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Lowdown on Fulham

Posted on 14 December 2001  - 12:00

Tottenham Hotspur (Spurs) Football Club is located in North London. The club is also known as Spurs. Tottenham's home ground is White Hart Lane. The club motto is Audere est Facere (To dare is to do).

Fulham's prospects in the top flight divided many a pundit and pub sage during the summer months.

Followers and optimists suggested that, backed by Mohammed Al Fayed's millions and steered by Jean Tigana, Fulham would take the Premiership by storm playing the brand of football that was just too good for division one last season.

The more conservative pondered that the leap up to Planet Premiership might just be a leap in the dark for a side with little experience of the league to call on.

Would the Fulham defenders have the nous to deal with the likes of the jet-heeled Michael Owen, the stealth of Teddy, the power of Duncan Ferguson? Would Louis Saha be able to translate his goalscoring form to a higher plane? All questions that would be answered in due course.

The common thinking was, however, that while Fulham might not conquer all before them, they certainly wouldn't be jostling with the perils of relegation.

That is pretty much how it is panning out so far.

Fulham have proved they are no one's whipping boys, in fact, they haven't kopped a hiding off any team yet and they have encountered most of the big boys. So the question of whether their defence would cope with a higher class of striker has been answered to an extent.

Andy Melville and Alain Goma have been resolute in their defending - and coped quite admirably with Michael Owen in Wednesday night's creditable draw at Anfield.

It was a result that indicated that Tigana's men can enter the big arenas, hold their own and not be overwhelmed by the occasion. They might not take the game to their opponents but, with a heavy dash of slick passing and possession there is always going to be the chance of nicking a goal or two.

It is the nicking of goals over a sustained period that could be described as a slight weakness. Saha is maybe finding that Premiership defenders are a tad more cute than their division one counterparts.

The Frenchman is struggling to find the net on a regular basis, defenders are not allowing him to get the run on them and he is having to work a lot harder to find shooting opportunities. The addition of record signing Steve Marlet to the squad should have eased the burden on Saha, but his fellow Frenchman has been out with injury.

It has given the opportunity to shine in the top league to Barry Hayles, and the former Stevenage striker has responded to his new surroundings with eight goals so far this season - including one against Spurs.

A belief that Tigana and Fulham share with Glenn and Spurs is playing football in a manner pleasing on the eye. Our team, who like to play the passing game, had to surrender lengthy periods of possession to Fulham during the Worthington Cup encounter at Craven Cottage.

There could be a swing in possession at the Lane with Spurs being the home side, but the meeting has the ingedients of being one for the purist.

Veteran midfielder John Collins has conceded this season that Fulham need to do more than simply pass the ball, hinting that possession is all very well but it does need and end product. The Spurs team plays in a similar style, but no one could accuse the play of not being targeted towards scoring chances.

Les Ferdinand was the benefactor of three of those chances on Tuesday night in cup combat, Glenn would no doubt settle for three points come Saturday evening.