Tottenham are having their top four credentials tested to the limit over a busy festive period, but as the games come thick and fast, Harry Redknapp’s side have thus far passed with flying colors, having won two physical games in three days, against Aston Villa and Newcastle United.
Spurs have hit top form at the right time – it is now 10 games in all competitions since Redknapp’s men tasted defeat – and it is now vital for the club to carry such a run of results into the New Year if they are to maintain their Champions League charge.
Annual Festive Meeting
It just wouldn’t be the winter months without a meeting between Spurs and Fulham – two of their last six meetings have taken place on Boxing Day, while this fixture last season saw Tottenham run out 2-1 winners in January.
Fulham have fared more disappointingly heading towards the New Year, with their 3-1 defeat at home against fellow strugglers West Ham a low point that saw them condemned to the bottom three of the Premier League.
There were signs of a revival for Mark Hughes on Tuesday though, as his side managed a rare win away from home against Stoke City, courtesy of two extremely rare Chris Baird goals.
The chances of Baird repeating such feats against Tottenham at White Hart Lane on Saturday are slim, but Hughes will be hopeful of getting a result, even if his side has seldom managed to win on the short trip to north London.
Younes Kaboul’s red card against Newcastle United on Tuesday means he joins Jermain Defoe among Tottenham’s suspended players, so Harry Redknapp will either call on Sebastien Bassong or hope William Gallas has overcome an injury in time to play.
Jermaine Jenas may be preferred to Wilson Palacios, while Tom Huddlestone, Jonathan Woodgate and Jamie O’Hara are still short of fitness.
Possible Starting XI: Gomes; Hutton, Dawson, Bassong, Assou-Ekotto; Lennon, Jenas, Modric, Bale; Van der Vaart; Crouch.
Chris Baird’s double against Stoke could see him retain his place in the side after surprisingly replacing Carlos Salcido on Tuesday.
Bobby Zamora and Moussa Dembele are still out of contention meanwhile, though the Belgian could return against West Brom, meaning Andrew Johnson is likely to continue in attack, with Clint Dempsey playing a supporting role.
Possible Staring XI: Schwarzer; Pantsil, Hughes, Hangeland, Baird; Davies, Murphy, Etuhu, Duff; Dempsey; Andrew Johnson.