the Premier League style of play.  He likes to attack, but his defensive skills have been exposed by wingers who run at him.  On the other flank, John Arne Riise is still being deployed at full back and his lack of pace can lead to players enjoying the freedom afforded behind him when he moves upfield.  Aaron Lennon might make the most of this and he showed last week in the comeback at West Bromwich Albion, that he can be a good source of supply, as well as getting in on goal himself.  Sascha Riether might be a better bet, as his defensive nous is sounder than that of Riise, but he also gets forward, with consequences for his team-mates should he be stranded up the line.

While Fulham have invested in some young players who are ones for the future, there are a number of players who, while experienced, may be coming into Craven Cottage at the end of the careers.  In last week's defeat Mamhamadou Diarra looked decidedly unfit, while Lewis Holtby was running himself into the ground.   They have a few players who work hard in Holtby's style such as Giorgios Karagounis, Scott Parker and Steve Sidwell, with a couple of more creative players - i.e. Ashkan Dejagah and Pajtim Kasami, who have scored a few (with the emphasis on few) goals for them this season, but how open Magath will try to be is questionable.  Starting with a point, he might seek to keep hold of what he arrived with and play a defensive five in midfield.  Both Parker and Sidwell like to pass and move, but with the speed of Tottenham's breaks, when they move the ball quickly, there might be danger in playing too many players who want to charge forward.  He needs two to sit in front of the back four to protect them. 

Alexander Kacaniklic is a player with a good future ahead of him, but he has not been risked, nor have some of the other younger midfielders at the club.  Kieran Richardson has been shifted between midfield and full back, but he might play a wide right position to try and stretch Spurs in the middle of the pitch.

In attack, the loss of Dimitar Berbatov was not regarded as a great loss by some Fulham supporters, but his ability to coolly slot the bal home has been missed, leaving Sidwell as the team's top scorer.  Former Spur, Darren bent has not been a regular under any of the three managers how have been in charge at Fulham this season.  His strength is to run onto balls played over the back four but with Hugo Lloris sweeping behind our defence, this squeezes the space available to play such passes into.  Outside of this tactic, he will try and get in the box and hope for some quality delivery there.  Cauley Woodward has broken through under Magath, but he has yet to be too much trouble to Premier League defenders, leaving Hugo Rodallega as the Cottagers only other experienced striker.  Strong on the ball and with a fierce shot, he can be a problem in the air in the box, but too often he is not constantly involved in the game to make his mark on a match.

Fulham will be fighting for their lives and while Spurs are still notionally looking to get a top four place, that has not been an option since we got smashed at Liverpool.  There is little to play for, other than the player's futures at the club, but some might see their future away from the club anyway.  All we can hope for is that the Tottenham team play their part in the relegation battle and put in a strong performance, which hopefully might result in a  good result against a struggling side, as it did eventually against Sunderland.

PREDICTION Tottenham Hotspur    4         Fulham    1
Click here for more info on opponents - stats v thfc , an alternative history, etc.
Spurs have former Fulham midfielder Mousa Dembele fit again, but Michael Dawson (hamstring), Roberto Soldado (hamstring), Erik Lamela (back), Kyle Walker (pelvis), Etienne Capoue (ankle0 and Jan Vertonghen (ankle) are all ruled out.
Striker Kostas Mitroglu is ruled out with a knee injury, as is Damien Duff.  Lewis Holtby cannot play against Spurs while on loan at Craven Cottage.

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Tottenham Hotspur  3 (1)                                                                      Fulham  1 (1)
Premier League
Saturday 19th April 2014                                                                                                                             Kick off 12:45
White Hart Lane
Paulinho  35
Kane  48
Kaboul  62
Sidwell 37


Heitinga (foul on Rose) 61


Crowd :   35,841 Weather :  Warm, sunny
Referee :  Lee Probert (Wiltshire) Assistant Referees :  Mr. R. Ganley; Mr. M. Scholes
Fourth Official :  Roger East -
Spurs kicked off and played towards the Park Lane end in the first half.
Game time : -  90 + 4 minutes.
Tottenham Hotspur : kit Fulham : kit
25  Hugo LLORIS

32  Zeki FRYERS
  4  Younes KABOUL (c) 
  3  Danny ROSE

  7  Aaron LENNON

21  Nacer CHADLI  (19  Mousa DEMBELE 67)
23  Christian ERIKSEN  (17  Andros TOWNSEND 85)

32  Harry KANE    (  9  Roberto SOLDADO 79)
10  Emmanuel ADEBAYOR

Unused subs: 
24  Brad FRIEDEL
42  Nabil BENTALEB

  13  David STOCKDALE

  4  Johnny HEITINGA       (22  Elsad ZVEROTIC 66)
  5  Brede HANGELANDE (c)
35  Fernando AMOREBIETA
  3  John Arne RIISE

11  Alexander KACANILKLIC
28  Scott PARKER  (14  Giorgios KARAGOUNIS 56)
17  Steve SIDWELL 
24  Ashkan DEJAGAH
  6  William KVIST


Unused subs: 
  8  Pajtim KASAMI
26  Patrick ROBERTS
25  Cauley WOODROW
Darren BENT

Manager :  Tim Sherwood Manager :  Felix Magath
Sponsor :   Hewlett Packard Shirt sponsor :  Marathon Bet
Kit Supplier :  Under Armour Kit Supplier :   adidas
Match report

While Christian Eriksen caught the eye with two assists and an all-round fine performance in this 3-1 dismissal of Fulham at the Lane, it was Hugo Lloris who should take the plaudits after four saves that kept Spurs in the hunt for the points and a top six finish.  The French keeper was crucial to this win and backed up what his former chairman at Lyon said about him being worth 20 points a season.

With a changes to the defence seeing Fryers keeping his place at centre-half from the second half at West Bromwich, the rest of the side remained the same, but Fulham made a number of changes to try and shore up the side with a bit of experience, with Alexander Kacaniklic adding pace and trickery on the right wing.  Ex-Spur Scott Parker started in midfield, but Darren Bent was to start (and finish) the game on the bench.

It was Kacaniklic who opened the attacking for the day, with a run on the right against Danny Rose, ending with a shot into the side-netting, which failed to trouble Lloris, as did Hugo Rodellega, who was on the left side of the box on the end of a good pass over our defence, but as he shaped to hit the ball on the volley,  thoughts of Chris Brunt ran through the memory banks.  Luckily, He sliced the effort off the side of his boot and it went off for a throw-in in front of the East Stand.

Spurs had been restricted in their play by the in your face closing down by Fulham.  Scott Parker was at the forefront of this, with Sidwell chipping in and Dejagah also working hard.  However, it was only when I got home that I discovered a player called Kvist had been playing for Fulham.  I can't even recall seeing him on the pitch, let alone comment on his contribution to the war against relegation effort.  After an early collision with Adebayor, Scotty was not as effective and he was substituted after half-time with a dead leg. 

Both sides were pushing up in wide positions, but neither could fashion a chance from these areas.  Lloris had to be on his toes to sweep up as Rodellega closed in, then when Parker broke forward and his tackle as the ball ran away from him ballooned up into the air in the box, Hugo raced out to stop their Hugo touching it past him, with a block of his body.  Just before that, Spurs had their first real chance on 17 minutes, when Hangeland headed a corner straight up in the air and Kane nodded it back into the goalmouth and Kaboul met it, but with no precision and smacked a header over the bar from close range.  Seven minutes later another clearance that went in the air dropped to Aaron Lennon on the right in the box, shaping up like Chris Brunt.  But his volley flew high over the bar and into the Park Lane.  However, a couple of minutes later, Aaron hit a low volley from another skied clearance and this time, he forced Stockdale to his first save of the match, diving to tip the ball onto the foot of his post, with the loose ball being cleared from danger.

When Tottenham's goal came in the 34th minute, it was a bit of a surprise.  A free-kick was given to Spurs wide on the right, close to the dead ball line.  Christian Eriksen shaped to take it and we thought he couldn't score from there.  Well, he didn't, but his pacy free-kick was whipped in to the six yard box, where nobody was marking Paulinho and he side-footed home to make it 1-0 to Tottenham.  It was a piece of gold among the dross that had been serve dup so far, but more was to come.  Just two minutes later, Sidwell was on the edge of the Tottenham box, with the ex-Gooner looking to play a 1-2 with someone to break into the area.  It was unfortunate that Zeki Fryers could not get a decent contact with the ball and it went back into the Fulham midfielder's path and he dug the ball out from under his feet to kick it past Lloris and into the net.

A short-lived lead and would this be the start of the Fulham come-back ?  Well, no, not really.  The only real piece of goal threat came from Spurs and that was a weak header by Adebayor that the goalie dealt with simply.

Nobody was warming up for Spurs that vigorously, so there was no substitutions to be expected imminently, but within 80 seconds of the restart, Harry Kane had scored his third in three games to put Tottenham back ahead.  It was a good move with Lennon being freed on the right wing and his cross carried enough weight on it for Kane to glance his header across Heitinga and past the keeper into the far corner of the net.  The goal came as a result of a bit of play at a higher tempo and it is a mystery why Spurs don't employ this more often.

Again, Fulham's response was almost instant with Riise firing in a firm cross from the left that was met full on Rodellega's forehead and the ball was heading into the net just under the bar, when Lloris flew upwards to touch it over the bar.  It was a vital save at a crucial.  Fryers went close from a Chadli cross before Danny Rose was upended near the dead ball line on the left by Heitinga, who got booked and looked a mere shadow of the international player who played in a World Cup final a few years back.  But then Hangeland looks slow and thin, losing all the physical presence he once had.  This was proven when Eriksen took the free-kick and tried to bend it as a shot on gal.  It missed everyone in the six yard box, except Younes Kaboul coming in at the far post to knee it high into the net from a couple of feet out.

It was unusual for a Spurs player to be coming in at the far post, but at 3-1 you thought it might be game over.  Karagounis had come on as a sub mainly to moan into the referee's ear and players were getting the hump with each other as each pass went astray.  Rodellega began to scream every time he fluffed something up and they became more frequent as the game went on.  But then, with fifteen minutes left, Rodellega tried to lift the bal past Eriksen, who instinctively stuck out his arm to stop the ball and a penalty was given to Fulham to offer them a lifeline in the race against the drop.  Sidwell grabbed the ball and looked confident, but his shot was struck a little too centrally, even if slightly to his left, which was the way that Hugo had dived.  He threw up his hands and beat the ball out, but straight back into the middle of the goal and I thought that they would follow in to knock it past the prone goalie, but it was cleared and Spurs survived.  However, this is more than Fulham might achieve and if it is the ex-Gooner's failure from the spot that does condemn them to relegation eventually, then I sympathise with the Cottager's fans.

As the game progressed, Fulham looked less likely to score.  Adebayor tried a curler from outside the box but put it over the bar, then he tried to set up substitute Roberto Soldado with a return pass, but it was intercepted and then the Spaniard took a free-kick outside the box after Eriksen had departed, but was way over the top with his effort that didn't dip at all and just kept rising into the Paxton Road Upper !!  Just before that Lloris had to come to Tottenham's rescue again, as Kacaniklic put in an Eriksen type cross from a corner and Amorebieta met it with his head, forcing Lloris to dive down to his left at the foot of the post to punch the ball away, with the save making the edge of the box.  Spurs then broke away and had two on one at one stage, but Soldado's cross from the right was heading for Adebayor, but came off Kvist and went just over the Fulham bar. 

The second half was better from Tottenham and there were a few notable performances.  Paulinho played better and was more involved, while Naughton had a solid game at right back, but the two stand out players were Eriksen and Lloris.  It is a shame that we haven't got Champions League football, as thee two deserve it.  Aaron Lennon had a quiet first half, but in the second he replicated some of his play from last week and creating Kane's goal was unusual in that someone won a header in the opposition box !!

Three games left and if we can win them all, it might give some silver lining to what has been a grey cloud of a season.  I can't see Sherwood being in charge come August, but this group of players need to show what they are capable for the coming campaign.

James Martindale


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What you thought
Benny The Ball Nice to see a bit of self-promotion from our illustrious leader on the BBC website ... "Tim Sherwood takes credit for Harry Kane rise".

No surprise really.

Michelle, Bengeo Was it just me or did Harry Kane's goal carry a bit of the look of Martin Chivers about it ?

While there is not the deadly finishing and powerful shooting from long-distance that Chiv used to produce, the glancing header and a decent touch for a big man bring to mind our former striker.  Maybe he can get on the coaching staff to bring out even more from the talented youngster.

"Soldado, Oh, Oh,
Soldado, Oh, Oh,
He came from sunny Spain
To be replaced by Harry Kane !!"

Gavin, Borehamwood Having told the world yesterday that he didn't know his best Tottenham team, as the players were all much of a muchness, Tim Sherwood dropped Sandro, telling the Press after the match that he was not good enough to play.

Well, firstly Tim, perhaps you think the players are all too similar, because you are not able to assess the qualities that make a good player.

Secondly, Sandro is good enough to play for Tottenham and the team look better when he is in it.

Thirdly, There are elements of the role of Tottenham Hotspur manager that Sherwood fails to appreciate.  His "I say it as it is" approach is all well and good, but, like all those people who "keep it real" and say "this is me - take me or leave me", he fails to appreciate that while he is entitle to his opinion, he often makes the club look a shambles by his pronouncements.

I am not sure what Sherwood is trying to achieve, but it doesn't seem to be a future in the Spurs manager's office.  He might want to come across as all Harry Redknapp bluster and bonhomie, but look where that got the QPR manager with Daniel Levy.

I would rather that he let the team's football do the talking.  He didn't have to say too much after winning 3-1, but he can't help himself.

Thanks for holding the fort Tim, but things aren't too much different from AVB's tenure.  Expect the same fate.

- -.



Other scores during this week :
Aston Villa 0 Southampton 0 Saturday
Cardiff City 1 Stoke City 1 Saturday
Chelsea 1 Sunderland 2 Saturday
Newcastle United 1 Swansea City 2 Saturday
West Ham United 0 Crystal Palace 1 Saturday
Liverpool 3 Norwich City 2 Sunday
Hull City 0 Arsenal 3 Sunday
Everton 2 Manchester United 0 Sunday
Manchester City 3 West Bromwich Albion 1 Monday




League Table
  P W D L F A Pts GD
1 Liverpool 35 25 5 5 96 44 80 +52
2 Chelsea 34 23 6 5 66 24 75 +42
3 Manchester City 34 23 5 6 91 35 74 +56
4 Arsenal 35 21 7 7 62 41 70 +21
5 Everton 35 20 9 6 57 34 69 +23
6 TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR 35 19 6 10 51 49 63 +2
7 Manchester United 34 17 6 11 56 40 57 +16
8 Southampton 35 13 10 12 50 45 49 +5
9 Newcastle United 35 14 4 17 39 54 46 -15
10 Stoke City 35 11 11 13 39 49 44 -10
11 Crystal Palace 35 12 4 18 28 41 43 -13
12 West Ham United 35 10 7 18 38 48 37 -10
15 Swansea City 35 9 6 19 47 51 36 -4
13 Hull City 34 10 6 18 34 43 36 -9
14 Aston Villa 34 9 10 17 35 49 35 -14
16 West Bromwich Albion 34 6 15 13 41 54 33 -13
17 Norwich City 35 8 8 19 28 56 32 -28
18 Fulham 35 9 3 23 35 77 30 -42
19 Cardiff City 35 7 9 19 31 65 30 -34
20 Sunderland 34 7 8 19 33 57 29 -24


Position before match :  6th
Position after match :  6th
Position after the weekend :  6th


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