AT WHITE HART LANE
TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR 0 vs FULHAM 1
TOTTENHAM boss Andre Villas-Boas has urged his players to rediscover their winning touch and help end the cycle of woe that has historically haunted his club at the end of previous seasons.
Striker Dimitar Berbatov’s fourth goal in five games was enough to condemn his former team to a second straight Premier League defeat and dropped them to fourth in the table.
Since beating Arsenal three weeks ago, Spurs’ seven-point advantage over their north London rivals has been cut to four and Villas-Boas is determined to avoid a repeat of last season’s climax which saw the Gunners claw back a 10-point deficit to finish above their neighbours.
“You can’t hide from what has happened in the past with Spurs, but we have another opportunity to fight against it,” he said.
“If we are able to find our form then we can end that cycle which normally happens with Spurs.
“The most important thing is that we have enough games, enabling us to get out of this situation.”
While Villas-Boas is nervously looking over his shoulder, counterpart Martin Jol is breathing a little easier after his team moved into the top half of the Premier League.
With nine matches to play the Cottagers sit nine points clear of the relegation zone and Jol believes one more win will be enough to guarantee survival.
“Nobody wants to be in that bottom three,” he said. “You need 38 or 39 points, so hopefully we will be fine.
“Before the game you hope for a point, but Berbatov promised me, he said ‘you have to trust me’. I thought he was joking.”
Spurs talisman Gareth Bale had the best chance of the first period when his goalbound header was blocked on the line by defender Sascha Riether, outstanding throughout for Fulham.
But the Welshman struggled to stamp his authority on the match as he has done so spectacularly for Spurs in recent weeks.
Berbatov pounced on 52 minutes to turn in Riether’s cross and Spurs had no response with striker Jermain Defoe brilliantly denied by goalkeeper Mark Schwarzer from six yards late on.