A Wonderful Christian Eriksen Performance Leads Spurs to Victory Over Fulham

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Younes Kaboul celebrates rare goal – Source: Getty Images

Tottenham Hotspur 3-1 Fulham
Saturday 19th April 2014

A wonderful performance from Christian Eriksen helped Spurs to three points and kept the Cottagers in danger. Tottenham kept their faint hopes of a top four finish alive with a performance that included a bit of everything from Eriksen. The Danish playmaker produced two excellent assists, but also gave away a needless penalty. Fortunately for him, Fulham missed that penalty late in the game.

The home fans where subdued for a large portion of the first half at White Hart Lane, which gave the game a testimonial-type feel. For Spurs, this was understandable with only an outside chance of Champions League qualification to play for. That certainly wasn’t the case for Fulham and their supporters. The Londoners need every single point they can get their hands on, and after excellent back-to-back wins over Aston Villa and Norwich City, Felix Magath will be very disappointed not to continue building on that momentum.

Fulham started the game the brighter of the two sides, getting around the park and closing Spurs down,  and generally working very hard. Spurs seemed just happy to settle into the game slowly after last week’s debacle when they found themselves 2-0 down to West Brom in no time. The in-form Hugo Rodallega had the first chance, getting to the ball before Younes Kaboul, before hitting his shot well wide from twenty yards. Spurs’ first chance fell to Aaron Lennon who volleyed well over and then had another shot palmed onto the post by Fulham goalkeeper David Stockdale.

Tottenham eventually got the break-through after the half hour mark, when Eriksen delivered a wonderful cross that was tucked away comfortably by the Brazilian Paulinho. This came after a dubious decision by referee Lee Probert to award a free-kick for a foul on Lennon. However, Spurs couldn’t celebrate for too long as Fulham hit back within two minutes. Steve Sidwell took advantage of some dreadful defending from centre backs Zeki Fryers and Younes Kaboul to poke beyond Hugo Lloris, leaving the Frenchman with little chance to save.

Fulham were now very much back in the game, but they will be very upset by their second half display, considering what’s on the line for them. They needed to push on but Spurs cantered to victory. First they regained the lead barely into the second period after some poor marking led to youngster Harry Kane glancing a header into the corner of the net, from a Lennon cross. He is continuing to re-pay manager Tim Sherwood’s faith in him, after scoring for the third consecutive league game.

Fulham did have a chance to equalise but Rodallega’s header was excellently parried over by Lloris. That was Fulham’s last chance really as Spurs increased their lead. Eriksen was once again at the heart of it as he produced another great dead ball and Kaboul bundled the ball into the goal at the back post, with Stockdale helpless. The game appeared safe but there was a chance for some late drama when Eriksen handled Rodallega’s touch. Referee Lee Probert had no doubt about the decision, pointing to the spot straight away. Sidwell took the kick but Lloris made a marvellous stop. If that had gone in, who knows what could have happened, but it wasn’t to be.

Fulham are still very much in the thick of the relegation battle, two points behind Norwich. However, the Canaries’ run-in will give Magath’s side some hope for beating the drop. This was a good win for Spurs as Tim Sherwood continues to stake his claim for the job long-term. That probably won’t happen but I think he should get a chance elsewhere.

Man Of The Match: Christian Eriksen continued his incredible recent form with two lovely assists. If he had produced this form for the whole season, Spurs might have had a better chance at the top-four and the Dane might have got a nomination for PFA Player of the Year. Look out for him big time next season!

Thanks for reading,

Glenn

Fulham conquer Norwich in vital relegation six-pointer

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Hugo Rodallega celebrates another vital goal – Source: EMPICS Sport

Fulham 1-0 Norwich City
Saturday 12th April 2014

Fulham won a huge three points in the scrap for survival to make it two wins in a row for Felix Magath’s men. That win lifts the Londoners to within two points of the Canaries who have a horrible run-in and look likely to struggle to add many points to their current tally. However, the great escape is well and truly on now for Fulham. They followed up last week’s big win at Villa Park with another, but it was Norwich who had the best of the first-half chances.

The game was very frantic in the early stages. Pajtim Kasami tried his luck but Norwich goalie John Ruddy was able to see the ball drift wide. Nathan Redmond then got free down the right but his effort was parred behind by David Stockdale, who excelled throughout. Martin Olsson was released by Bradley Johnson’s through-ball but Brede Hangeland cleared. Johnny Howson’s volley deflected off Jonny Heitinga. Steve Sidwell then over-hit his cross when well placed, as the frantic nature of the game showed no signs of abating.

Ruddy was then stretched to his limit but Hugo Rodallega angled his shot just wide after Kasami had flicked on well. Rodallega would have had a very good chance to score but failed to anticipate Sidwell’s touch, only eight yards out, with Norwich’s defence breached in the 19th minute. Bradley Johnson then made a timely intervention to send Kasami’s shot spiralling over Ruddy’s crossbar. The Norwich Goalkeeper spilled Keiron Richardson’s corner but was pleased to see the ball squirm across his six yard box.

Norwich then had two good chances to take the lead but found an inspired David Stockdale in their way. First with a quite brilliant one-handed reaction save from no more than six yards in the 28th minute from Ricky Van Wolfswinkel, and then his reactions were needed again from the resulting corner as he saved well from Dutchman Leroy Fer’s header, before Howson poked wide. Norwich then won a free kick when Heitinga hauled down Fer, who was cautioned by ref Mike Dean for attempting to take the set piece quickly and roll the ball into the open goal. Robert Snodgrass eventually took the free kick and drilled it against the crossbar.

Fulham then took the lead – very much against the run of play – five minutes before the break. They won a free-kick when Richardson was brought down by Stephen Whitaker, who was subsequently booked. Rodallega swept home after a wonderful delivery from Lewis Holtby and a flick on by Sidwell. Fer tried to get Norwich back in the game with an instant riposte but Sidwell threw himself in front of his strike. Fulham then nearly made it 2-0 from Richardson’s corner but Rodallega’s header at the far post was shovelled off the line by Martin Olsson for another corner.

Snodgrass was only denied by a desperate lunge from Hangeland six yards out after more good play by Johnson and Olsson. Then Askhan Dejagah’s whipped cross saw Rodallega head over. Shortly after, Johnson slipped over deep in Fulham’s half. It could have proved costly, as Sidwell led the break with support steaming up the pitch. Michael Turner just got back to divert the ball back to Ruddy, before substitute Gary Hooper swivelled onto fellow sub Wes Hoolahan’s threaded pass, but Fernando Amorebieta’s touch diverted the ball over.

Rodallega then denied Turner a certain leveller as he cleared the centre back’s header off the line. Fulham were now almost exclusively playing on the counter, as they looked to protect their one goal lead. Ruddy did well by using his lower body to keep out Sidwell on one of these occasions. Norwich strived to turn their territorial dominance into a goal but huffed and puffed and couldn’t blow Fulham’s house down. Things could have been worse for Norwich as Dejagah smashed over in stoppage time with just Ruddy to beat. Can Fulham survive? They have a manager that has the experience to do it and with Norwich’s run-in and a manager that has one game under his belt as the head man, they have to believe they have a great chance now, being just two points behind Norwich.

Man Of The Match: Hugo Rodallega worked tremendously hard all game and got the all important goal. He could have had a couple more, but that’s two huge goals in the last two weeks he has got, and six huge points for his club. He is another person who has seen it all before with Wigan, when they survived on the final day of the season at Stoke.

Thanks for reading,

Glenn