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Senderos signs new Fulham deal

Phillipe Senderos has signed a one-year extension to his Fulham contract which will keep him at Craven Cottage until 2014.

The Swiss international, signed by Roy Hodgson in his final weeks at the club, joined from Arsenal on a free transfer in June 2010 but injured his Achilles tendon in his first training session at Motspur Park after returning from the World Cup. The injury sidelined Senderos for most his first season at Fulham and he made his first-team debut in the 3-0 win at Sunderland on 30 April 2011.

The 28 year-old started Martin Jol’s reign as a first choice centre back alongside Brede Hangeland but has largely been a back-up to the established partnership of Hangeland and Aaron Hughes. He returned to the starting line-up in place of Hughes after Fulham’s 4-1 FA Cup defeat at Manchester United in January and has recently helped Fulham to keep successive clean sheets against Norwich and Stoke City. Senderos has made 43 appearances for the club, scoring one goal, a headed winner in the last minute against Wigan last April.

Senderos told Fulham’s official website he was pleased to sign a new contract and believes the team can finish in the top half of the Premier League table again this season:

I’m delighted to extend my stay with the club by a further year. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed my time at Fulham so far and I love playing for this club.

I’m relishing playing first-team football and I’m confident that we can continue our recent good form and end the season strongly. A top-10 finish is certainly achievable.

Senderos encouraged by defensive solidity

Phillipe Senderos feels Fulham’s defence might just be returning to their miserly ways after a resolute rearguard effort secured a first clean sheet since November at Norwich on Saturday.

The Swiss defender played his part in Fulham’s first clean sheet in fourteen games at Carrow Road and, although Martin Jol was left disappointed by his side’s lack of a cutting edge up front, there could be no faulting the application at the other end of the pitch. The result was even more impressive when Stanislav Manolev was such a late call-up to the squad to replace the sick Sascha Riether that he had to hurry up to Norfolk in a cab on Saturday morning.

As a defender, I’m definitely happy that we didn’t concede. It’s been a while since we’ve had a clean sheet and it feels good to know we can rely on our defensive stability and, hopefully, we can do that in the next game and push on and score some goals.

We have to take the positives from the game. I think a draw away from home – especially with a clean sheet – is a positive thing. We kept it tight at the back and we were hoping we could create a few more chances in the second half but, unfortunately, the goal didn’t come. But we stayed strong and it’s important that we keep a good stability and build on from the point.

It was important to be strong at the back and not give them any chances and then try and push on forward. As soon as we got behind their midfield it was quite difficult and we needed to turn the screw a bit more and make sure we play that last pass, but we gave them time to get back into position. It didn’t quite happen for us but the point is the important thing and we moved forward in the table with that.

Senderos has kept his place in the side since replacing Aaron Hughes for the 3-1 win over West Ham and is hoping to try and secure a run in the first team alongside skipper Brede Hangeland.

I’m really pleased to be back in the side and bringing my qualities to the team. Hopefully I can give good performances and keep my place. We’ve got a little while until our next match now so we’ll regroup and recover – it’s been a busy period and now we have a weekend off so it’s time to focus. We’re at home so it’s an especially good opportunity to move forward.

Fulham 0-3 Tottenham: Player ratings

This was one of those defeats that brings you back to earth with a bump. After a morale-boosting point at Stamford Bridge in midweek, Fulham headed into a tough test against Tottenham believing they could match Andre Vilas-Boas’ men and Martin Jol’s team selection was certainly adventurous. Not for the first time in his Craven Cottage tenure, the Dutchman was perhaps too open against a top side – playing both Kerim Frei and Ashkan Dejagah from the start, although the hosts were certainly contributing to an even contest up until Mark Schwarzer let Sandro’s speculative shot from distance squirm through his body and into the net.

The dispiriting nature of Fulham’s meek surrender after Sandro’s strike will have perturbed Jol, who spoke afterwards of a loss of Fulham’s ‘fighting spirit’. Many of the basic mistakes that littered their display were worrying and the squad now have eight days to put things right down at Motspur Park prior to the visit of Newcastle United, another side struggling to recapture their scintilating early-season form, on Monday week.

Player ratings

Schwarzer: The Australian goalkeeper’s decline is now becoming noticeable. Now 40, Schwarzer has a definite difficulty in getting down to save shots hit low to his right – and should never have let Sandro’s effort get through his grasp – although Fulham stood off the Brazilian alarmingly to allow him the pop at goal from such a distance. Stood little chance with the two predatory finishes from Jermain Defoe, but the psychological damage from his earlier mistake was considerable. 5

Riether: Forced off after coming off worse following a clash with Clint Dempsey – having gamely tried to persevere despite spending some time on the sidelines clutching his rib. Fulham badly missed the German who has been one of their most consistent performers this season and it remains to be seen how much recovery time he’ll need. 6

Riise: Found it difficult to contain the lively Aaron Lennon and also struggled to raid forward effectively. The England winger did well to pen his opposite number back, but with Kerim Frei fading badly by the hour mark, Fulham could really have down with some impetus to be provided by their adventurous full-back. He didn’t make any glaring mistakes and will probably still be reflecting on the golden opportunity he spurned in front of goal at Stamford Bridge. The Norwegian was noticeably the only man to venture past the halfway line to applaud the fans following this dismal defeat. 6

Hughes: Unable to replicate his midweek excellence, although this wasn’t a disastrous display from the Northern Ireland centre back. Largely successful in keeping Defoe quiet for much of the contest, but the England striker showed his international class by taking the two clear openings he had in the space of five minutes. Looked comfortable in possession, but had limited ‘out ball’ options due to a lack of movement in front of him. 6

Senderos: The Swiss has swiftly become the scapegoat for every poor performance and, although he was well below his Stamford Bridge levels, so were many other Fulham players this afternoon. Competed well in the air, but gave the ball away far too regularly and his two poor decisions cost Fulham dear. He opted to try and jockey Gilfyi Sigurdssson, but the substitute skipped away from him on his way to byline to cross for the second goal and, five minutes later, Senderos’ late decision to push up having failed to track Defoe’s run allowed the Spurs striker through on goal. Disappointing. 5

Diarra: Still looks short of match sharpness – and the worry is that the Malian midfielder will only be approaching his peak performance levels by the time he’s set to represent his country at the Africa Cup of Nations. He was combative enough in the midfield area, flooring Clint Dempsey early on with one fiesty tackle that delighted the boo boys, but too often chose the wrong option when in possession. Struggled to dictate the game against Spurs’ efficient duo of Sandro and Dembele. 6

Sidwell: Another whole-hearted performance from the man who’s quickly become the heartbeat of the side. Looked lively and, as a Londoner, understood the importance of another local derby. Played at a tempo that was missing from the rest of the side, but was often involved in an uphill struggle, battling to retrieve possession. Might have put Fulham in front with a little bit more guile and pace when released by a brilliant Berbatov pass in the early stages – and maybe that would have made for an altogether happier afternoon. 7

Dejagah: Given an opportunity to reprise his energetic effort against Arsenal last month and, although the Iranian started impressively, he couldn’t get the better of the outstanding Jan Vertonghen, who was filling in for Benoit Assou-Ekotto again at full-back. Full of running, Dejagah’s willingness to attack the Tottenham defence was commendable but he often opted to hold onto the ball or dribble past another man rather than retaining possession. It’s still early in his English adventure but this was a timely lesson about the importance of an end product. Had Frei converted his first-half cross things could have been very different. 6

Frei: For me whilst Frei is still finding his fitness, the teenager’s a far better option off the bench to run at tiring defences. He lifted a shot over from a promising position after Dejagah had been sent scampering down the right by another beautiful Berbatov flick, but faded badly thereafter. At 19 and having had so little time on the pitch this season, it’s harsh to be overly critical but the Turkish international too often took the ball into traffic and looked predictable after being nullified by Kyle Naughton. 5

Petric: Often a chance to press his claims for a permanent place in Fulham’s starting line-up, Petric struggled to get the ball in areas where he could hurt Tottenham in an almost carbon copy of his frustrating afternoon at Stoke a week ago. The Croatian, who couldn’t repeat his Hamburg heroics from a free-kick in a similar position at the Hammersmith End, looks a little more hesitant than he did at the start of the season, when he was taking shots from all angles, but there was no faulting his work rate on what became an infuriating afternoon. Expressed his disbelief at the heavy defeat following the final whistle on Twitter – and is likely to be sacrificed should Bryan Ruiz be fit to return against Newcastle. 6

Berbatov: Brilliant again against his former employers, but you have to wonder whether he’s becoming frustrated with those around him. Was Fulham’s creative hub in a fluent first half, playing two brilliant passes to send Sidwell and Dejagah surging forward, but his scornful look at the Iranian after he headed into the Hammersmith End in the second half said it all. Once again, Berbatov was forced to drop deeper to influence proceedings and found himself regularly running away from goal to retrieve the ball, thereby reducing the time he spent in space that could occupy Tottenham’s two centre halves. Looked horribly isolated without Bryan Ruiz creating space and pulling the strings behind him. 7

Substitutes

Kelly: Like Senderos against Sunderland, the Irish full-back’s been out of the first-team picture for so long it is harsh to judge his effectiveness on an unexpected early arrival caused by Riether’s injury. Did well to contain Gareth Bale – who would be far from your ideal opponent as a full-back looking to make an impression – but made the mistake of showing Sigurdssson inside a matter of minutes after he had replaced the Welsh winger. Five minutes later, he was caught horribly square by Dempsey’s through ball for Defoe as the England forward finished the contest clinically. 5

Duff: Kelly’s compatriot would have justified in his disappointment at being dropped after a diligent and effective display at Stamford Bridge, but being the consummate professional, Duff’s displeasure didn’t show. He made an immediate impact having been sent on for the fading Frei and was far more effective in running at Vertonghen than the teenager, although Defoe’s five-minute double rendered it all rather academic. For me, Jol got this selection wrong – and Duff will be desperate to start against his old club when Newcastle come to town. 6

Rodallega: The Colombian was offered ten minutes to pose a pacier problem for Tottenham’s back four than Fulham had managed previously, but the game was largely played in front of the visitors back four. 6

Senderos steals in to secure late win

In football as in life, timing is everything. There were a few groans when Philippe Senderos’ name was read about from the people who sit around around me as Martin Jol picked the Swiss centre back for the first time since his disappointing display against Swansea. But Senderos, an immensely likely man and much improved since his unfairly heavily maligned early days at Arsenal, has made very few mistakes this season and it was apt that he was the man who soared to send a 90th-minute free-kick from John Arne Riise into far corner and snatch a come-from-behind victory that was a little cruel on Wigan.

For much of a tactically compelling contest, it appeared as though Fulham would be frustrated both by Roberto Martinez’s clever tinkering with the formula that has put the Latics, previously consigned to the drop by so many of football’s commentariat, in sight of safety. The inventive system which the Spaniard has bravely adopted to offer both strength in the numbers and the ability to break at speed into the wide areas – thereby playing to Wigan’s strengths – seemed to befuddle a bemused Fulham who found it particularly difficult to prize open the visiting defence.

Damien Duff spooned an early chance over the bar from an inventive Danny Murphy free-kick and the Republic of Ireland winger, who has been in superb form in recent weeks, also sent an effort just wide after playing a one-two with Mahamadou Diarra and surging into the penalty area. Wigan’s attacks might have been sporadic but they kept possession well and looked a real threat on the counter-attack. Aaron Hughes, switched to right back in the absence of the Stephen Kelly, had to use all of his nous to shackle the lively Victor Moses.

The second half proved far more open and Martinez’s side took a lead that was perhaps merited if only for their greater adventure after the break. Boyce carried the ball deep into Fulham territory and found substitute Connor Salmon, a young striker who has shown signs of real talent since his arrival from Scotland, and although Senderos managed to nick the ball away from Salmon it returned to Boyce who cut inside purposefully and drove an unstoppable shot into the far corner.

It was a terrific strike – but Wigan’s joy was incredibly short-lived. Fulham, who had looked frightfully fitful for much of the game, found an equaliser just 71 seconds later. Pavel Pogrebnyak, who looks like one of the signs of the season having come in on a short-term deal from Stuttgart on transfer deadline day, drove a classy finish into bottom corner after a clever turn bought him a little time and space just outside the box. The goal owed much to Moussa Dembele’s mazy little dribble through midfield – and the relief around the Cottage was tangible.

That equaliser gave the home side their confidence back and we saw some more of the mesmerising short passing and interplay behind the midfield and linking with the raiding John Arne Riise, who had another superb game at left back. The supposed controversy over whether Pogrebnyak’s close range finish from a Riise cross is rather irrelevant in retrospect – it certainly looked marginal – but the man itself didn’t complain too much, perhaps disbelieving after he had the bar from such a great position in the first place. Another effort from the Russian came back off the post and when Gary Caldwell’s sliced clearance hit Senderos and found the side netting rather than nestling nicely in the corner it seemed destined to end 1-1.

Jol, criticised in some quarters like previous Fulham managers for not making changes to win games, withdrew Murphy in favour of teenager Kerim Frei and the little winger’s lively cameo frightened the life out of Wigan’s tiring defenders. His first contribution was one of those trademark dribbles and another run produced a particularly senseless challenge from Boyce, allowing Senderos to complete Fulham’s late escape act.

FULHAM (4-2-3-1): Schwarzer; Hughes, Senderos, Hangeland, J.A. Riise; Diarra, Murphy (Frei 81); Duff, Dembele, Dempsey; Pogrebnyak. Subs (not used): Stockdale, Baird, Briggs, Etuhu, Kasami, Johnson.

BOOKED: Frei.

GOALS: Pogrebnyak (58), Senderos (89).

WIGAN ATHLETIC (4-1-2-3): Al-Habsi; Boyce, Figueroa, Alcaraz, G. Caldwell; McCarthy (Watson 75); McArthur, Beausejour; Moses, Gomez (Maloney 56), Di Santo (Sammon 33). Subs (not used): Politt, Gohouri, Diame, Jones.

BOOKED: G. Caldwell, Boyce.

GOAL: Boyce (57).

REFEREE: Lee Mason (Lancashire).

ATTENDANCE: 25,689

Senderos states case for the defence

Philippe Senderos saluted Fulham’s defensive solidity today and says the discipline of the back five goes a long way to explaining the side’s recent good run of form.

The Swiss defender returned to the team for Sunday’s 5-0 romp past Wolves at Craven Cottage, which proved a second successive clean sheet after the win at QPR the previous Saturday. Whilst the likes of Pavel Pogrebnyak and Clint Dempsey are earning the plaudits for Fulham’s recent goal spree, keeping it tight at the back has been the hallmark of the club’s steady progression in recent seasons.

We have a good solid approach to games. It is also a massive help that the guys are running their socks off up front as that really does make our job easier at the back.

We’ve won three games in a row now and that does a lot for confidence. We’ve been working hard and lately our form has been really good so to get the results to go with it is very positive and hopefully we can finish the season on a high.

Our goal at the beginning of the season was to be in the top ten and hopefully now we can do better than just being tenth. We are on a good run and hopefully we can continue that with a good away performance next weekend.

We’ve got enough quality in this squad to look towards the top of the table instead of looking down so hopefully we won’t be looking over our shoulder. But we have to keep putting in performances like we have been doing and hopefully that will see us pick up plenty more points before the end of the season.