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Clint Dempsey spoke to Goal.com following his brace against Chelsea and called his performance against one of the top clubs in the world a high point in his career.

Heading into the New Year last season, things for both Clint Dempsey and his club, Fulham were not looking so hot. A season riddled with late losses and disappointing draws had the Cottagers looking up at the middle of the EPL table and fighting for their lives for the second year on the trot.

One year later, after an incredible run to safety, Dempsey and his mates have the Fulham faithful dreaming of a spot in the top eight.

On Sunday Hodgson’s men played out a 2-2 draw with West London rivals Chelsea, rescuing a point at the death through Dempsey’s 90th minute header goal, the American’s second strike of the match.

The draw kept Fulham inside the top ten of the EPL table and extended the team’s unbeaten streak to nine matches. For Dempsey, it was a moment to savor in his career. For the first time since the inception of the English Premier League, an American scored a brace against one of the Big Four.

“It’s obviously a high point to be able to score against one of the best teams in the world,” the 25-year-old midfielder told Goal.com in an exclusive interview. “It’s the first time I’ve scored twice in a Premiership game. It rates up there near the very top (of my career). I mean, nothing is better than scoring in the World Cup [which Dempsey accomplished in 2006], but it has to be up there because you don’t play against the best in the world, or play against the best competition, all the time."

Dempsey was clearly pleased to make his mark against the London rival club.

"It makes all of the time and effort you put into the game worth it.”

The two goal performance brought the American to four goals during the current Premier League campaign. Despite starting only one of the Cottagers' first ten matches, Deuce is now just two goals shy of his total from all of last year. He is also currently tied with Andy Johnson for the team lead in goals scored.

“I’ve been working hard every game trying to make the most of it,” Dempsey said of his performances since being reinserted into the lineup eight games ago. “I think I’m on form right now. I’m just enjoying that, trying to help this team stay in the top ten.”

According to Dempsey, the change in Fulham’s fortunes this season can be attributed to a number of things.

“I think the big thing is confidence,” the former Major League Soccer star said. “We’re not giving up too many goals. We’ve got a nine or ten game unbeaten streak going.

“Defensive shape is something that the coaches have worked on with us a lot. We’re giving up less goals, and anytime you can do that and score a few, that’s what allows you to win games,” he added. “It makes the training sessions more intense, because we know we’re on the right track. There’s still a lot that we can accomplish. I think it has to be attributed to both the players and the management.”

As to what he thinks Fulham can accomplish this season, Dempsey said he wants to finish the in the top half of the EPL table, but that something more would be required for the season to be considered special.

“You never know what can happen,” the Texan said. “To have a season to remember I think it would take getting into Europe.”

Even though Dempsey’s two-goal game against Chelsea might have raised some eyebrows it was not the midfielder's first time to score in a big match against top competition. In fact, Dempsey has made a bit of a habit out of scoring on top class opposition for both club and country. He attributes his success against top quality opponents to his wanting to make the most out of those opportunities.

“You get up for every game, but when you play against great competition you feel like there's that extra you want to put out there,” the Fulham winger said. “You try every game to win and score goals. But any time you play against the best in the world, that doesn’t happen too many times, and you always want to make the most of your career.  You want to make the most of your opportunities. I try to make sure that when I have these opportunities and these chances to get things done, I try to take advantage because nothing's guaranteed. You never know if you’re going to get another chance.”

The New Year could hold a number of surprises for Dempsey and Fulham. But with a win in the bag already over Arsenal, and draws against Liverpool and Chelsea, the Cottagers look primed to avoid another relegation dog-fight in 2009. Fulham will look to continue its fine league form on the 10th of January when they take on the struggling Blackburn Rovers.

--Allen Ramsey, Goal.com

 

 

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