Tottenham play Fulham, another relegation threatened team, in a London derby with an early kick-off at White Hart Lane on Saturday.
For the third successive match Tottenham are playing a team battling against relegation. In the previous two games, they conceded early goals but managed to recover although last weekend it was only a late, late goal from Christian Eriksen which earned Spurs a point at West Bromwich Albion.
Date: Saturday, 19th April, 2014
Kick-off Time: 12.45pm (UK time)
TV Channel: BT Sport
Fulham have won their last two games, at Aston Villa (2 – 1) and at home to Norwich City. Like last weekend’s opponents, Fulham helped their plight with a win over fellow strugglers Norwich, winning by an identical 1 – 0 scoreline at Craven Cottage last Saturday. The win kept Fulham in 18th place, ahead of Cardiff City who won at Southampton, and lifted them to within 2 points of the Carrow Road club.
Tottenham’s Home League Record against Fulham (inc. PL)
P 41 W 22 D 16 L 3 For 69 Ag 31
Home Premier League Record: Read more
P 12 W 7 D 3 L 2 For 18 Ag 6
A defeat by Fulham in late March dented Tottenham’s aspirations for a top-4 finish. It was only Spurs’ third home defeat by Fulham with the goal being scored by the former striker, Dimitar Berbatov.
At Craven Cottage in December, Rene Meulensteen had just replaced the sacked Martin Jol, and Fulham went ahead in the second half but Spurs responded with two goals in 9 minutes from Vlad Chiriches and substitute Lewis Holtby who scored the winner in the 82nd minute. Holtby has been on loan at Craven Cottage since the end of January and has scored 1 goal in 6 appearances.
Holtby is unable to play in this game due to the loan arrangement but Fulham’s third manager of the season, Felix Magath, has admitted in an article in The Independent that he hopes to use Holtby’s knowledge of Tottenham for the benefit of his team.
Holtby is a firm favourite with many fans at White Hart Lane who appreciate his whole-hearted committed performances but unfortunately he decided to take the Jamie O’Hara stance, stating that he hoped Fulham win at Spurs. In an article in the Evening Standard, Holtby said,
It’s a tough game for me, because I’m on loan from Tottenham but Fulham need the three points more at the moment to stay up. I signed a long contract at Spurs and I was hoping to have a long future at the club. I still believe in my quality and that I can play for Tottenham.
It has been a season of turmoil for Fulham although it started promisingly with a 1 – 0 win at Sunderland on the opening day. Their next wins, however, didn’t come until the beginning of October when they defeated Stoke City at Craven Cottage and followed it with a 4 – 1 success at Crystal Palace. Six successive League and Cup defeats led to the departure of Jol but results didn’t improve as they then lost to Spurs. Their next game brought a 2 – 0 home win over Villa. Following two heavy defeats in December, they won 2 – 1 at Norwich but followed it with a humiliating 6 – 0 defeat at Hull City.
They responded with a home win over West Ham on New Year’s Day but 1 point, a draw (2 – 2) at Old Trafford, from the next 6 matches, led to the departure of Meulensteen with Magath taking over in late February. A late goal at West Brom denied him a winning start but it was followed by two defeats. The first win came at home to Newcastle. Defeats followed to Manchester City and at Everton before the most recent successes gave them some hope as they moved up two places from the foot of the table.
Away from home, Fulham have 4 wins and 2 draws, scoring 14 goals but conceding 40.
Fulham’s leading goalscorer in all competitions, is midfielder Steve Sidwell with 7 goals. Darren Bent and Hugo Rodallega have scored 6 goals each with the latter scoring Fulham’s winner in the last two games. Spurs fans need no warning about Rodallega’s ability as it was he who scored Wigan’s goal at White Hart Lane in their shock 1 – 0 win in August, 2010.
In their penultimate home game this season, Spurs want to improve on their disappointing record at White Hart Lane. The improvement in the last two games hasn’t been without its set-backs requiring the team to recover from going behind with Eriksen as the inspiration in the wins over Southampton and Sunderland.
London derbies haven’t been as productive for Spurs at White Hart Lane this season with home defeats by West Ham and Arsenal. They had a draw with Chelsea and their only home win was against Crystal Palace in January.
Injuries have ben a feature of Tottenham’s season and continue to restrict Tim Sherwood’s options.
Tim Sherwood reported that only Mousa Dembele had returned to the squad having played for the Under-21 team in a defeat by Manchester United on Monday night. Erik Lamela isn’t expected to play again this season, while KyleWalker, Michael Dawson, Jan Vertonghen, Roberto Soldado and Etienne Capoue are still on the injury list.
Fulham appear to be in a stronger position with only Kostas Mitroglou known to be absent. With Holtby unavailable, Scott Parker who joined Fulham last summer could replace him while the former Spurs striker, Daren Bent will be among the substitutes.
Tottenham are unlikely to show many changes from last week’s team. The frailties in defence will cause the greatest concern for Tim Sherwood with a decision needed in central defence where Vlad Chiriches was very unsure last week. Zeki Fryers played very steadily in the second half against West Brom. Spurs will be hoping that Eriksen will maintain his recent good form having 4 goals and 3 assists in the last 4 games.
Even with Fulham’s need for points and their recent improvement, Tottenham will expect to take all three points but last week’s match will have reminded them of how committed teams facing relegation can be. Spurs will need to match Fulham’s endeavour to ensure they earn the right to play so the application and attitude of the players could prove crucial.
I would expect a home win but a word of warning – I will be at White Hart Lane for the game and the only time I have been at a game against Fulham, Spurs suffered a 3 – 0 defeat.
- Will Spurs avoid conceding an early goal and can they manage to score in the opening 15 minutes for the first time this season?