have as much trouble as we do scoring at the moment. So will this
game have 0-0 written all over it ? With both sides needing points
to make sure they are free of the relegation zone, even though they are
9th and 12th respectively. Therefore, they will probably try and
push forward to get the goal(s) that help them gain all three points, so
it will not be like the game back in December.
Edwin van der Sar has
been the first choice keeper after his £7 million from Juventus,
displacing Maik Taylor, who had held the fort pretty well in the
promotion season. Both are admirable keepers, but both are prone
to the odd blooper that costs goals. For an incredibly tall man,
the Dutchman is not good on crosses, but with Les doubtful for the
match, it is unlikely that he will be put under much pressure by Spurs
unless Deano gets fit and forward for set-pieces.
Rufus Brevett is still
playing on the left side of a back four and should be able to be got
after, but with Anderton playing on that side, his ability to beat a man
is questionable. However, by bringing him out to meet Darren,
should make space for others. On the other hand, should Simon
Davies be playing there, he could get some joy going past the ex-QPR
man. With Irishman Steve Finnan on the other side of defence,
there is a tendency to leave space when he pushes on. Whether Ziege will
be able exploit that, we wait to see. French central defender
Alain Goma is matched with Andy Melville as tall twin centre halves, but
neither are the most mobile. With Iversen and Rebrov likely to
form the partnership up front, they might be able to pull them
around, but someone will need to get in the six yard box to get on the
end of any chances created. Abdeslam Ouaddou has played on the right and
in the middle of defence, with Zat Knight getting the odd look in as a
promising youngster with a big future.
In midfield, Fulham have
lots of experience in John Collins, Bjarne Goldbaek, John Harley,
Sylvain Legwinski and Steed Malbranque. Collins is the one who
pulls the strings, with good vision for a killer pass and Goldbaek
provides the legs in that area, although he is being introduced from the
bench at the moment. Tigana has gone with the French midfield
pairing of Legwinski and Malbranque, with the latter being the better of
the two players. He can get forward into scoring positions and is
good at running off the ball. Legwinski is more of a midfield
scrapper, who looks as though he will be a player to complement his
compatriot. Harley was very highly rated when he played as an
attacking wing back at Chelsea, but since his move across the Fulham
Road, he has slipped out of the first team picture.
The lack of goals has
hampered Fulham's progress this season, with only 33 league goals in the
onion bag. With goal-machine of last season Louis Saha mis-firing
this time around, former Gooner Luis Boa Morte and Spurs fan Barry
Hayles have borne the brunt of the goal-scoring duties. Both have
notched a few with the mobile Boa Morte causing problems with his legs
going in all directions, while Hayles is more muscular and strong
on the ball. Steve Marlet was brought in at great expense and a
broken leg in one of his first games meant that his season had a big
hole in it. He has grabbed a few more recently, but still needs
time to adapt to the English game. Latvian Andrejs Stolcers has
not had a chance to impress this season, playing only three times.
Once again, we will probably be denied the sight of the exotically named
Elvis Hammond, who is yet to appear this season.
Injuries have struck and
Sean Davis trying to get back from a thigh problem, but Lee Clark is
definitely out. Defender Chris Coleman is still recovering from
his broken leg sustained in a car crash and will not play again this
Both sides have problems,
therefore fielding their first choice XI, but Spurs are still without
about nine first team choices and that will make it hard to repeat the
4-0 win earlier this season. While the portents point to a drab
match, I think there will be some things to brighten it and there will
be some goals, which, if Tottenham can finally convert their chances
will end ...
: - Fulham 1 Tottenham 2
For more information on
the opponents and their history, including full result history of
matches between the two teams, click here.
Tottenham 2 (Half time score: 0-2)
|FA PREMIER LEAGUE
|Sunday 24th March 2002
|Venue : Craven
|Kick Off : 4.00 p.m.
|Weather : - Bright,
|Crowd : - 15,885
- Mr. P. Durkin (Avon)
Scorers : - Fulham - None
Tottenham - Sheringham 29, Poyet 32
: Malbranque (foul)
: Gardner (foul)
22, Sherwood (foul) 57
: Van der Sar; Harley (Brevett 58), Ouaddou, Goma, Finnan; Davis,
Malbranque, Legwinski; Saha, Hayles, Marlet
Unused Subs : - Taylor, Melville, Collins, Boa Morte
Sullivan; Thatcher, Perry , Gardner, King; Anderton (Davies 75), Poyet,
Sherwood, Ziege; Iversen Sheringham
Unused Subs : - Keller, Thelwell, Etherington, Rebrov
: White shirts, black shorts, white socks
: Light blue shirts,
white shorts, navy blue socks
Having beaten Fulham twice times already this
season, what odds were there that a third victory would be ours ?
Coming into the match on a losing run would make it unfavourable, but
Fulham's losing run was worse than ours, so that balanced things up.
Knowing Tottenham are on the generous side, the scales swung back in the
Luckily for Tottenham, the ball swung in by
Ziege from a free-kick hit Sheringham in the eye and deceived the
Dutch keeper. It was one in the eye for Fulham and for Spurs, a
revelation that Sheringham wasn't standing over the kick to demand he hit
it ... over the bar, as he had done recently. Up to that point there
had been little to show that a goal might come from anywhere. The
home side passed prettily (sound familiar ?), but lack the finishing pass
or touch (sound even more familiar ?).
It was a strange decision to limit the
number of Spurs fans who could go to this game to 750, when this was
Fulham's lowest crowd of the season. However, they had more to sing
about than the West Londoners, as Iversen, with a header and a volley,
threatened the Fulham goal, while two efforts from the home side drifted
wide of the mark. The Cottagers started with three forwards in the
side, although Marlet played wider than Hayles or Saha. Spurs had
slipped into a 4-4-2, with more solidity at the back the key and more work
from those left in midfield.
Teddy had a weak header directed straight
at the goalkeeper and then had his stroke of luck. Bouncing off
Legwinski's arm and then Ted's face, it was the break that the side had
needed for a few weeks now. It was one which he wanted to build on
and when Iversen passed on to Ziege, he ghosted in at the far post.
The German did not spot him though, as he burst into the box and unleashed
a fierce low shot that van der Sar beat out, but Gus was on hand to stick
the loose ball back past the grounded goalie. Teddy failed to
celebrate as he was furious that the ball didn't reach him !!
There were a few chances each way before
the break and then just after the interval, King's long pass picked him
out and he was clear of the pack, but took a page out of Les Ferdinand's
book in putting the ball too far wide of the keeper and the goal, when he
was favourite to score.
Fulham did get back into it, when a lob
into the box ended in a tackle on Hayles that sent the ball to Malbranque,
but his finish was way too high. After 66 minutes, Goma got onto the
end of a cross, headed against Sheringham, before Marlet hit the post with
a header about five minutes after. Luckily for Tottenham, the ball
fell in front of the goal and Perry hacked clear before any Fulham player
Spurs came a bit stronger towards the end,
when Simon Davies slid a header wide with his first touch and Sheringham
was denied by a defender's knee, that deflected the ball away. Ziege
obviously fancied his chances as he hit a fierce shot that had some dip on
it, but not quite enough. Even so, the jitters were still there when a
Saha volley near the end was well pushed away by Sullivan.
The defence stood firm and looked
determined to keep Fulham out, but the side still were giving the ball
away too often. Sherwood was good in the defensive midfield role,
just in front of the back four and Ziege provided a creative outlet
on the left. Teddy still looks out of touch and Iversen showed
willing, but not much finesse. Sullivan looked sounder than he has
done lately too.
All together a valuable three points, even
though it was not a great performance. With a bit of application,
the side can defend from the front, giving the defence a bit of an easier
ride. There will be even less to play for now, as these points
virtually rule out relegation for Tottenham this season, but they should
have their pride to play for. Hopefully, that will be enough to show
the likes of Arsenal and Liverpool that we can still match the better
teams in the Premier League.
|MEHSTG TOP MAN :
- ANTHONY GARDNER
|A clean sheet and two goals =
three points. I never thought they would come, but this time there
was enough in the Spurs locker to keep Fulham at bay, with a little help
from the post. But although Spurs won for the first time in five
matches, all was not well in the camp.
The game started so innocuously,
with some mild sparring between the two London sides. Fulham
playing three forwards in an attempt to break their losing run of five
consecutive defeats, could not break the Spurs back line to start off
with. Spurs meanwhile had an early chance with Iversen's header,
but it caused little trouble. Then, it happened. Our luck
that has been missing for a while, turned up to even things out for the
season. A free kick driven in by Ziege, flies off the arm of
Legwinski in the wall and smashes into Sheringham's face.
Fortunately for Tottenham, his face then propels the ball into the net
past a static van der Sar. When players were talking about a goal
off someone's backside sparking the team to a win, I thought they were
talking figuratively and not from some special move they had perfected
on the training ground.
Within two minutes, they were 2-0
up. Ziege was released down the left and riding a challenge on the
edge of the area, he drove a fierce shot in at van der Sar, but the
Dutchman found it impossible to hold. He pushed the ball out
towards the penalty spot where Gus Poyet was lurking and he stroked the
ball into the net. Unfortunately, Teddy was standing at the far
post unmarked when Christian decided to shoot and he was furious that he
wasn't put in to score. Perhaps Ziege thought that in his current
form, Sheringham was not near enough to a barn door to be deadly !!
Spurs had further chances,
through Iversen and Poyet, but they were off target ... shockingly so in
Steffen's case, when Ledley's long ball released him away from the
Fulham defence and he failed to make the keeper make a save. The
home side pressed on, but their final ball was lax and the finishing was
not of the highest quality. It is no surprise that their goal-scoring is
what has let them down. Even with three forwards, the Spurs
defence looked reasonably comfortable holding them at bay. They
all played well, with Thatcher getting in some good challenges and Perry
being all over Marlet. King marshalled Hayles professionally and
Gardner swept up anything that got past them all.
Anderton didn't look perfectly
fit again, but did OK, producing some good passes, but the best part of
the midfield's play was the way they kept the ball moving. It has
been a feature that has been a bit stop start in the last four matches
and the ability to hold the ball better than recently, meant that Fulham
had to chase the ball. In the dying stages of the match, Fulham
gave up doing that and Spurs could knock it about as they wished.
Iversen desperately needs to
improve his finishing. Twice he could have made the score 3-0 and
put the game well beyond Fulham's reach, but he rushed both efforts and
at 2-0, it was still feasible that getting one goal back could have
resulted in a panicky last few minutes. Sullivan's late save
denied the Cottagers even one goal and it was about time the side had
stopped leaking goals left, right and centre.
A good professional performance,
which we haven't seen from Tottenham for a while. The team did
defend as a unit and the clean sheet laid the basis for the win.
It was a bit typical though that after nearly seven hours without a
goal, two come along in two minutes !! As long as the team play in
this manner, there will be some joy to be had from the end of season
matches, but the need for rebuilding is plain to see. With Boro'
on Saturday, it will be a battle of the middle of the table and the
professionalism of the team who wants to do best will come out. We
will see how it pans out, but Spurs need to start putting a run
together, even if it does not end in Europe.