Match Preview: Tottenham Hotspur vs Fulham
Location: White Hart Lane, London, England, United Kingdom
Kick-off: 2030 IST, 1500 GMT
Referee: Mike Jones Linesmen: M. Mullarkey, S. Ledger Fourth Official: Phil Dowd
In this not-so-high-profile London Derby, Tottenham Hotspur will be looking to add Fulham to their list of impressive recent successes as they attempt to consolidate third place with the potential to leapfrog Manchester City, who sit above them in second but lost 2-0 to ten-man Everton at Goodison Park yesterday afternoon.
Fulham will be searching for an upset as they look to consolidate their mid-table status. Currently 11th in the table, the Cottagers are only a point behind tenth-placed Stoke, who have 34 points and Swansea, who have 40 and sit in ninth, both clubs having played two more games than the Londoners.
25/02/2013: West Ham United: 3-2 (A), Barclays Premier League
03/03/2013: Arsenal: 2-1 (H), Barclays Premier League
07/03/2013: Internazionale Milano: 3-0 (H), UEFA Europa League
10/03/2013: Liverpool: 2-3 (A), Barclays Premier League
14/03/2013: Internazionale Milano 1-4 (A), UEFA Europa League
Spurs brilliant unbeaten run of nine games in all competitions since the 30th of January, which included an impressive come-from behind 3-2 win against West Ham United at the Boleyn Ground, a 2-1 defeat of their bitter North London rivals Arsenal and a commanding 3-0 first-leg lead over Italian giants Inter Milan in the Europa was brought to an end courtesy a 3-2 win for Liverpool at Anfield.
Goals from Luis Suarez and Steward Downing and a late Steven Gerrard penalty negated Jan Vertonghen’s brace before they snuck through to the quarter-finals of the Europa League despite losing 4-1 in Italy. Inter Milan undid Spurs’ 3-0 home advantage courtesy goals from Antonio Cassano and Rodrigo Palacio before William Gallas put through his own net in regulation time.
Emmanuel Adebayor and Ricardo Alvarez traded goals in extra time but the Togolese’s effort ensured Spurs were guaranteed a place in the last eight of the competition courtesy the away goals rule.
When Spurs met Fulham in North London last season, goals from Jermaine Defoe and Adebayor gave the hosts a 2-0 win, and Spurs manager Andre Villas-Boas will be looking for a repeat of that performance.
30/01/2013: West Ham United: 3-1 (H), Barclays Premier League
02/02/2013: Manchester United: 0-1 (H), Barclays Premier League
09/02/2013: Norwich City: 0-0 (A), Barclays Premier League
23/02/2013: Stoke City: 1-0 (H), Barclays Premier League
02/03/2013: Sunderland AFC: 2-2 (A), Barclays Premier League
Although the Cottagers have only lost one of their last five games, they have only won two, and would have done well to pick up wins against Sunderland and Norwich, both of whom drew their fixtures with Marin Jol’s men away from Craven Cottage.
That being said, a loss of one in five is not bad at all, with Fulham picking up two clean-sheets from those games. While the fixtures have been coming thick and fast for Spurs, it has been a fortnight since the West Londoners last played a game, and with nothing but pushing up the league to play now this season after they were hammered 4-1 away at Manchester United, will look to get three points out of this game if they can.
The chances of doing that, however, look fairly remote. White Hart Lane has not been a happy hunting ground for Fulham in the past and former Spurs boss Jol will be easily able to recall the only time Fulham did beat Spurs at the Lane: a 3-0 upset nearly a decade ago when Spurs fan Barry Hayle put his boyhood club to the sword with two goals and an assist.
While Spurs were without Gareth Bale when they went to the San Siro in midweek, he was sitting out the game through suspension and should be back to his destructive best against Fulham.
Aaron Lennon was on the bench for that game, and he announced his return from a hamstring injury with a cameo appearance in Italy. Clint Dempsey is also expected to be available after returning from a calf strain.
But the game comes to soon for both central defender Younes Kaboul and Brazilian defensive midfielder Sandro, both of whom have knee complaints.
Squad (from): Brad Friedel (GK), Hugo Lloris (GK), Kyle Walker, Kyle Naughton, William Gallas, Michael Dawson (c), Steven Caulker, Jan Vertonghen, Benoit Assou-Ekotto, Aaron Lennon, Lewis Holtby, Jake Livermore, Moussa Dembele, Tom Carroll, Scott Parker, Tom Huddlestone, Gylfi Sigurdsson, Gareth Bale, Clinton Dempsey, Jermaine Defoe, Emmanuel Adebayor, David Coulthirst
Probable Starting XI (4-3-3): Lloris; Walker, Dawson, Vertonghen, Assou-Ekotto; Parker, Dembele, Sigurdsson; Bale, Lennon, Adebayor
The only absentee in Martin Jol’s squad is former Real Madrid midfield enforcer Mahamadou Diarra, who is out with a knee injury. But the seriousness of the Malian’s ailment is not yet known and could keep him out for the rest of the season.
Steve Sidwell twinged his hamstring against Sunderland, but the Arsenal Academy product has enough rest and recuperation to feature in his team’s plans at White Hart Lane.
Squad (from): Mark Schwarzer (GK), Csaba Somogyi (GK), Neil Etheridge (GK), Sascha Riether, Brede Hangeland, Aaron Hughes, Philippe Senderos, John Arne Riise, Ashkan Dejagah, Chris Baird, Giorgios Karagounis, Alex Kacaniklic, Emmanuel Frimpong, Simon Davies, Kieran Richardson, Karim Frei, Buomesca Na Bangna, Eyong Enoh, Dimitar Berbatov, Steven Sidwell, Damian Duff, Bryan Ruiz, Urby Emanuelson, Hugo Rodallega, Mladen Petric.
Tottenham: Gareth Bale
Former Southampton man Gareth Bale has been in imperious form for Spurs this season, having scored 22 goals and assisted a further 13.
He is having his best season in a Spurs shirt to date, and that Spurs are dependent on him could be seen when they went to Inter Milan and conceded four, scoring only one in response.
Fulham: Dimitar Berbatov
The former Bulgaria international did not leave White Hart Lane on the best terms with the club staff following his multi-million pound move to Manchester United and will be looking to prove a point to them.
Having arrived on deadline day after it was reported that a slew of clubs were interested in him, Berbatov has settled in well in West London, having found the back of the net ten times for the Cottagers.
Tottenham are flying high right now, sitting in third place and look on course for their best-ever finish since the inception of the Premier League. But their recent dip in form and Fulham’s relative freshness could set the stage for an upset at the Lane.
Tottenham Hotspur 3-0 Fulham