Last updated & checked: 10/08/2021
If Fulham are to escape relegation back to the Championship at the first time of asking, they’re going to need to win all the winnable games left in their season. However, that may not be enough, and they’re also going to need to pull off one or two surprises along the way too. Up against a Spurs side shorn of Harry Kane until at least the beginning of March, they’re not exactly favourites for this meeting at Craven Cottage – but it would be quite a statement if they could turn over the Premier League’s third-place side.
Spurs are coming into this game off the back of a home defeat at the hands of Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s Manchester United. With Kane suffering an ankle ligament injury deep into injury time during that game, the title hopefuls are forced to look for an alternative option; and it can’t be South Korean forward Son Heung-Min, who is on international duty. Arguably, Fulham aren’t going to get a better chance to beat Spurs; the question is, can they take it?
Fulham vs Tottenham Hotspur Prediction: Fulham 0-2 Tottenham Hotspur
Most of football would be happy to see Claudio Ranieri use some of the magic that pulled Leicester City to title glory in 2016, and help Fulham to evade the drop. There’s no doubt he has his charges looking more like a Premier League side than they were under Slavisa Jokanovic, but the problem here is that most Premier League sides still lose to Spurs. Fulham didn’t help themselves last week at Burnley, scoring two own-goals to turn a 1-0 lead into a 2-1 loss. This week, at least they probably won’t need to score Spurs’ goals for them – the visitors are more than capable of scoring themselves.
Our recommended tip: Tottenham HT/FT
If the Premier League only took into account points picked up away from home, Spurs would be top of the league right now. Of course, they don’t do that, because it would be weird, but it’s worth bearing in mind that while Spurs are capable of losing 3-1 at home to Wolves, they really know how to play on their travels. With Fulham still lacking a bit of confidence, it’s hard to see any outcome here other than the visitors emerging with a comfortable win; it will probably be less comfortable than expected, though, due to the absence of their key attacking players.
In the early stages of the season, Fulham travelled to Wembley with a raft of new signings and an outside hope of picking up a point against a Spurs side that had decided against strengthening in the summer. The visitors defended stoutly until, on 43 minutes, Lucas Moura struck from distance to give Tottenham the lead.
The visitors were given temporary hope when Alexsandar Mitrovic touched home a Sessegnon cross to level the scores, but goals in the final quarter of an hour from Kieran Trippier – a stunning free kick – and Harry Kane saw Spurs take all three points. Notably, the final goal was Kane’s first ever Premier League goal in August.
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Players to watch: Ryan Sessegnon & Dele Alli
Given that Sessegnon was aged just 17 for almost the entirety of the Championship season that saw his side promoted, his fifteen goals from a wide role (often at wing-back) suggest that he’s a special player. He’s been less prolific this time around, because he’s in a side that loses most of its games, but he’s not looked out of place at Premier League level. Blessed with lots of pace and excellent dribbling ability, he’ll only need a yard of space to make an impact here.
Questions have been asked about Dele Alli’s consistency, and in truth his productivity fell off last season after a stunning 2016/17 season. However, a midfielder of his age (22) having 42 career goals in the top flight is just about unheard of. Any player in a skill position will have dips in form at that age, but Mauricio Pochettino is unlikely to have any qualms about giving him a starting role as a false nine in the absence of Kane and Son – and votes of confidence don’t come much bigger than that.