What Tottenham Hotspur Can Expect from Fulham on Wednesday

Tottenham Hotspur's Danish midfielder Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg (C) vies with Leicester City's Nigerian midfielder Wilfred Ndidi (R) and Leicester City's Belgian midfielder Youri Tielemans (Photo by JULIAN FINNEY/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)
Tottenham Hotspur's Danish midfielder Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg (C) vies with Leicester City's Nigerian midfielder Wilfred Ndidi (R) and Leicester City's Belgian midfielder Youri Tielemans (Photo by JULIAN FINNEY/POOL/AFP via Getty Images) /

We know Fulham come in the hotter of the two teams so what should fans expect from the Cottagers when they travel to face Tottenham Hotspur Wednesday.

When Fulham make the trip across London to face Tottenham Hotspur, it is not just another Premier League game it is a London derby. In most derbies you can throw form out the window, which might be good for Spurs as they have struggled over the last month of 2020. Alternatively, Fulham have seemed to figure some things out picking up seven points in their last six matches and getting themselves back in the fight to avoid the drop. So, what can Spurs expect from this rejuvenated Cottager team?

Fulham’s Found their Formation

After José Mourinho adjusted his formation on Sunday to face Wolves, the system and line-up has been a big piece of discussion. For Fulham, that discussion is about how they have figured out the right set-up to help the team compete in the Premier League.

After using a 4-2-3-1 for seven of their first nine matches, Fulham have gone to the three-back system for five of the last six matches to great success. Cottagers used a 4-3-3 against Manchester City, their only loss over the stretch. For four of the other five matches and likely against Spurs midweek Scott Parker and Fulham have used a 3-4-2-1 formation.

Three-Man Line

The three-back line in front of a very experienced Alphonse Areola – on loan from PSG – in goal, has proven highly effective. Fulham have only given up one goal in their last three matches and five in their last six, which included matches against Leicester, Manchester City, Liverpool, and Southampton – all top six squads.

Tosin Adarabioyo was purchased from Manchester City in the summer for less than 2 million US dollars and at 23 looks like the club’s center back of the future. Joachim Anderson on loan from Lyon is likely to be on the left and Ola Aina on loan from FC Torino is likely to be the right back. If the line continues to perform as it has, and Fulham avoid the drop, expect these three to all be permanent fixtures at the club next season.

A Defensive Midfield

One of the factors in Fulham’s success with the three-man backline has been the midfield in front of it. With Scott Parker using a tactic José Mourinho would love, Fulham use have regularly been using two defensive midfielders and a left back among the four across the middle.  You can write in Antonee Robinson as the left outside midfielder.

Robinson joined this past summer from Wigan and helps provide width and cover in support of Anderson on the left. Along with Robinson the one other surefire midfielder starter for Fulham during this run has been Andre-Frank Zambo Anguissa. The Cameroonian defensive midfielder – who just returned from a successful loan at Villareal – has been the Pierre Højbjerg for Cottagers.

Anguissa has been so good in the defensive holding role for Fulham he has more tackles and interceptions per match than Højbjerg while committing fewer fouls. His emergence in the midfield has made so much else possible for Fulham and Tottenham need to be aware of his presence on and off the ball.

Robinson and Anguissa are likely to be supported by two of four Harrison Reed, Bobby Reid, Ruben Loftus-Cheek, or Mario Lemina. Bobby Reid and Loftus-Cheek are the more attack players from the group, whereas Harrison Reed is another defensive midfielder and Lemina is your box-to-box guy. The point is that Fulham have found their answers in the back and midfield, whereas Spurs have been struggling to get things right.

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Fulham Will Shoot with or Without the Ball

What has been interesting for Fulham, particularly during this successful little stretch is that the Cottagers are getting a lot of shots. In fact, against Leicester, Manchester City, and Liverpool – three common opponents – Fulham took six more shots than Spurs, conceded 12 fewer shots than Spurs, and earned one more point than Tottenham.

Fulham managed better stats and results than Tottenham in those three matches, with even less possession, as the Cottagers never had more than 32% possession. In other words, Fulham is attacking exactly how Mourinho wants Spurs to attack, where they are finding opportunities without having a lot of possession.

Of course, the big difference on the season has been the conversion rate. While Fulham have taken 11 more shots than Tottenham on the season (161 to 172), Spurs have twice as many goals, 26 to 13. This proclivity to find shooting opportunities should concern Tottenham. In the last six matches, Fulham have only scored four goals, but have seven points and have taken 56 shots.

This has been happening because Fulham have mostly moved on from Aleksander Mitrovic as the big target forward during this stretch and have used the young, speedy legs of left winger Ademola Lookman and right winger Ivan Cavaliero. They have only scored three times combined, but the pace has been causing problems for their opponents and may give Spurs trouble too.

This is going to be a match-up of two teams both looking to do the same thing, play off the ball and hit on the counter. Given the lackluster performance from Spurs the last few times out, expect them to try and be on the front foot, as Fulham has only once won the possession battle during their hot streak.

Ultimately, one of two things are going to happen here. Tottenham are going to click and put everything together and end Fulham early. Or this game is going to go back and forth for a long time, where the team that makes the fewest mistakes is going to have the best chance to leave with the points. If Tottenham are going to get their season back on track, it needs to start Wednesday against a resurgent Fulham.

Final Notes Before Kickoff

The kickoff is currently scheduled for 6 pm UK time, and will be streamed on Amazon Prime Video for those in the UK. For fans in the US, you can watch on NBCSports.

The referee for the match is supposed to be Peter Banks, who Spurs fans will remember well from his VAR handball against Eric Dier costing Spurs two points against Newcastle.

Spurs are likely to be without several key players as Gareth Bale and Giovani Lo Celso are injured, and Brazilians Lucas Moura and Carlos Vinicius are apparently unavailable based on Mourinho’s pre-match comments.

Next. Tottenham Projected XI for Fulham. dark