It’s back to Wembley on Saturday for Fulham as we head across the capital to take on Spurs in their temporary home of the national stadium. Things aren’t going massively well off the pitch for Tottenham at the minute with no new faces through the door leading to a lot of disgruntled fans and then the delay in the move to their new stadium announced this week. A lot of the Spurs fans I know have stated that they don’t like playing at Wembley as it doesn’t feel like home and we all saw how slowly they started there last season. They struggled to put games to bed at Wembley against teams like ourselves until the second half of the season, which might give us a bit of hope going into Saturday’s fixture.
I’ve heard that Spurs have only sold as few as 25,000 tickets (this isn’t confirmed) for this game as so many fans are frustrated about the stadium situation, and season ticket holders have had to essentially re-buy the Fulham tickets after they were refunded from their original purchase. It’s all a bit strange and so many Spurs fans just don’t want to go back to Wembley. What is certain is that the atmosphere will be nothing like what it was back in May when 85,000 Villa and Fulham fans took the place over. This could play to Fulham’s advantage, especially if we start the game well which will lead to more disappointment for the Spurs fans, which can easily leak into the performance on the pitch.
On the other hand, we are undoubtedly taking on one of the league’s best sides in Tottenham Hotspur. They have a team filled with World Cup stars and players who have been consistently good over the past few seasons. There has been a lot of talk about Harry Kane’s August goal drought, but Fulham are very good at letting teams and players break unwanted records against them (I still have nightmares of Sunderland away last season). Last Saturday we had 7 new faces in the Fulham line-up so it’s understandable that we haven’t quite gelled yet while Spurs have the same team as last season which, while it’s frustrating for their fans, at least means that there will be no danger of them not being comfortable which each other on the pitch.
Despite the result on Saturday, I think Fulham should stick with the same line up against Spurs. Changing things too much after one game for me will only be detrimental to any progress as well as possibly wrecking the confidence of those who are dropped so early. There has been a lot of debate about the keeper situation but I think that’s a position where you need consistency more than most. If Fabri is dropped after 90 minutes then it sends a message out to the rest of the team that any mistakes could cost you your position on the team and I don’t believe that is the sort of atmosphere you want around the squad. I am not saying that mistakes should be over looked, but I’m saying that deal with it on the training pitch in order to create an atmosphere where players can thrive. Obviously if a player is clearly out of their depth then don’t play them, but I don’t think that was the case for any of our players on Saturday. When some of the other new boys like Anguissa and Mawson are fit and ready then they should be integrated into the team, but I’d rather that they were fit and able first.
With the difference in stature of the two clubs I reckon we can go to Wembley on Saturday with very little pressure on us which should allow us to play with a real sense of freedom. I think the playing relationship between Seri and Cairney already looked exceptional on Saturday so I expect it to be even better as the weeks go on. It will be interesting to see how they stand up against the likes of Erikson, Ali and Dier.
One thing that is certain, however, is that the supply up to Mitro needs to be far better than it was against Palace. We had so many opportunities to create chances but our big Serbian was let down time and time again by the crossing of various players. For me, it is that element of last weeks game that should have been the focus this week at Motspur Park. We will find out on Saturday if this has been the case.
My team- Fabri, Bryan, Chambers, Le Marchand, Christie, McDonald, Cairney, Seri, Sessegnon, Mitrovic, Schurrle