After the war of words, Fulham did their talking on the pitch. Scott Parker and Jose Mourinho had clashed in the build-up to this quickly re-arranged fixture but it was Fulham who made their point with a thoroughly-deserved draw. They probably warranted even more.
For Tottenham this was a familiar story as they failed to take themselves into the top four. Once ahead they went ahead before, yet again, sitting back and defending, inviting Fulham on. It must be infuriating for their fans. The initiative was surrendered by Mourinho and accepted by the relegation-threatened side who were inspired once substitute Ademola Lookman came on. Mourinho had demanded an apology if Parker fielded his full-strength team – the Fulham manager can argue he did not do that until the winger arrived. What a difference he made.
Was it the lack of time to prepare? Was it just the intent to try and win the game? Was it a desire to make a point? Whatever the reason there were chances and there were mistakes. A couple of opportunities, maybe half-chances, fell to Fulham with Tosin Adarabioyo slow to react after a free-kick reached him with the ball bouncing off his shins and trickling to Hugo Lloris and then Ruben Loftus-Cheek’s shot was blocked when he had time to take it on inside the Spurs penalty area.
But then Spurs racked up opportunities. And good ones, at that. It appeared to be them against Alphonse Areola and, for a while, the Fulham goalkeeper was on top. There was a superb instinctive save as Son Heung-min met Serge Aurier’s cross at close-range and guided it goalwards with Areola blocking. Then the France international spectacularly pushed away Son’s diving header, one handed, after the Spurs forward reached Tanguy Ndombele’s cross.
Finally, though, he was beaten. Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg switched the play wonderfully out to Sergio Reguilon with a raking 40-yard pass and the left-back sent in a measured cross on the run between the Fulham central defenders with Harry Kane throwing himself to bullet a header into the net off the base of the post. Areola was stood rooted. He had no chance.
He would have had little chance, again, if Kane had kept another header down with the striker meeting Aurier’s powerful whipped cross. However he could only steer it over the bar from four yards with maybe the pace too much to control.
Just as Fulham looked like they were going to be overwhelmed they went close with Loftus-Cheek acrobatically volleying Kenny Tete’s cross from close to the penalty spot. Lloris, who had earlier punched away Andre-Frank Zambo Anguissa’s angled shot, was beaten but the ball flew narrowly wide.
There had been a hug between Mourinho and Parker prior to kick-off – not advisable at present – and a clear effort at reconciliation instigated by the former but there was inevitably tetchiness on the touchline also as both sides had penalty appeals for perceived handballs turned away. First Spurs and then Fulham while for all of Hojbjerg’s strengths he is not a finisher and when he was teed up by Kane he shot weakly at Areola. How Spurs could have done with that combination being the other way around.
Still they were in front and probably deservedly so. For all of Fulham’s organisation and fine approach play they lacked punch. And Spurs had plenty of that upfront aided by the pinpoint delivery from their full-backs and Ndombele’s ability to take the ball in midfield.
Only a last-ditch tackle by Adarabioyo halted Moussa Sissoko after he slalomed through before Areola did well to turn Harry Winks’ dipping shot from distance around the post as Spurs looked to kill off the contest.
Not that Fulham wilted. Tete blasted the ball wastefully into the side-netting when well-placed to pick out a team-mate and then Hojbjerg up-ended Loftus-Cheek right on the edge of the area as he shaped to shoot. Bobby Decordova-Reid’s free-kick hit a defensive wall which, to Fulham’s anger, was nowhere near 10 yards away. But it also summed up Fulham. They were in the game but just did not have that goal threat.
Eventually Parker turned to Lookman – Aleksandar Mitrovic was not even in the squad – and he immediately provided an impetus, drawing a foul and then forcing a sliding block with Fulham sensing there was still something to gain from the game.
As they pushed, though, Son should have ended it when Ndombele latched onto a loose pass and sent him running through. One-on-one he has been unerring this season and although his low shot beat Areola it bounced off the inside of the post and was cleared. Son held his head.
How costly would that be? Spurs soon had the answer. Lookman beat Davinson Sanchez, far too easily, down on the left wing and crossed with Eric Dier caught out on his heels and Ivan Cavaleiro rising to plant his header past Lloris. It was no less than Fulham deserved with Spurs punished for their conservative approach to the second-half (a familiar, Mourinho theme).
It was Fulham who were pushing again with Lookman dribbling from his own half before slipping the ball through to Loftus-Cheek with Lloris sliding out to divert away his shot on the edge of the six-yard area. At the final whistle Parker, understandably, could not control himself. “Yes, come on!” he screamed. The last word did certainly belong to him and Fulham. On this form they can certainly survive. Even if they had little time to prepare.
Fulham were impressive
That’s a fifth-consecutive Premier League point for Scott Parker’s side and tonight’s was very well deserved. They were so impressive in the second half. During the first 45 minutes they looked good without creating much. Then Lookman came on and they were more direct and dangerous.
Huge performance and one which Parker will be happy with and perhaps now not too fussed the match was played tonight.
Spurs looked like two different teams. In the first half they looked sharp and were worth the goal lead. Second 45 they sat back invited pressure, as they seem to do a lot and Fulham said ‘thank you’…two points dropped for Mourinho’s men.
92 mins: Spurs 1-1 Fulham
Last-minute corner for Fulham won by Kamara…
They cannot make it count and Spurs can clear their lines.
88 mins: Spurs 1-1 Fulham
Reguilon puts the ball into the back of the net from a Son cross but at least three players are offside and it’s an easy decision to rule it out…
This has been a great, end-to-end last 15 minutes.
86 mins: Spurs 1-1 Fulham
Kamara, just on, makes a huge nuisance of himself on the right before crossing, Robinson take a touch before shooting, Aurier makes a fine block and Lloris saves.
Kamara then drives at the Spurs defence again and should have played in Lookman…the subs have been brilliant tonight.
84 mins: Spurs 1-1 Fulham
Reguilon crosses for Son but he’s offside and his header is harmless.
82 mins: Spurs 1-1 Fulham
Fulham have had 15 attempts to Spurs’ 14 with four on target to the hosts’ six…that tells its own story, one which goes alone the lines of ‘Fulham are well worth a draw’…
82 mins: Spurs 1-1 Fulham
Cavaleiro and Lookman together are looking dangerous and confident. It’s anyone game now.
80 mins: Spurs 1-1 Fulham
The visitors have had 66 per cent of possession over the past five minutes and look the more likely winners…who thought they’d see me write that earlier?
Ndombele is off for Vinicius as Spurs go in search of victory.
77 mins: Spurs 1-1 Fulham
Another great chance for Fulham – Lookman (yes, him again) drives at the Spurs backline and plays in Loftus-Cheek whose shot is saved by Lloris .
Since Lookman has come on Fulham have been a different side in attack – they’ve been more direct and, as a result, more dangerous.
75 mins: Spurs 1-1 Fulham
It had been coming – Fulham, especially since Lookman came on, were looking more dangerous and direct in the final third and that fine goal was deserved.
GOOOOOOOOAAAAAAALLLLL!! Spurs 1-1 Fulham
What a goal…
Lookman, who has looked lively since his introduction, gets the ball from Robinson and plays Sanchez inside out on the left before delivering a great cross which Cavaleiro meets brilliantly with his head to give Lloris no chance.
71 mins: Spurs 1-0 Fulham
Son is played in by Ndombele and his shot hits the post…his shot wasn’t the cleanest and the Korean should have scored.
70 mins: Spurs 1-0 Fulham
Fulham are patient and work the ball to Lookman who goes wide and hits the low shot that is blocked. That’s what they need to do, Spurs are defending well, though.
68 mins: Spurs 1-0 Fulham
For all their extra height Fulham have been poor from set-pieces tonight – Cavaleiro floats a free-kick towards the box but it’s easily cleared by Spurs.
66 mins: Spurs 1-0 Fulham
Lookman, who can be dangerous, comes on for Tete. Fulham need to throw more men forward and it looks liek they are, with De Cordova-Reid moving to the right
63 mins: Spurs 1-0 Fulham
More good football from Fulham Reed, Cavaleiro and RObinson work well to force a corner, but they cannot fashion a chance from the set-piece.
61 mins: Spurs 1-0 Fulham
Fulham have seen 67 per cent of the ball over the past five minutes Again they’ve looked comfortable on the ball, but they have not really created many clearcut chances…
57 mins: Spurs 1-0 Fulham
Loftus-Cheek is boshed out of the way by Hojbjerg just outside the box…
Good position for the visitors. De Cordova-Reid hits it into the wall…
55 mins: Spurs 1-0 Fulham
Quick word on Areola – the Fulham keeper has been in fine form tonight and Amazon have just shown a stat which has him having the fourth best save percentage of any Premier League keeper this season (Nick Pope is top) and it’s not hard to see how that can be,
53 mins: Spurs 1-0 Fulham
Winks from distance forces Areola into a save – it was going in, and a good save from the Fulham keeper.
From Son’s corner Tete nearly puts the ball into his own net.
From the next corner Winks plays in Sissoko whose shot is saved by Areola.
51 mins: Spurs 1-0 Fulham
Bit of a lull in the match at the moment – a rarity. That will obviously suit the hosts more than the visitors.
49 mins: Spurs 1-0 Fulham
Tete shoots from just inside the box on the right, he hits the side netting and De Cordova-Reid is not happy with his team-mate…
48 mins: Spurs 1-0 Fulham
Tosin makes a brilliant last gaps tackle to dispossess Sissoko just as the Spurs midfielder was about to pull the trigger in the box.
Another word of warning for Fulham – they have not taken a point from a single losing position this season.
47 mins: Spurs 1-0 Fulham
Word of warning for Fulham – Spurs have only conceded two goals at home in all competitions in their past seven games.
45 mins: Spurs 1-0 Fulham
Play is under way for the second 45 of the match. Can Fulham get back into the contest? They did enough in the first half to suggest they can still get something from the game.
No need to make any citizen’s arrest so far, compared to last night Spurs’ celebration was very muted, just a series of high-fives rather than the bear hugs of Tuesday.
HALF-TIME: Spurs 1-0 Fulham
A really good game so far – the hosts deservedly ahead by dint of chances created.
Fulham keeper Areloa has made a couple of fine saves, his side has looked comfortable in possession but not created anything to really trouble Lloris.
The hosts have looked clinical and created all the good chances. Kane scored with a brilliant header and should have added another two minutes later.
1-0 is about the right score so far.
43 mins: Spurs 1-0 Fulham
Kane is taking a deep-lying position more and more and getting into the match more as a result. He plays in Aurier, who’s had a fine 45, but Fulham see the danger away.
41 mins: Spurs 1-0 Fulham
Robinson tries his luck from distance but it’s easily stopped by Lloris.
De Cordova-Reid then gets in behind the Spurs defence on the right but takes one touch too many.
39 mins: Spurs 1-0 Fulham
Kane and Son work well (don’t they always?!) as the Korean makes a great run in front of his partner in crime to create space for Hojbjerg, Kane’s pass finds the Dane who hits it first time and his shot is tame and crawls into the arms of Areola – should have done better.
37 mins: Spurs 1-0 Fulham
Sissoko is in the box and appeals for a handball against Tosin, ref waves play on and VAR doesn’t rear its head.
33 mins: Spurs 1-0 Fulham
Good chance for the visitors. Fulham work the ball to Tete on the right who delvers a fine cross towards the penalty spot which Loftus-Cheek whose shot goes just wide – one target and that was in.
29 mins: Spurs 1-0 Fulham
It should be 2-0 …
Ndombele and Aurier work well together on the right (as they have done all match) before Aurier plays in a cross to the near post which Kane heads just over….
27 mins: Spurs 1-0 Fulham
Kane had been quiet until that moment then BOOM. Fulham have played well and now need to regroup.
GOOOOOOOOAAAAALLLLL!!!! Spurs 1-0 Fulham
KANE succeeds where Son failed. A long ball is played to Reguilon who take a brilliant first touch, opens his body up and plays a ball behind the Fulham defence which Kane heads low, first time to give Areola no chance. Simply brilliant.
24 mins: Spurs 0-0 Fulham
Son header from 7 yards is goalbound but Areola leaps to his left and saves well. Son should have headed it down but great save nonetheless…
22 mins: Spurs 0-0 Fulham
We’ve hardly seen Kane and Son so far – part one of what I assume was the Fulham’s gameplan ‘keep the deadly duo quiet’ is going well so far…
19 mins: Spurs 0-0 Fulham
Dier free-kick from just by the D, hits the wall and goes for a corner. The set-piece results in a high and wide shot from Aurier.
17 mins: Spurs 0-0 Fulham
Great save by Areola. Aurier put in a low cross from the right, Son gets a touch and the Fulham keeper gets in the way. Good keeping.
14 mins: Spurs 0-0 Fulham
Concerted pressure from Fulham at the moment – they look comfortable and are asking questions of the Tottenham backline. Dier has gone down after challenging Tete near the byline. He’s up but not looking nimble…
From the resulting corner Fulham work the ball well to Anguissa (via De Cordova-Reid) and he hits a fien shot from the right-hand side of the box which Lloris saves well.
11 mins: Spurs 0-0 Fulham
Robinson shoots from distance, it’s deflected and Fulham have a corner. The set-piece is poor, it doesn’t clear the first man and Tottenham clear.
10 mins: Spurs 0-0 Fulham
In possession Fulham have looked the better side – BUT they’ve only had 38 per cent of the ball so far.
Of late Spurs have been happy not to have the ball, but you expect them to have the lions share of possession. This match will posea different kind of problem than usual for them.
7 mins: Spurs 0-0 Fulham
The hosts are seeing more of the ball now, but they’ve created nothing from open play and Fulham get the ball back, Robinson drives at the backline before laying off to Loftus-Cheek who fires from distance. The shot is blocked but it’s clear Fulham haven’t come to sit back.
5 mins: Spurs 0-0 Fulham
Tottenham have not got into the match so far. But they get a free-kick which finds its way to Aurier on the right, he plays in a low cross which Reguilon hits wide with his right (not his favoured left) That was a very good chance to go one goal to the good.
3 mins: Spurs 0-0 Fulham
On commentary Ally McCoist mentions just how big the Fulham side is and he’s right – they’ll be dangerous at set plays.
As I type that they attack down the left and Spurs are forced to clear their lines – bright start from the visitors.
2 mins: Spurs 0-0 Fulham
Early free-kick for the visitors – Cavaleiro plays a great ball in and there’s a bit of pinball in the box before Lloris collects the ball.
Good start for Fulham.
1 min: Spurs 0-0 Fulham
For those watching on black and white Spurs are in their white strip and Fulham are in yellow…
What to look out for….
Important that Fulham can stop that left-hand side of Spurs – Kane, Son and Reguilon wreaking havoc. De Cordova-Reid, Fulham’s most impressive player this past month or so, needs to keep Reguilon busy. If he can do that, and Kane and Son aren’t at their imperious best then Fulham can get something out of this match.
Another important thing to look out for is any celebrations – the players have been warned yet again to keep themselves to themselves when they score.
Jose Mourinho speaks…
On tonight’s match…
“We are prepared. We thought we were going to play against Villa, now it’s Fulham. A tough match against a good team.”
On a possible title challenge…
“It’s not about the title are but winning points you have in front of you. The table is strange, due to some postponements, I look at the match not the table.”
A quick word on the Fulham boss’ sartorial style. If the Premier League was decided on how well their managers scrubbed up, Fulham would be topping the table. There’s no contest. So far this season Parker’s showed off his very cool cardigan and sharp suits. Tonight he’s sticking with his winter garb – a roll neck jumper with a blazer, smooth…There’s no doubt he’s Britain’s answer to Germany’s style king Joachim Löw…
Scott Parker speaks…
On the challenge facing them tonight…
“Tough game for us against a very good side. We’ve proved we can more than handle ourselves in this league, now it’s game on and we’re looking for ward to it.”
On his starting XI…
“It’s as strong as well can go, we’re looking to get some points from this game.”
On edict telling players not to celebrate goals…
“It’s been brought up and I understand that. We have to be extra careful, everyone’s getting judged, but the players have been warned.”
Nothing to suggest he’s still fuming over the rearranging of the fixture, it looks like he’s calmed down.
Fulham’s starting XI
Fulham XI to face Spurs: Areola, Aina, Andersen, Adarabioyo, Tete, Loftus-Cheek, Reed, Zambo Anguissa, Robinson, Cavaleiro, De Cordova-Reid; Subs Hector, Kebano, Rodák, Ream, Lookman, Bryan, Onomah, Kongolo, Kamara
Here be Spurs
Tottenham XI to face Fulham: Lloris (C), Aurier, Sanchez, Dier, Reguilon, Hojbjerg, Winks, Sissoko, Ndombele, Son, Kane; subs Doherty, Alderweireld, Bale, Lamela, Hart, Alli, Lucas Moura, Davies, Alves Morais
Who’s playing who?!
Hello and welcome to Spurs vs Aston Villa from the Tottenh…errrrrm, hang on, bear with me (checking notes, scratching head…) Ahhh, yes…OK. Let’s start again…
Hello and welcome to Spurs vs Fulham, or the match formally known at Aston Villa vs Spurs.
Tonight was originally due to see Jose Mourinho’s men face the season’s surprise package (and one of the most entertaining sides of the campaign) Aston Villa. But Covid-19 once again wreaked havoc, causing an outbreak at the Midlands club. Villa closed their Bodymoor Heath training ground after more than 10 players and members of staff tested positive. They were forced to play a makeshift youth team in their FA Cup defeat by Liverpool last Friday and it ultimately forced the postponement of tonight’s scheduled match.
That has caused a reshuffle along the lines of this…Fulham are facing Spurs tonight, Fulham’s scheduled home match against Chelsea on Friday will now take place on Saturday. Villa, who were due to host Everton on Saturday, face Carlo Ancelotti’s side on Sunday. That Fulham have still to play at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium is down to the fact the game was originally scheduled for 30 December, but was postponed at short notice because of a coronavirus outbreak at Fulham.
Hope that all makes sense.
One man who is in no doubt as to who is playing who and when is Scott Parker. The Fulham boss is fuming about the hastily rearranged fixture calling it “madness” and “scandalous”
Parker fears an increased risk of injury for his players, themselves returning from 10-day coronavirus-related isolation and being asked to prepare for a game in 48 hours. The Fulham coach also questioned whether the fixture would be played if they were challenging Spurs at the top of the table.
“To confirm a Premier League game at 09:30 on Monday morning is scandalous,” he said. “We knew last week Aston Villa had a problem. If we had known this Thursday or Friday, not a problem.
“My big problem is being told on Monday at 9.30am is beyond belief.
“It’s blatantly wrong… It is madness really.”
At times like these the urge might be to act like a child, grab your ball and hide. Unfortunately Parker doesn’t have that option open to him and if he was looking for some sympathy he definitely wasn’t going to find it from Mourinho.
The Tottenham boss has told Parker to stop moaning, saying Fulham will owe his side an apology if Scott Parker fields a full-strength team.
Mourinho said: “Come on, let’s play football. Let’s behave the best we can. Let’s protect our industry. Let’s protect our image and let’s play football.”
And play football is what they’ll do tonight, so stay here for all the pre-match news and action once the action gets under way.
Source: The Telegraph Travels