BARCLAYS PREMIER LEAGUE
FRIDAY 26TH DECEMBER, 2008
TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR 0 (0) FULHAM 0 (0)
Referee: - Mr. P. Walton
Attendance: - 35,866
Spurs (4-4-1-1):- Gomes; Corluka, Dawson, King (Capt.), Ekotto; Lennon, Huddlestone (sub Jenas, 19), Zokora, Bentley (sub Campbell, 58); Modric; Bent (sub Pavlyuchenko, 71)
Subs not used: - Cesar; Woodgate, Bale; O’Hara
Fulham (4-4-2):- Schwarzer; Pantsil, Hughes, Baird, Konchesky; Dempsey, Bullard (sub Etuhu, 36), Murphy (Capt.), Davies (sub Nevland, 90+); Zamora, Johnson
Subs not used: - Zuberbuhler; Gray, Stoor, Andreasen, Kallio
Booked: - Konchesky (foul on Lennon)
Poor Christmas Fayre
A bumper crowd turned up at the Lane, including a decent turn-out from a vocal Fulham support, hoping for some Christmas entertainment, but sadly were let down by a tame and boring game in which Spurs failed to break down the successful formulaic Fulham strategy that has brought them four successive goal-less away draws, and only 1 defeat in their last 12 league games. Indeed, it was Fulham that came closest to snatching victory late in the game when a tiring Ledley King was caught out by the pace of Johnson, as Spurs were rescued by the alert Gomes. Spurs had two decent first half chances, through Lennon and Modric, and their best chance could have been the deflected Pavlyuchenko shot in the second half, but it was hard to argue against the justice of a draw.
The half-way stage has now been reached in the Premier League programme and Spurs have got 20 points, lying in 16th place. In theory, we are on target for survival, but we desperately need to put together some wins as soon as possible, before the difficult games come along again.
It was encouraging to see Ledley King start his second game in 6 days, and also to see Jenas and Woodgate on the bench, suggesting that they would be alright for Sunday’s game at The Hawthorns. Jenas was called into action earlier than planned as Huddlestone limped around for too long after taking a knock before going off. Jenas took a while to match the pace of the game – such as it was – but played better as the game progressed. Once again, Modric and Lennon were Spurs’ best attacking foils, but with only Darren Bent to aim at, there were few options, and less and less accuracy with those final passes as the game went on. Bentley frustrated once more and was replaced early in the second half by Campbell, whilst Zokora frustrated every time he got forward as he failed to convert a break-though into a decent pass or chance.
The back four was again reliable, with Corluka to the fore. Vedran worked well going forward too, particularly in unison with Aaron Lennon, who started on the right and stayed there for the majority of the game.
Arguably the most exciting ting about the game was Benoit Assou-Ekotto’s fluffy streaked hair-style which has suddenly appeared again since Newcastle. Maybe it’s a wig! It did not interfere with his ability though, as he too gave a sturdy defensive performance.
Fulham lost Jimmy Bullard to injury in the first half too, but they still managed to get a few balls up to their twin strike force of Zamora and Johnson, who gave the defence plenty to think about. Dempsey too had a good chance in the first half, which brought the best save of the game from Gomes.
Ledley King must have won the toss, as Spurs chose to play with the bright Boxing Day sunshine behind them, hoping to test Mark Schwarzer in the Fulham goal. They failed to test him at all until the sun was shaded in the Fulham goal. Spurs were on top in the early stages, and must have dominated possession throughout, as Modric fed Lennon and Corluka on the right. The first shot on target came from Fulham though after a Murphy free kick, which was only half cleared before Dempsey’s shot was comfortably held by Gomes in front of the Park Lane crowd. Bentley did well when receiving a ball just inside the Fulham half from Modric, carrying the ball forward before testing Schwarzer with his shot.
Dawson was up for a Bentley corner and hit a looping header that was fodder for Schwarzer. A nice move from Spurs mid-way through the half started with a Corluka – Lennon combination on the right, but after the play was switched it was Jenas who had the shot that went over the bar. Modric had a great solo effort, slipping the ball through the line and chasing it himself before hitting his shot just outside the post.
Murphy shipped a cross from the right channel for Fulham, and Johnson had a chance but made it easy for Gomes to pick up. Bullard fired over with Zokora doing just enough to put him off his stroke. Ekotto broke into the opposition half and carried the ball down the left channel, before passing inside to Lennon whose shot was well saved by Schwarzer, conceding a corner. After that corner, Lennon crossed from the right and Ledley headed just wide. Gomes made his great save after Dempsey collected a ball from the right and was allowed time to control inside the box before hitting a shot to the left of Gomes who dived and pushed the ball away with strength. The attack had been enabled because of a half-clearance by skipper Ledley King.
The start of the second half became duller than the first. Bentley hit a disappointing free kick down Schwarzer’s throat, whereas Konchesky hit one just wide at the other end. Campbell came on, and Modric reverted to a more traditional midfield role. It was Modric who had Spurs next chance. Jenas got a decent pass to Ekotto, whose cross was headed just wide across the keeper by the diving Modric. The hapless Bent was replaced by Pavlyuchenko who might have scored with almost his first chance. Corluka made a good run forward and passed to Modric, who slipped the ball to Spurs’ Russian. Pav’s on target shot was deflected wide for a corner.
Former Spur Konchesky got the only yellow of the game for a foul on Lennon as little Aaron broke through, but it was the visitors who looked more likely to score in the closing phase. Murphy had a good shot well blocked by the defence, and picked up by Gomes as it rolled towards the keeper. Then came that break in which Johnson beat Ledley for pace, and Spurs were grateful to Gomes coming to the feet of the former Everton striker, to smother his shot.
Inappropriately at the end of a disappointing game, and below par performance, the crowd got a rendition of “Glory, Glory” from the PA. Spurs really must learn to save that one for a more deserving occasion. See you at West Brom tomorrow!
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