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West London clubs meet at Craven Cottage on Saturday with the fit Cottagers backing up against the Blues.
If ever there was an almost perfect representation of the often repeated “game of two halves” in the football lexicon, the meeting between Tottenham Hotspur and Fulham on Wednesday would be a good example.
The Spurs dominated the first half, missing a ton of opportunities, scoring just one through Harry Kane, only to be held back after halftime when the Cottagers rallied after Scott Parker’s pep talk at halftime.
Perhaps the significant difference for the West Londoners was Ademola Lookman, strangely left out of the action until the 67th minute. The Anglo-Nigerian’s impact in those subsequent 23 minutes on the field raised questions about why Parker left out the loan from the RB Leipzig first.
Not only did Lookman record the assist for Ivan Cavaleiro’s header tie after brilliantly skinning Davidson Sánchez, but he also came close to setting up what might have been the winner had Ruben Loftus-Cheek been smarter in front of goal. He may have even solved the game himself later if Aboubakar Kamara raised his head to see the attacker in the oceans of space to his left, almost begging to be played.
In just 23 minutes, Lookman was involved in three shot-creating actions, only Antonee Robinson & Loftus-Cheek with four had more, paved the way for opportunities created with three, while only Bobby Decordova-Reid (three) made more passes. accurate into the Spurs area.
That assist made Lookman Fulham the biggest goal contributor with five, and he is expected to start against Chelsea on Saturday, particularly with RLC ineligible to face their parent club.
His straight run is likely to cause trouble for the Blues’ bottom line and goalie who looked extremely fragile in recent weeks, with Edouard Mendy under pressure for various reasons, from his suspicious sweeping ability to the now unconvincing save. of shots.
It remains to be seen if Frank Lampard starts the primary right-back Reece James, who returned to training this week, or opts for the club’s captain, Cesar Azpilicueta. The Spaniard appears to have lost a meter of pace and could theoretically have a torrid moment against the fast-paced Lookman, generally also the Cottagers’ most creative and menacing forward.
Of Fulham’s attackers, Lookman ranks first in key passes by 90, shot creation actions by 90 and goal creation actions by 90. If leaving out the 23-year-old loan player from XI against Tottenham was strange to do the same decision after showing off from the bench and especially against a struggling Chelsea will draw even more criticism from the head coach.
If Lookman’s skill and delivery make him the hosts’ best attacker, Andre Zambo Anguissa could pass as the leading midfielder for the side threatened by relegation.
The action-packed midfielder packs a punch and is nearly unstoppable when in full flow, gliding and dodging opponents like they’re not there. His already high value in this Fulham squad increases when you realize the level of effort the Cameroonian midfielder also puts into the blue collar aspects of the game.
Anguissa made an astonishing 17 comebacks against Tottenham and was one of the team’s best pressures against José Mourinho’s men. Unsurprisingly, the Central African completed six dribbles on eight attempts and helped create shooting opportunities as well, placing third alongside Lookman in shot-creating actions.
Be that as it may, the two games that perfectly demonstrate what the 25-year-old is all about were those of December against Manchester City and Southampton.
Despite losing 2-0 at Etihad Stadium, he was always positive in his play, as evidenced by his forward-thinking passing and ball passes. In addition to completing all seven dribbling attempts against Pep Guardiola’s men, the Indomitable Lion was involved in the largest volume of offensive actions leading to a shot from Fulham (three).
Against the Saints, Anguissa surpassed in tackles and interceptions combined (10) as he did with City weeks earlier while ranking third in fumbles recovered (13) against the South Coast team narrowly beaten by Bobby Reid and Joachim. Andersen (both 14).
He was not dispossessed throughout the game despite a high level of participation and general enthusiasm to bring the ball up the field against a side that presses as effectively as Ralph Hasenhuttl’s troops.
It was not a surprise to see that both he and Lookman placed in the top two in actions of creating shots, successful progressive passing and progressive goalkeeping of the ball. Indeed, the pair will be vital to Fulham’s approach against its neighbors, who will be looking for the talisman Hakim Ziyech to deliver at the Cottage as they try to stop the worrying race.
The Moroccan star missed most of the Blues’ downfall and only came back in their embarrassing 3-1 loss to Manchester City. Their tendency to attempt risky passes to open the field or create opportunities adds a unique dimension to Lampard’s squad and they benefited from this last time in the 4-0 FA Cup win over Morecambe on Sunday.
True, Fulham will pose a much tougher test than the League Two team, but it was a good run for the North African, whose high-stakes, high-reward style ties together a Chelsea attack that seemed sterile without him at the start of the season. and unproductive for most of its December fall.
As for Fulham, while many observers feel their improvement started in that 1-1 draw against Liverpool, that assumption couldn’t be further from the truth. Rather, they have hardened after losing their first three games 3-0, 4-3 and 3-0 to Arsenal, Leeds United and Aston Villa respectively, with those seven goals accounting for 30 percent of their 24 goals conceded.
Interestingly, while they have lost the expected goal battle nine times in their 16 matches, only five times have they been defeated by a wide margin (Arsenal, Villa, Crystal Palace, Man City and Spurs). This further reinforces suggestions that Parker’s team has been unlucky in some games or made poor decisions on occasion, with Lookman’s failed Panenka vs. West Ham United probably a fitting example.
14 points separate the sides of the table, but Anguissa’s push and the menacing Anglo-Nigerian threaten to increase the pressure on a Chelsea currently struggling and under fire against Lampard.