Though at 70 minutes it looked as if it were going to be a Clunky Trifecta. Kieran Trippier and Mousa Dembele had other ideas. First, credit the manager. Whether Kane deserved the penalty or not, and I’d say the evidence leaned toward yes, I like the fact that he let Anthony Taylor know in no uncertain terms that his player deserved the spot kick. Second, his substitution of Mousa Dembele for Davinson Sanchez and shift to a more traditional back four changed the game. Dembele simply bossed the midfield, and Spurs started to shred Fulham through the middle, whereas the Cottagers had developed a nice shape in thwarting Spurs many runs down the wings prior to Dembele’s insertion, mostly down the right with Kieran Trippier.
As for the goals, Lucas (MOTM) missed those two golden chances early, the header with half the net gaping and then the heavy touch when he should have had Fabri at his mercy. No matter—he scored on a brilliant curler on a ball set up by a Trippier thrust. England’s World Cup hero pushed Christian Eriksen aside—figuratively, of course—and put a perfect strike to the keeper’s right. The final goal was a thing of beauty. Ryan Sessegnon had proved quite difficult to contain on the left, with Jan Vertonghen particularly challenged to keep up. Fulham’s goal had come in part because of his marauding, breaking free to slot a cross from the other wing in to a prone Mitrovic for a simple if strange headed finish. Now the visitors hoping to equalize again, Dembele simply bossed the young sensation off the ball deep in our end, won control, sent it up to Erik Lamela who made a brilliant run down the middle found Kane, and what August hoodoo? A nicely curled ball just inside the right post and that was that.
Welcome back Toby and somehow I think Poch’s decision to keep you on the pitch when he shifted formation suggests that you are going nowhere anytime soon. The same for Mousa who was simply brilliant in his half-hour. Lloris made two exceptional saves in the first half after Fulham had found their legs to keep the game scoreless—he appears to have found another level from the summer’s success. Vertonghen and Sanchez were generally strong though again Sessegnon was causing problems but they won’t be alone in that way this season. Dele had another exceptional game, occasionally missing with his flicks but pressing and causing problems for Fulham throughout. Kane was again a bit slow off the mark but got into the game, nearly scoring from Tripper’s cross in the second half before the goal finally came. Dier was somewhat anonymous but made no real errors—same for Davies. Christian Eriksen, it must be said, had a fright of a game. He came close on the one free kick, but he was over the bar twice in good position, slow to the ball a couple of other times, and generally fairly wasteful. And yet in the end it mattered nowt. Lucas was active in both directions in his best game as a Spur—when you see that type of effort the failure to add a Grealish or a Zaha starts to recede a bit in the distance.
Credit to Fulham for their goal. Spurs pressed them all over the field, and after a half-dozen or more passes they got the ball down the left for the cross that found Sessegnon and then to their striker for an easy conversion. If they play like that relegation will not be an issue. We must unfortunately get used to Wembley for at least three more games, it seems—next weekend at Old Trafford may tell a lot about just how the club’s ambitions can go this season. DeBruyne’s injury is not so simply for the holders to brush off, no matter how much talent they possess.
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