On Sunday third, fourth and fifth position will be finally decided. Recently it has seemed that each of Tottenham, Arsenal and Newcastle have been on the verge of claiming an advantage in the race for third only to spurn the opportunity.
Spurs fans will be looking for their team to finish with a win [and rivals Arsenal fail to do so at The Hawthorns] in order to claim third and guarantee a Champions League position. Spurs, however do not have the easiest of matches against Fulham.
On current form, Fulham are second only to Manchester City having taken 13 from 18 points in their last six matches. [Spurs are 11th]. In Clint Dempsey they have a striker on 17 goals for the season and in Big Martin Jol, a manager who may just want to put one over on the club who sacked him. Perhaps reasons for concern, especially considering the suspension to Danny Rose now leaves Spurs without a recognized left back. This should call for the experienced William Gallas to fill in at the left back position which will be up against Damien Duff. This would mean either Ledley King [if fit] or Ryan Nelsen coming into partner Younes Kaboul. In centre midfield, whilst Scott Parker maybe in contention for a starting place, Sandro’s form in the last three games should see him retain his place at the England Captain’s expense. Fans will hope that manager Harry Redknapp will not tinker with the formation or players positions to fit both into the team.
This is simply a must win game for Spurs; as such the Lilywhites should keep with their strongest formation, 4-4-1-1: most importantly should be the width and pace of Gareth Bale and Aaron Lennon on the flanks. Arguably, Spurs have been at their best when the two flyers have been on the wings. In doing so, the wide men can force the opposing defense out of shape. Either by beating the full back, or by pulling a centre back or midfielder out of position to support the full back, space is created for the Spurs attack – prime examples of this being the goals the two set up for Rafael van der Vaart and Emmanuel Adebayor against Bolton.
This is perhaps not the occasion for the two to be cutting inside or swapping wings. Whenever this is done they squeeze and narrow the space in the centre for the two playmakers Van der Vaart and Luka Modric and limit their passing range and options. In this match, perhaps more than any other it will be essential for Bale and Lennon stay on their respective wings – to where they are most effective for the team.
Fulham will be a difficult opponent but if Tottenham play like they did against Bolton; at home and with the crowd roaring them, then Spurs should win the match. Spurs fans will hope West Bromwich help ensure Tottenham come third in doing so.
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