First up I thought something about Jamie O’Hara having to wait till next season to get to Wembley, unless he does move to Stoke, or something about why would Spurs regret selling Zamora, or some comment about were Fulham actually Juventus in disguise, I couldn’t have gone for anything about a game of two halves.
A sluggish start from Spurs, as ‘Arry put out the only available senior outfielders that were fully fit, the bench consisting of those coming back from injury, one player who was a certainty not to feature even on the bench a few hours earlier and a couple of kids.
But the XI that started just weren’t on it. The midfield just wasn’t in the game at all in a lethargic and profligate performance, Niko Kranjcar looked lost on the right, he wasn’t helped much by his fullback Corluka and neither of them could deliver any sort of decent ball. Even more lost was Modric, has he ever given away possession as much as he did in that first 45 minutes. Exceptionally poor performance, though mainly created by the pressure and closing down by Fulham. All those years that the fans have craved for two actual left footers on the left-hand side, the pairing of Assou-Ekotto and Bale showed again that this has it’s disadvantages. As Bale was again restricted by being doubled up on.
Then the opening goal as the visitors finally took advantage of their good start and Spurs bad. Yes Zamora took it well, not much thought involved, but why would we regret selling him when he scored against us 7 years later from his 1 goal in 16 appearances. So he’s finally actually done something all these years later, big deal. I think Spurs would prefer to have had those that played in the last 7 years, Defoe, Keane, Berbatov, Pav etc. Probably regret it less than regretting not keeping Kelly, Konchesky, Davies and Murphy. Certainly that last one who didn’t get a fair chance because of a certain player having to start.
Spurs came back into it, should have had a penalty, when Kelly palmed the ball away from Crouch, leading to Gudjohnsen putting a nifty little back heal in and nearly catching Schwarzer out. Fulham though could also have added to their lead with a couple of good chances.
Then came the break, ‘Arry had been sitting in his nice comfy Recaro seat puffing his cheeks out but that was all the animation we saw from the manager. Obvious bottling up for that 15 minute interval.
Second half started with the introduction of two players coming back from injury Huddlestone and Bentley, which resulted in a positional change around of players. With Assou-Ekotto and Kranjcar making way, with Bale dropping back to left-back and Modric moving to the left from the middle. It had an immediate effect.
Bale having more room to bomb on from deep as Modric moves inside, taking the defenders with him, the Welshman was fouled. Bentley lines up the free-kick which skims past everyone’s head in the box, thankfully including the off-side Corluka, and hits the corner of the net.
There was now more life and a better look to the formation, Spurs were keeping the ball and using it like they can. Then the other incident that changed the game Corluka in a challenge and the Fulham player rolls over on the ankle of the Croat. It looked bad to begin with but he tried to see if he could carry on but no. Two subs already used what does ‘Arry do now bung on the only experienced player at his disposal or a kid? Well he went with the first option and replaced a fullback with a striker, with another change of player positions, a striker who wasn’t even going to feature only hours earlier and was only going to get 20 minutes at the most would have to now play most of the half and maybe extra-time.
Again it paid off almost immediately as seven minutes later as Pavlyuchenko, drops back and bangs in Bentley’s long cross past Schwarzer on his near post, well maybe not extra-time after all. There was only one team in it now. Gudjohnsen had dropped into midfield and again showed what a good signing he was in January, both versatile and adaptable he proceeded to show a masterclass in midfield play-making. Six minutes later he started the and finished the move that saw Spurs take a 3-1 lead. A nice semi-disguised ball to Crouch and then he made an excellent run into the box, as Crouch laid it off to Modric who played an excellent, if deflected, ball into Gudjohnsen’s path for him to skip past the ‘keeper and cap a terrific second half display.
Bentley got the man-of-the-match award and he did play a huge part in the victory, doing what he does best playing it simple, getting to the byline and putting in crosses, no show-boating, no fancy Dan crap. But Eiður Smári Guðjohnsen really should have got teh bottle of champagne he handed to his team-mate after the game.
Yes as Roy Hodgson said Fulham came back into it after that but the game was over, Spurs had eased off, Gomes had everything under control the only problem being Bassong going off in injury time. Another win but two more players going down. But the latter was overshadowed by an F.A. Cup semi-final and the news that Citeh and Villa had squandered their games in hand, for the race for 4th spot in the league, with a home loss and draw respectively.
Tottenham Hotspur 3 – 1 Fulham