Despite the agonising nature of last week’s late loss at Newcastle, Fulham head into tonight’s meeting with Tottenham Hotspur at Craven Cottage full of confidence. That’s because of the belief that Marco Silva has imbued in this side – something reference by Andreas Pereira in his pre-match interview with Dave Kidd – but also because the Whites are quietly turning the Cottage into a tough place to come again. Strong home form was the bedrock of all those astonishing achievements under Roy Hodgson, who will receive his Forever Fulham award on the pitch at half time this evening.

If Fulham are on the up, as epitomised by a first SW6 derby win over Chelsea for seventeen years in their last home fixture, then you’d have to wonder about the trajectory of tonight’s opponents. Perhaps the most worrying thing about Tottenham’s collapse at Manchester City in midweek was that you could see it coming. Now Pep Guardiola’s side are one of the best in the world and are absolutely ruthless as an attacking force, but Spurs and defensive discipline just don’t go together. They do possess some of the Premier League’s most potent attackers but you could easily see a situation where Antonio Conte, a top coach battling to recover from three recent personal tragedies, walks away at the end of this season.

The Italian coach has cancelled the planned contract renegotiations in a bid to end Tottenham’s pitiful form. They have lost three of their last four top flight fixtures, including a rather routine North London derby victory for Arsenal, and have suffered seven defeats in thirteen league games if you take the longer view. For a coach like Conte, who prides himself on organisation, the fact that Tottenham have conceded 31 goals in their first twenty league matches this term – their poorest defensive return since 2008 – will be personally galling. The shambolic defensive set-up is one of the reasons why Fulham can approach this fixture, which they haven’t won since Dimitar Berbatov scored against his former employers at White Hart Lane nearly a decade ago, believing they can add to Conte’s concerns.

The Whites will need to be wary of the likes of Son, who might not have been as consistent this term as last, but remains a real threat with both his vision and ball carrying ability. Then there’s Harry Kane, linked with a move to Manchester United in the red tops. The England captain has struggled for the potency we usually associate with him of late, but he stands a single goal shy of equalling the great Jimmy Greaves’ club-record 256 for Spurs. You wouldn’t bet against him reaching that mark this evening: Kane has a devastating scoring record against Fulham – the striker has scored seven times in six outings against the Whites. There will also be a return to the Cottage for Ryan Sessegon, whose exploits as a sixteen year old breaking into Slavisa Jokanovic’s special side, seem more remarkable with the passage of time. I hope Sessegnon, who has also struggled at Spurs this season, gets the rapturous reception his contribution to Fulham’s history deserves.

Silva is beginning to benefit from a bit of consistency in selection following injuries, suspensions and the post-World Cup glut of games that had us all wondering what day it was. Only Neeskens Kebano is missing with a long-term injury, although the Congolese winger has began cardio training at Motspur Park ahead of schedule. Shane Duffy has got over the illness that restricted his participation earlier this month and Antonee Robinson returns from suspension having missed last weekend’s trip to Newcastle. Fulham now have a squad that gives Silva a selection dilemma every week – but I suspect, with the FA Cup fourth round tie against Sunderland offering an opportunity for rotation at the weekend, he will ask the regulars to try and deliver another special night on the freezing banks of the Thames.

Much has been made of Silva’s adventurous approach this season – and the Portuguese coach’s adherence to his footballing principles is rightly lauded. But the big difference between this Fulham outfit and the ones that appeared far too deferential to their Premier League opponents in previous years is the intensity of their football. The Whites set a serious tempo from the outset, with the hassling and harrying of Harrison Reed and the tenacious tackling from Joao Palhinha setting the tone. Given that Willian is enjoying a real resurgence and Bobby Decordova-Reid’s versatility allows the Jamaican to feature in a number of positions, you know that the midfield will work both to protect an improved back four and create chances for Aleksandar Mitrovic. The Serbian may have taken two touches with that fateful penalty at St. James’ Park but no longer can anyone quibble with his quality. The fact that he has numbers around him in the box – and Pereira’s playmaking ability adding awesome service – makes Fulham a far more dangerous proposition.

As Pereira adroitly pointed out in his interview, the trouble is that the rest of the Premier League knows about the weapons that the Whites have had their disposal. That means the second half of this sensational season will prove tougher. But everything we’ve seen so far from Silva, his staff and this special squad suggests that will be able to meet the moment.

MY FULHAM XI (4-2-3-1): Leno; Tete, A. Robinson, Diop, Ream; Palhinha, Reed; Decordova-Reid, Willian, Pereira; Mitrovic. Subs: Rodak, Adarabioyo, Kurzawa, Cairney, Wilson, James, Solomon, Harris, Vinicius.