Tottenham welcome Fulham to Wembley for their first home match of the Premier League season. The club have had to delay the opening of their new stadium and they will continue to play their home matches at the national stadium for the foreseeable future. That has meet met with disappointment among supporters, but the club must now focus on the games ahead. It will be a difficult game on Saturday, as Fulham have recruited well during the summer and have nothing to lose on Saturday.
The summer has been a frustrating one for Mauricio Pochettino and the supporters. They were the only Premier League side not to make a single signing in the transfer window and that has increased the pressure on the players already at the club. The Argentine coach will be pleased that he managed to keep his star players, but there is a genuine feeling that they have missed an opportunity to strengthen. During the opening weekend, they recorded a good away victory over Newcastle United, but it was far from convincing. A better showing will be expected against Fulham.
There is now an expectation that Fulham will steer clear of relegation during their first season back in the Premier League due to the money they spent in the transfer window. They were ambitious and brought in the likes of Jean Michael Seri, Andre Schurrle, Alfie Mawson and plenty of others. However, they were given a wake-up call last weekend as they were turned over at Craven Cottage by Crystal Palace. It will take them time to adjust to the top-flight and those expecting immediate results have now seen the need for patience.
- Fulham have won only 25 of their 119 London derbies in the Premier League. A win percentage of 21% is the lowest of any London club in the competition.
- Tottenham have never lost a Premier League game in which Dele Alli has found the back of the net. He has scored in 32 matches. Spurs have won 26 and drawn six.
The Danish international has emerged as one of the best midfielders in Europe during the last couple of seasons and he will be aiming to improve his performances again this season. Tottenham have built the system to go through Eriksen and he is central to their style of play. Last season, he got ten goals and ten assists for the first time in the Premier League, which is the landmark that all attacking midfielders look to reach. Against Newcastle, the 26-year-old had some nice contributions without ever reaching the level that we know he can reach. He will be determined to deliver a better performance against Fulham.
The biggest coup of the summer for Fulham was Jean Michael Seri. The midfielder had been linked with the likes of Arsenal, Tottenham and Barcelona among others in the past, but the Cottagers managed to bring him to Craven Cottage. It was a surprise and one that underlines the ambition being shown by the newly-promoted club. Despite the team’s opening day defeat, Seri stood out against Crystal Palace and immediately stood out as one of the better players on the pitch. He made six tackles and four interceptions as he dominated in the centre of the park. Meanwhile, his pass accuracy of 89% underlines his composure on the ball. He could be one of the success stories of the season.
Son Heung-min won’t be available for the home side as he is away on international duty. Toby Alderweireld and Mousa Dembele are both pushing for starts, while Kieran Trippier is back in contention. Harry Kane is still searching for a Premier League goal in August.
Denis Odoi is suspended for the visitors after he was sent off in the play-off final last season. Tim Ream is not expected to be fit, while Alfie Mawson is unlikely to play until next month. Joe Bryan could be fit to start, despite picking up a knock last weekend.
This is going to be a big test for both teams. Tottenham are going to be expected to win, but they are coming up against a talented Fulham team with nothing to lose. Meanwhile, it will provide a good indication of how good the visitors can be this season. It will be an entertaining game with both teams trying to play good football and there will be goals. The home side should have the quality and experience to earn the three points, but it won’t be easy.
Tottenham 2-1 Fulham