The player ratings are provided by Young Mac (aged 15) who watched the game on a stream. These were the notes on each Spurs player I came home to:
Gomes 7 – Not called upon often. Booked for a definite foul and conceded from a one on one but that’s not really his fault.
Hutton 7 – Some good attacking runs and play with Bentley.
Gallas 7 – Looked solid until his costly mistake with Kaboul that led to the goal.
Kaboul 7 – Gallas and him both looked solid until the mistake which led to the goal
Ekotto 7 – Defended well and worked well with Bale. May have commited himself a couple of times and got beat.
Bale 7 – No master class from him tonight. But you can’t really expect that every game. Some good attacking runs.
Modric 7 – Looked good to begin with but towards the end started making sloppy passes.
Huddlestone 7 – Got beat by Welbeck a couple of times and for the goal but sprayed the ball about nicely.
Bentley 6 – Wasn’t impressed with him tonight. His specialty is the cross for a target man to head goal bound. Pav isn’t this man. Couple of poor shots and a poor free kick from a good position. Definate penalty when he went down. But when Crouch came on he looked better.
Van der Vaart 8 – Impressive performance. Sprayed the ball about nicely. Scored and had a few chances well saved. Linked up well with Crouch but not so much with Pav. If Van der Vaart plays Crouch has to too.
Pavlyuchenko 6 – Didn’t link up well at all with Van der Vaart. One good bit of play when he turned and shot just wide but that’s about it. Gave the ball away a bit.
Crouch 7 – Linked up well with Van der Vaart when he came on. Got a assist. When he plays. Bentley is the best at putting the high ball in for him.
You can see all the player ratings for those games watched this season in the sidebar at all times or by clicking this link: Player Ratings
I missed the start of the game having immersed myself in Tottenham Hotspur: A Nostalgic Look at 100 Years of the Club but got a feed on YES in time to see Dempsey rattle the bar with a free kick. The book is part of a series entitled “When Football was Football” and the match confirmed this on a couple of occasions. Firstly Kranjcar was called for a foul when trying to hit a shot inside the box on a dropping ball. The Fulham defender got there first only to get hit by Niko’s boot. Purely accidental, no one hurt so why a free kick?
Then in the second half another 50/50 ball produces a free kick when allowing play to continue was the better option. These days the slightest contact causes the referee to blow his whistle. Is football no longer a contact sport?
The game finished goalless and provided a valuable point for us to add to our tally. It was really as a result of a faultless performance – in the part of the game I saw – by Heurehlo Gomes including a number of blinding saves and one excellent double effort by Schwarzer from firstly Crouch and then Jenas to prevent us nicking the points.
Fulham looked the better side and more likely to score though we had our fair share of possession throughout. I did not see the Crouch effort that was disallowed but Fulham looked comfortable at the back winning nearly all the second ball from Crouch’s knockdowns. Dawson and Bassong were struggling with Zamora who has made himself into a much stronger and effective player since his short spell at White Hart Lane and had Gomes not been in fine form we would have conceded.
Fulham are no longer the clueless side who we thrashed 5-1 on boxing day a couple of seasons ago. Roy Hodgson has built a capable group of players and their performances last season and so far this allowed their supporters to taunt us with an “only one team in Europe” in Europe chant. This result will do no damage to Harry’s own quest to achieve a European spot. Expecting a midfield struggle Keane and Jenas came into the side for Defoe and Huddlestone and this proved to be the right decision. Robbie is more willing to drop deep in support of the midfield and JJ may be better in the tackle.
Modric came on for a quiet Kranjcar, Defoe replaced Keane and King had a few seconds at the end after Bassong was knocked out by a Fulham boot. I fancy they will all keep their spots for the visit of West Ham on Monday.
This is the game we have got to win if we want to have any hope at all of a T4 finish. And not only that, we need to get our show back on the road. Earlier in the season I ran a ruler over the two squads and concluded that the weakness Manchester City have is at centre back where Toure and Lescott have still not established a successful partnership. Whoever we play up front we need to exploit that and throwing hopeful balls into the area from 100 yards is not going to be helpful to our cause.
City will be without Bellamy but they have such riches up front that our hearts will remain in our mouths for the duration of the game. The bloke who used to play for Arsenal and usually scored against us will be back and we should keep a close eye on him. Can Bassong and Dawson keep these guys marked at set pieces to give us something to build upon? It’s going to be one of the tales of the tape come 10.00 tomorrow night.
Elsewhere Wright-Phillips is injured De Jong a doubt and Modric not quite ready to start. Therefore it will be Saturday’s starting midfield for us with a toss up of Dos Santos or Jenas for the bench alongside Luka. I would go with Keane and Defoe once more and hope that the link play lives up to the early games of the season. For me it is important for Defoe to get an early shot as it settles him and encourages him to play the team game. Saturday’s performance mirrored a number of his games for the club. Over anxious from a lack of involvement he tries too hard to gets shots off ignoring the run of others. If he scores it is great but in these games it rarely happens.
So to the fullbacks. Bridge is a doubt for them and for us Corluka was too slow Saturday and Assou-Ekotto a little off on his first touch. They can both play better and need to do so to hold off Bale and Hutton. Unfortunately Bale showed against Everton why he has not been starting in this position all too easily allowing the Everton debutant to get round the back and cross so Benoit will start. Both guys need to work well with their wingers and because City may fancy it more than Wolves did I expect Lennon and Kranjcar to get opportunities top create problems.
If they do we can win it; if they don’t we may well struggle.
Finally, Tom Huddlestone and Wilson Palacios. Wilson needs to mark his territory and stick to it winning the ball and laying it to others to do damage. Tommy needs to mix it up. His Hoddle like balls are fantastic but he must decide on occasions to push through the middle carrying the ball in an effort to create doubt in the defenders mind and create space for RK and JD. We know he can score but he won’t unless he shoots. He cannot do that if he remains too deep looking for the showboat pass.
Whatever the result I hope we see a good game. If we play well and lose I will accept that. I won’t like it but City have power throughout the side and we have not been on song in the last few games sufficiently to close them out.
Love to see a 2-1 to us but a draw may be a good result. Whatever happens let’s all get behind the team!