Fulham (Away)
Premier League

Saturday 26th December 2009


Roy Hodgson has done a fine job in resurrecting Fulham from what was a team heading out of the Premier League into one in Europe and in the top half of the table, looking upwards instead of down.

With an ability to get the best from his bunch of players who have been around a bit, Hodgson has got Fulham playing enterprising football with the results to back up his belief.  Last time out they beat a ramshackle Manchester United side at Craven Cottage 3-0.  But even that takes some doing, so their ninth place in the Premier League, with a game in hand that could see them rise to sixth, means they are a side who have their eyes on a European place through the final standings in the table.

Mark Schwarzer in goal has been a bit of a revelation.  Putting aside the mistakes that made him a bit of a liability at Middlesbrough, he has become a reliable stopper, who uses any part of his body to keep the ball out.  In front of him, the much admired Brede Hangeland is in the middle of the back four, with Chris Baird his regular partner there.  The Norwegian is dominant in the air and also adept at getting his tackles in with good timing.  Baird has been at Fulham for a while, but has been turned into a resolute defender under the new manager.  The two regular full backs have been John Pantsil and Paul Konchesky, both ex-West Ham United, but they are more consistent than in their Upton Park days displaying both a defensive solidity and adding to the attacking options with over-lapping runs up the flanks.  Both Aaron Hughes and Stephen Kelly are other options at full back.

I don't know much about South African midfielder Kagisho Dikgacoi apart from he wanted to go home as he wasn't getting a game, but with the likes of Simon Davies, Jonathan Greening, Dickson Etuhu, Bjorn Helge Riise, Danny Murphy, Zoltan Gera and Damien Duff in front of him, perhaps it was not surprising.  Duff has come good since signing for Fulham and can chip in with a goal, while Murphy has been making an impression with a fine performance against United last week.  Gera has a powerful shot and a nice touch, while Davies and Greening run the channels and provide good passes into the front men.  There is a lot of choice for Hidgson in midfield and there are a number of combinations he can utilise depending on the opposition.

Norwegian striker Erik Nevland has always performed when called upon, often from the bench, so, with Andy Johnson having been missing for a long period with a groin injury sustained in the Europa League, his usefulness has been highlighted.  Short and with a low centre of gravity, he turns well and finishes clinically.  Capable of producing the unusual, Diomansy Kamara adds a different dimension to the attack and while he remains doubtful for the game, if he is available from the bench, he can be brought on to try and get a goal out of nothing at the end of a game.  American Clint Dempsey has been revitalised under Hodgson, as has Bobby Zamora, who is on a good scoring run.  Both players are finding the goal with Dempsey also good at linking up play between the front two and the midfield.  Their movement is good and it will be a test for the Spurs central defenders to keep tabs on them.

The only thing that let's the Cottagers down is their inability to raise their game every time and they have dropped points against the likes of Wigan Athletic, Burnley, West Ham United and Wolverhampton Wanderers.  If they raise their game for the bigger matches, they will be up for it against Spurs, who should also be high in confidence after the away win at Blackburn.  This will be a similar test against a side with a good home record, but given the way Spurs have been scoring, they should be able to secure a point against a team on the top of their game ...

PREDICTION : -  Fulham  1     Tottenham Hotspur   1

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


FULHAM :  -  Seol Ki-Hyeon (out - knee);  Andy Johnson (doubtful - groin); Simon Davies (doubtful - ankle); Diomansy Kamara (doubtful - knee); - (-); 

TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR : -   Carlo Cudicini (out - broken wrist); Ledley King (doubtful - knee); Jonathan Woodgate (out - groin);  Luka Modric (doubtful - ankle); David Bentley (out - calf); - (-); - (-)


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Match of the Day  (BBC 1) - Saturday 22.25 (highlights)   [repeated at 07:50 Sunday]  Also available online.
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Australia (Melbourne) SEN  -  116 AM  Live Transmissions: TWI, Saturday. 12.45 & 1500 matches
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North America (USA, Canada, Mexico, Caribbean)  Sirius Satellite Radio  Live transmission: Saturday - 12.45, 15.00 (TWI) & 17.15 (BBC) Sunday - 14.00 & 16.05 (BBC) Mon, Tue, Wed - Various times (BBC)

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click on link to "Listen to Tottenham Hotspur live commentary" on top right hand menu.




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

Premier League
Venue : -  Craven Cottage
Saturday 26th December 2009
Kick Off :  3.00 p.m.
Crowd :   25,679
Referee :  Steve Bennett (Orpington)
Spurs kicked off and played towards the Hammersmith end in the first half.
Weather :  -  Chilly, odd shower of rain
Teams : - 
Fulham :

  1  Schwarzer

  3  Konchesky
  5  Hangeland
  6  Baird
  4  Pantsil     

18  Hughes
13  Murphy (c)
11  Gera
16  Duff

23  Dempsey
25  Zamora

Unused subs:

12  Stockdale
21  Smalling
33  Kallio
21  Etuhu
27  Greening
  8  Johnson
10  Nevland

Tottenham Hotspur :

  1  Gomes

32  Assou-Ekotto
19  Bassong   (26  King  90+3)
20  Dawson
22  Corluka

21  Kranjcar   (14  Modric 71)
  8  Jenas
12  Palacios
  7  Lennon

10  Keane (c)   (18  Defoe  71)
15  Crouch

Unused subs: 
27  Alnwick
  3  Bale
  9  Pavlychenko

Colours : -  (kits courtesy of

Tottenham Hotspur
Scorers : -  


Tottenham Hotspur


Cards : -  

Pantsil (foul) 49   


Tottenham Hotspur 



Match Report : -  
While Tottenham were on the back foot for much of this 0-0 draw at Fulham, they could have snuck a win at the end of the game, although it might have been a bit of an injustice as the Cottagers had the majority of the chances and a fine performance by Heurelho Gomes thwarted them in their efforts.

Right from the start Fulham attacked, with Damien Duff testing Gomes inside the first minute with a drive that the keeper took after gathering the rebound.  With a number of ex-Spurs players in the home team, they were keen to make an impression and Danny Murphy certainly did - on the Tottenham players - with a few early challenges, which brought a talking to from the ref.  The first clear chance came in the ninth minute, although it was created out of nothing, as Zoltan Gera back-heeled a firm shot at goal to John Pantsil's low right wing cross as it was about to pass behind him.

With about ten minutes gone, a corner from Duff was half-cleared and Murphy struck the dropping ball well, but his rising shot was tipped over the bar by a dive from Heurelho Gomes.  It was an athletic save that twelve months ago, Spurs fans might have not thought he was capable of making, but now his decision making is better and he has the confidence to react to shots and crosses better too.  However from the following corner, Fulham were close to opening the score as Baird got to the ball first with his head and Gera was close to getting a telling touch on the ball at the far post.

The Cottagers had shots on goal from Dempsey who hit one too high, one too wide and then a 25 yard free-kick on target beating Gomes' dive, but the crossbar came to Tottenham's rescue and kept the ball out, as it glances off the top of the woodwork and over the top.

In between Spurs had been getting into the game a bit more offensively.  Kranjcar struck a free kick that looked as though it had beaten Schwarzer, which it had, but it also beat the post and bounced off the stanchion at the back of the left hand side of the goal.  Gera shot wide when Gomes punched out a cross and then Bobby Zamora, who has looked in good goal-scoring form, hit a volley that went over from 25 yards out.  As the half came to a close, it was Spurs who were going forward and while they had good possession, had yet to make a decent chance that ended with a shot on target.

The break did change the flow of the play and Fulham kicked off with Tottenham pressing a bit more and making in-roads into the Fulham half.  Jenas and Crouch linked well before the midfielder curled a left foot shot just too far wide of the left hand post.  Although Crouch had another effort from distance, it was too high again and either side of it Gomes had to produce very good stops to deny Zamora.  Firstly, he threw himself left to parry away the header from the former Spurs forward and then pounce to smother the loose ball and then on the second occasion, the Octopus managed to throw out a lengthy left arm to push the ball away after Zamora had hung in the air to power a header to the keeper's left once more.

In between the headers, Fulham had another good opening.  While Wilson Palacios has made a difference to the heart of the Tottenham midfield, he still has some developing to do, as he made a crunching tackle on Clint Dempsey on the halfway line, then bumped into him as he ran into the Spurs half as play continued.  However, sometimes, Palacios gets distracted and here he ran towards the ball rather than tracking his man, leaving a simple pass to Dempsey to shoot at goal.  Luckily, he put his effort weakly to the keeper's right and Gomes was able to get down to get his body behind the ball to prevent it going in.

After the second header, Redknapp replaced Kranjcar and Keane with Modric and Defoe, which seemed to perk up the Spurs side a bit.  Crouch headed down for Defoe to try and overhead kick and then nine minutes from the end, Tottenham's big chance came.  Crouch hit a dipping shot that forced Schwarzer down low at the foot of his right hand post and he pushed the ball out, only to where Jermaine Jenas was running in, but the Fulham keeper was up quickly to get his body in the way of the follow-up shot.

Even then, there was a moment when Duff got free in the box on the left hand side of the Spurs defence and tried to pop the ball into the opposite side of the net from a tight angle, with luck on Tottenham's side, as the ball floated wide with Clint Dempsey not close enough to get the finishing touch.

The match ended on a bit of a sour note, with Sebastien Bassong getting a boot in the head and having to go off, but Ledley King came on for the last minute of added time and got through that OK, so should be ready to face West Ham on Monday.  With the central defensive places up for grabs at the moment, the last thing we need is another injury.

Perhaps Fulham would have been the more deserving winners, but Tottenham had a couple of decent chances and they would have been happier with the point than the home side.

With Michael Dawson putting in another fine performance, ably backed up by Gomes behind him, it is unusual, but for once, the defence were the stars and deserve the credit for a point which in years past might easily have been a defeat.

West Ham lie in wait on Monday and that will be another keenly contested London derby.  And one we need to win if the European place credentials are to be taken seriously.

the heathrow spur





Fan Reaction : -



What a difference a year makes.

Last year Spurs were struggling for form and Heurelho Gomes was letting sloppy goals in at Craven Cottage and now Tottenham sit fifth and although the result was the same as last Boxing Day's 0-0 with the West Londoners, it underlines the resilience that the team are showing from home and the first time the club have had three consecutive clean sheets since August 2005 also highlights the good work the defence and the midfield in front of them, are doing.

Harry's had a great input into the improvement, but the other backroom staff must take some credit, as they have motivated the side and organised them into a tight unit, which is something some Tottenham sides of the past could never be accused of.

Tony Parks has done wonders for Gomes' confidence and we are now seeing the keeper how faced us when we played PSV Eindhoven in the UEFA Cup.

Long may it continue.

the polyphant





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



League Table
  P W D L F A Pts GD
1 Chelsea 19 13 3 3 43 15 42 +28
2 Manchester United 19 13 1 5 40 18 40 +22
3 Arsenal 18 12 2 4 47 20 38 +27
4 Aston Villa 19 10 5 4 29 17 35 +12
5 TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR 19 10 4 5 40 22 34 +18
6 Manchester City 18 8 8 2 35 27 32 +14
7 Liverpool 19 9 3 7 36 25 30 +11
8 Birmingham City 19 8 5 6 19 18 29 +1
9 Fulham 18 7 6 5 23 17 27 +6
10 Sunderland 18 6 4 8 23 25 22 -2
11 Stoke City 18 5 6 7 15 22 21 -7
12 Blackburn Rovers 19 5 5 9 18 33 20 -15
13 Burnley 19 5 5 9 22 38 20 -16
14 Everton 18 4 7 7 24 32 19 -8
15 Wolverhampton Wanderers 19 5 4 10 17 33 19 -16
16 Wigan Athletic 18 5 4 9 21 39 19 -18
17 West Ham United 19 4 6 9 28 35 18 -7
18 Bolton Wanderers 17 4 5 8 24 34 17 -10
19 Hull City 19 4 5 10 18 40 17 -22
20 Portsmouth 19 4 2 13 17 28 14 -11


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

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