|TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR 2 (1)||FULHAM 0 (0)|
|Date : – Monday 23rd October 2023||Kick off : – 20.00|
|Competition : – Premier League||Venue : – Tottenham Hotspur Stadium|
|Crowd : – 61,286|
|Referee : – Anthony Taylor (Cheshire)||Linesmen : – Mr. Gary Beswick; Mr. James Mainwaring|
|Fourth official : – Graham Scott|
|VAR official : – Paul Tierney||VAR Assistant : – Lee Betts|
|Weather : – Light rain during the game, chilly.|
|Fulham kicked off the first half attacking the Park Lane end|
|Playing time : – 90 + 11 minutes
|Son 35m 07s||None|
|Maddison 53m 45s|
|Hojbjerg (foul on Willian) 35|
|Vicario (timewasting) 85|
|13.||Guglielmo VICARIO||17.||Bernd LENO|
|23.||Pedro PORRO||21.||Timothy CASTAGNE|
|17.||Cristian ROMERO||3.||Calvin BASSEY|
|37.||Micky van de VEN||13.||Tim REAM (c)|
|38.||Destiny UDOGIE ( 12. Emerson ROYAL 56)||33.||Antonee ROBINSON|
|5.||Pierre-Emile HOJBJERG||28.||Sasa LUKIC ( 6. Harrison REED 72)|
|29.||Pape Matar SARR ( 4. Oliver SKIPP 62)||26.||Joao PALHINHA ( 10. Tom CAIRNEY 82)|
|21.||Dejan KULUSEVSKI||14.||Bobby DECORDOVA-REID ( 8. Harold WILSON 82)|
|10.||James MADDISON ( 36. Alejo VELIZ 82)||18.||Andrea PEREIRA ( 22. Alex IWOBI 46)|
|9.||RICHARLISON ( 22. Brennan JOHNSON 81)||20.||WILLIAN|
|7.||Heung-Min SON (c) ( 18. Giovani Lo CELSO 82)||30.||Carlos VINICIUS ( 7. RAUL Jiminez 46)|
|20.||Fraser FORSTER||1.||Marek RODAK|
|15.||Eric DIER||12.||Fode BALLO-TOURE|
|35.||Ashley PHILLIPS||19.||Rodrigo MUNIZ Carvalho|
|11.||Bryan GIL||44.||Luc De FOUGEROLLES|
= Assist = Goal scored = Own goal scored
|Manager : – Ange Postecoglou||Manager : – Marco Silva|
|Kit Supplier : – Nike||Kit Supplier : – adidas|
|Shirt Sponsor : – AIA||Shirt Sponsor : – SBOTOP
|Shirt Sleeve Sponsor : – cinch||Shirt Sleeve Sponsor : – WebBeds
|Colours : –
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|Images of kits courtesy of the marvellous Colours of Football website|
|A sometimes sloppy Spurs overcame an incredibly dull Fulham side 2-0 at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium to take a two point lead at the top of the Premier League table.
Similar to the previous match away at Luton, Tottenham worked very hard for a victory that should have been more convincing over the West London side, who showed little ambition and who produced few worrying moments for Spurs, but were architects of their own downfall.
Only missing the suspended Yves Bissouma, Tottenham lined up with Hojbjerg in his place and Fulham fouled Maddison as he played a pass through to Son to have a shot saved by Leno, but the ref gave Spurs a free-kick for the initial foul. When it was taken, we looked to take Fulham by surprise, as Maddison shaped to shoot, but played the ball left to Udogie in the box. Unfortunately, he was also taken by surprise and wasn’t ready to receive the ball and the ball came off him for a defender to clear. It was another free-kick in the seventh minute that created the first chance of the match with Romero heading Maddison’s cross back into the middle of the box, where Micky van de Ven hooked a volley over the bar.
A minute after that it looked like Spurs might have a penalty, with Robinson brining down Porro as he went past him and landing in the penalty area, but the referee gave it just outside towards the right corner of the box. This time it was played short to Kulusevski, who had a better angle, being a left-footer, but his effort was blocked by a defender. Fulham’s first forward thrust came on 11 minutes, with Decordova-Reid looking like he might make use of the space down their right inside the area, but Romero had tracked his run and blocked the ball played across the box for a corner. When Pereira played it in, Palhinha won a header against Kulusevski around the penalty spot and Guglielmo Vicario made a fine reflex stop diving to his left to reach out a hand to palm the ball out as it looked like it might slip inside the post.
The referee was as inconsistent as you would expect theses days and awarded Fulham a free-kick when Willian ran into Dejan, who was right in front of him. It wasn’t a foul, as the ex-Gooner played for it and a free-kick given now would be contrary to a decision Taylor was to make later. A corner that Fulham took later was well taken above his head by Vicario, who appears to have learned from his early matches, where he was keen to punch, but by catching it, he was able to immediately send Kulusevski away by rolling the ball out to him. It wasn’t really a spell of pressure by Fulham, but Lukic tried a long range shot that went very wrong and was well wide and then Vicario tried to play out from the back, but passed straight to Willian on the edge of the box with our keeper out of position. Pierre Hojbjerg was alert to it though and managed to poke the ball away for the danger to be averted. And the Dane was soon in the action at the other end with Richarlison breaking forward, playing it inside to Maddison who rolled it into Hojbjerg’s run and his shot was taken head high by the Fulham keeper. Spurs then hit Fulham on the break and when Kulusevski rolled a pass for the on-running Richarlison, whose shot from the 18 yard line went the width of a ball wide of the keeper’s left-hand post.
Another shout for a penalty came just after the half hour, when Udogie crossed and Bassey blocked, but no handball was given. What was given was a yellow card soon after as Hojbjerg slid in on Willian. Yes it was rash and the rain-soaked turf probably made it worse than it might have been, although there was little contact on the Fulham winger. Earlier at the start of the game, there was a series of fouls on Maddison and Son that were contacting the players, although they didn’t look as bad, but the official didn’t pull out the card for them.
It was all forgotten about a minute later when Calvin Bassey assisted Tottenham in taking the lead. Trying to play the ball out from the back, the defender, who I never really rated at Ajax or Glasgow Rangers, played a loose ball forward that Micky read well and knocked it upfield to Richi. He played the ball to his right first-time for Son, in the clear five yards outside the penalty area to the left of the D. Played onside by Ream on the other side of the box, Heung-Min shifted the ball to his right foot, shaping to shoot to lose Ream and then produced a trademark curler, from the 18 yard line that was out of Leno’s reach as he dived to his left and the ball hit the top corner of the net. it was another superb piece of finishing by Sonny and while it looked like it might be a frustrating night, the goal gave Spurs a boost.
Straight after, Kulusevski got away on the right and aimed a cross for Son at the far post, but Bassey got a touch, otherwise the ball would have landed straight on the Spurs skipper’s head. It should really have been 2-0 in the 40th minute when Spurs mesmerised the Fulham defence with some neat play in the right hand side of the area. Son gave Destiny the chance to shoot, but the shot was blocked and then Kulusevski suffered the same fate as his effort went off a defender for a corner. From that Porro shot at goal, but was deflected wide.
A couple of minutes before half-time, Richi put in a dangerous low cross with Porro racing in, but just unable to get the final touch in front of goal. Then Kulusevski was free on the right, but could get a shot off, with the ball coming to Maddison, who also wasn’t able to get a shot on goal. So, half-time arrived with Spurs a goal to the good, but it should have been more, just as it should have been at Kenilworth Road.
Silva made a couple of changes at the break, with the disappointing Vinicius only making an impact by shaping up to Maddison and Romero, so was replaced by former Wolves striker Raul and another former Woolwich Wanderer Iwobi coming on for the anonymous Pereira. The early exchanges of the half saw both sides giving the ball away and possession changed hands rapidly.
Dejan was having a great deal of fun on the right touchline. On a few occasions he seemed so tight on the side-line that he appeared to have nowhere to go, but managed to produce a bit of trickery to wriggle past the two men who were often trying to stop him making progress. The gasps from the Spurs fans were evidence of his skilful play to beat his opponents. One turn left two black-shirted players behind and he played the ball in to Son, who laid it wide left for Richarlison and he snatched at his shot, hitting it first-time, but over the goal. A couple of minutes later, it was 2-0 and it was that man Bassey who started the move that led to the goal. He played a one-two with Leno, but under pressure from Maddison played an aimless ball up the line. Hojbjerg read it superbly and knocked it first-time to Son on the edge of the Fulham box. His first touch brought the ball inside onto his right foot, so the defenders thought he was going to shoot, but he was aware of James Maddison to his left. Taking a touch to get the ball out of his feet, from a yard outside the right corner of the six-yard box, he slid a precise shot wide of Leno and inside the far post.
Udogie was substituted, although he didn’t look injured and Emerson Royal replaced him, which gave Fulham a bit of scope to attack, as we lost the ball down that side a couple of times and Emerson doesn’t have quite the recovery speed of Destiny. One dangerous pass into the box was well read by Sarr, who cleared, then Romero produced a perfectly timed sliding tackle to sweep the ball away from Willian and Vicario had to rush way out of his box to head the ball away, but it only went to a Fulham player, with Vic stranded. Luckily, they messed up the chance and Spurs survived. Tottenham then lost Sarr, who limped off and Skippy came off the bench in his place, with Jiminez looking to get on the end of a through ball to him, but he was no match for Micky’s pace.
It was Bassey at fault again, as Spurs should have had a third. 75 minutes in and he dithered on the ball in his own box, Maddison took it off him and Sonny got in his way resulting in his shot hitting Ream, with the loose ball hit first-time by Richarlison, but it was wide and high from a narrow angle on the left. After colliding with Fulham sub. Wilson, Richi went off with Brennan Johnson taking his place and Ange brought on Lo Celso for Son and Veliz for Maddison.
It looked as though substitute Reed fouled Kulusevski in getting the ball, but it was quickly fed through to Raul inside the right side of the box and his shot was on target, but Vicario saved well, throwing out a right hand to stop the effort. Ironically, Vic was booked shortly after for taking too long over a free-kick. Where was Taylor when we needed him against Sheffield United, with Foderingham taking ages over every clearance having already been booked ? Just one example of inconsistency in the way that referees apply the laws (or don’t).
Fulham were now trying to get something out of the game and a move down their left got substitute Cairney into the area, but Hojbjerg got across to take some of the sting out of his shot that Vicario took at head height at his near post. Into added time, Wilson found space in the right of the box to take a diagonal ball from Willian, but Royal was across to him to block his shot, doing so again a couple of minutes later and the rest of the game until the final whistle consisted of Spurs breaking up Fulham’s intended attacks and then playing the ball around.
It was a comfortable-ish win, with Spurs dominating and dealing with anything Fulham could come up with. The defence played well, the defensive midfield were solid and covered a lot of ground, the attacking midfield caused a lot of problems for the Cottagers and Son was sharp up at the top of the team. Some mis-placed passes almost let Fulham in, but they failed to take advantage whereas we punished them for their errors. Against a stronger side, we may have been made to pay, so we need to finish more of the many chances we are creating.
The team work so hard off the ball, which is part of the pressure that builds on the opposition, producing the mistakes which allow us to go forward again. James Maddison was at the heart of the victory; taking the kicks and running up and back, his passing is a dream as he invariably finds his target. His finish was composed and it was a surprise that it was his first at the THS, but I am sure there will be more to come. It’s hard to believe that other clubs didn’t make more of an effort to sign him in the summer, but as he has said, that he always saw him playing for Tottenham and he is a great fit. However, he would probably acknowledge that he couldn’t function without those around him. Kulusevski also working hard on the right and Richi, despite his lack of goal putting in a good shift on the other flank, but Hojbjerg’s work often goes unrecognised. He covered the ground, got in tackles and did good defensive work as well as popping up in attack. One run into the Fulham penalty area in the first half was blocked off by a defender, which was what the referee had given a free-kick to Willian for earlier in the match. What was the difference between the two incidents ? Basically, one was outside the box and the other inside. Shamefully poor decision making by the referee, who allowed a lot to go comparable to other challenges he had given as fouls.
Pape Matar Sarr had another excellent game, with the back four all impressing under the tutelage of Matt Wells. So, we stay top by two points and have to go again in four days time at Palace. Hopefully the gap will be five points by Saturday morning, with the others having to play catch up then.
|AFC Bournemouth||1||Wolverhampton Wanderers||2|
|Nottingham Forest||2||Luton Town||2|
|Mancashter City||2||Brighton & Hove Albion||1|
|Newcash United||4||Crystal Palace||0|
|Sheffield United||1||Mancashter United||2|
|Aston Villa||4||West Ham United London||1|
Premier League Table 2022-23
|7||Brighton & Hove Albion||9||5||1||3||22||18
|9||West Ham United London||9||4||2||3||16||16||14||0|