LDN Derby Match Preview: Fulham v Spurs – It’s all about the Lily...whites
It's almost Christmas. I can taste it in the air. The cold bitter mornings, the flurries of snow. Bright lights in the high street. Carol singers. Last minute shopping. All the traditional sights and sounds surrounding us all. And let's not be forgetting the turkey. The Christmas turkey. Well that's not quite with us just yet. It's usually dished out by Spurs when we work out Santa won't be the one delivering us the one present we dream of. Three points. You don't get to ask for that. You get given it if deserved. Charity begins at home. Or in this case 'away'.
It's Fulham, all-conquering Zamora-raging Fulham, on Boxing Day. I like Craven Cottage. It's pretty much a decent away day, mainly because of the amount of fans we take there and the locality of the ground and the neighbouring pubs. Their fans are decent folk too. Although that Lily Allen scares me. You know what I'm talking about. With her menacing eye-liner stare and rock'n'roll cigarette smoking. The way she struts around, nipple on show. She's unnerving. And as for her lyrics, they bite their way through societies ills with a touch of satire. She's a high maintenance woman with plenty of verbal punch that seems to bring out all my insecurities concerning strong-willed women. She's sort of scary but not really. Much like Roy Hodgson's side. Not the showing of nipples (does Bobby have nice tits?) but the 'bringing out insecurities' bit. We sort of get stage fright at the Cottage, when we shouldn't really. Much like I did when I met Lily. Well, actually, technically speaking I didn't meet her per say. I saw her. From a distance. I was sort of walking towards the same place as she was but further back than she was and she didn't see me. Okay, so I was following her home. Some might argue this is considered stalking. And some might agree with this argument. But like I explained to the police officer at the time, it's a free country and I happen to be walking in the same direction as a celebrity and at the same time but at a far slower pace. A mere coincidence I assured him.
We need to go to Fulham, with respect for their form, but also not to be afraid to take the game to them. Have a right go. Do you know what I mean?
I wouldn't mind having a crack at them. At her. I mean I wouldn't mind having her crack...a crack…a crack at Lily Allen. I fancy her in that, 'damn I really hope you look like those GQ pictures in real life' kinda way. Which you sort of did from behind but the clothes you were wearing were a little baggy so it was hard to know if you've been photo-shopped extensively in those glossy mag pictures.
Okay. Right. I'm sorry. I'm losing my way a little. Medication wears off a little too quickly nowadays. And the monitor glare always seems to induce hallucinations. I'm okay. I'm sweating, but I'm fine.
Back on topic. Without the sub plots.
Fighting the trend
As mentioned, we don't much like it there (Fulham away), usually preferring to surrender fairly quickly and let the home side boss and dictate the midfield. We can be distinctively average at Craven Cottage. This being a post-Christmas clash is doubly worrying just because, well I don't know why. I guess I'm living in the past again. Because on current form - as far as we are concerned - we can handle ourselves just fine on our travels. So perhaps there is no need to knee-jerk before the game has even been played out.
The crux of it is, we tend to always fool ourselves into thinking we'll cope with them and yet fail to do so. That 4-0 FA Cup win is the type of repeat performance we can do with. And end this annoyance once and for all. We are decent away from home (repeated again just to drum home the point to myself). So we need to be confident going into this one.
It's going to be won/lost in midfield. Obviously up to Dawson and Bassong (not going to the ANC - not great for him, great for us) to handle 'destroyer of bloggers' Bobby Zamora, rather than allow him to bully our back line, much like he did to King and Woodgate last time out. There was some of that naivety, inexperience away to Everton when the back-line sort of went from steel to jelly. No commanding presence. I noted how Dawson - even though he's 26 years young - has not had a consistent run over a period of seasons, rather bit parts here and there. But with every game, he is handling the responsibility of being the captain with much deserved acclaim. Dare I say, he's vocal? Don't whisper it, shout it. About time we had someone in there screaming out to players, encouraging and organising. He might not be a Ledley King in terms of the three 'C's (cool calm control) but he's still bloody fantastic. A proper honest down to earth hard working footballer who is not that bad of a player and has no qualms about rolling up his sleeves and getting dirty. He puts himself in there. He's got a bit of Tottenham in him. And one day so will Lily.
He could save us a few bob in the transfer market if he continues to impress in this fashion. I'm hearing 'Upson' get mentioned once too often in recent days and for whatever price is being tagged on him, I say 'no'. Change of tune here. We might just be alright at the back if Harry shows continued faith in our boy Daws. As for the Sunderland rumour. Do one. Lazy hacks.
As for Fulham. Duff, Murphy and Dempsey will pose a threat so we need Wilson to enforce and protect and break-up play and Huddlestone (stats wise, he's in the top 5 best midfielders in the country for pass completion and apparently has more interceptions than Palacios - WOW) to work hard making sure there is no separation of partnership and no over-running done by the opposition. Yes, I said Hudd has to work hard. Which might mean we see Jenas play. I'm like a broken record with this. Every match preview, I ask if Hudd is suited for the next game and if there's a suspicion he might struggle then I suggest that the opposite of Tommy (high energy) has to be the resolution. Who would you have? Is there even a difference? I'd say there is and that Huddlestone offers more. Although when he is found lost in the mix, he can become redundant pretty quickly. Jenasesque almost. Or perhaps not. Perhaps its time to shut the fuck up about Hudd and take note of what he does on pitch.
I'm actually unable to decide on this midfield conundrum. Huddlestone starts every game. As much as some of us stand with thumbs pointing downwards, he must be doing something right to retain his place (check out the opta stats on the Sky Sports site). And as much as we'd like to believe Palacios does all the hard grafting, Tommy does get involved. The problem is the balance of that partnership is perhaps a little lopsided at the moment.
Same question for Crouch/Keane. Peter of Clancy could cause them some trouble, climbing all over their centre-backs, fouling them to his heart’s content. Scored two at Blackburn, so unless Harry uses his rotation excuse, he'll remain in the starting line-up. He can't really be dropped, not if Keane is still being punished for his Orish indiscretions. Which isn't the case at all. He's on the bench because he's not been very good. But don't be telling the hacks that because their back pages will dry up.
You know, re-thinking this, in the way of tactics or even a player-to-player comparison with the Fulham lads - its probably completely unnecessary. Not in the way of menacing disrespect. They are a plucky side, a decent one. But more the case that we - Spurs - are more than capable of going there and winning. We have the quality and we've shown the heart. Rather than take it for granted, all that Harry has to acquire from the players is yet more backbone and intent. And we've done that in practically all of our away games so far. So it's not so much as expecting the win but knowing, deep down, we are more than capable of doing so if the application is there.
I say, go forth and attack.
If the defence remain alert and Palacios/whomever fight for every ball then the likes of Lennon and Kranjcar will have time to do their usual hurting of the opposition. Basic football 101. Play as a unit, for each other, and play to our strengths. Going to Fulham on the back foot would be an embarrassment. Going there and limply rolling over and getting tickled would be humiliating.
As a way of comparison, watch how the Fulham players take the game to us on the day. They will not rest on their laurels or the glory of their recently released club DVD celebrating their 3-0 thrashing of Man Utd (they did release a DVD, right?).
We have to create hype rather than believe it.
That's almost it folks. One more blog (possibly) to come before Xmas and then I'll be back in front of a pc on Monday 28th Jan looking forward to 2010, West Ham at home and a month’s worth of detox. Have a wonderful Christmas. Hope Santa unloads his sack with everything you could ever wish for. And perhaps this time next year I'll be unloading my own sack when I finally get Lily alone.
Or from afar. With binoculars. Same difference. The end result is always going to be the same. I'll eat pizza and fall asleep.