Inside Lane: A Spurs fan's view of the defeat against Fulham
PUBLISHED: 12:42 19 March 2013 | UPDATED: 12:53 19 March 2013
Tottenham blogger Daniel Grigg looks back on Sunday's 1-0 home defeat against Martin Jol's Cottagers at White Hart Lane.
Everything looked rosy after the victories over Arsenal and Inter Milan a fortnight ago and Spurs fans were hoping that their side would build on those results – particularly when they led 2-1 away at Anfield. But those hopes have since faded badly.
Tottenham have now suffered three successive defeats and conceded eight goals in the process, scoring just three. It does not make pretty reading, and that sequence has helped to galvanise Chelsea, Arsenal and Everton, who all won at the weekend and have a league game in hand.
The standard instruction is to look forward, not back – but that is not hugely encouraging either as we look ahead to a difficult run of fixtures: Swansea away, Everton at home, Chelsea away and Man City at home.
On its own, the loss at Liverpool didn’t change the momentum too much - there were positive performances that day, despite the very sloppy second half and the first league defeat since early December.
However, the trip to the San Siro a few days later was costly, as Spurs suffered a frankly horrible 4-1 defeat away at Inter Milan and just about scraped through a tie that they had been leading 3-0 after the home leg.
It is difficult to recover from that, both mentally and physically, in less than three days – and whatever Andre Villas-Boas and his players did, it didn’t work.
Tottenham were bereft of any impetus going forward against Fulham, despite the changes to the personnel.
It was a very strange decision moving Benoit Assou-Ekotto forward to the left side of midfield, given the options on the bench, and he struggled to get to grips with the role. Surely there were better ways to drop Jake Livermore and move Mousa Dembele back into the centre again?
Mark Schwarzer certainly enjoyed an easier afternoon than most goalkeepers get away at White Hart Lane. He made a couple of good stops to earn his clean sheet, but was also indebted to Tottenham’s ineffectual passing and failure to create chances.
Even a well-rested Gareth Bale, who was probably fortunate to miss the gruelling 120 minutes of heart-in-mouth agony last Thursday, found little joy – which was surprising given that Fulham’s lumbering centre-back pairing looked like the perfect fodder for him.
On the other hand, it was not so perfect for Emmanuel Adebayor, who started up front on his own against the dominating and physical figure of Brede Hangeland.
In effect, the match was ultimately a tale of three strikers. Adebayor worked hard enough this time but could make virtually no impact or impression on the game.
Jermain Defoe is without a goal since Boxing Day and had very few touches of the ball after appearing as a second-half substitute – although he twice came close to scoring.
The third was Dimitar Berbatov, who was probably the best striker of my time as a Spurs supporter – even ahead of Jurgen Klinsmann and Teddy Sheringham.
Unfortunately, he reminded us all of what we are missing at the Lane, scoring the only goal of the game to take his tally to 38 in his last Premier League games, despite his star supposedly waning.
There was only really one positive to cling onto on Sunday amidst the gloom – a decent display from 20-year-old Tom Carroll, who replaced Mousa Dembele and was preferred to the unused substitute Lewis Holtby.
Carroll was recently called up for the England Under-21s for the first time, and he at least tried to get his foot on the ball and move it down the pitch with some rapidity, despite sometimes giving possession away.
It’s hard to know whether an international break is a good thing when a side have just lost.
Sometimes teams and fans like to jump straight back in with another game. But, after seeing Spurs’ demeanour against Fulham - shell-shocked, exhausted and uninspired - another league game would probably have done more damage than good.
Follow me on Twitter @daniel_grigg