We were undeniably very very poor for a lot of this game.
At kick off we were badly set out and unbalanced. Lennon looked uncomfortable on the left, Lamela out of sorts on the right, Capoue and Sandro overwhelmed in the middle and Vertonghen at left back had the air of a man on holiday in Butlins whilst his mates have gone to Benidorm. He clearly pines for a return to centre half. Up front Paulinho and Defoe showed no understanding whatsoever.
A series of alterations during the game improved things, the wingers swapped sides, Holtby came on for Capoue, Fulham decided to defend rather than look to extend their advantage and thus we got away with it. The first time this season we’ve responded after going behind I believe, but if you find any Fulham fans claiming that they wuz robbed, don’t argue too strongly with them.
After a first half hour of disjointed and sideways passing during which only some wayward finishing and Hugo’s reflexes had kept us level we came to life when Lennon moved to his more natural berth and Lamela started cutting in from the left. Twice the Argentine nearly scored and once Paulinho should have netted after he’d done all the hard work. I saw at mate of mine at half time – “This is hard work” he said, and that summed it up.
Throughout the game Berbatov gave his normal impression of a dad playing with his kids in the back garden after a heavy Sunday lunch. He was first to the ball whenever it was in the centre circle and rarely didn’t find his target with his layoffs. In the second half it was he who took advantage of a slip from Dawson and some sluggishness from Paulinho to put Dejagah into space and one on one with Hugo; he finished emphatically. We responded energetically but didn’t look like notching until Paulinho earned a corner when trying to reach Walker’s cross at the near post. Walker himself took the restart and his inept and incompetent delivery from the quadrant was cleared to Chiriches whose absolutely unstoppable half-volley flashed into the corner via a post. Such was the unexpectedness of the goal that the players seemed stunned more than anything and Vlad spent some time celebrating by himself before the others realised what had happened. This drained the life from Fulham and we were on top for the remainder of the game. AVB gambled by weakening the midfield in favour of all out attack and it worked.
Much credit should go to the Spurs fans who sang lustily throughout despite the joyless nonsense being served up on the pitch for long periods. The last ten minutes was spent singing Holtby’s name after the stocky German powered in our winner Bale Style. There was still time for the home team to nearly claim the point they deserved but the woodwork and Lloris made sure that we held on. Sunderland on Saturday evening will be tricky as Chelsea found out last night. A massive improvement is needed.
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