Following a narrow defeat to Manchester United last weekend, Tottenham Hotspur will look to bounce back to winning ways as they face Fulham on Sunday.

Last week was a rough one for Tottenham Hotspur, who were not only defeated by Manchester United but also lost the services of star striker Harry Kane. The English international suffered an ankle ligament injury that will keep him out of action till March.

And, with Chelsea breathing down their neck, collecting all three points against Fulham will be imperative as the Lilywhites look to maintain their top three status in the league table. However, Mauricio Pochettino will be hoping for an improved defensive performance this weekend, with Spurs conceding more goals than any other team in the Premier League top four this season.

Fulham, on the other hand, have been one of the most disappointing teams in the division so far and are coming on the back of three back-to-back defeats. The Cottagers are languishing at the bottom end of the table with just 14 points on the board.

But, Fulham have taken a cautious approach and needless to say, have appeared much more resilient, following the appointment of Claudio Ranieri. We can expect them to follow a similar mentality against Spurs this weekend.

Here at The Hard Tackle, we take a look at both the sides ahead of their crucial match-up on Sunday.

Team News & Tactics

Fulham

CARDIFF, WALES - OCTOBER 20: Swansea player Alfie Mawson in action during the Premier League match between Cardiff City and Fulham FC at Cardiff City Stadium on October 20, 2018 in Cardiff, United Kingdom. (Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images)

Alfie Mawson’s absence could be felt dearly on Sunday. (Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images)

Alfie Mawson is the only player sidelined for Fulham in this game, although Andre-Frank Zambo Anguissa will face a late fitness test to determine his availability. As for new signing Ryan Babel, it is unsure whether or not he will be available after signing a contract till the end of the season this week.

Minimal changes are expected in defence, with Ranieri likely to stick with the same defensive combination he used against Burnley last weekend. Therefore, Tim Ream and Maxime Le Marchand will be deployed as centre-backs along with Denis Odoi, who was unlucky to score an own goal against the Clarets.

Calum Chambers will once again be deployed as the defensive midfielder due to Fulham’s lack of resources in midfield. He will be partnered by Jean-Michael Seri, who will be tasked with the responsibility of providing the creative essence as well as recycle possession for the Cottagers.

Elsewhere, Cyrus Christie and Joe Bryan will likely retain their place as wing-backs while Ryan Sessegnon could be replaced by Luciano Vietto in attack.

The Argentine made quite an impact after coming on as a substitute against Burnley and could, therefore, get the nod ahead of the English whizkid. He will partner Andre Schurrle and Aleksandar Mitrovic in Fulham’s three-man attacking setup.

Probable Lineup (3-4-3): Rico; Odoi, Ream, Marchand; Christie, Chambers, Seri, Bryan; Schurrle, Mitrovic, Vietto.

Tottenham Hotspur

Unlike Fulham, Tottenham will be missing out on the services of several of their star players including Victor Wanyama, Moussa Sissoko and star striker Harry Kane, who, as mentioned earlier, is out until March. Son Heung-min is also unavailable due to international duty with South Korea.

Lucas Moura is also a doubt. As a result, Pochettino could be forced to employ a back-three, with Davinson Sanchez, Toby Alderweireld and Jan Vertonghen deployed at the heart of the Spurs backline.

LONDON, ENGLAND - JANUARY 13: Harry Kane of Tottenham Hotspur reacts as he fails to connect with the ball during the Premier League match between Tottenham Hotspur and Manchester United at Wembley Stadium on January 13, 2019 in London, United Kingdom. (Photo by Mike Hewitt/Getty Images)

Kane’s absence will be a huge blow for Tottenham. (Photo by Mike Hewitt/Getty Images)

Pochettino iterated that midfielder Eric Dier “could start on the bench” during his pre-match press conference. Therefore, we can expect Harry Winks to be deployed at the base of Tottenham’s 3-4-2-1. He will be partnered by Christian Eriksen, who will operate in a more withdrawn role.

Kieran Trippier was given the nod ahead of Serge Aurier against Manchester United last weekend and thus, the Ivorian is likely to start as the right wing-back on Sunday. Similarly, Danny Rose will replace Ben Davies on the opposite flank.

In attack, Dele Alli will operate as the attacking midfielder alongside Erik Lamela, both of whom appear to be the only reliable attacking options available for Pochettino at the moment. Fernando Llorente is the default option upfront, with Kane injured.

Probable Lineup (3-4-2-1): Lloris; Alderweireld, Sanchez, Vertonghen; Aurier, Winks, Eriksen, Rose; Alli, Lamela, Llorente.

Key Stats

  • Tottenham have a strong record against Fulham, having won nine of their ten previous meetings in the Premier League.
  • Fulham have lost their last six London derbies in the Premier League. Only QPR have ever lost more successive London derbies games in the top flight.
  • Fulham are looking to win consecutive home games in the Premier League for the first time since 2013.
  • Tottenham have scored at least 3 goals in their last matches against Fulham in all competitions.
  • Tottenham have won 8 of their last 9 away matches.

Player to Watch

Fernando Llorente

BIRKENHEAD, ENGLAND - JANUARY 04: Fernando Llorente of Tottenham Hotspur celebrates with team mate Heung-Min Son after scoring their team's second goal during the FA Cup Third Round match between Tranmere Rovers and Tottenham Hotspur at Prenton Park on January 4, 2019 in Birkenhead, United Kingdom. (Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images)

Llorente will deputize for the injured Kane. (Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images)

With Kane out injured, the onus will be on Fernando Llorente to deputise for the English international. The former Juventus striker has mustered only 36 minutes of Premier League action so far, meaning this will be his maiden start this season.

But, the Spaniard appeared to have done well during cup games, notably scoring a hat-trick against Tranmere Rovers in the FA Cup.

And, considering how poor Fulham have fared defensively this season, Llorente will be presented with an excellent opportunity to make an impression before Tottenham opt to sign a new player in the winter transfer window, making him one of the players to look forward to this weekend.

Prediction

Fulham 0-2 Tottenham Hotspur

Fulham have an awful record at home this season and considering their recent performances, another defeat could be on the cards here, although they should definitely look to take advantage of this Tottenham side that is decimated by injuries.

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