Saturday 30th October 2004
Having seen Spurs go goal crazy in the League Cup, it will be interesting to see how Jacques Santini approaches this match as Spurs cross London for the first of three London derby matches.
With the attacking possibilities available to Tottenham, it might be their best chance to go for goals and with Fulham without Andy Cole, they did well to win away at Birmingham City in the week, but might be struggling for goals.
Golakeeper Edwin van der Sar finds his position under threat after a good performance by Mark Crossley in the League Cup, but will probably keep his place in the side. A tall goalie, he takes the ball in the air well and makes the most of his length when making diving saves, but can be found wanting in his positioning and when the ball is at his feet. Crossley is an old timer (played against Spurs in the 1991 FA Cup Final) and might be slightly slower in reflex terms, but presents a bigger target to get past.
In defence there are a few names who have caused Spurs problems in the past. Giant Zat Knight had a storming game at the Lane last season and he's unfortunate that England are well served in this area at the moment, as he might have been considered for a place in the national side. Ex-Gooner Moritz Volz has settled into the Cottagers side in the right back slot, displacing Frenchman Jerome Bonnissel, who has had a tempestuous time at Fulham. American central defender Carlos Bocanegra has been a bit hasty in the tackle, with some criticism from opposing players and managers, but now he has calmed down, he is contributing to the solidity that Chris Coleman is hoping to achieve for his struggling team. Injured Ian Pearce will be missing and his strength is always welcome in the middle of the Fulham back four, but another option there could be Frenchman Alain Goma, who has done OK since arriving, but has not been the dominating force that it was hoped he would be.
The midfield contains Wednesday's scorer, Welshman Mark Pembridge, who is getting a new lease of life alongside Sylvain Legwinski, Steed Malbranque and Papa Diop. Pembridge drives forward when he can and has a defensive frame of mind that allows Malbranque and Legwinski to indulge in their attacking instincts. Both are dangerous running at the opponents penalty area, with the ability to get on the end of moves or finish well with their own feet. Diop came in during the summer and has had a brush with the officials already, being dismissed once, harshly, but he is another midfield destroyer and a man mountain, so it will be a formidable task to get past him. Other midfielders who have been out injured of late are ex-Charlton man Claus Jensen, who is a very good passer and free-kick expert, while Lee Clark is looking to avoid having to throw the towel in on a persistent calf injury.
With Cole missing, there are few options up front for Coleman. Another objectionable ex-Gooner Luis Boa Morte is still running into the box, dropping like a stone and then looking affronted when he doesn't get a penalty or the fans howl outrage if he does "win" one. Some tight marking and tough tackling (outside the box) might alienate him from the action. Last season, it was American Brian McBride who rained on Tottenham's parade - home and away - but he has not been a regular this season. However, he has strength and the scoring knack against us, so will need to be marked tightly, with Collins John a new face, but also a natural goalscorer, it might mean a busy time for the Tottenham defence. A player who is eligible to be a Dutch or Liberian international, the youngster has a fierce shot and the ability to arrive on the end of crosses at the right time. A player who is more likely to start is former Everton striker Tomas Radzinski, who runs well with the ball, but his height means he is not a great threat in the air. however, he takes up good positions on the shoulders of defenders and has a very firm shot.
Tottenham should, and that is something we always say, have enough to beat Fulham, who are in a poor run of form. However, it is a game that Tottenham will need to establish a lead in and then go on to seal without letting the other side back into it, like they almost did on Wednesday at Bolton. The firepower available should be the difference betweent he sides, especially now the midfield is shaping up to be more creative and I nominate Sean Davis to have a good performance against his old team to inspire Tottenham to an away win ...
PREDICTION : - Fulham 1 Tottenham Hotspur 3
For more information on the opponents and their history, including full result history of matches between the two teams, click here.
FROM THE OTHER SIDE
MEHSTG did not have time to obtain a view from the other side.
FULHAM : Andy Cole (suspended); Ian Pearce (knee); Claus Jensen (hamstring); Lee Clark (calf); Alain Goma (calf); Sylvain Legwinski (ankle); Jerome Bonnissel (groin)
TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR : - Thimothee Atouba (ankle); Erik Edman (head); Jamie Redknapp (suspended); Anthony Gardner (foot);
|Fulham 2 Tottenham Hotspur 0 (Half-time score : 0-1)|
|Premier League||Venue : Craven Cottage|
|Saturday 30th October 2004||Kick Off : 15.00 p.m.|
|Crowd : 21,317||Referee : A. Wiley (Burntwood)|
|Weather : Sunny, mild|
|Teams : -|
Brown (Davies 41)
|Colours : - (kits courtesy of http://www.colours-of-football.com)|
|Scorers : -|
Boa Morte 33
|Cards : -|
Bunjevcevic (foul) 24
|Match Report : -|
|There are few things different
about this performance and some of those from last season away from home
... especially the match at Loftus Road against Fulham. It was the
same depressingly ineffectual performance but with a different backdrop,
with the Cottagers returning to their old home and securing the same end
result. A win against a Tottenham side who didn't have a shot on
Michael Carrick was relegated to the bench and Sean Davis lined up against his alma mater, much to the joy of the home crowd who had something to boo about every time he touched the ball. Jacques went with the little combination of Keane and Defoe up front and yes, our players did keep delivering high balls up to them. It was only when Kanoute and Carrick came on near the end that things started to look a bit more fluent, but it was too late by then.
There was little between the two sides on paper, but the way the teams played was diametrically opposed. More passing on the floor, more movement pulling players around up front, more closing down to put pressure on the players on the ball, more support from midfield and more passion in what they were trying to do. Tottenham failed to produce anything like the basic requirements to match a team on a bad league run and in as lowly a position as Fulham.
The home side could easily have been two up at the break. The first goal came about when Steed Malbranque slipped a pass through to Boa Morte inside the penalty area and he rifled a shot past the exposed Robinson to put Fulham 1-0 up in the 34th minute. Only Ledley King's intuition stopped Spurs going further behind with a clearance off the line in the time before the half-time whistle went.
Davies has come on for Michael Brown before the interval, but there was no further during the half-time break and Tottenham looked a little bit livelier after the short rest. but still they failed to supply Defoe and Keane with quality balls and I lost count of the times that Defoe got caught offside in the match, making runs for passes that never came.
Spurs looked disjointed and when the second goal went in, it was curtains ... there was no way we would score two goals today. This time Boa Morte turned provider with a cross for fellow former Gooner Cole to head home from the edge fo the six yard box, with nobody marking him. It was Tottenham's luck in that Papa Diop was intent on trying to open his goal-scoring account, but would have been top scorer in a rugby match, with most of his shots rising high over the bar or going wide, with one into touch for a throw in. Robinson was called into action to tip a shot from Cole around the post.
Apart from that, it was a succession of free-kicks and stoppages in a game that failed to flow and one that Spurs failed to get into - much like the Portsmouth match.
While these are still early days for Santini, the season is almost a third gone and there is still little sign of a pattern emerging in Tottenham's play. That is the most worrying aspect of the current run. What goes on in the League Cup looks at odds to the League and there can be no rational reason why. Maybe the need for Carrick to come in and provide some flexibility in the provision of ammunition to the forwards could be the answer. Maybe we will have to wait until January for some transfer dealing to shake things up, but when the chances aren't there, you look to the forwards to try and make something for themselves, but the gap between the midfield and them is such that they are isolated. This gap is just one that needs to be narrowed.
MEHSTG TOP MAN : - NOE PAMAROT
|BACK TO NORMAL; BACK AT THE COTTAGE|
|With the early promise shown by
the team, I had hoped that losing to the likes of Fulham was a thing of
the past. If we can hold bigger teams and beat some of them too,
then the little sides should be points in the bag. But just when
you thought it was safe to assume we would be able to shut little teams
The lack of goals conceded I can stand. The lack of goals scored needs looking at long and hard by the management. It will hold us back and the veritable goal rush that pours out in the League Cup must be translated to our League form to ensure that if we do go behind, like we did twice at Bolton in midweek, we can get some league points back by making a comeback. Things wouldn't be so bad, but when the team let's two in, you know they haven't a hope of their long balls dragging two goals back just to restore parity.
But the problem is trying to establish where this is going wrong. It is not a time to panic, but we need to stay in touch with the top six and we are sliding away from them. The midfield are capable of opening up defences, but someone told me there was a good point raised on Soccer Saturday on Sky and that was with the midfield defending so deep, they have a long way to go to play up with the strikers. It's a valid suggestion and one that leaves our players a lot of ground to cover to link play. When the team are playing well, the side is laid out in the 4-4-2, but there is a tightness in a compact way and the rows of players do not get strung out. In the League Cup, the side seems to get organised better and even when behind, look to get men forward. In the League, it is like they are thinking that there will be another three points along soon.
It appears to me that it is not unrelated that we have been losing since the loss of Erik Edman at left back. His presence means a lot in terms of someone who will always give you the 100%+. Someone who will run into brick walls (or at least Everton players' heads) for the club. The sooner he is back the better.
But the big question mark is how we will break down teams like Charlton who we meet next and that doesn't even go seven days beyond that !! Our midfield is hard working, but with Davis just having come back from injury, Davies a little further down the rehabilitation road and Carrick not getting much playing time under his belt, I suppose Jamie will step straight back in next week, now he has served his suspension. There is little attacking midfield option at the moment.
The loss to a depleted Fulham side is a sign that there is still much for Jacques and Martin Jol to do. Our record of one win in 17 London derbies is pitiful and we will never progress up the table unless we can gain points from the many games against our capital rivals. And to do that we will need to score goals.
My confidence in the management team is still there, but there needs to be some sign of getting things back on track - shallow squad or not.
appeared that neither Ledley King or Noureddine Naybet were
communicating effectively on either goal, as for the first Boa Morte ran
between them and for the second neither picked up Andy Cole's run into
the six yard box, but they were both caught ahead of the striker when
the cross came in, leaving them under the ball.
Also, why was it that there was little support for Ziegler on the left ? Bunje failed to get behind his midfielder and the young Swiss player was left to fend for himself a lot of the time.
With the various forward combinations not working, is it time to consider a different approach with a quicker tempo to our play ? The breaking from defence has to be quick, but the rest of our offensive play tends to be leaden in it's pace and allows the opposition to get numbers back behind the ball. With Kanoute being leggy and Defoe good at running onto balls, why not play to their strengths and play someone who can knock a decent ball through the defence of the other side ?
|Other scores this weekend :|
|Birmingham City||0||Crystal Palace||1||Saturday|
|West Bromwich Albion||1||Chelsea||4||Saturday|
|Bolton Wanderers||2||Newcastle United||1||Sunday|
|Manchester City||1||Norwich City||1||Monday|
|17||West Bromwich Albion||11||1||5||5||9||20||8||-11|
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