Fulham entertains Tottenham on Monday to wrap up the Premier League game week 21. This clash, in any other season, would have a narrative of a top side facing a bottom side. But this is no ordinary season.
And, come Monday, when the two London clubs face each other, the narrative would be that of two teams, both in the top half, both contending for European football.
This is a testament to both, the follies of Spurs and the proficiency of Fulham.
Fulham have fared well in London derbies this season, beating Palace and Chelsea while Spurs have been a mixed bag, drawing to Chelsea but beating Palace four goals to nil.
Fulham’s five-game winning run across all competitions came to end against Newcastle, thanks to an 89th-minute Isak goal.
Tottenham’s last win came in the 3rd round of the FA Cup, a narrow 1-0 win against Portsmouth, a team playing in League One, the third tier of the English footballing pyramid. Since then, they’ve lost two in a row to fellow Big Six sides Arsenal and City.
Both teams will be looking for a win to give their European ambitions a push. A win for Fulham, who have been over-achieving and by some order, will see them leapfrog Spurs and even Brighton, depending on their results, and see them go 5th in the table. A win for Spurs will consolidate their 5th spot.
A loss for Fulham, on the other hand, could see them tumble down the table to as low as 11th.
The game also sees two golden boot contenders go up against each other. Or perhaps, the race for second place in the race, with Erling Haaland clear at the top. Harry Kane, with 15 goals, currently is the best of the rest, with Mitrovic for Fulham at fourth place.
Also featuring in this game are some top assisters in the league, with Andreas Pereira, Kulusevski and Ivan Perisic all tied for fourth place with 5 assists each.
History does side in Tottenham’s favour, with the team winning their last 6 away matches against hosts Fulham in all competitions leading up to this match.
But Fulham fans do not need to lose hope, for as much as Spurs have won historically, they have also not fared well in recent memory. In fact, they have conceded more than two goals in 9 of their last 10 games in the Premier League, a stat Mitrovic and co. would be looking to worsen for Spurs.
Below is everything you need to know about the clash.
Last 5 Games
Fulham comes into the game in much better form than Spurs. The former has won four in the last five PL games while only losing once. On the contrary, the latter team has lost thrice, won once and drawn once.
Loss: 4-2 Man City
Loss: 0-2 Arsenal
Win: 4-0 Crystal Palace
Loss: 0-2 Aston Villa
Draw: 2-2 Brentford
Loss: 1-0 Newcastle
Win: 2-1 Chelsea
Win: 1-0 Leicester
Win: 2-1 Southampton
Win: 3-0 Crystal Palace
Fulham are well rested, having played their last game on the 15th. Spurs, on the other hand, played City on Friday and will have only the weekend to recover and hit the pitch again.
Craven Cottage has reported no new injuries. In fact, they welcome the suspended Antonee Robinson back into their ranks. Neeskens Kebano remains a long-term absentee due to his Achilles injury.
The treatment room at White Hart Lane is almost empty as well, with Lucas Moura the only person expected to miss the action. Bryan Gil picked up a knock and will perhaps face a late fitness test.
Manager Antonio Conte expressed concerns over Bentancur and Kulusevski, who have been showing signs of fatigue due to fixture list congestion.
Fulham: Leno; Tete, Diop, Ream, Robinson; Palhinha, Reed; Decordova-Reid, Pereira, Willian; Mitrovic
Tottenham: Lloris; Romero, Dier, Lenglet; Emerson, Hojbjerg, Bentancur, Sessegnon; Richarlison, Kane, Son
Spurs lead their rivals in head-to-head in all competitions, winning almost twice as many games as Fulham, 51 to 26.
The last time they met was earlier this season, on 3rd September, where Spurs won 2-1 thanks to goals from Hojbjerg and Kane and a consolation late goal from Mitrovic.
The last time Fulham won against this opposition was all the way back in March 2013, courtesy of a single goal scored by Dimitar Berbatov.
Where the game will be decided
Spurs’ leaky defence was there for all to see after the side conceded four times in one half against Manchester City.
In Conte’s own words:
“To concede 21 goals in the last 10 games, this is usually a team that fight in the relegation zone”.
Lenglet, Dier, Romero or whoever plays in the centre of the defence will have to work hard to make sure that Mitrovic, who has already scored 11 in 16, is kept quiet.
The extra rest that Fulham have had will be defining and the game may very well be won in the last 15 minutes depending on Spurs’ physical conditioning.
Spurs and England captain Kane scored the winner against this side last time out and the supporters would be hoping that the feat is repeated this time as well.
He sure should be hungry for goals, having gone goalless in the last two games. Craven Cottage would be hoping that Tim Ream and Issa Diop, the centre-back pairing for Marco Silva, would be at their best and keep the opposition at bay.
We back Fulham to end up victorious. Spurs are fragile and fatigued after their draining match against Manchester City and Fulham, the side that beat Chelsea recently, are the ideal side to take notice of this and use it for their benefit.
Fulham will feel like they have very little to lose, while Spurs on the other, cannot risk another loss and with that, Europa contention. It is poised to be an exciting match, that’s for sure.
Fulham 3-1 Spurs
Fulham to win: 11/5
Tottenham to win: 11/10
*By Betfair At the time of writing
The action starts at 8 PM GMT at Craven Cottage, and the referee for the match is Paul Tierney.