WEDNESDAY 13TH JANUARY, 2021
TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR 1(1) FULHAM 1(0)
Referee:- Paul Tierney
Assistants:- Lee Betts, Harry Lennard
Fourth official:- Chris Kavanagh
VAR:- Craig Pawson
Assistant VAR:- Stephen Child.
Spurs (4-2-3-1):- Lloris (Capt.); Aurier, Sanchez, Dier, Reguilon; Hojbjerg, Winks (sub Lamela, 75); Sissoko, Ndombele (sub Vinicius, 81), Son; Kane
Subs not used:- Hart; Doherty, Alderweireld, Davies; Dele, Bale, Lucas Moura
Booked:- Hojbjerg (foul on Loftus-Cheek)
Fulham (3-5-2):- Areola; Aina, Andersen (Capt.), Adarabioyo; Tete (sub Lookman, 67), Loftus-Cheek (sub Onomah, 90+1), Reed, Anguissa, Robinson; De Cordova-Reid, Cavaleiro (sub Kamara, 86)
Subs not used:- Rodak; Hector, Ream, Kongolo, Bryan; Kebano
Booked:- Anguissa (encroachment), Andersen (Time-wasting)
The draw was the least that Fulham deserved.
Let's be honest. The draw was the least that Fulham deserved. Although goalkeeper Areola had a couple of very good first half saves and we hit the post in the second half, the fact is we decided to try and sit on our one-goal lead. For a so-called ill-prepared side, Scott Parker's Fulham played their hearts out, played well, and got their reward.
Our super goal scored by Harry Kane is buried deep beneath thoughts on an unsatisfactory team selection with Sissoko playing out of position on the right of midfield and a failure to seek to build upon our lead.
We are now six points behind the league leaders, and in sixth place. Thoughts of a tilt at the league title are diminishing fast.
This game was arranged at short notice after our scheduled trip to Villa Park was called off. Scott Parker protested greatly at the lack of time in which to prepare his squad for the match. Fulham had played (and won) their FA Cup game at QPR last Saturday, but because of the Coronavirus pandemic they had not played a league game since Boxing Day. As I wrote in my preview, Fulham’s form has steadily been improving of late, and they had given Liverpool a scare a month ago today. They were missing Mitrovic and Cairney from their squad, but Mitrovic has not been starting many league games anyway. Ademola Lookman, who has impressed all season, was on the bench and after he came on played well, and assisted Fulham’s equaliser.
Let’s be clear, Jose Mourinho chose a cautious set-up, starting with Sissoko on the right side of midfield. His best position is next to Hojbjerg. If I know that, and we all know that, why did he play in a position where he consistently under-performs? Well, of course, it was because of his defensive qualities, and that is why he and neither Bale or Lucas Moura started. Bergwijn was absent altogether. Davinson Sanchez was presumably preferred over Alderweireld for his pace.
Fulham kicked off and played towards the South Stand. They had a free kick after one minute which was floated into the Spurs area. Cavaleiro had a somewhat involuntary attempt on target and Lloris held comfortably. The visitors soon threatened again, this time down the left flank with left wing-back Robinson getting in front of Cavaleiro who was on the outside. The ball was crossed and Spurs cleared, but not with ease.
Spurs responded after a foul on Ndombele and a quickly taken free kick passed to Son, who fed the ball to Aurier on the right. Reguilon was in the middle to meet the cross but his shot was well over the target. Fulham won a corner after a weak shot by Robinson took a deflection off Aurier. Spurs cleared this one comfortably.
Eric Dier went down when making a challenge to concede another corner, but carried on and recovered. After a pass from Loftus-Cheek (on loan from Chelsea), Anguissa hit a left-footed shot which Lloris pushed away. Again Ndombele was at the heart of Spurs’ response threading a good ball forward to Harry Kane just right of centre in the box, but Fulham cleared. Ndombele impressed a lot in the first half, with his usual close control at close quarters, but sometimes I would have liked to see him (and team-mates) make more simple and less extravagant attempted passes. “Sonny” failed to deliver the ball a few too many times for my liking.
After 17 minutes Ndombele fed the ball quickly out to Aurier who crossed from the right. Son met this at the near post and hit a well-placed shot, but Areola saved well to his left. Dier took a Spurs free kick which was blocked by the Fulham wall. Ndombele took possession but fired well over. Now Harry Winks was down whilst Fulham played forward, but he too got up and carried on. Referee Paul Tierney was allowing a little old-style physicality and the game generally flowed and would have entertained the non-partisan observers and of course Fulham fans. As for this observer, nine times out of ten, especially with a one-goal lead, I feel twitchy watching my team.
After 23 minutes Ndombele crossed from the left of the area and Son heded powerfully towards goal. The Fulham keeper saved impressively to his left and in a follow-up play Winks had a shot blocked just inside the area. Within two minutes Spurs had the lead through a highly impressive goal. Hojbjerg hit a long ball from deep inside the Spurs half, reaching Reguilon who was racing forward. Reguilon hit an impeccable cross which was converted by Harry Kane with a superbly placed diving header inside Areola’s left post. It wasn’t long before Harry was defending well from Fulham corners at the other end.
Harry had another chance to score following the Ndombele-Aurier combination but Harry headed his chance over the goal. At the other end Loftus-Cheek passed outside to Tete who returned the compliment before the Chelsea man hit his shot just wide of Lloris’s right post. Ndombele passed to Kane who crossed from the right of the area. It was Hojbjerg’s chance in the middle of the area, but his shot was soft and easy to the keeper. Another shot by Anguissa was easy for Lloris. Reguilon out-paced Decordova-Reid and defended well outside the Spurs area.
Spurs had had good chances and Areola made two very good saves, whilst Hugo Lloris had not been stretched.
I thought perhaps Sissoko would be replaced at half-time, but in fairness to him he was first to show for Tottenham, using all his strength and power to get into the Fulham box only for Adarabioyo to tackle and clear very well. Another player might have pulled the trigger earlier. Tete was found in space outside the Spurs Reguilon, but hit the side netting with his shot.
A corner by Son was punched clear by Areola and subsequently Harry Winks hit a curling right-footed shot which the keeper saved just inside his left post, conceding another corner. After this and another corner, Winks found Sissoko but his shot was held. Hojbjerg conceded a free kick in dangerous territory but Decordova-Reid’s shot hit the wall. Tete hit another weak shot when he again found space outside Reguilon. Tete was replaced by Lookman, who played towards the left side. Decordova-Reid took over at right wing-back. Aurier committed a needless foul on Lookman 28 yards out, but the free kick was cleared.
Loftus-Cheek fed the ball to Lookman who tried to cross from the left, but Sanchez cleared this effort. At last a Spurs attack came, on the break of course, and Ndombele advanced before sending "Sonny" clear on the left. Son hit a right foot shot that had Areola stranded, but the keeper was able to pick up the ball when it rebounded off the post.
Spurs paid for their profligacy in the 74th minute. Lookman got around Sanchez on the edge of the area and lifted a good cross which Cavaleiro headed past Lloris’s left hand into the net. Amazon Prime’s “Virtual Fulham crowd” had been far too loud throughout the game, and this goal was scored at the away end and would have made the real fans very happy indeed.
Mourinho took off Winks for Lamela, with Sissoko reverting to his traditional position, but Lamela had little impact to be honest. Lloris saved from Loftus-Cheek after another piece of good work by Lookman. A tiring Ndombele was replaced by Vinicius, but he hardly got a touch – if at all. Dier brought the ball forward and passed to Reguilon whose cross was headed wide by Son.
Kamara replaced Cavaleiro and in no time he was in space down the right crossing to Robinson whose shot was blocked and looped safely into Lloris’s arms. Hojbjerg passed to son on the left and Reguilon had the ball in the net from the cross, but he had been well offside. That was the last chance for Spurs and Fulham safely negotiated the four minutes of added time, even offering a late threat with a corner.
Next up for Spurs is a trip to Bramall Lane against “The Blades” who actually won a game last night. We lost last summer and haven’t won away to Sheffield United since a league cup game in 1990. Here’s hoping!
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