Looking Forward



Premier League

Monday 24th February 2003

Having beaten WBA 3-0 on Wednesday, Fulham will be on a high, although they were at risk of losing out to the lowly Midlands side, who created some good chances.  It took a burst of three goals in five minutes to overcome the Baggies and pull the Cottagers away from the dreaded relegation battle.

The reason they are near that particular end of the table is that they have had problems scoring.  Louis Saha has been injured, while Steve Marlet has been a bit hit and miss with the spectre of the payment of his transfer fee hanging over him.  Luis Boa Morte is not a heavy scorer (and is out injured anyway), while Sava has scored five league goals, but they have been in clumps rather than spread out across a number of games.  The main threat could come from Steed Malbranque, who is forcing his way forward from midfield to get among the scorers.  It's the case that some of his goals are from the penalty spot, but he can steal in to get on the end of balls into the box that his strikers seem unable to !! 

The defence has been reasonably tight, but not enough to allow the few goals scored to be enough to win matches.  The transfer of Rufus Brevett behind Tigana's back was an odd one, but you sense that the upper management wanted to cash in on him before he left on a free.  Steve Finnan is highly rated, but has had a quiet season after rumours that he might join Man U to take over from Denis Irwin last season.  With Alain Goma and Zat Knight injured and Andrew Melville suspended for the match, so the middle of the defence will comprise of Martin Djetou, who is on loan from Monaco until the end of the season and Ouaddou, the African purchase.  This might allow Spurs some joy in that they will have to play to feet and beat the Fulham central defenders on the floor.  With Sheringham the only recognised forward fit, the likelihood that Etherington will accompany him in attack and therefore, the pace of Matty could expose the visitors defence.  Cameroon international Pierre Wome will probably feature on the other flank and has a tremendous shot, as shown from a free-kick against WBA, despite former Chelsea defender Jon Harley being fit again and pushing for a place in the starting line-up.  Maik Taylor has taken the gloves in place of the injured Edwin van der Sar and is a good shot stopper, but can be prone to misjudge his angles.

The midfield will be added to by Inamoto, Davis and Legwinski.  Frenchman Legwinski has provided an energetic presence in that area of the pitch, but his finishing has been suspect, except against us earlier in the season of course !! Inamoto also scored in that match and our own midfield must not allow the runners from Fulham's midfield get way from them.  The Japanese midfielder works hard, but is not really creative and the defensive side of his game s suspect too, so Spurs might be able to capitalise on the weaknesses of him and his team-mates to break from midfield themselves.  Sean Davis is being hailed as the next great thing in midfield for England, but he appears to be a lesser version of Frank Lampard.  He is strong in the tackle and finishes reasonably well, but he fails to get the pulse racing.

Fulham have an FA Cup replay on Wednesday, so will have half a mind on that match.  Tottenham are free of such concerns now, but will need to support Teddy from midfield if they are to threaten Fulham and keep up their presence in the top echelons of the Premiership.  However, they should have enough power and goalscoring ability from midfield, as they showed against Sunderland, to produce a win ... 

PREDICTION : -   Tottenham  2    Fulham  0

For more information on the opponents and their history, including full result history of matches between the two teams, click here.



Tottenham  1   Fulham  1                        (Half-time score : 1-1)
Premier League
Monday 24th February 2003
Venue : -  White Hart Lane
Kick Off : -  20.00 p.m.
Weather : -  Clear, chilly
Referee : -  G. Barber (Herts.)
Crowd : -  34,704
Teams : -  
Tottenham : -  Keller; Richards, King, Taricco; Carr, Bunjevcevic, Anderton, Poyet (Acimovic 35 [Etherington 83]), Davies; Sheringham, Doherty
Unused subs: Sullivan, Thatcher, Toda

Fulham : -  Taylor, Finnan, Ouaddou, Djetou (Knight 12), Wome; Boa Morte, Malbranque, Legwinski, Davis; Marlet (Saha 18), Sava (Herrera 41)
Unused subs: Inamoto, Harley

Colours : -  
Tottenham  -  White shirts with navy blue trim, Navy blue shorts, white socks with navy blue turnover

Fulham  -  Black shirts with white trim, white shorts with black trim, black socks with whit turnover

Scorers : -  
Tottenham  -  Sheringham (pen) 41

Fulham  -  King (o.g.) 16

Cards : -  
Tottenham  - Richards (foul) 61, Anderton (foul) 70, Anderton (second yellow - foul) 74

Fulham - Taylor (professional foul) 39, Wome (foul) 55, Boa Morte (dissent) 84

Despite the controversy of the refereeing in this match, it was a month's worth of inactivity rather than that shown by some of the players in this game that cost Spurs another two points in their quest for Europe.

Two players left the pitch early because the ref showed red cards and three left early through injury.  Two for Fulham and one for Spurs.  While two changes for the visitors was not ideal, especially when the third change before half-time was a substitute goalkeeper to replace the banished Taylor, the change that Spurs had to make probably cost them more than those of the Cottagers.  Losing Poyet was one thing that we didn't want to happen, as his performance against Sunderland showed he can provide an alternative moving through from midfield to the front when we are short in that department.  The two changes that many of the crowd would have liked to see didn't come about, with both Toda and Inamoto staying on the bench in this unusual London Derby.  The invasion of Japanese fans looks like it might have come to stay.

The game itself was dominated by the sending off of Maik Taylor five minutes before half time.  Richards strode out of defence with the ball and passed through the middle of the team to Simon Davies, who wriggled past his man and into the box.  Taylor came out to meet him and Davies elected to go around him, with the ball being pushed goalwards, but slightly wide.  The next thing he tumbled in a heap and the official was brandishing the red card for the keeper.  At half-time on the Jumbotron replay looked like he brought Davies down.  Now if he got the ball and then prevented a goalscoring opportunity, it is still a penalty and should be a sending off.  If he didn't get the ball then the same applies.  So where's the beef ??

Sheringham stuck the ball past the sub goalie, who picked it out of the net for his first touch.  It was not looking like Spurs would score and this gave them a way back into the match.  Two early Sheringham headers were not good enough to help Spurs as one went well wide when unmarked and the other lacked sufficient direction to trouble Taylor.  He tried an outrageous volley from about 25 yards later, but that too was well off target.  But Spurs were already chasing the game from a goal just after the quarter of an hour, when a break on the left wing saw Boa Morte cut in and cross the ball into the six yard box, where it hit Ledley King and squirt past Keller.  Ledley almost got Tottenham back in it, when a cross from Anderton was looped up into the air by a header and King got on the end of it with his head.  Taylor showed great agility in pushing the ball onto a post to deny the Spurs defender.

Anderton tried his luck from about 30 yards with a firmly struck shot that made Taylor reach to touch it over the top.  The referee seemed unwilling to give Spurs many decisions, perhaps because Teddy had a running battle with him about an advantage that wasn't played and then a quick free-kick which was brought back, allowing the Fulham defence to reassemble.

The second half was a peculiar one.  Spurs, with the extra man, started sluggishly, save for Bunjy's pass that put Carr away on the right.  The Irishman's cross found Acimovic, but his downward header was never going to beat Herrera.  The next time Stephen was in that position and found Milenko, it produced an incredible miss, as the Slovenian hit the ball into the ground and it bounced over off the top of the crossbar.  He did almost make amends later when he turned on a bouncing ball and hit a shot that rocketed just over the top.

Too often Spurs were trying to be too clever with the ball and this presented it to Fulham, allowing them to break away and break up the game by getting free-kicks on a regular basis.  Two in quick succession against Anderton drew two yellow cards, which meant a red for the first time in his career.  This will deprive Spurs of his services, but a couple of minutes afterwards, they were almost deprived of a point, when Louis Saha hit a stormer of a shot that cannoned back off the bar.  There only remained an effort from Ted's head that was hacked out by Finnan before the ref blew the whistle on a disappointing showing by the team.

One moment that summed up the loss of Keane and even Iversen, was in the first half.  Anderton drilled in a free-kick from wide on the left wing in Doherty's direction.  The ball bounced away off his shins.  There was no anticipation and that indicated to me that any half-chance that came his way might end up the same way.  Without a forward, we look very ordinary and the system did not allow players to get forward quick enough to support the front men.  that and the way Spurs gave the ball away so readily meant that we would be more heavily punished against better teams than Fulham.  I hope Tottenham learn from their mistakes.






Is this what we have progressed to in a year (and a bit).  Last December we played Fulham off the pitch in a dazzling 4-0 win and this season, we struggle to hold them 1-1 after playing 35 minutes with one man more than them !!

For all the possession we had, we could not create enough chances to seriously threaten their goal and in the end, it was only Keller's fingertips that kept Saha's shot from going in, instead it hit the bar and bounced out.  Admittedly, Spurs also hit the woodwork twice - Taylor doing magnificently to tip Ledley King's header against the post and then Stephen Carr's low cross evaded everyone and landed at Acimovic's feet, but with the goal gaping in front of him, managed to hit his shot into the ground and up onto the bar and over.

It would have been unfair on Fulham really.  They didn't really cause much of a problem, but always looked like they might break away and score.  If only Boa Morte had stayed on his feet more often, they might have nicked it.  But like the Portuguese player, the ref fell for it every time someone went in to tackle him.  There were five yellow cards and a red, which might make you think it was a dirty match, but it was anything but.  It was just Barber missed the things he should have seen and the decisions he did give just angered the crowd and the players in the inconsistency of his awards.

Tottenham always looked like struggling to score.  Anderton's first half drive was touched over by Taylor, Doherty had a header on target in the second half and Acimovic nearly made up for his miss with an instinctive drive from the edge of the box that dipped just a little too late.  But apart from that the substitute goalkeeper had a quiet night.  And he was the substitute goalkeeper because Taylor had been sent off in the 39th minute for bringing down Simon Davies in the box.  The Video screens showed him saying "I touched the ball", but the coverage that followed didn't seem to indicate that.  Teddy stuck the spot-kick away, just when it seemed Spurs would never score.

That goal was the equaliser, as Luis Boa Morte had got away down the left and played the ball back into the middle, but it came off Ledley and diverted past Keller.  There was little other action in Keller's box for the rest of the half, even though both teams were putting pretty passing moves together, without any end product.

And then in the second half, Darren Anderton joined Taylor in leaving the field prematurely, as he received two yellow cards in quick succession to see red and leave it at 10 v 10.  The second of his cautions was hash, as Saha ran across him, but the way that Barber seemed to have it in for Tottenham, meant that any opportunity to balance the sides was grabbed with both hands.  FUlham defended well, but broke away and had a chance to win, when Saha battered the ball against the crossbar, with Keller just managing to get something on it, otherwise it might have gone in.

With Fulham suffering a couple of early injuries and with an FA Cup replay coming up 48 hours later, you would have thought that Spurs could have made the pressure tell, but it wasn't to be.  Another two points slipped away for Spurs and Fulham were grateful for the one they took back to Loftus Road.  It is a shame that so few Cottagers fans could make the journey, leaving their section of the ground as the only one not full.  maybe they need to look at themselves before criticising the chairman for moving out of their spiritual home.

Stan Chun



Other scores this weekend :
Birmingham City 2 Liverpool 1 Sunday
Bolton Wanderers 1 Manchester United 1 Saturday
Charlton Athletic 3 Aston Villa 0 Saturday
Chelsea 1 Blackburn Rovers 2 Saturday
Everton 2 SCBC 1 Saturday
Leeds United 0 Newcastle United 3 Saturday
Manchester City 1 Arsenal 5 Saturday
Sunderland 1 Middlesbrough 3 Saturday


1 West Ham United 2 Sunday


League Table
  P W D L F A Pts
1 Arsenal 28 18 6 4 62 30 60
2 Manchester United 28 16 7 5 45 26 54
3 Newcastle United 27 16 4 7 45 32 52
4 Chelsea 28 13 9 6 49 29 48
5 Everton 28 14 6 8 37 33 48
6 Charlton Athletic 28 13 6 9 39 34 45
7 Liverpool 28 11 10 7 39 28 43
8 TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR 28 12 7 9 41 38 43
9 SCBC 28 10 9 9 29 28 39
10 Manchester City 28 11 5 12 39 43 38
11 Blackburn Rovers 27 9 10 8 32 31 37
12 Aston Villa 28 10 5 13 31 32 35
13 Leeds United 28 10 4 14 34 37 34
14 Middlesbrough 27 9 7 11 33 31 34
15 Fulham 28 9 7 12 32 35 34
16 Birmingham City 28 7 8 13 25 41 29
17 Bolton Wanderers 28 5 11 12 31 45 26
18 West Ham United 28 5 8 15 30 53 23
19 WBA 29 5 6 17 21 43 21
20 Sunderland 28 4 7 17 19 45 19


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