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Dembele and Dier on Fulham and KAA Gent

Posted on 17 February 2017  - 10:30

Eric Dier looked for perspective after our 1-0 defeat at KAA Gent as both he and Mousa Dembele flew home from Belgium convinced we can turn around this Europa League Round of 32 tie next week.

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“In football, I don’t think you can ever take the highs too high and the lows too low,” said Eric as he contemplated the 1-0 loss at the Ghelamco Arena. “That’s key - and we won’t.”

Belgian international Mousa, who received a standing ovation from all sides of the stadium when he was substituted in the second half, added: “It’s a couple of bad games (Liverpool and KAA Gent) and we need to get over it. Maybe we’ll talk together and see what’s going on but we’re experienced enough to turn it around.”

Jeremy Perbet’s goal on 59 minutes consigned us to a narrow defeat on Thursday night.

Eric described it as a ‘sucker punch’ as it came in our best spell at the start of the second half where Harry Kane struck the post and we’d started to get on top after a switch of system to three at the back.

Boosted by the goal, KAA Gent’s energy levels didn’t drop and they hit the woodwork later in the half.

It’s a big week ahead with Fulham in the FA Cup fifth round at Craven Cottage on Sunday (2pm), the second leg against KAA Gent at Wembley (8.05pm) on Thursday and then a return to Premier League action with Stoke the visitors to the Lane on Sunday week, February 26 (1.30pm).

So it’s Fulham next and that means a big game on a personal level for Mousa, who joined us from the Cottagers back in August, 2012 after two years in west London.

Below: Mousa on target for Fulham in his days at Craven Cottage - with ex-Spurs Stephen Kelly and Simon Davies

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Dembele on Fulham

This must be a special game for you, Mousa…
Mousa: “Yes, it means a lot. I had some good experiences at Fulham. Again, we need to concentrate on our own game to turn this feeling around. It’s a tough game and they will be motivated to play against us, so we need to deal with that. We’ve built something very good over the last two years and teams take us seriously, we need to know that and to adapt. It’s like anything, we have to play our own game, we have to dictate with the quality we have. That’s what we need to do.”

Dier on Fulham

It looks like a classic FA Cup tie at Fulham on Sunday…
Eric: “Yes, it’s a difficult match and a difficult place to go and play football. We’re all looking forward to it and it’s great to play in the FA Cup. There really is no easy game, no matter who you play and we learned that in the last round against Wycombe. We’ll be ready, for sure. Whenever you go through a testing situation you have to learn from it and change it.”

Neutrals will be looking for a cup shock…
Eric: “It’s what the FA Cup is all about - surprises - and we have to make sure we’re at our best, and we will be.”

Below: Eric in action at KAA Gent

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Dier on KAA Gent

What were your thoughts on the game?
Eric: “I thought it was quite even in the first half, maybe they were on top but we handled it well. We were aggressive and on the front foot and that’s one thing we were disappointed with at Liverpool and we improved in that way. At the start of the second half we were doing well, getting more and more into the game, getting more on top and that’s when they scored, in our best spell. That was a bit of a sucker punch. After that, it was difficult to turn it around. It’s only half-time in the tie though and we’ll go to Wembley believing we can turn it around.”

Did we underestimate KAA Gent in any way?
Eric: “No, I don’t think so. We had the right attitude, we were aggressive. We didn’t take it lightly at all. We knew it was going to be difficult, we knew they would fight and that the atmosphere would be good here. We knew we would have to be at our best and I just don’t think we were for long enough periods in the game."

Below: Mousa in action at the Ghelamco Arena

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Dembele on KAA Gent

Overall view…
Mousa: “It was a difficult game for us. They were sharp and just about on top in every action and you can lose a game like that.
I knew it was going to be a tough game because they have a lot of quality in their team. Now we need to make it up and win at Wembley. We know we have enough quality. We haven’t had the success we’d hoped for at Wembley but we need to turn that around.”