Saturday 31st January 2004
Chris Coleman's Fulham side have defied the pre-season predictions that they would be among those fighting the drop and they have had a great first half to the season. However, with Louis Saha on his way to Old Trafford as we speak and Brian McBride and Carlos Bocanegra in from the US of A to replace him and add to the squad, the overall quality of the side might be on the lighter side.
In the goalkeeping department there is bags of experience, but the quality again is questionable. For all his outings with Holland Edwin van der Saar often has his nervy moments, although he can make unconventional saves to keep the ball out. Then come the two keepers who have saved penalties in FA cup finals, Mark Crossley and Dave Beasant. Both are in the twilight of their careers and are there in case of injury, with Beasant taking on coaching duties too. If either play, then Spurs could capitalise, as they could do with van der Saar's hesitancy in the air for a very tall man. The only thing is our tall striker is away with Mali
In defence Frenchman Jerome Bonnissel will be missing with injury and Frenchman Alain Goma is a slow centre back, who Spurs made look classy in the home match earlier this season. Frenchman Martin Djetou is another centre back who has yet to prove his true worth in a Fulham shirt after coming from Parma. Arriving last week from West ham was Ian Pearce, who will provide a strong presence in the middle of the back four and will be a more mobile replacement for the ageing Melville. Lofty youngster Zat Knight has had a long run in the middle of defence too, so might push one of the others out to full back in the absence of Bonnissel. German Gooner reserve Moritz Volz has made his loan move permanent now, so will be looking to carry on his good first team form, while Carlos Bocanegra has come in from America and might find things a bit tough to acclimatise to at first, although that might mean he will have a decent game trying to prove he is up to it on his first run-out in front of his new fans.
The midfield area is strong and has been the basis of Fulham's success, with lots of hard work and some goals from that area. Sylvain Legwinski could miss the match with a gashed ankle, while Junichi Inamoto is having a good string of performances in the middle of the park - producing the energy associated with his World Cup appearances. Former Sunderland and Newcastle man Lee Clark is having an Indian summer in his Fulham career and as well as tackling hard, is a shrewd playmaker, as is Steed Malbranque, who needs to be watched when running from midfield into the box, where he can finish well. Injury will keep out Mark Pembridge, leaving the previously unsettled Sean Davis now having a good run and he is a strong runner with the ball and can also get stuck in. He has a very able talent, but sometimes, he can be undisciplined and lose position, leaving gaps in midfield for the likes of Davies and Jackson to run through.
With new signing from Celtic Bobby Petta adding pace to the attack, he will partner Barry Hayles, and as a Spurs fan, he will probably be bound to score again against us !! Latvian Andrejs Stolcers rarely gets a look in these days, while mask man Facunda Sava usually starts on the bench and is an experienced goal-scorer. The very annoying Luis Boa Morte keeps getting sent off and hardly surprising, as he rarely goes in with his eyes on the ball as his first priority.
It will be a different Fulham from the team that won 3-0 at the Lane that Spurs face and conversely, it will be a different Spurs too. For that reason, I think it will be closer and that Tottenham will take the game to the home side, which will be our best way of getting something from the match. Using the midfield wide men to play the ball into the box, the forwards should get some decent supply and Keano needs to get in the box more and develop his understanding with Helder. The defence is pretty sound and have worked out the system that suits them, but with the need for points still pressing, I consider that the team should return across London with the points in the bag ...
PREDICTION : - 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.
VIEW FROM THE OTHER SIDE
No Fulham site could be found to give an opposing view.
FULAHM : - Sylvain Legwinski (ankle); Leacock (knee); Mark Pembridge (calf); Jerome Bonnissel (ankle)
TOTTENHAM : - Gus Poyet (suspended); Jamie Redknapp (not match fit); Dean Richards (calf); Frederic Kanoute (on international duty); Darren Anderton (tendonitis); Mauricio Taricco (foot)
TV : No live coverage; "Highlights on the Premiership - ITV Saturday evening (10.30 p.m.) and Sunday morning (9.25 a.m.)
Radio : BBC Radio London (94.9 FM - London area only).
Internet : www.spurs.co.uk Live webcast (subscription service only)
|Fulham 2 Tottenham 1 (Half-time score : 1-1)|
|Saturday 31st January 2004|
|Venue : - Loftus Road|
|Kick Off : - 15.00 p.m.|
|Weather : - Windy, rainy|
|Crowd : - 17,024|
|Referee : - Matt Messias (North Yorkshire)|
|Teams : -
Fulham : - van der Sar; Volz, Knight, Pearce, Bocanegra; Davis, Djetou, Clark, Malbranque; Boa Morte (Petta 90), Hayles (McBride 60)
Unused subs: Crossley, Inamoto, Sava,
Tottenham : - Keller;
Carr (c), Gardner, Doherty, Ziege; Davies, Brown, King, Dalmat; Keane,
Postiga (Zamora 80)
|Colours : - (kits
courtesy of http://www.colours-of-football.com)
|Scorers : -
Fulham - Malbranque (pen) 45, McBride 68
Tottenham - Keane (pen) 18
|Cards : -
Fulham - Hayles (foul) 57
Tottenham - Ziege (foul) 32
With a late equaliser in the first half, Fulham managed to turn around a game that they were being outplayed in to achieve a victory when Spurs were most sluggish.
The first half was played in difficult conditions and with Ziege returning in place of the injured Taricco, but they showed a bit more quality than the Cottagers to put them in a comfortable position. But the increased determination of the Fulham of the second half, the propensity of Tottenham players to give the ball away and the failure to take the pressure that was built up on the Fulham defence and make something of it cost Spurs points ... and not for the first time this season.
There was little to get excited about in the first quarter of an hour with a couple of easy saves, one at each end and then out of the blue, Davies and Postiga played Keane in on a run. He jinked past a couple of players before hitting an early shot that took van der Saar by surprise and he just got a touch on it before it cannoned back off the goalpost. The effort signalled a couple of minutes that culminated in Ziege's ball into Keane, which saw the Irishman flicking the ball over his head in the box, but his progress was halted when Pearce stopped the ball with an outstretched hand. Robbie Keane took the ball to the penalty spot and although the Dutch keeper went the right way, the ball was buried in the corner of the net to give Spurs and 18th minute lead.
The home side were rattled by this and produced their first threatening moment in the 22nd minute as Barry Hayles unleashed a low left footed drive after Clark had put him into the area, but Keller dived to make the save. Five minutes later at the other end and Ziege slices a ball into the box and as it balloons up high into the air, it looks like it might deceive van der Saar, but he is alert enough to take the ball safely. Ziege's next input into the game was to receive a yellow card for a foul, which was mistimed more than malicious, but it wasn't the first he had committed in his comeback match. Christian also put in a tempting cross for Keane, but he didn't get his head to it and it looked like Knight did, but Spurs were not given the corner.
Ledley was putting in a lot of work and also got back to prevent Clark getting in a shot on Kasey's goal, but Hayles did following a free-kick, but he spun on the ball and put his 38th minute shot wide. With time running out in the half, Spurs won a corner and from it Postiga nearly catches van der Saar out by curling it in to the near post, but the goalie's gloves just managed to claw the ball out and the ball was switched to the other end. The horrible Boa Morte had been having a running battle with Carr that carried over from the first game this season, but as the ex-Gooner ran towards the box, it was Brown who brought him down. The foul looked to be unnecessary and mightily close to the line, but the ref's decision was inside and a penalty at the other end in injury time was awarded. Like Tottenham's penalty, the keeper went the right way, but the kick beat him to tie it up at the break.
That penalty seemed to change the nature of the game. Tottenham lost the impetus they had in the first half and started being careless with the ball, allowing Fulham to run the game more in midfield, without doing a lot different. They were more keen to get to the ball first and Tottenham looked lethargic, but there should still have been enough fight to get something from this game. When you look at our played record, it is the fact that there have been few draws and more losses than most clubs that has affected our league position.
Postiga was poised to get on the end of Keano's inviting cross, but Malbranque just got there before him and Spurs were denied a second penalty, when Keane was bundled over in the area by Pearce after 51 minutes, but the ref wasn't interested. Two penalties were enough for him. With Dalmat and Keane linking well, they set up Postiga, who then fired in a low shot that the goalie pushed wide and from that corner Knight did well to stop King reaching a loose ball in the box.
Carr was fouled by Hayles, who earned a yellow card and then a substitution, with Brian McBride coming on for his debut. That changed the match in Fulham's favour. They now had a target man to aim for and the taller presence seemed to unnerve our defenders. Postiga had another shot, but McBride should have notched Fulham's second, when he was put through buy Volz, although he looked suspiciously offside. With only compatriot Keller to beat, he put the ball over him, but Kasey got a hand to it and knocked it away from the goal.
Spurs were undisciplined at the 68th minute corner and when Keller denied Pearce's header, it was McBride who was on the spot to put the ball in from a foot out. It was poor marking and a soft goal to concede, especially from a set-piece. Keane tried to spark a response by setting up Brown, who had an ineffective match, but his shot was tipped over the top by van der Saar for Tottenham's 10th corner, which was swung in again by Helder, but again van der Saar palmed it out.
However, Tottenham's breaks were just that. There was little sustained pressure and Fulham had control of the midfield. In the 73rd minute a neat passing move put Volz into the box, but his effort couldn't beat KK. With 12 minutes left, Malbranque picked out Clark with a dinked cross and the midfielder's header should have added to the Fulham score, but it went wide and it was nearly costly, as Keane was brought down again in the box, this time by Djetou, but again the ref's spot-kick quota was not to be exceeded. That was with ten minutes still on the clock, but not much else happened as the game faded out and Fulham tried to waste time to gain their first ever League "double" over Spurs.
MEHSTG TOP MAN : - ANTHONY GARDNER
|Two moments of lack of
concentration stopped Tottenham taking anything back to North London
from their trip west, as Fulham capitalised on their good fortune.
A lack of awareness allowed Luis Boa Morte to run into Spurs' last third and this prompted a foul on him by Michael Brown, which was outside the box, but as the ex-Arsenal forward is prone to do, he dived ... and reached the penalty box, thus making the ref point to the spot. As this was in injury time at the end of the first half, the Spurs players could be forgiven for thinking they would be going in 1-0 up, but that loss of focus allowed the run and subsequent conversion of the spot-kick by Malbranque, high out of Keller's reach.
With Dalmat a peripheral figure, who darted in and out of the game, he at least took three men with him wherever he went, but the other Spurs players failed to make the most of the resulting space and neither did they take advantage of the time Spurs spent in the home side's box. They did manage to rack up a high number of balls into the box, but apart from Keano's flick to try and get past Pearce that resulted in the penalty that gave Tottenham the lead, not enough was made of the possession in and around the area.
In contrast, one corner and one moment of slack marking by Doc left Pearce the opportunity to atone for his previous blemish, by diving in to head low at goal. Keller got to it and kept it out, but McBride reacted before King on the post to knock the ball over the line from about six inches out. Keller had previously kept Fulham at bay with saves from Hayles, McBride and then stopped Volz adding to the lead, with Tottenham's best chances coming from Keane's early drive that the Fulham keeper managed to touch onto the post, with no Spurs player following up and then the Irishman set up Brown to hit one that van der Saar touched over the bar.
Although Tottenham went from looking comfortable in the first half to being dominated in midfield in the second half, they should have been professional enough to hold onto the lead they had and with the way the first half was going, to build on that. To come home with nothing was not surprising knowing our away form, even though this was only a short trip. Why does our style change so much when we travel away ? Why did David Pleat throw Ziege straight into the battle, when he was obviously needy of a few more matches before he can step back into the Premier League. With the club taking the decision not to rush Jamie Redknapp back in the reserves on Monday, was it entirely necessary to play Christian, when Johnnie Jackson has done sterling work in that left-back position ? Dalmat and Brown were not as effective as they were a couple of games back and the midfield area was where the game was lost in the second half.
Perhaps a day's transfer dealings might produce a player or two coming in that would shore things up and make Tottenham more resilient, because we still need to put some more points on the board before we can breathe a sigh of relief ... or should that be resignation ?
|Other scores this weekend :|
|Birmingham City||1||Newcastle United||1||Saturday|
|Charlton Athletic||1||Bolton Wanderers||2||Saturday|
|Leicester City||0||Aston Villa||5||Saturday|
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