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MARK LANGDON'S PRE-MATCH VERDICT
Fulham, 2pts 4-1 (Bet Direct)
GLENN HODDLE’S decision to sell Les Ferdinand and Sergei Rebrov could come back to haunt the Tottenham manager when his side entertain Fulham at White Hart Lane this evening.
With top scorer Robbie Keane missing, Spurs are woefully lacking in the forward department, and they look too short at 4-5.
When backing a side at odds-on, you must be sure they have the ability to score goals and a front two of Teddy Sheringham and Gary Doherty does not inspire confidence.
The Lilywhites bagged four against Sunderland last time out, when Keane lasted just over 20 minutes, but that only goes to show how bad the Black Cats are.
It is difficult to choose between the draw and a Fulham victory, but with Jean Tigana’s side looking more adventurous in recent matches, they could be decent value at 4-1.
Fulham have a poor away record – just one league victory from 13 encounters – but they were unlucky not to get anything at Arsenal on their last awayday, when Robert Pires stole a winner for the Gunners with the last kick of the game.
The Cottagers recorded a 3-0 success at home to West Brom on Wednesday and it was interesting to see Tigana’s more positive approach.
The Frenchman went with a three-pronged strikeforce of Steve Marlet, Facundo Sava and Louis Saha, with the magical Steed Malbranque in a free role behind that trio.
Malbranque, who is considered by many observers to be the natural successor to Zinedine Zidane for France, is capable of turning any game and he should enjoy playing against a lightweight Spurs midfield.
Maybe the explanation for Fulham’s terrible away record is, with the exception of Sean Davis, a lack of strength throughout the spine of the team, but it is not in Spurs’ nature to try and out-muscle the opposition.
The versatile Goran Bunjevcevic is the only holding man in a Tottenham midfield now that Steffen Freund has found himself surplus to requirements.
Gus Poyet, Darren Anderton and Simon Davies can mix it with the best, but they will allow Fulham to play their wonderful triangles and hopefully one of Marlet, Sava or Saha will find the onion bag with one of the many opportunities they always create.
Keep stakes sensible in case Tigana decides to play a weakened side ahead of their FA Cup clash at Burnley on Wednesday, although they are not safe from relegation just yet and should take the derby seriously.
Punters who like to bet on first, last or anytime goalscorers might be interested to note Matthew Etherington has been playing up front for Tottenham reserves in recent weeks.
Bet Direct will refund all losing bets on this London derby if Poyetscores last.