Itâ€™s Fulham on Boxing Day as for the third season in a row we face the Cottagers fresh from a festive hangover, though for a change theyâ€™ve invited us over to their gaff for the turkey leftovers. Last season at WHL we fought out a tense but dull goalless draw and in 2007, also in north London, two goals apiece from Robbie and big Tom helped us to a 5-1 win with Jermain Defoe bagging the other one.
We normally find a visit to Fulham no fun no matter what day we go there. Take out the chocolate kit cup win of 2007 (and the goals are worth a hunt on youtube if youâ€™ve got a spare few minutes) and weâ€™ve not got the better of them on their own patch since March 2002 when Teddy and Gus Poyet nicked our goals. On the other hand though, weâ€™ve not lost a Boxing Day game since 2003, a fact that caught me by surprise given our reputation of being pretty shoddy over the Christmas period.Â
That 2003 loss was at Portsmouth where Bobby Zamora came on as sub for us and Bobby will of course be turning out for Fulham on Saturday.Â Other ex-Spurs in the home teamâ€™s line-up are likely to be Paul Konchesky and Danny Murphy. All three underachieved in our colours but are currently playing big parts in Roy Hodgsonâ€™s attempt to prove that decent dull blokes can make good managers. Fulham play to a system (youâ€™ve got to have a system), keep their shape and, as they say, â€œall the players know their jobsâ€. Sounds simple but itâ€™s a formula thatâ€™s works, look no further than David Moyes and Everton for more proof.
We have no more injury concerns as far as Iâ€™m aware so should probably put out the same side as at Blackburn. This may well be Assou-Ekottoâ€™s last game for a while as he jets off to Angola for a bit of international tournament action. He leaves behind Sebastien Bassong which is great news for us as covering the centre half position would be a lot trickier than left back where Gareth Bale will be hoping that Cameroon go all the way in the African Cup of Nations.
We still have three midfielders on four yellow cards. If Jenas, Huddlestone or Palacios gets booked against Fulham will they miss the West Ham or Peterborough? I think itâ€™s the FA Cup game as the suspension doesnâ€™t kick in for a week though I might be wrong. The ref is scheduled to be Steve Bennett; heâ€™s yet to control any of our games this season so thisâ€™ll be a nice Christmas present for him.
Iâ€™ve heard people say that theyâ€™d take a point from this game if offered. But do we really think we canâ€™t score against Fulham and keep out Bobby Zamora & Damien Duff? Itâ€™s going to be a tough game undoubtedly, but they all are these days. Lennon will be up against Konchesky and the form heâ€™s in we should be confident of making enough chances to give ourselves every opportunity of getting a positive result.Â
Paddy Power: Niko Kranjcar to score and Tottenham to win the match – 13/2
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