Match Preview: Tottenham v Fulham

Charlie Crowhurst

Tottenham haven't won three home matches in a row in what has been a decidedly disappointing season for the big spending North London club. Fulham will be looking to take unlikely points at White Hart Lane before a run in of three matches that has many suddenly picking the once left-for-dead Cottagers to beat the drop.

In my previews for both the recent Everton and Manchester City matches, I suggested that Fulham needed to take points from one of the club's remaining fixtures against a league heavyweight in order to give themselves the best chance of securing Premier League status for another year. We know how the Everton match ended and we'd like to forget how the Manchester City match ended.

Tottenham are the last sexy club Fulham face before their final three matches against Stoke, Hull, and Crystal Palace, and even a draw would benefit the club tremendously, especially given the penchant this season's supposedly dead and buried clubs have shown for picking up unlikely points. Lest you're counting on Norwich losing all of their remaining fixtures, remember what Crystal Palace and Sunderland just did. More leapfrogging at the bottom of the table is likely as the clubs in danger of drowning climb on one another to gain the sure footing of seventeenth position.

For their part, Tottenham have looked a team of dual personalities, last week's schizophrenic 3-3 draw against West Bromwich Albion the latest in a catalog of performances that must leave Spurs supporters chewing their jerseys. The millions of pounds paid for the action team of bright young talents who were going to replace Gareth Bale seem now to have been misspent, although replacing a generational talent like Bale was always going to be next to impossible.

The lone over-performer at Tottenham this campaign has been Christian Eriksen. The Dane is enjoying an eye-catching season for Spurs and has singlehandedly dragged the rest of the club with him to save matches that might otherwise have ended in disaster. His service on set pieces and playmaking abilities in advanced positions will cause Fulham fits if the Cottagers' holding midfield players allow him space between themselves and the back line.

Arguably the key catalyst in Fulham's recent revival, Lewis Holtby, is ineligible to play against his parent club. Depending upon how Magath plans to set up his team (And who can accurately predict that?), Holtby's absence may not be as significant an issue as it would initially appear. In Fulham's last away match against a league heavyweight, the mauling against Manchester City at The Etihad, Magath fielded a defensive and compact XI designed to hit City on the counter attack. Holtby was on the bench at the beginning of that match and Fulham were actually playing quite well until Fernando Amorebieta gave up a couple of penalty kicks that essentially killed the game. The Butcher of Bilbao has enjoyed two solid outings in a row, so hopefully an Etihad-esque performance is not in the offing.

The match is set up to be an entertaining one. Fulham clearly have everything to play for, but Tottenham will be looking to hold off Manchester United's late season charge in order to qualify for the Europa League, an achievement that is surely the bare minimum for Tim Sherwood's team. Mousa Dembélé has returned from injury and could feature against his former club, but Spurs may still miss out on the services of Michael Dawson and Roberto Soldado who are both recovering from hamstring strains. Jan Vertonghen (ankle), Kyle Walker (pelvis), Etienne Capoue (ankle), and Erik Lamela (back) remain long term absentees.

In an injury report that will come as no surprise to Fulham supporters, Kostas Mitroglou is still on the shelf with a knee injury.

Tottenham have not won three home matches in a row all season and are currently sitting on a streak of two. Fulham haven't won three in a row all season - home or away, but it's the lack of draws that have condemned the team to the relegation scrap. A point on Saturday would be invaluable. Three points? Dare to dream, just not out loud.

COYW!

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