Battle of the exes: Tottenham Hotspur preview (h)

Clive Rose

Clint Dempsey, Moussa Dembele and Dimitar Berbatov all play against their old clubs while Martin Jol looks on from the dugout.

Tottenham Hotspur travel to Craven Cottage on Saturday to compete in a fixture that, beyond its London derby masquerade, has quite some substance to it. Substance in the form of former players, former managers and a horribly bitter departure.

The latter of course refers to the despised figure of Clint Dempsey, who left Fulham on transfer deadline day after a reported two months of refusing to play. He said he wanted to progress his career but evidence has yet to be found in the affirmative and there are certainly better ways to go about it.

Moussa Dembele may also line up against his former side, although his is likely to be to a more appreciative reception. Among Fulham fans, there was a subconscious acceptance that the Belgian is indeed a huge talent whom was owed a chance to truly shine in the league's higher echelons. You have to feel that, for him, there is even life beyond and above Spurs.

Martin Jol will be in the dugout, of course, managing against one of his previous clubs, while Dimitar Berbatov will spearhead the Fulham attack, terrorising a defence he used to aid.

So, in reality, the team sheets will play a more influential role in this fixture than any geographical convenience.

Jol, though, will probably be more concerned with his own team's form book than any potential rivalry arising from Saturday's tie, with Fulham without a win in six. A disappointing home defeat to Sunderland and a dreary away loss to Stoke City summed up a poor November tremendously well.

There are still positives to take from the month, however, not least an uncharacteristically resilient defensive performance at Stamford Bridge in midweek that was far more reminiscent of the Roy Hodgson era than Jol's more expansive, progressive setup. We fought out a 0-0 draw and, as has been a common theme recently, could have even grabbed three points.

Tottenham, meanwhile, will be on a high. They meet us on the back of two impressive wins over a strong West Ham United side and a spirited Liverpool one. There is, though, the hope that complacency could kick in and one of Andre Villas-Boas' regular downfalls is the installation of consistency in his teams.

In the corresponding fixture last season, Fulham lost 3-1 with only a Younes Kaboul own goal sparing any blushes and, at White Hart Lane, Spurs eased to a 2-0 victory.

Scott Parker, Benoit Assou-Ekotto and Younes Kaboul are all injured for Spurs and Emmanuel Adebayor is suspended.

For Fulham, Brede Hangeland remains suspended and so Dimitar Berbatov will retain the captain's armband. Kieran Richardson returns from injury but Alex Kacaniklic and Bryan Ruiz are still sidelined.

Score prediction: Fulham 1-0 Spurs

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