Fulham vs. Tottenham: Everything You Need to Know
Fulham vs. Tottenham
Premier League, kickoff Saturday 15:00 (UTC) / 10:00 (EST)
The end of an era, the close of a season, the death of the dying.
No matter how exaggerated these phrases may sound, they accurately describe the circumstances surrounding Tottenham and Fulham last time they played.
We didn't know it at the time, but it was to be Harry Redknapp's final day on the touchline for the north London club. Luka Modric was shipped off months later to Real Madrid and fan-favorite Rafael van der Vaart wasn't far behind.
But this Saturday, Tottenham and Fulham reunite for what will be a key match in deciding the fate of both clubs. Will Andre Villas-Boas' Spurs pull into the top-five with a victory, or will Fulham defend Craven Cottage and cement its position in the top-half of the table?
Both clubs are on a short week, with Tottenham having just defeated Liverpool Wednesday night and Fulham travelling across town to draw 0-0 with Chelsea.
So sit back, relax and enjoy—it's everything you need to know about Tottenham's clash with Fulham on Saturday afternoon.
Fulham's Recent Form Favors Tottenham
Let's be real—Fulham isn't scaring anyone.
Its two best players, Clint Dempsey and Mousa Dembele, ran as fast as they could to Tottenham during last summer's transfer window and they've only won one match since September 23rd.
The Cottagers are only five points out of relegation and sit firmly at 11th in the league table—under such "heavyweights" like West Ham United and Stoke City. Their best offensive weapon is summer signing Dimitar Berbatov, and ESPN is reporting that Martin Jol believes his team has been "bullied" on the pitch.
Fulham's recent poor form is giving every Spurs fan reason to be hopeful going into Saturday's contest and the pitiful way the Cottagers have handled themselves these last two months overshadows this match.
...But Just Barely
I'm not buying what Tottenham's selling.
Villas-Boas' Spurs have been about as consistent as Roman Abramovich's contempt for managers. They went into Old Trafford and ground out a 3-2 victory only to fall weeks later—at home nonetheless—to Wigan Athletic.
Sure, Tottenham absolutely throttled West Ham United, but it was only after three consecutive league losses.
Fulham may be bad, but Tottenham can be worse. The question is, will they? They're coming off a much-needed victory against Liverpool and sit three points out of the top four.
Tottenham Needs to Watch out for Bryan Ruiz
With Dempsey and Dembele leaving Craven Cottage during last summer's transfer window, many in Fulham were left wondering the same thing:
"Other than Berbatov, who's going to score our goals?"
Berbatov hasn't disappointed and I'm excited to see how Tottenham's lackluster team of centre-backs will handle the Bulgarian striker, but it's not he who should give Villas-Boas restless nights.
Enter Bryan Ruiz.
The 27-year-old Costa Rican sensation has been on fire the last few weeks, scoring two goals, assisting on two others and generally tearing midfielders to shreds.
Tottenham's centre-backs aren't anything to write home about and it'll be interesting to see who plays on Saturday, what with them hosting Liverpool on Wednesday. No matter who's anchoring the defensive line, they better watch out for Ruiz.
...and Fulham Need to Double Up on Defoe
For every bit a gift as Ruiz has been for Fulham, Defoe has been that and more for Tottenham.
This summer, Villas-Boas overhauled every facet of his new-look Spurs—except the offense.
Defoe was the only senior striker in the squad for quite some time and with how underwhelming the offense was in preseason friendlies, you would have been forgiven for wondering if Tottenham could get to 30 goals this season.
With seven goals, only Robin van Persie, Demba Ba and Luis Suarez are faring better in England's Premier League.
Defoe is the reason a top-four finish seems probable for Spurs and why Villas-Boas will keep his job through the winter.
I'm going with a draw.
Fulham didn't have to play that hard to draw against a pitiful Chelsea side. Tottenham, however, had to work to grind out a victory over Liverpool.
I'm saying 2-2, with Defoe grabbing a brace and Hugo Lloris letting in a late goal from a corner kick.