Tottenham Hotspur 1-1 Fulham
It seems whatever route Tottenham Hotspur head down in a bid for their first Premier League crown in sixty-years, the old Tottenham – the frustrating Tottenham – are waiting in the wings to throw the odd spanner in the works, and this was to be one of those nights for Jose Mourinho’s wasteful side.
The pre-match talk centred around the staging of the game itself, so let’s try to break that down.
Tottenham was supposed to play Fulham in N17 on December 30. The game was postponed at just a few hours notice due to COVID concerns in the Fulham camp – Mourinho and Spurs weren’t happy!
Tottenham’s match with Aston Villa, scheduled for January 13 was called off due to COVID concerns at Aston Villa – The Premier League rescheduled the Lilywhites clash with the Cottagers at three days notice – Scott Parker and Fulham weren’t happy!
Whatever the argument, we had a football match. The North Londoners looked to keep the challenge alive on all fronts – Fulham hoping to build on four successive draws to clamber out of the dropzone.
Sergio Reguilón fired a decent early opportunity over the top after Heung-Min Son and Serge Aurier had fashioned an opening from the right. The dogged Cottagers responded – Hugo Lloris fisting forcefully away a fizzing attempt from André-Frank Zambo Anguissa.
Alphonse Areola saved Son’s close-range prod with his big toe. Then the Fulham stopper threw up a glove to turn over the South Korean’s goal-bound header as Spurs turned up the heat.
But having kept the hosts at bay, Areola could do very little to prevent the Lilywhites from grabbing the lead midway through the opening period. This time Harry Kane dived in headlong to meet Reguilón’s centre – the result inevitable – Kane poaching his eleventh league goal of the campaign.
Ruben Loftus-Cheek was a whisker away from a swift response – his scissor-kick drifting the wrong side of an upright with Hugo Lloris scrambling across his goal. Meanwhile, Pierre-Emile Højbjerg fired directly at Areola after Kane’s reverse pass had played the Dane in.
Moussa Sissoko was eventually crowded out as he attempted to bulldoze his way through immediately after the restart – Tosin Adarabioyo eventually halting the powerful Frenchman. Meanwhile, Fulham’s Kenny Tete drilled into the side netting when a square ball across goal appeared the better option.
Fulham began to see more of the ball, but it was Tottenham who continued to create the clearer chances. Areola leapt to his right to claw out Harry Winks’ speculative strike from distance, while Son hit the foot of the post after racing onto Tanguy Nbombele’s slide-rule pass.
But while the deficit remained slime, Fulham remained in the game. Ivan Cavaleiro met Ademola Lookman’s pinpoint cross – Lloris dived in vein – the West Londoners back on terms.
The boxer had taken the proverbial big punch – Spurs wobbled. Loftus-Cheek forced Lloris into an awkward save with his feet as Fulham looked to turn the game on its head.
Son headed wide, while Reguilón was denied by an assistants flag as Spurs became scrappy and desperate in their efforts to win the game. Antonee Robinson almost caught them out with a deflected effort which Lloris clung to under the bar.
Tottenham moved up to fifth as a result of the draw, but a significant opportunity to close the gap further had been missed. Fulham, for their part in the contest, deserved their fifth share of the spoils in a row. Spurs return to Premier League action on Sunday, January 17 when they take on Sheffield United at Bramall Lane (2pm).
Tottenham Hotspur: Hugo Lloris (capt), Serge Aurier, Davinson Sánchez, Eric Dier, Sergio Reguilón, Harry Winks (Erik Lamela 75’), Pierre-Emile Højbjerg, Moussa Sissoko, Tanguy Ndombele (Carlos Vinicius 81’), Heung-Min Son, Harry Kane Subs not used: Matt Doherty, Toby Alderweireld, Gareth Bale, Joe Hart (GK), Dele Alli, Lucas Moura, Ben Davies
Booked: Pierre-Emile Højbjerg (foul)
Goals: Harry Kane 25’
Fulham: Alphonse Areola, Ola Aina, Joachim Andersen, Tosin Adarabioyo, Kenny Tete (Ademola Lookman 67’), Ruben Loftus-Cheek (Josh Onomah 90’), Harrison Reed, Andre-Frank Zambo Anguissa, Antonee Robinson, Ivan Cavaleiro (Aboubakar Kamara 86’), Bobby De Cordova-Reid Subs not used: Michael Hector, Neeskens Kebano, Marek Rodák (GK), Tim Ream, Joe Bryan, Terence Kongolo
Booked: Andre-Frank Zambo Anguissa (foul)
Goals: Ivan Cavaleiro 74’
Referee: Paul Tierney
Assistants: Lee Betts and Harry Lennard
Fourth Official: Chris Kavanagh
VAR: Craig Pawson
Assistant VAR: Stephen Child