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Three Players to Watch: Matchday 2 vs. Tottenham

Here’s hoping Fulham can catch a “Big 6” club off guard...

Newcastle United v Tottenham Hotspur - Premier League Photo by Jan Kruger/Getty Images

So Fulham played their first Premier League match in four years and were left with a bit of a sour taste in their mouths. Now they must find a way to bounce back against one of the best football clubs in Europe, let alone England, in Tottenham Hotspur. But since Spurs’ new stadium isn’t ready just yet, Fulham will be returning to Wembley Stadium for just the third time in 43 years. The occasion will be a tad less palpable considering that this a game that will have something to play for. But it still will be another fantastic outing seeing Fulham and their swash buckling play be tested against top competition.

Now there have been enough supporters that have wondered if Slavisa Jokanovic will have to eventually ditch his free flowing system for the sake of Premier League survival. Some have even called for a double pivot in midfield of Kevin McDonald and Frank Zambo Anguissa for the sake of defensive rigidity. I personally don’t think we’re there just yet, but lessons will continue to be learned as to what the best Fulham XI will be in order to deliver results the Jokanovic way.

In the meantime, everyone kind of knows how Spurs play now that manager Mauricio Pochettino is into his fifth season in charge of the club. They are a hard pressing side that will come at you with their three attacking players once they have the ball and shoot from everywhere. In particular, pass the ball to Harry Kane and surely he will score by the time 90 minutes are up. But along with that, Pochettino demands a solid defensive base, and their center back play will be the best you’ll see in England. If for anything else, we will truly learn a lot more about where Fulham stand in England’s top flight by the time Saturday evening roles around.

So with that, let’s take a look at three players to look out for from Tottenham.

Harry Kane

All data from whoscored.com

First up, how can you not start a review like this without including the best striker in the entire Premier League, regardless if he doesn’t score in August? Along with that, how do you not include Harry Kane for his exploits in the World Cup and for his hat trick at Craven Cottage the last time these two sides met? So yeah, this guy better be one to watch out for.

As you will see from his radar, his goal scoring is clearly dependent on how much he’s able to shoot. That is so much the case last season, that he ended up generating 5.37 shots per 90 minutes! You will be hard pressed to find many forward that can be such a kog in a team’s attack. That being said, 2017/18 also saw Kane’s form dip a little bit with regards to his efficiency levels. Compared to 2016/17, his percentage of shots on target dropped from 52.7% to 41.3% and his goal conversion rate dropped from a other-worldly 21.3% down to a more pedestrian 15.2%.

Some will argue that his premature return from injury back in March had a part to play and this is a player that has no idea when to rest and recover. For the sake of club and country, let’s hope Kane gets smarter with his body and learns that he doesn’t have many opportunities to dominate world football like he has while at the prime of his career. For the sake of Fulham, welp, let’s just say he continues to not score in August.

Christian Eriksen

All data from whoscored.com

If Kane were to not score tomorrow, there will be plenty others that will know what to do with the ball at Spurs. I could have gone with Dele Alli and his crazy celebrations, or I could go with Heung-Min Son, who I personally think is one of the best substitutes in Europe. But I’m going to go with their most consistent attacking force over the years in Christian Eriksen.

The 26-year old Danish International is such a presence at Spurs and he always guarantees you 20 goals-and-assists every Premier League campaign. Last season was no different as he put up his highest goal total (10) since his 2014/15 season. Some will say that that was due to his more advanced role with Tottenham last campaign and pushing Alli towards more midfield duties. But now that Mauricio Pochettino is back to deploying a 4-2-3-1 formation, Eriksen is back to his usual role as the team’s number 10. That doesn’t make Eriksen any less dangerous as he’s always been among the most dangerous passers in the Premier League. This also includes his set piece delivery as it was evidenced by the

Hugo Lloris

Now I seriously should be picking somebody else to look out for when it comes to defensive players at Tottenham. I could go with Jan Vertongen who has been such an ever present force along the back four. It is downright criminal for me not to show you all how Kieran Trippier’s radar is after his exploits at the World Cup. I could have even gone more sentimental and shown you all Moussa Dembele, but who knows if he’ll ever be a regular starter now that it’s looking like age has caught up with him.

So instead, I’ll go with Spurs’ captain as the final player to look out for. Remember a time where Heurelho Gomes was in net and all at White Hart Lane will wonder if they could ever get a world class goalkeeper? Welp, those complaints haven’t come about in ages thanks to a now World Cup winner. Along with being a very solid shot stopper, Lloris has developed himself as one of the textbook sweeper keepers in Europe. Only Manchester City’s Ederson can lay a better claim than him in England.

This past season, Lloris was second to Ederson in long ball passing accuracy at 46.8% and only Ederson and Liverpool’s Loris Karius (yes, THAT Loris Karius) bettered Lloris’ 0.15 xG Chain. So this man knows a thing or two about playing from the back. Even if he is in the stands, I do hope Marcus Bettinelli is able to take part of this fixture just so he can watch a master at work. But I will say that it did take a while for Lloris to develop into one of the best goalkeepers in the Premier League. And granted, plenty of that coincided with the quality of manager that was in Tottenham’s dugout. But once Pochettino had a grasp of talents, the rest is history.