Looking Forward



Premier League

Wednesday 11th September 2002

Maybe not spoiled for choice is the exact phrase, but Jean Tigana has a full squad to pick from for this London derby at Loftus Road.  There are enough good players in the side to have turned on a decent performance in the 4-1 opening day demolition of Bolton Wanderers, with an away draw and a loss at the Hawthorns by the single goal means that they have some catching up to do.  This is thanks to their successful participation in the InterToto Cup and now the UEFA Cup.

There are players with experience through the side, whether at home or from abroad.  Van der Sar, Finnan, Melville, Inamoto, Ouaddou, Marlet and Boa Morte all have international form and the French connection is strong with Goma, Malbranque, Legwinski and Saha all at the club. 

Newcomer Sava from Argentina is an unknown quantity, but did grab one of two last minute goals (the other by Davis) that earned a draw against Middlesbrough, who were coasting.  Obviously their InterToto experience has helped with fitness through to the end of the match. 

Domestic experience comes in the form of Collins, Brevett, Davis, Hayles and Taylor.  It is only Zat Knight who is a new name, but he is being touted as the next great England central defender (whoa boy ... get behind Anthony Gardner in the queue). 

The Fulham squad is, therefore, quite accomplished and the way they play their football might suit Spurs.  Two sides knocking the ball about means that one will have to work hard to shut down the other and take the upper hand.  Spurs have shown that they can do this, but following a heavy weekend of international commitments, will they still have the legs for it ?  Robbie Keane should be yearning to do well on his debut and might cause the old legs of Melville to work overtime, while Goma is often rash enough to dive in and that might suit Robbie's game, as he can leave him for pace.  This is an aspect of the West London side that also has to be considered, as both Saha and Marlet are quick too, so we will have to hope for the return of Gardner to counter this threat.

It should be a good game, although not that high scoring, as the teams might cancel each other out in important areas.  Thus, our run might continue in this form ...

PREDICTION : -  Fulham  0  Tottenham 1

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



Fulham  3    Tottenham   2     (Half-time score : 0-2 )
Wednesday 11th September 2002
Venue : -  Loftus Road
Kick Off : -  19.45 p.m.
Weather : -  Warm, dry, fine
Crowd : - 16,757
Referee : -  M. Halsey (Lancashire)
Teams : -  Fulham : -  Van Der Sar; Finnan, Knight, Goma, Wome (Collins 78);  Legwinski, Davis, Inamoto, Boa Morte (Malbranque 46); Sava, Saha (Hayles 19)
Unused Subs : - Taylor, Melville

Tottenham : - Keller; Perry (Doherty 78), Richards, Gardner, Thatcher; Etherington (Iversen 83), Acimovic (Ziege 73), Bunjevcevic, Davies; Sheringham, Ferdinand
Unused Subs : - Hirschfeld, Keane

Colours : -  Fulham -  White shirts, Black shorts, White socks

Tottenham -  Navy blue and black shirts, White shorts, Navy socks with a black turnover

Scorers : -  Fulham -  Inamoto 69, Malbranque (pen) 84, Legwinski 90

Tottenham -  Richards 36, Sheringham 44

Cards : -  Fulham - None

Tottenham -  Thatcher (time-wasting) 75 

Just when we dared think that the good times might be rolling Spurs contrived to kick us in the teeth yet again.  The mood of the travelling fans streaming out of Loftus Road was bleak and there were "if only's" on everyone's lips.  If only that 2-0 half time lead had been protected we would be back on top of the table, if only we had sneaked three points we would have moved clear of Man Ure, Newcastle and the Mickey Mousers who all dropped points on the night, if only the linesman hadn't flagged for the penalty which referee Halsey missed and if only Acimovic's header ten minutes after half time (which would have put us three nil up) hadn't been disallowed.

However, the biggest topic of conversation was Glenn Hoddle's decision not to bring on Robbie Keane.  In fact, Keane was stripped off and ready to come on (for Ferdinand?) with a quarter of an hour left and the score still 2 - 1 in Spurs' favour.  What many fans seemed not to appreciate was that, with Ziege already on for the tiring Acimovic, Hoddle was forced to replace the injured Perry with the Doc and then with the penalty (and equalising goal) coming just a few minutes after that he opted to bolster the fading midfield by bring on Iversen in place of Etherington.  Spurs were in free-fall by that stage and it made sense to try and secure a point ... a plan which fell apart in (the five minutes of) injury time when Legwinski smashed home the winner.  Presumably Keane was feeling the effects of his mid-week visit to Moscow hence his place on the bench.  Undoubtedly we will see him make his debut on Sunday when the Academy and their delightful "fans" come to WHL and try to move away from the bottom of the table where, at least, they are deliciously rooted at present.

Fulham had begun the game looking the more accomplished and smoother team but Gardner (who will play for England) and Richards (who won't) were dominant at the back and few real chances were created by the "home" team.  Inamoto, with Boa Morte, one of two Ars**al rejects, looked more like a classy footballer in midfield than the out-and-out marketing tool that parts of the media suggest.  That said, there were an astounding number of Japanese fans in the ground.

Towards the end of the first half Spurs began taking a grip and, after Ferdinand headed over, Richards rose magnificently to power home an Acimovic corner.  Just before half time Teddy doubled the lead when he thumped home a Etherington lay-off after good work by Sir Les.  The chants of "We are top of the league" were mightily previous ...

For the first 15 minutes of the second half Spurs remained in the ascendancy.  Acimovic tried a 60 yard (showboating) lob which van der Sar saved comfortably, Etherington shot across goal with Davies sliding in at the far post and then what would have been Milo's first goal for Spurs was disallowed for off-side. 

The last half-hour went pear-shaped.  Fulham streamed forward as Spurs simply lost control.  Balls were won in defence and then gifted back to Fulham.  Keller made two good saves before Inamoto shot home.  Finnan then hit the bar before, on 83 minutes, the linesman awarded a penalty for a Gardner foul on Hayles.  Malbranque tucked away the equaliser. Keller made two further class saves before Legwinski rammed home the inevitable winner. 

Sheringham in particular looked totally naffed-off at the final whistle but no more so than the thousands of Spurs fans in the School End including one Warren Mitchell.  What were the thoughts of Chairman Alf? Probably unprintable. 


Olive Branch




When a manager wins the Manager of the Month award, it is always followed by an alarming dip in form.  So, we shouldn't really have been surprised that Tottenham succumbed to Fulham tonight.  The only surprising thing was that having been described as resolute, Spurs showed at Loftus Road, that they can be anything but the sort.  And the comment in the preview above about Fulham keeping going to the final whistle couldn't have been better made, could it ?

Just like last season, losing the lead and not even hanging on for a draw is a failing that shows our vulnerability and the lack of consistency that Hoddle seeks.  Up until the first Spurs goal, it was one of the most awful games you could wish to have the (dis)pleasure of attending.  No shape, no quality and little excitement.  

With the half time introduction of Steed Malbranque, the game changed pattern and swung Fulham's way, big style.  We could not cope with the running and passing he brought to their side.  Their midfield suddenly stopped the supply to Etherington, who was causing them all sorts of problems, which, added to losing the ball at every occasion and not clearing trouble, meant that the team were under almost constant pressure from the time Acimovic's header was ruled out.

The changes made by Hoddle were odd in the extreme,  Ziege for Acimovic and asked to play on the right of our midfield ... when he only ever plays on the left.  Iversen's introduction for Etherington was perhaps more understandable, but would Keane not have tied one of their players up more effectively than Steffen ?  Just when Keane was to be introduced, Perry got a boot in the jaw from Wome, who knew he had to be injured and left courtesy of a stretcher rather than a red card for a wild challenge.  Perry walked off, how I don't know, but then Keane sat down and Doherty came on.

Unfortunately, Gardner was having a "Weston" in the second half and we never really got to grips with what was a standard ploy of throwing men forward.  Bunjy was caught in the headlights and Acimovic will not be a tiger in the tackle, so who did we have in midfield to stop the marauding Fulham players ?  We couldn't clear the ball, nor hold it in advanced positions, so it was one way traffic.  Keller did wonderfully well to keep the ball out, but even he couldn't stop the tide as it came towards him.  He nearly got the penalty and stopped a couple of one-on-ones before Legwinski got the ball past in with the last kick.

A kick in the teeth in more ways than one.

The Polyphant



Other scores this weekend :

Arsenal  2    Manchester City  1
Aston Villa  2    Charlton Athletic  0  
Blackburn Rovers  2   Chelsea  3
Liverpool  2    Birmingham City  1
Manchester United  0    Bolton Wanderers  1
Middlesbrough  3    Sunderland  0   
Newcastle United  0    Leeds United  2
SCBC  1     Everton  0
West Ham United   0   WBA  1


League Table
  P W D L F A Pts
1 Arsenal 5 3 2 0 12 6 11
2 TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR 5 3 1 1 8 6 10
3 Liverpool 5 2 3 0 8 5 9
4 Leeds United 5 3 0 2 9 4 9
5 Chelsea 5 2 3 0 10 8 9
6 Middlesbrough 5 2 2 1 6 3 8
7 Manchester United 5 2 2 1 5 4 8
8 Aston Villa 5 2 0 3 3 3 6
9 Charlton Athletic 5 2 0 3 6 7 6
10 Manchester City 5 2 0 3 5 7 6
11 Bolton Wanderers 4 2 0 2 4 6 6
12 WBA 5 2 0 3 5 9 6
13 Blackburn Rovers 5 1 2 2 5 6 5
14 Birmingham City 5 1 2 2 5 7 5
15 Everton 5 1 2 2 5 7 5
16 SCBC 5 1 2 2 3 6 5
17 Sunderland 5 1 2 2 2 5 5
18 Fulham 3 1 1 1 6 4 4
19 Newcastle United 4 1 1 2 6 5 4
20 West Ham United 4 0 1 3 2 9 1

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