Tottenham Hotspur-Fulham Preview
LONDON (SE) - Two teams who know each other extremely well meet at Craven Cottage on Saturday afternoon, when Fulham host Tottenham Hotspur on the banks of the Thames.
Spurs face a team managed by their most popular former manager of the Premier League era in Martin Jol, and are also likely to have two players in their ranks who moved from the Cottage to White Hart Lane in the summer. Moussa Dembele emerged as a major force in the English top-flight under Jol at Fulham, but Clint Dempsey insisted this week he did not always feel wanted at his old club.
"If you always felt valued and appreciated enough, I don't think you'd ever leave but it came to a point where I didn't feel valued and appreciated," said Dempsey. "Not by the fans but by other situations. That's just the way things went. The chairman was great to me but it got to the point where I wanted to keep going and try to further my career.
"I thank them for the five-and-a-half years I had there, which were some of the best experiences I've had, and I'm grateful to the chairman for taking a chance on me. Any time I go back, there will always be good memories. How you're received, you're received. It's unfortunate how things happened but I look forward to going back."
Fulham (4-5-5) continued their strong start to the season with a credible scoreless draw at Stamford Bridge on Wednesday evening. The draw was Fulham's fourth away from home this season, but their best form has come at Craven Cottage, where they have picked up three of their four wins and conceded seven of their 23 goals. Midfielder Kerim Frei is hopeful of Fulham continuing that home form with a good result on Saturday, speaking after he made his return to the starting line-up in midweek.
"It was great to be on the pitch again with Fulham, it's been a long time and I'm really pleased to be back in the team," said Frei. "I train really hard every day to get my place back, so that's my target for the next few weeks.
"Against Chelsea you want to show more, you want to show fans you can do something, in every game I want to show what I can do. We're playing well so we just have to have confidence, I think we can get a decent result against Tottenham on Saturday."
Spurs (7-2-5) are short at the back, with Younes Kaboul (knee) and Benoit Assou-Ekotto (knee) still out, and Steven Caulker struggling with illness. Scott Parker is back in light training after his Achilles operation but is still at least a week from returning, while Emmanuel Adebayor serves the last of his three-match ban for the red card picked up at Arsenal.
Dempsey and Dembele are both likely to start against their former club, but Andre Villas-Boas will be hoping to have the option of a change at centre-back after the combination of William Gallas and Michael Dawson failed to impress against Liverpool.
Bryan Ruiz (hamstring), Alexander Kacaniklic (hamstring) and Simon Davies (hip) are out for Fulham. Jol may look to bring Mladen Petric back into the team following the draw with Chelsea, although the midfield trio of Steve Sidwell, Mahamadou Diarra and Georgios Karagounis did well to strangle the creative game of the Blues, and may be asked to do the same job against the dangerous Spurs midfield.
Tottenham have won the last five league meetings between these teams, and haven't lost to Fulham in a Premier League match since November 2008. Spurs beat Fulham 2-0 at White Hart Lane and 3-1 at the Cottage last season.