Fulham and Tottenham meet on Wednesday night at Craven Cottage as both clubs are currently struggling to meet this season’s expectations.
A run of 5 straight defeats in the Premier League saw Fulham drop into the bottom 3 and Martin Jol replaced by Rene Meulensteen in this season’s most unsurprising managerial change. The former Manchester United coach will have his work cut out though after the defeat against West Ham saw another lacklustre performance.
In the Tottenham dugout, Andre Villas-Boas has been under pressure after a run of 4 league matches without a victory and a mauling away to Manchester City. Problems with the media have taken centre stage in the aftermath of Sunday’s post-match press conference, but the main focus will continue to be Tottenham’s struggling attack.
Somewhat unsurprisingly, picking a key player for Fulham after their recent run of form was rather difficult. One that did stand out (not hard) though was Fernando Amorebieta, who signed on a free in the summer from Athletic Bilbao.
The Venezuela international has made the most clearances (82) and the most headed clearances (56) for Fulham despite not making his debut until 14th September. The strong aerial ability of Amorebieta will not help Tottenham’s attacking woes and a strong performance will needed after a poor showing against a normally goal-shy West Ham.
The Belgian midfielder has been in and out of the side in recent weeks as Villas-Boas tries to find his best team, but the slow tempo Fulham have been playing at this season gives the advantage to Dembele and his dribbling ability. This campaign Dembele has dribbled past an opponent on 30 occasions, only Townsend (54) has done so more for Spurs, and if the midfielder can utilise this to effect against a declining Scott Parker he will reap the rewards.
Whether he will operate in a deeper role he has occupied since joining Tottenham will determine how many chances he creates, but with a passing accuracy of 90% – Spurs’ joint best – playing behind the striker could help Soldado who likes the ball to be played between the centre backs. Interesting enough whilst offering creativity going forward, Dembele has completed the most tackles (29) for Tottenham this season.
Fulham have scored 1 goal in every home league game this season.
Fulham have the joint worse defensive record – shared with Sunderland – this season with 24 goals conceded.
Tottenham have won on their last 3 visits to Craven Cottage, scoring 8 goals and only conceding 2 in the process.
In a poor November for both sides, Tottenham and Fulham have failed to win and scored only 4 goals between them. To make matters even worse, they conceded 23 goals collectively – Fulham inputting 14 goals to that total.
Berbatov and Hangeland could return to the Fulham starting XI after suffering from illness and a back injury respesctively. Still out for the Cottagers though is Rodallega and Briggs, who aren’t set to return until just before Christmas.
Tottenham have no new injury concerns, but Danny Rose and Eriksen (foot) are out for a couple more weeks and the game comes too soon for Adebayor who could be back for the weekend.
Fulham are in desperate need to replace the deadwood in their side with some new and fresh faces in January, until then they could continue to struggle despite the change in manager. A decent performance against Manchester United will give hope to Tottenham that their fortune is starting to change. While it may be frustrating for Spurs fans to watch, the North London club will easily secure all 3 points.