Fulham probably can’t believe their luck. The Cottagers will face Tottenham Hotspur this weekend with the visitors missing prize assets Harry Kane, Son Heung-Min and Moussa Sissoko.
Kane is out until early-March, Sissoko faces a month on the sidelines, while Son is on international duty with South Korea. Does that give the Cottagers a chance at 18/5 this Sunday?
We reckon it does – and here’s why.
It doesn’t take a genius to work out that Kane and Son will be big misses for Spurs. But just how important have they been for the Lilywhites this season?
Let’s break it down. Tottenham have scored 46 goals in the league. 22 of those have come via the missing twosome. That means the pair have netted 47.8% of Spurs’ goals this term.
It’s not just their ability in front of goal that’ll be missed. It’s their link-up play. Son and Kane have combined superbly alongside Dele Alli and Christian Eriksen in a dynamic front four this season.
Nine assists alongside their tally of goals is testament to the work the pair do. Without them, Mauricio Pochettino may find his attack rather disjoined against Fulham.
When it rains, it pours. Pochettino won’t only have to rejig his attack at Craven Cottage. He’ll also have to plug holes in midfield more threadbare than Jose Mourinho’s excuse book.
Mousa Dembele has completed his move to China, while Sissoko is out for a month after sustaining a groin injury against Manchester United. He joins Eric Dier and Victor Wanyama on the treatment table.
That leaves the inexperienced Harry Winks as Tottenham’s most prominent midfielder. It means either Eriksen will need to drop back to support, which will further disrupt their attacking play.
Or Pochettino will place a great deal of trust in 18-year-old Oliver Skipp, who has so far made just a single Premier League start for the club.
Fulham’s midfield isn’t exactly lighting up the league the league. But they should fancy their chances of capitalising on a massively understrength Spurs this weekend.
Ranieri has locked the Cottage door
The Cottagers’ defensive problems are well documented. They boast the unwelcome record of having the league’s leakiest backline and are conceding goals at a rate of more than two per match.
It’s not all bad news, though. Fulham have kept two clean sheets since Ranieri’s arrival. That marks a vast improvement on the zero they managed under Slavisa Jokanovic at the start of the season.
Defeat to Burnley last weekend was disappointing. But Fulham fans can take solace from the fact they restricted the Clarets to not even having a shot on target at Turf Moor.
There are shoots of recovery at the Cottage. Now Ranieri and co. need to take their opportunity against a weakened Tottenham side on Sunday.
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