Jack Stroudley looks at how Fulham can get back to winning ways back under the Cottage lights on Monday.
Despite a disappointing last-minute defeat to Newcastle last Sunday, the mood amongst Fulham fans is still very positive. Next up we face a Tottenham side who have only won one league game since the return of football after the World Cup with fans’ scrutiny being focused on owner Daniel Levy. Fulham will have left St James Park frustrated last weekend but with Marco Silva and co still riding the wave of that famous win over Chelsea, how do we get back to winning ways on Monday night?
Antonio Conte has had success nearly everywhere he has gone and almost always operates with a back three with two wing backs who like to press up the pitch whenever necessary. I have attached below a heat map from Spurs last victory which came away at Crystal Palace.
From this we can see how wide Spurs like to play, stretching the pitch with their wing backs while also ensuring the two midfielders remain close together and provide defensive cover for the back three. Their attacking presence comes from a front three (usually Kane, Son and Kulusevski) who are (as well all know) incredibly dangerous with Harry Kane in particular having a tremendous season scoring 15 goals so far in 20 games.
Spurs attacking threat is prominent in nearly every game they play. Despite this, their defensive limitations have been noticeable since the Premier League’s return and Antonio Conte is feeling the pressure from this… and this is how Fulham can maximise their chances of victory.
How do we prepare?
Conte’s system is very reliant on their wing-backs performing well, of which they have struggled since the restart. Despite scoring against Manchester City, Emerson Royal always seems to be a weak point in the Spurs defence so bringing Antonee Robinson back into the side and doubling up with Willian could cause him and Spurs a lot of issues and allow us to create chances frequently down the left-hand channel.
Equally, in the other wing-back position neither Ivan Perisic or former Fulham man Ryan Sessegnon have been able to lock their place in the starting lineup since the Premier League restart due to poor performances which once again is where Fulham can exploit with Tete and Decordova-Reid doubling up on the wing back that Conte chooses to play on Monday.
I would make one change to the side that played against Newcastle with the previously mentioned Antonee Robinson returning for PSG’s Layvin Kurzawa.
The final verdict
Despite Spurs being out of form, playing one of the big six is always going to be a tricky test. But Fulham have gone into every game with no fear this season and there is nothing to suggest we won’t do the same on Monday night. A win would take us to the heady heights of fifth with the dream of a European tour continuing to flourish. While I wouldn’t be surprised if we came away with all three points, I’m going to be slightly more pessimistic and predict a draw.