Fulham 1 – 3 Spurs: Report & Video Goals
So yet another Sunday afternoon Spurs fixture and yet another fixture that 12 months ago would have struck fear into the heart of any Spurs fan. This particular writer has been accused of being overly optimistic towards Spurs results and performances this season. So let’s examine this for a second.
I was born in 1982, I started following Spurs as a young Irish lad in 1990. I came to England in 1992 post the FA Cup victory. Since then, I’ve had my peaks and troughs as a fan. We nearly went down, we nearly got thrown out of the FA Cup, we had Venables, Sugar and Graham. We had Klinsmann, Ginola and Sheringham. We had Berti, Tremazzani and Doherty. We’ve had our ups-and-downs. I watched Arsenal and Chelsea overtake us in terms of the “London Hierarchy”. So, when we win, it’s amazing. When we have a season where we are, arguably, playing better football than both of those, I am going to be very optimistic. Optimism is what drives this sport, it’s the hope of the unexpected, the impossible, that drives us on!
So how does this translate to what we did yesterday? Fulham had an early blow with Johnson out of the squad having picked up an injury in Fulham’s midweek Europe League tie. We had, on the other hand, risked none of the starting XI, naming an unchanged side from the QPR victory last weekend. So as the teams lined up, we had two 4-4-2 formations going against each other. Fulham had only one recognised winger in Duff, where Spurs had slightly more width through Bale and Lennon. Defensively, both teams managed to name consistent line-ups. In attack, Dembele and Zamora (no EPL goals for Spurs) were competing with Ade and VDV.
The game started out with both teams feeling each other out. After a tentative start, Spurs settled into a decent passing rhythm, with Parker again instrumental, whilst Modric was relatively quiet. Fulham had a decent chance with Murphy’s excellent corner headed on towards goal at speed. Friedel belied his years and got down sharply to make a decent stop at his near post. Shortly after this, Adebayor picked up the ball in a deep position in the Spurs midfield. Spraying the ball to our right, Spurs fans watched on as Walker ate up the ground to nick the ball past the labouring Riise. He showed excellent composure to halt, take stock and play the ball back to Lennon (wrong way round, right?). Lennon played the ball across and after a deflection it fell to Bale on the left. Bale, with no clear shooting angle, played a percentage drive across the goal which deflected over Baird into the waiting Fulham goal.
After that, the game meandered into mediocrity for much of the rest of the first half. The midfield battle ensued, with our width actually counteracting our ability to control the game and Fulham having the better of the possession. Spurs, as on many occasions this season, weathered the storm however and towards the end of the first half, demonstrated the qualities that have many pushing us for 3rd/4th place this season. We picked up the ball in the middle and Bale, receiving a ball slightly off the ground, performed an audacious back-heel flick to Lennon, pitching up on the left. Lennon turned his defender inside and out before dispatching the ball past Schwarzer for a 2-0 lead. The half-time whistle blew and a 2-0 lead was crystallised. During the half-time discussion, I won 2 games of pool so maintained a signficiant level of optimism going into the second half. Also, being a regular at my local, my glass never dipped below half full. An omen? Perhaps…
So the second half began and Spurs continued to match/dominate their opponents. Er, no. Spurs looked extremely tentative in the early stages, allowing themselves to be dominated by a resolute Fulham side. The pressure led to a Fulham corner in the 57th minute. An excellent delivery from a corner resulted in King heading against Kaboul’s back under pressure from Hangeland. The ball rebounded into the Spurs net. 1 own goal each and Spurs lead reduced to a slender 1-0 advantage. For the nervous Spurs fan, look away now…Spurs continued to bow under the pressure, sitting back, apparently looking to hold onto a 2-1 away victory at a typically tough ground. This resulted in an excess of Fulham pressure.
Fulham had several chances to equalise during the half. After a passage of passing play late on, Dempsey rounded his compatriot Friedel, only to see his shot deflected around the post by our glorious leader, the ever magnificent Ledley King. Fulham continued to press and late on, had a significant penalty shout turned down. The ball dropped in the box and as Kyle Walker fell, the ball became trapped under his arms. For this writer, no intent was supplied by Walker and short of having no arms, Walker could not have avoided the contact. The referee had little choice with the decision, with the melee of players ensuring that his view was occluded and no real decision could be reached.
Spurs took some heart from the goal-line heroics. 12 months ago, this would have been signal for collapse. Now, however, it’s a signal that we need to finish our oppoents. Against the run of play, Spurs broke upfield and the quiet Adebayor hooked a ball back into play that late substitute Defoe ran onto and gleefully drove into the net via a deflection. 3-1 to Spurs and Fulham’s resistance was duly broken. 3 points to Spurs.
Conclusions to be drawn from the game? We didn’t play well. We allowed Fulham too much time in the midfield and we conceded far too much possession. BUT, we scored 3 goals away from home and we beat a decent Fulham side 3-1. We won our 7th game in 8 outings in the Premier League. Our wingers played significant parts, again. Yet again though, we made our subs too late and we had to fight for our victory. Last season, we fought and lost. This season, we fight and we win. Let’s stay positive Spurs, the future looks decent…
Lastly, a note to our stricken manager. Get well soon chap, we have our thoughts on your style and delivery but no Spurs fan can argue with the results. Yesterday, we flirted with an ex and we realised that what we have now is much better. NEVER. GO. BACK.
The Spurs go marchin’ on. You can watch the goals here.
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