The biggest game in our history. Ever.
Spurs v Fulham Match Preview.
It's been a while since I've brushed off that tagline and thrown it into a blog. It's usually saved when we are in dire trouble and need to dig deep and rediscover form and belief. No different today other than the fact that rather than us struggling down below, we are still sitting in 4th spot. And the objective is simply to reignite our push to remain there.
We've swayed a little. Team hasn't flowed well, not since Lennon's injury. The Hull game was disappointing, the Liverpool game shocking and Leeds in the cup complacent. It's not all doom and gloom. Not if you bundle in the 4-0 win against Posh in there too. Last eight games, we've won four of them and only lost the one. If this is us in crisis, then we can afford a smile. But as pointed out in an earlier blog, we've allowed ourselves to degrade just a touch. And although things are not quite suicidal just yet - they might be if we continue to subtly slump. Drop down to 6th/7th and you'll be able to surf on the waves of tears down Tottenham High Rd.
How do we put it right? Team selection. Has to be tight. Has to be the best line-up we can muster up, injuries permitting. And I'd leave King on the bench if he's considered to be available. No need to risk him in this game, although the fact that we have to avoid risking our best player says just about everything that needs to be said about his predicament and the position we - as a club - continue to find ourselves in.
Corluka back in the right-back position - because Hutton is all glam going forward and second rate at the back. Dawson, anchored down to the ground concentration wise. Cool and calm and in control. He's lost his head once or twice in recent games. Needs a slap and a cuddle to re-jig his brain into position.
Wilson in the middle with Huddlestone. Yes, I said Huddlestone - whacha you gonna do about it? Would you prefer Jenas sitting there?
Bale, left back. BAE might be available - but I'd retain young Gareth. Harry still needs to have a word about his defensive duties and when to display professionalism. The issue of balance across the midfield remains thanks to Lennon's injury.
Modric cutting in from the left, Niko on the right. I guess emphasis on these two to craft and create. Because Wilson and Hudd are unlikely to inject pace into the game from centre midfield. Depends - of course - whether Hudd does play, and if he does it's also dependent on if he's going to do his quarterback routine, pinging balls from deep and releasing the forwards. Then injection of pace is more of a tempo issue and as Moddle and Niko are the 'player makers' of the side, without Lennon's outlet we need to play with width rather than squash it all with narrow football. Dink in all you like, but we can't allow the game to get congested and hamper any swagger we aim to display.
These two players are imperative and the rest of the side will lift their game to their setting. Just hope the setting is pointing at 'sizzling' rather than 'snoozing'. Modric is still finding his feet since returning. Niko is only in a lull because his performances haven't been as sublime, but that's not to say he hasn't been performing well.
Balance restored to the Facere IMO. Well, as much as we can expect.
Up front, Defoe - just because. Hopefully some part of him is hurting. No, I'm not talking about the part that Katie Price has been jumping up and down on. I'm talking about his head, which, I guess has also been potentially sat on by…anyways what I'm actually referring to is the penalty miss and the fact that he hasn't quite destroyed anyone since Wigan at home. Has to be more determined and has to move around with a lot more oomph otherwise the Fulham defence will sit back and soak him up.
Alongside him - I have a feeling it's going to be Keane. Not sure why. I've got a gut feeling, a sense of nausea. Ideally, I'd go with Pav. Might as well give him a farewell home game. He looked sharp, alert and confident against Leeds. Granted it was against League One opposition, but he was far more composed than some of the other players. Harry should ask him to just run around a lot and kick it in the net and we'll be sorted. Crouch has to be selfish if he does play. He does plenty for us by winning headers but doesn't stab it towards goal half has often as he should. It's a sigh and a half that we've got 4 'on paper' top class strikers and they've all got issues to over-come. Some more serious than others.
We are owed a performance. Three points and two goals or more. Fulham won't make it easy and I don't think this game is going to be comfortable, unless we start rampantly. Otherwise, hard evenings work in store especially if we start to miss chances in front of goal like we've done in recent games. You saw how Leeds grew in confidence. Fulham are in a far better position to hurt us if we are wasteful.
So, in conclusion, yet another re-hashed demand from the stands for the players: Stand up, be counted, and believe. Drops of points from here onwards will ruin our challenge for that 4th spot. Simply no room for powder-puff football.
Cometh the Spurs!