Tottenham Hotspur vs. Fulham FC:  Preview

Simon Davies could be a key player for Fulham on Saturday

With a mid-week match against Inter Milan looming and half the squad considered to be of "questionable" injury status, your guess for what we're going to see tomorrow morning is as good as mine. The same can be said for Fulham, who are seriously hoping that Andrew Johnson and Moussa Dembele are ready to go for tomorrow. If Eddie Johnson and/or Diomansy Kamara have to play 90 minutes, Tottenham are probably in really good shape.

As Russ Goldman and I discussed today, the biggest match-up in this game could be between two perfectly healthy first choice players, Tom Huddlestone and Danny Murphy. In a brief preview of this match for The Mothership, I pointed out that this is probably the key to the match. Both have a sick range of passing, Murphy is more mobile, and Huddlestone is a much bigger dude. They both win their fair share of 50-50 balls and the advantage in the match could go to whoever wins more.

I'm also very interested to see the match-up between Simon Davies and Gareth Bale. Both players are balanced wingers who are known more for their abilities going forward than defending, but both are decent ball-winners and solid athletes. Of course, I don't need to tell Spurs fans about Simon Davies, he was a quality, hard-working player for us for years. He's only improved his game over the last couple of years with Fulham and his match-up against Gareth Bale will be an interesting one.

So, what are the chances that Harry does something really stupid like starting Roman Pavlyuchenko and Peter Crouch together? How about starting places for both Wilson Palacios and Jermaine "What Does He Do Exactly" Jenas? Gareth Bale at left back? The possibilities are endless!

Our lineup is a wildcard for obvious reasons and Fulham's lineup is a wildcard because of their injuries up top, but I fully expect to see two teams lined up in the exact same formation, as I indicated in the preview for the SBNation Soccer home page. The key cog in the attack for both teams might be that attacking midfielder, and Clint Dempsey and Rafael van der Vaart play significantly different roles for their teams.

Dempsey is likely to drop into the midfield to combine with Murphy and Dickson Etuhu, as well as put pressure on Tom Huddlestone when Fulham do not have possession. Rafael van der Vaart, on the other hand, is likely to do less defensive work and cover less ground than Dempsey, playing closer to a true playmaker's role. If the game turns into a battle between Huddlestone and Dempsey instead of a battle between Huddlestone and Murphy, that likely means that Fulham are struggling to get and keep the ball and Tottenham have a significant advantage. 

Projected Lineup, Fulham (4-4-1-1): Schwarzer / Salcido, Hangeland, Hughes, Baird / Duff, Murphy, Etuhu, Davies / Dempsey / E. Johnson

Projected Lineup, Spurs (4-4-1-1): Gomes / Assou-Ekotto, Bassong, Gallas, Hutton / Bale, Modric, Huddlestone, Bentley / van der Vaart / Crouch

I feel like I need a qualifier here. No, I am not a fan of David Bentley. No, I do not think he is a great footballer who deserves to start for us. The fact is, I'm sick of this crap where we play a central midfielder at right midfield who drifts inside and doesn't track back to the right wing, leaving our right back to do two jobs. This has gotten us torched on multiple occasions. 

Prediction: Craven Cottage is a really tough place to play and Mark Hughes' side is yet to lose. A 1-1 draw seems like a probable result.

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