FA Cup Quarter Final Preview: Fulham vs. Tottenham Hotspur
This weekend see the F.A. Cup come to the fore, as eight sides battle it out for a semi-final berth in the World's most famous club cup competition.
Perhaps of most interest to England manager Fabio Capello will be this evening's 5:20pm kick-off at Craven Cottage, when Tottenham travels to in-form Fulham, who have just recorded one of their finest results in club history—having completed a 3-2 two-leg Europa League victory over UEFA Cup holders Shakthar Donetsk in Ukraine last week.
Of greatest interest to Capello, and most neutrals, will be a chance to see two England hopefuls battle it out at opposite ends of the pitch for a place in England's 2010 World Cup squad.
Peter Crouch (pictured) enhanced his international reputation further with a mid-week brace to seal England's 3-1 comeback win over African champions Egypt. Bobby Zamora, Fulham's leading scorer this season, is in the form of his life, and will have double the incentive to perform not only in front of Capello, but also against his old team.
With a tiring Fulham labouring to a mid-week draw at Sunderland, and injury ravaging Tottenham's once-sizeable squad, managers Harry Redknapp and Roy Hodgson could do without this game. But this is the F.A. Cup, and both managers know how much the competition means to the fans, and to their clubs.
Redknapp, an F.A. Cup winning manager at Portsmouth in 2008, will hope to lead Tottenham to an eighth success. Hodgson will be pleased that his team has a chance to knock out one of the favourites to win on home soil, where his team has been difficult to beat this season.
In fact, with only Chelsea and Aston Villa other likely candidates, each team has a real chance of securing a day out at Wembley.
Fulham will be without strikers Andy Johnson and Clint Dempsey, but left-back Paul Konchesky, a star performer this season, may return after an ankle injury.
Tottenham will be without most of its starting midfield, its two best centre-backs, and possibly Jermain Defoe, who complained of a tight hamstring after he was substituted at half-time for England on Thursday.
Redknapp will hope, however, that the livewire striker can shake off that knock. He will also monitor the fitness of full-back Gareth Bale, who has been his best player in 2010.
The battle between Spurs captain Michael Dawson and Fulham hotshot Bobby Zamora will be compelling, as will the match-up between influential Cottagers playmaker Danny Murphy and Luka Modric, Tottenham's wily Croat enforcer.
Expect a cracking cup-tie, and late drama. Back a 2-2 draw at 16-1 with Blue Square, while Tottenham is 14-1 with Ladbrokes to miss yet another penalty.
Schwarzer; Kelly, Hughes, Hangeland, Konchesky; Duff, Murphy, Greening, Gera; Zamora, Nevland Subs: Zuberbuhler, Shorey, Smalling, Davies, Etuhu, Riise, Elm
Gomes; Corluka, Dawson, Bassong, Assou-Ekotto; Krancjar, Modric, Palacios, Bale; Pavlyuchenko, Gudjohnsen Subs: Alnwick, Dervitte, Livermore, Parret, Rose, Kane, Defoe
Prediction: Fulham 2-2 Tottenham
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