Ugly wins are not things normally associated with Tottenham Hotspur but we got one yesterday and achieved 9 out of 9 points for the holiday season. Give credit to Fulham who more than played their part in the game, so much so for a lot of the second half we were hanging on under an onslaught of pressure as they fought valiantly to get back into the game.
In my prediction I suggested one goal and they would fall. It took 42 minutes to find and had Schwarzer not produced a decent save from Bale a minute later the floodgates could have opened. But Fulham got to half time, regrouped and came out in the same organised way in which they had started the first half. Had Michael Dawson and William Gallas not both had outstanding performances at the back Fulham would certainly achieved a draw and possibly a win.
Yet we had more chances to add to our lead. Bale skied a right foot shot over the bar from a corner and Lennon’s late shot was deflected over the bar by a Fulham defender only for a goal kick to ensue. Lennon should have passed to Jenas who was in space with sight on goal but by the time he saw him I think he had slipped into an offside position. Dawson also had an opportunity from a corner which he volleyed over the bar.
No mention of our strikers? Unfortunately Pav had another of his anonymous afternoons, one weak shot from well outside the box his sole effort upon goal. My biggest problem with him is that he finds it so difficult to get into the game and often his anticipation is non existent. Take for example the brilliant piece of skill that Van Der Vaart used to work on opening in the second half. Having beaten, against the odds, two defenders he played a cross that went right across the box with both Pav and Lennon rooted to the spot marvelling at his artistry.
Arsenal recently beat Chelsea scoring two goals when their anticipation was first class and they caught their opponents napping. As a striker standing deep in the box and watching does nothing to create goals. This might appear harsh as the chance of Van Der Vaart wriggling through was probably low but if anyone could Rafa could.
That was probably Rafa’s best moment for overall he had a quiet game. This was the first time he has played over Christmas and the energy needed for three games was maybe a bridge too far. It was however his free kick that Bale got his head on to change its direction and leave Schwarzer flat footed as it sped past him into the net. At the ground it looked like Bale putting his head onto an errant Rafa shot but the Sky highlights showed them discussing tactics before the kick was taken. Whatever the planning the result was certainly needed.
For much of the game we struggled to get our rhythm going as we would have wanted mainly as a result of Fulham’s organisation. Hutton had to be replaced by Corluka as a consequence of injury and Charlie made an impressive return playing some delicate balls through to Lennon. Modric continued his vein of form and whilst not emulating his Newcastle performance was bright throughout. Ekotto linked well with Bale and Modric putting in the solid performance we are become accustomed to and forced Schwarzer into a good save from his rasping 35 yard shot and Palacios without being outstanding found white shirts on a regular basis.
In goal Gomes ended the game catching crosses after beginning in punching mode and after coming on Crouch gave him another outlet where before Bale had been his only target. Crouch’s introduction provided opportunity to others as he flicked headers towards Bale and involved Modric and the other midfielders.
So not our best performance of the season but another three welcome points and a visit to Everton up next. If we could secure at least a point we will certainly be in a strong position when Manchester United visits the Lane.