Writer: Andrew Joyce
Date:Friday October 15 2010
Our season has started well; we`re sitting pretty in the top half of the table whilst also remaining unbeaten. Okay we may have only won once but you can`t knock an unbeaten Premier League run of seven games can you? This weekend Spurs visit Craven Cottage and you get the impression this fixture will provide the stiffest test when it comes to retaining that unbeaten record. Nevertheless it promises to be an enthralling affair.
Our unbeaten run may look good on paper but regularly earning a single point instead of three doesn`t always bode well. If we take the unlikely scenario that we were to draw all our games we`d still be adrift of the theoretical forty-point mark that guarantees safety in the Premier League.
Having participated in the Europa League, and having reached the final, it`d be great to taste such success again, but survival in this hardest of leagues is always going to be our priority and those are the thoughts echoed by Aaron Hughes ahead of this game who when asked about European qualification, remarked,
"It would be great if we could do that but first we must secure our Premier League status. The sooner we get to safety the better.`
Simon Davies has also aired his views ahead of the game remarking,
"We look a really dangerous team and it has been a shame that we have not gone on and won a couple of more games."
Perhaps Saturday will see that particular trend start to be reversed!
Mark Hughes will, once again, be forced to juggle with his striking options. Bobbby Zamora, Andrew Johnson and Moussa Dembele are all ruled out through injury, although the latter two are rumoured to be not too far away from being in contention for a squad place. We suspect that Clint Dempsey will play up front alongside Eddie Johnson.
Providing nobody reports back from international duty with an injury, the rest of the side pretty much picks itself although it would be great to see David Stockdale back on the bench having recovered form an ankle injury that appears to be lingering on.
The American rose to the challenge in our last fixture, at Upton Park, and showed that although primarily classified as a midfield player he can play up front with some aplomb. His goal was top-notch when it comes to quality and he`ll be keen to get in amongst a Spurs defence that could be lacking several key members.
Harry Redknapp brings his Spurs squads to Craven Cottage knowing that a Champions League fixture against the current holders, AC Milan, beckons in midweek. Could this influence Harry`s selection policy for this fixture? Could Spurs be dreaming of reaching the knockout stages of the Champions league aided by a smash and grab raid in Milan?
As far as we can make out, Harry has a few injury problems to consider. Michael Dawson and Jermaine Defoe are both ruled out after collecting knocks whilst on international duty, although I hasten to say these injuries were not picked up in the latest match against Montenegro but the friendly international before that. There could also be doubts about Aaron Lennon who withdrew from the fixture against Montenegro with an injury problem.
Harry is also hoping to have back his defenders Kaboul and Gallas after injury but will be ruing the absence of King who, once again, is injured.
Harry pulled off a masterstroke when he signed this Dutchman, especially at the knockdown price he paid. Van der Vaart has wasted very little time in adapting to the English game and has already provided several man-of-the-match performances. If Fulham let him play his natural game he`ll dictate the pattern of play and we could be in trouble!
Mark Hughes will be looking for revenge over Spurs as Spurs are the only side that have beaten him in his last 19 Premier League games as a manager (City and Fulham).
In the league Fulham and Spurs have met 73 times with Spur shaving a heavy advantage winning 35 times compared to our 11 with a further 26 having been drawn.
Time to redress the balance we think!
Mike Dean is our referee in charge with the assistants being Simon Beck and Martin Yerby with Andre Marriner patrolling the technical area.
Six draws and one victory have left us unbeaten. Spurs will provide our hardest test so far this season. But it`s not a test we should fear. Spurs may well have their eye on other tasks and with a Fulham side buoyed by the inclusion of two former Spurs players in the shape of Simon Davies and Danny Murphy, we could have two players keen to prove a point to previous employers. We`ll stick our heads above the parapet and go for a Fulham win but by the narrowest of margins, 1-0!
We`re back on the road next week desperate to end our sorry run of Premier League away games without a win. Perhaps a trip to West Bromwich Albion will see that run end!
Date:Friday October 15 2010
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