After Thursday night comes Sunday afternoon, and Tottenham Hotspur host Fulham at White Hart Lane still recovering from the aftermath of yet another remarkable midweek European encounter.
One way or another Tottenham managed to make it through to the Europa League quarter-finals after somehow winning, losing, drawing and eventually winning a gruelling two-legged tussle with Inter Milan.
Thursday night at San Siro didn’t go exactly to plan as Spurs were pegged back to 3-3 on aggregate before Emmanuel Adebayor’s extra-time goal ushered them through on the away goals rule.
Without the suspended Gareth Bale, Andre Villas-Boas’ side looked a shadow of the team that has steamed up to third in the Premier League table, but on Sunday their Welsh wonder will be back as they resume the chase for a Champions League place when they host Fulham.
Spurs will be keen to kick on from their late loss to Liverpool last weekend, and with Arsenal and Chelsea hot on their heels they can ill afford many more slip ups.
In many regards Fulham at White Hart Lane are the perfect opposition. The Cottagers are floating around mid-table in no danger of going much higher or lower, while they annually struggle on the road.
Martin Jol’s side have picked up just two wins on their travels so far this season, yet have only lost four of their last eleven.
How this game goes depends on a couple of factors for me. Firstly, and most importantly, what effect will the rigours of two hours of intense cup football have on Tottenham? Bale will be back but how much else is left in the tank and can they adequately rouse themselves to do the business on the graveyard shift of the Sunday 3 o’clock kick-off?
How things fare may also be dictated by which Fulham show up. Given their comfort it’s not beyond the realms of possibility that they’ll go through the motions, but the Cottagers have already earned deserved draws at Chelsea and Arsenal and if they’re on the ball – and Tottenham off it – it is possible they could complete the full sweep.
bwin’s 3way football betting market sides with the hosts and makes Tottenham 9/20 favourites with the draw at 10/3 and Fulham well out at 23/4.
You may have read somewhere before in previews of Tottenham games that the man likely to swing it their way is Gareth Bale. Now I’m not for one minute suggesting that this team relies too heavily upon him, but I do find it fascinating how he scores so many goals whilst playing the guitar, blowing a harmonica and pedalling a drum strapped to his back.
Tottenham’s top goalscorer will be refreshed after sitting on the naughty step for the Inter game and if he can find his rhythm once again, then I fancy Spurs to take the points.
Bale has scored approximately 97.4% of Tottenham’s goals this season and he’s needed too with Adebayor doing a fine impression of somebody that can’t be bothered and Jermain Defoe shooting from anywhere.
If Fulham can keep Bale at bay then they’ll be in with a chance, but that’s easier said than done and 3/1 for Bale to score first (again) will float somebody’s boat.
The key for Tottenham will be starting with a tempo and if they score first – and early – I reckon it could turn into a bit of a cruise. But I think the visitors could do enough to keep this alive until the second half given their recent record away to the top-four chasing London clubs, especially if Spurs fail to rise from their slumber.
The half-time draw is priced at 29/20 and I’d be tempted to go one further and pick the half-time draw/Spurs win at a lengthy 18/5 and that is the bet.
But if you think Fulham can take advantage of tired Tottenham, another quirky one from the goalscorers market is Dimitar Berbatov to score anytime at 11/4 and he could really come back to haunt his old club if he does find the back of the net.
It’s 50/1 that Berba will get things going in a 1-1 draw, and I’ve definitely put money on worse things than that.
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