OPTA PREVIEW: Fulham v Tottenham Hotspur
Fulham play their first home match in the post-Saha era, with new signing Brian McBride arriving from Columbus Crew to replace the departed Frenchman. It will be 31-year-old McBride’s second spell in English football after a successful spell at Everton last season. Four goals in eight games for the Merseyside club - including a goal after just ten minutes on his debut against Tottenham Hotspur — showed that the American international was more than capable of playing in England’s top flight.
McBride returned to the US to play in Columbus, but despite top scoring with 12 goals from 24 games, the Crew finished bottom of the Eastern Conference and outside of the play-offs.
The Illinois-born forward converted 25% of his shots at Everton and if McBride can recapture this form in a Fulham shirt, he will be a more than adequate replacement for Saha. So far this season the new Manchester United number nine has a conversion rate of 21%.
Saha’s departure may also see Barry Hayles given a more prominent role. The ex-Bristol Rovers striker has been the most used substitute in the Premiership this season (14), but his four goals have come from just 11 shots at goal.
Like Fulham, Tottenham will also start the game missing a main goalscorer. With Frederic Kanoute away scoring goals for Mali, Robbie Keane has responded to the extra responsibility by scoring in the last three league games. The ex-Internazionale forward has scored in six games this season and his side have won them all.
Spurs have struggled recently against London opposition, with no win in the last 11 Premiership games played in the capital. The last victory came in September 2002 when an 89th minute Anthony Gardener goal gave Tottenham a 3-2 win against West Ham United.
With both sides facing midweek FA Cup replays, both managers will be keeping their teams focused on the battle for league points. With Fulham having not drawn any of their last eight home games and Spurs without a score draw all season, both sides will know the importance of scoring the opening goal. It will be down to the managers to select the right blend of available personnel to win this all London clash.
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|Shooting accuracy %||48%||40%|
|Pass completion %||71%||73%|
|Cross completion %||25%||23%|
|Tackles won %||74%||72%|