Match preview: Fulham v Tottenham Hotspur

Fulham v Tottenham Hotspur
Fulham. Tottenham. Another day, another London derby match between two attacking teams hungry for points, but for whom?

Tottenham Hotspur make a short journey to the center of town where they will face off against Fulham FC. Their opponent is led by an old Tottenham fan favorite “Big” Martin Jol, who was controversially sacked after leading Tottenham to back-to-back 5th place finishes a few seasons ago. Fulham for their part enter this match on a terrible run of form that has seen them draw one and lose four of their past five league matches. Tottenham themselves enter having won two on the trot in the league. However, having lost previous three matches, Tottenham will look to continue their ascent up the table with a win while Fulham try to continue to stabilize their form following a spirited draw against a superior Chelsea team this past Wednesday.

Team news

Spurs

Spurs go into Saturday’s match still without the services of Emmanuel Adebayor (suspension), Scott Parker (long-term injury), Benoit Assou-Ekotto (long-term injury), and Younes Kaboul (long-term injury). Steven Caulker returns to fitness following an illness which prevented him from participating in the victory over Liverpool. His inclusion raises questions as to whether or not William Gallas will be replaced in the starting line-up following popular criticism of his performance against Liverpool midweek.

Fulham

Fulham go into this match again dealing with key injuries. Though cultured forward Dimitar Berbatov remains to lead the attack, his service from midfield will likely be limited as Bryan Ruiz (long-term injury), Alexander Kacalinic (long-term injury) and Simon Davies (long-term injury) all remain on the treatment table. Defensive bulwark and Fulham captain Brede Hangeland will also miss the match through suspension.

Head-to-head

  • This will be the 23rd premiership meeting between Tottenham Hotspur FC and Fulham FC.
  • The last away game between the two resulted in a 3-1 victory for Tottenham, with Jermain Defoe and Aaron Lennon getting on the score sheet alongside own-goals from Younes Kaboul and Chris Baird.
  • Fulham have lost their last five consecutive league matches against Tottenham.

KickOff Stats

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Run-in

  • Fulham have scored in each of their past six home matches.
  • Spurs have not kept a clean sheet in each of their past six away matches.
  • Spurs have averaged exactly 2 goals in their last six away matches while Fulham have averaged 2 and 1/3rd goals in their last six home matches.

Fulham v Tottenham Hotspur run-in

Goals

  • Fulham have only lost 25% of their last 20 home matches.
  • Tottenham have only won 35% of their last 20 away matches.
  • Tottenham have collected a clean sheet in 20% of their past 20 away matches while Fulham have managed a clean sheet at home in only 25% of their past 20 matches.

Fulham v Tottenham Hotspur goals

Scoreline

  • Judging by the numbers, there is an equal chance outcome for either side in this game, with the numbers showing Fulham slightly more likely to claim three points (39% to THFC’s 33%)
  • There is at least a 17% chance of 4 goals or more being scored in this game.
  • The numbers show that Fulham has about a 30% chance of keeping a clean-sheet. I believe that the strength of Fulham’s opponents has skewed this number slightly higher than it ought to be and that Fulham will find it considerably harder than that to keep a clean sheet against Tottenham, especially when looking at the injury report and the team’s current form, respectively.

Fulham v Tottenham Hotspur probability full-time result

First goalscorer

  • Bale is most likely to score first for Tottenham, followed closely by Defoe.
  • Mladen Petric is most likely to score first for Fulham, followed closely by Dimitar Berbatov.
  • Fulham has a poor record of letting in own-goals against Tottenham.

Fulham v Tottenham Hotspur probability first goalscorer

Total Tottenham prediction

With both sides at full-strength, I’d have given Fulham a bit more of a chance to get something out of this game. However, missing two key attackers (Ruiz and Kacaliknic) and their captain, Hangeland, I think they will have problems finding meaningful outlets against Tottenham ever-improving high-press. Worse yet, without Hangeland, they will struggle to provide size enough to counter Tottenham’s physicality in set-pieces, not even mentioning Gareth Bale’s recent prowess with free kicks.

Fulham will have the benefit of playing at home, and with a manager in Martin Jol, that recruited and/or managed much of Tottenham’s current squad, and is correspondingly  familiar with their strengths and weaknesses. If Fulham pack the middle with a five man midfield, they will struggle to make meaningful forays into Tottenham’s final third and will likely be looking to play for the draw. However, if they play a more open game through the middle, Tottenham could very well run over them with Dembele’s ability to beat his man and run into space. Additionally, though Reither and Riise are capable fullbacks, neither has the combination of pace or class to deal with either Lennon or Bale, something that Tottenham will again look to exploit in search of goals.

Unfortunately, I don’t think that Fulham will have enough skill to overcome the gap in athletic class between them and Tottenham. There will be a few dangerous situations and perhaps even a moment of madness enough to see Fulham pick up a scrappy goal, but, they will face too uphill of a battle against a squad that eclipses them in both athleticism and technical skill. Barring a legendary performance from Dimitar Berbatov against his old club, I can only see Tottenham winning this one by a scoreline of 1-3.

About

Kevin has been with TT since the beginning. He lives in Brooklyn, NY.

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