Spurs won this game but White Hart Lane is not a happy place to be right now. This was a disappointing performance and there was yet more controversy.
Tim Sherwood named the same team that began the second half at West Brom, Fryers and Kaboul forming the centre back pairing. Apparently, the thinking from last weeks dreadful first half defensive display, is that the Frenchman and Chiriches can’t play together because they are both right footed.
The selection of two up front, with a lightweight central midfield of Paulinho and Chadli was concerning. It doesn’t sound like a recipe for controlling the game and in the early exchanges Fulham overran Tottenham.
Sandro was missing from the eleven, and there was no place for him on the bench, raising the question: was the Brazilian injured? He quickly took to Twitter to dispel that theory. A none too subtle dig at the manager.
For once we didn’t concede early on, though it was more by luck than design. Rodallega found himself through on goal twice in the early exchanges, first dragging his shot wide, then being denied by a fantastic save from Hugo Lloris.
For the first time in nine games, Tottenham were the first to score. Aaron Lennon built on his improved performance from last week and was involved in the goals again. Here he won a free kick, after being blocked by Dejagah. Christian Eriksen whipped in a dangerous ball, and Paulinho, who had been left totally unmarked in Fulham’s six yard box, tapped home. It was the Brazilian’s seventh goal of the season, but his first at White Hart Lane.
The good side of Paulinho is his ability to pop up with useful goals. Within a couple of minutes the bad side was on show too. Sidwell rode a tackle from the Spurs man and drove at goal. Rather than try to atone for the error, the Brazilian jogged back. The ball ricocheted off Fryers who also should have done better. Sidwell finished with a smart dink over the out-rushing Lloris.
The sides went in level at half time but Spurs took the lead again shortly after the restart. Another nice piece of play from Lennon, who turned inside and hit a beautiful cross, had Tottenham players queuing up in the box. Harry Kane kept up his scoring streak, flicking the ball into the net. The young striker has seized his opportunity in the first team; that’s his third goal in three games.
A third followed, from another Eriksen free kick. The Dane’s set piece delivery has been a great asset this term. Without him, Spurs lack a decent dead ball specialist – Naughton ended up taking corners and free kicks earlier in the season. Another fantastic ball found Kaboul, who improvised a finish off his knee after Rodallega had let him get free.
Tottenham never had control of the game and there were several scares, as Fulham looked for a way back into the match. Lloris tipped over a bullet header from Rodallega. Then Fulham won a penalty, after Eriksen handled on the edge of the area. Sidwell took responsibility and drove it hard to his left but was denied, as Lloris pulled off another fantastic stop.
In the post match interviews, Sherwood responded to Sandro’s tweet. His voice cracking with emotion, he claimed that the midfielder wasn’t good enough to make his squad. The Spurs manager increasingly appears to think he’s in a reality television show, conducting interviews like a contestant on Big Brother. Sandro later tweeted “Lol, lol, lol…”. Another undignified episode in an embarrassing season.
There were excellent performances from Eriksen and Lloris, while Lennon and Kane continued their good form from last weeks game at West Brom, but otherwise this was a disappointing performance. Fulham could easily have taken something from the game. The visitors’ poor defending, Eriksen’s fantastic set-piece delivery and some smart saves from Lloris ended up sealing a Spurs win.
Do you agree with my analysis? Do you think Sherwood handled himself well? Please leave your thoughts in the comments section below.