A look ahead to the Fulham game

Sebastien Bassong

On Saturday afternoon Fulham become the first visitors of 2011 to White Hart Lane. The Cottagers have had a weird festive period so far cramming possibly their worst and best results of the season into the space of a few days. Losing at home to West Ham on Boxing Day put Mark Hughes under pressure, winning at Stoke on Tuesday immediately relieved him. A bit anyway.

Winning their first away game for more than a year may have given the Fulham players a taste for more of the same but if they want to experience that thrill next time out then they’re going to have to overcome a Spurs side who seemed to have discovered that winning with ten men is just as easy as with eleven. Losing a player to violent conduct in successive games has led to stylish efforts at keeping possession and hitting on the break that may have given Redknapp an idea of how to play in games against ‘bigger’ teams where we’re likely to get less of the ball and find ourselves under pressure.

In theory this game shouldn’t be one of those though we rarely find that victory over Fulham comes easy. We forced a fine 2-1 win at Craven Cottage in October but only after we’d gone behind. That was Ledley’s last game for us, he limped off just before half time.

Fulham are currently in the relegation zone, behind Birmingham on goal difference. They’ll be missing Dembele and Zamora through injury so will presumably continue with Andy Johnson on his own up front supported by Davies, Dempsey and Duff. We’ll be without the suspended Kaboul at the back which leaves Bassong and Dawson as our only fit centre half pairing. Against Newcastle Dawson showed real signs of getting back to his best form. Up front Crouch may get a go in place of Defoe after Pav’s low key effort on Tuesday.

Given the flurry of games Harry may feel like Modric, Lennon or Bale need a rest but he’ll also know the importance of getting three points and keeping pressure on the teams above us. Should Chelsea continue to falter, Man City suffer due to their sulking strikers or the Gooners carry on with a policy of not playing their best side, we want to make sure we’re in a position to take advantage. They’ll know our strengths and will no doubt take the standard option of all teams who visit Spurs these days and will try and knock us out of our rhythm and stride. Even so, if you combine the form our midfield is in with the touch and opportunism of Van der Vaart, it’s hard to see us not creating enough chances to notch another win. COYS.


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