On 18th August, Saturday, Tottenham Hotspur clashed against the newly promoted side, Fulham. A match that saw the Spurs find themselves victorious with a dominating scoreline of 3-1 at full-time. This London derby brought together two sides who had taken on very different approaches to the summer transfer window.
Tottenham, that had spent nothing this summer was to play against a Fulham side that was seeing 12 new players being brought in after the club had surpassed the £103.3 million mark in an effort to give themselves the strongest chance possible of survival on their Premier League return.
Tottenham was going into the fixture already winning the battle of statistics. They had won nine of their last 10 Premier League meetings with Fulham, losing only once in a home match in March 2013 (0-1). Fulham had conceded in their last 19 Premier League away games – the longest current run without a clean sheet away in the top flight (among this season’s 20 teams). In addition, on a rather personal level, Harry Kane had scored 24 goals in 36 London derbies for Tottenham (0.67 goals per game). Only former Arsenal striker Thierry Henry has a better goals-per-game ratio of players to have played in 10 or more such matches (43 goals in 59 games – 0.73 goals per game). In addition to his excellent goal-scoring record against London clubs, Kane’s ironic failure to score in August of a Premier League season was slowly becoming a burden, rather than just a statistical ‘blip on the radar’. “Whenever you have something like this on your back, you want to get it off,” he said afterward. The pundits could not contain their excitement as they waited to find out if the latter statistic will get the better of the former one.
Tottenham began the game with a significant pressure from them on the Fulham defenses. However, for all the pressure, the opening goal only arrived after Fulham had begun to impress in the first half as Lucas Moura opened the scoring with his first Premier League goal, curling a clinical strike beyond Fabri’s dive. The visitors went close through Ryan Sessegnon before halftime. The equalizer came after the break when Fulham managed to level with Aleksandar Mitrovic’s close-range effort.
Kieran Trippier restored Tottenham’s lead with a stunning free kick that resembled his strike for England against Croatia in Russia this summer.
Harry Kane had been watching as team-mates Lucas Moura and Kieran Trippier had been successful in finding the back of the net while being unable to do so himself. He was relentlessly fighting but nothing could come his way. It looked like his barren run was going to continue as he had a goal ruled out and hit the crossbar at Wembley. But his luck turned with 13 minutes remaining as he cleverly turned his marker inside the area before tucking the ball into the far corner to give the Spurs a 3-1 win on the night which was to be their second in as many matches this season.
Wish every game could be in August 😏👀😂
— Harry Kane (@HKane) August 18, 2018
“Of course, I am so happy about the victory because the performance was so good. We fully deserved the victory. We want to challenge the big teams and we need to push in big areas like being clinical in front of goal,” said Pochettino after the match
For Fulham, the adaptation to the top flight of English football continues. Two defeats in two games were not what they had hoped for, but Slavisa Jokanovic would have anticipated that the start to this campaign, in a new league with so many new players, was never going to be a ‘walk in the park’. Nonetheless, there were plenty of positives to take from this fixture which the Cottagers can move ahead with. “We know where we are,” the Fulham manager said. “We played a complicated away game against one of the top Champions League teams. They showed quality but on the other side, they showed they have been playing for three years together. We have played two and a half weeks together. We are a Premier League team in a building process. We are going to need the time. We showed a few positive things but without any doubt, we need to fix our problems. The only way I know how to do that is to work hard.”
Fulham’s next match is at home to Burnley which will prove to be another big challenge. Spurs, meanwhile, travel to Manchester United where a Pochettino team have yet to win in the league or even score a goal!