Clint Dempsey will be returning to Craven Cottage to face his old team-mates this weekend. The controversy surrounding his acrimonious depature will definitely catch all the headlines before kick-off.
The American International hasn’t fully settled in yet at White Hart Lane and will probably receive a barrage of abuse on his return to the club he spent 6 seasons at, scoring 60 goals and becoming a cult hero.
Whilst former Spurs manager Martin Jol will be in the opposite dugout alongside Dimitar Berbatov, who also played under the Dutchman for 1 year in a 2 year spell at Tottenham.
The Cottagers are beginning to stutter after showing glimpses of top-ten form, not winning in 6 games; however 3 of these matches did end in draws.
Whereas Spurs are coming alive once more, with two wins on the bounce and before that, a game against Arsenal which they were dominating until Emmanuel Adebayor recklessly got sent off.
Andre Villas-Boas has stamped his authority on a completely new Spurs outfit, with players slowly starting to prove their worth.
Fulham will go into the game on Saturday trying to beat Tottenham for the first time in 9 attempts. The last victory against their London rivals was in 2008, when a Heurelho Gomes howler gifted them all 3 points.
Spurs have won the last 5 meetings between the clubs and only ever lost 5 times at Craven Cottage since Fulham were originally promoted in 2001.
Dimitar Berbatov has not lost in 6 outings against his former club.
The home side will be welcoming back Kieran Richardson, after the 28-year-old has fully recovered from a hamstring injury. However Bryan Ruiz, who is out through injury and Brede Hangeland, who is serving his 3-match ban will be sorely missed. The Norwegian skipper has been a constant rock at the back for Fulham, winning 70% of every tackle and 75% of every aerial duel. Whilst Bryan Ruiz was starting to show his natural creative ability, helping out a sometimes desolate Berbatov, chipping in with 5 assists – the highest for the club.
Regular starter Steven Caulker has overcome the illness that kept him out midweek against Liverpool and is likely to slot back into the defence. Emmanuel Adebayor will still be suspended, meaning another chance for Jermaine Defoe to continue his good form, which has resulted in 7 goals so far.
Ones To Watch
Without Ruiz, Fulham will be very reliant on Dimitar Berbatov going forward. The Bulgarian star has failed to his the net in his last 3 games and whenever Ruiz is not on the pitch, he seems to drop deeper, in search of the ball. In 4 games below, Ruiz was not on the pitch for more than half-an-hour and Berbatov had far more passes in his own half, proving he drops deeper.
With the Costa Rican in the side for a full 90 minutes, Berbatov stays further forward, knowing supply will be more consistant.
Gareth Bale has been in and out of form ever since the Harry Redknapp debacle began last season, yet in the last several games, signs of a world class talent are evident once more.
He has scored in each of the last 3 games and started to attack fullbacks again, unleashing 14 shots, 7 of which were on target. The only way to stop Bale is getting him onto his right, with only 6 attempts on goal coming from his right foot all season.
The man with this task will most likely be Sascha Riether, who has started every game for Fulham this season. The German fullback has been one of the more dominant players in the tackle, winning 81% of every challenge he goes in for and this must be even better come Saturday.
Martin Jols side are in a rough patch and with Spurs flying, I cannot see anything but an away victory.
Prediction: Fulham 1-3 Tottenham
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