In this week’s Opposition Focus, Matt Wiggins spoke to Jason from the Last Word On Spurs podcast to get a Tottenham perspective ahead of tonight’s match…
Fulham vs Spurs at Craven Cottage, what comes to mind when you think of this fixture from years gone by?
Plenty of good and bad memories, from the ups of the Keane & Berbatov cup tie, the downs of the 2 penalties in the opening 15 minutes cup tie and the Gomes howler, but Fulham away seems to be most people’s favourite away day, great location, the ‘neutral’ zone, good atmosphere and usually a good game.
I can still see the muddy pitch of my first ever visit back in January 1978 for the 1-1 draw!
In the reverse fixture, it finished 1-1 at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium. What are your thoughts on the match?
This would be one of the most criticised games of the low block turgid Mourinho football we have seen.
We were at home to a team (regardless of it being Fulham) in the bottom-3, we went 1-0 up, and as we have just seen with Burnley, you keep going, score more. Mourinho simply relied on a breakaway and watching Tottenham at home to anyone, let alone a bottom-3 side sitting back, hoping for a clean sheet rather than front foot attack is inexcusable.
We saw Mourinho ignore the talent on the bench of Bale and Dele, players who can change a game. Dele’s infamous instagram post summed up the feeling of most fans.
On the day, Fulham deserved their point, and having equalised, looked the side more likely to get the winner.
Spurs currently sit 9th on 36 points. Are you still hoping to finish in the top 4 and qualify for the Champions League?
Most of us felt that 9 points from the week of Burnley H, Fulham A, Palace H is absolutely essential to any hope of Champions League football through the league position.
If we get all 9, we have a chance, albeit still need to rely on others slipping, and still need to win key games at Villa, Everton, Leicester etc. It’s possible, but we must take all 9 points this week first.
When we last spoke, you talked about the highs and lows of Mourinho at the helm of Spurs. Do you think your recent inconsistency in terms of form puts him on borrowed time?
If we fail to finish in the top-4, I definitely think it’s hard to see him staying, even if we were to win the League Cup. The board want a trophy, but with Champions League football! The stadium, and the losses from Covid need Champions League football.
However, if he were to win the Europa League, that ticks both the boards and the fans demands, but we must see a big improvement in our league position long term.
Dele has been something of a bit-part player this season. Does his bicycle kick in the Europa League show he has a lot to bring to the team and that he may be what Spurs need to turn things around?
He’s always for me had a lot to bring to the team, he’s been chronically underused this season, he had a good game at Stoke in the League Cup and was ridiculously criticised.
He is a flair player that needs to play on confidence and instinct, those players tend to give the ball away more because they try to do creative things!
I honestly feel there are plenty of genuine reasons Dele lost his form. Some fans last season used the loss of Kane and Son as an excuse for results being poor, but, in that case, surely a team lacking Eriksen Kane and Son would affect the performance of Dele who links with those players so well. He was making the runs, no balls arriving and has been held accountable! That’s not fair.
Who has been the standout player for Spurs so far this season?
I said it first time around, I’ll say it again, Harry Kane. Another consistent season, you have now seen the effect of him being out of the side, it says it all. Mourinho football relies totally on Kane.
Who’s one Fulham player you feel can threaten Spurs at Craven Cottage?
The fact you are still in the bottom-3, struggling to win games suggests nobody has really performed consistently well to turn enough games. Lookman and Anguissa have shown glimpses within games, but neither has put that run together of 90-minutes week in week out. Had they, you’d have won more games.
Areola and Andersen have impressed defensively. Areola played very well at White Hart Lane, defensively you’ve made huge improvements from early season.
Previously you gave us your predictions of a top 4 of Liverpool, Man City, Spurs and Man United and a bottom 3 of Brighton, Sheffield United & West Brom. Are there any changes you’d make to these predictions as we’re further into the season?
Leicester are obviously the biggest threat to that top-4 prediction, Chelsea have changed managers, but the effects of European Competitions now start to kick in again, and nobody foresaw Liverpool’s huge drop-off.
I’ve given up trying to predict results!
Leicester now free from Europa football have the best chance now of focusing purely on PL games, but they have had some very strange home defeats, no more so than Sunday to Woolwich.
I said earlier, we must get 9 points this week, to have a chance.
I still hope you stay up, but you need wins soon! Every time you have that chance, you don’t take it, those dropped points at West Brom were so costly. You have a tough run now, you feel Brighton will get a win somewhere so you may need a big run of 4-5 wins in 6 games soon!
I hope you get them, but you need to start scoring goals!
Finally, how do you see the game panning out and what is your score prediction for the match?
We seem to have got some confidence on the back of Bale performing well. If we take that forward, I fancy us to win 2-0, but only if we go on that front foot. If you score first, or we sit on a lead, we’ll drop points.