Tottenham v Fulham: London derby to be tense and tight

Fulham boss Scott Parker
Scott Parker has made Fulham more competitive

Improving Fulham can make life tricky for Tottenham in this rearranged contest, and can keep the score down, writes Kevin Hatchard.

"Fulham have tightened up considerably, and their last six competitive games have featured fewer than three goals."

Back Under 2.5 Goals at 2.3211/8

Tottenham v Fulham
Wednesday 13 Jan, 20:15
Live on Amazon Prime Video

Despite a wobble, Spurs still in title mix

With a compacted schedule and the ongoing impact of COVID-19, clubs are having to grit their teeth and accept a bit of inconsistency from time to time. Tottenham were supposed to be visiting Aston Villa, but an outbreak of the virus at the Villa training ground saw the fixture postponed and replaced with this London derby. Jose Mourinho's men go into the game having won just one of their last five top-flight matches, although that was the most recent one, a 3-0 dismissal of Leeds United.

Tottenham are in the top four, and are only four points behind the leaders Liverpool having played a game fewer. They have reached the League Cup final, they swept aside Marine 5-0 to reach the FA Cup's last 32, and they have an eminently winnable tie against Wolfsberger in the last 32 of the Europa League. These are exciting times to be a Spurs fan, despite the ongoing reservations about Mourinho's pragmatism.

Tottenham's home form is very good, especially in the Premier League. They have won four of their last five PL games in North London, and they've conceded just three goals in that spell. If you stretch back further, they have only lost three of their last 16 top-flight matches on home soil.
Harry Kane and Heung-Min Son should return to the starting XI, Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg should be okay after a shin injury he picked up against Brentford, but Giovani Lo Celso is expected to miss out.

Dose of grit has aided Cottagers' cause

Fulham's woes looked all too familiar in the opening weeks of the season. It appeared the lessons of two seasons ago, when the West London side conceded 81 goals and tumbled out of the top flight, hadn't been heeded. Scott Parker's side lost their first three games, conceding three goals in each defeat, and they only collected a solitary point from their first six outings.

There were also concerns about recruitment, with the glare of the spotlight turned on sporting director Tony Khan, who is the son of the owner Shahid Khan. Is Khan junior a have-a-go hero with few genuine football credentials, or a bona fide analytics guru? The jury is perhaps still out, but a slew of signings have made a big difference. Goalkeeper Alphonse Areola has been a solid presence between the posts, Danish centre-back Joachim Andersen is living up to the reputation he developed at Sampdoria, former Chelsea defender Ola Aina's back in West London after a spell in Italy and Tosin Adarabioyo is thriving after his move from Manchester City.

Fulham are unbeaten in five competitive matches, including a 2-0 derby win at QPR in the FA Cup. FFC have leaked just two goals in that spell, and have held Southampton and Liverpool to draws in games they could have won. They have beaten Leicester City at the King Power, and far from looking doomed, they are within striking distance of teams above the bottom three. Their odds in the Relegation market have been pushed out to 1.9110/11.

Parker and company are reportedly far from happy that this fixture has suddenly appeared, as they played 120 minutes in the cup and thought they would have almost a week to prepare for the big derby against Chelsea. That game will now be on Saturday, and it remains to be seen whether Parker will rest players in this match. He does at least have a fully fit squad to choose from.

Spurs are rightful favourites, but a touch too short

Given that Fulham have shown admirable organisation and determination of late, and that they have stymied in-form sides like Liverpool and Southampton, Tottenham's price of 1.42/5 in the Match Odds market isn't one to set the pulse racing.

However, this is where the Same Game Multi on the Sportsbook comes in handy if you want to boost that price. You could back Tottenham to win and Under 3.5 Goals at combined odds of 2.021/1. Just three of Tottenham's 16 Premier League games have featured four goals or more, and an Over 3.5 Goals bet has landed in just two of their last 19 PL home matches.

If you're going to back Spurs, I think that's the way to go about it.

Fulham's miserly streak can keep the score down

Ten of Tottenham's 16 Premier League games have featured fewer than three goals, and the nature of Fulham's recent revival has seen their last six competitive matches stay under the 2.5 goals line, as have five of their last six on the road. I can't see either team being massively expansive here, and I believe Under 2.5 Goals is overpriced here at 2.3211/8.

Kane to strike?

If you think Tottenham will win but you don't like the outright price, another available route is to back Spurs to win and Harry Kane to score on the Same Game Multi. That gives you a price of 1.9520/21, and it's a bet that's paid out in three of Tottenham's last five PL home games.

Kevin Hatchard 2020-21 English Football P/L

-13.0 points

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