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Apr 18, 2014

Throttle that cockerel


Derby day again folks, as Fulham get Saturday's action underway with the early kick-off at White Hart Lane. Wins here for our boys are even rarer to come by than a fresh riff from U2, but as always we travel up to North London in the hope Spurs will have an off day.

Fulham are looking to give their fans something they've not had in two years of a remorselessly downwards spiral -- that is, a third win on the spin. But boss Felix Magath has remained quietly and consistently confident in his brief tenure that Fulham would beat the drop. After eight games, he has already matched the ten-point haul managed by his two predecessors, a feat Martin Jol and Rene Meulensteen needed 13 matches to achieve.

Forgive me, all who have dug deep into their pockets for the inflated tickets, but I would like nothing more than to see the most drab of 0-0 scorelines from this game. But Fulham have not seen that result in the last eight meetings. I am, you see, a little fearful that Fulham's catapult is not quite big enough to knock the Tottenham cockerel from his perch. Yes, Magath has conjured three wins from the past five, but all by the odd goal.

With Lewis Holtby ineligible against his parent club, and if Felix is telling the truth when he says the club have no fresh injury worries, then Ashkan Dejagah from the start for Holtby looks the only logical change from last week's starting eleven. But the German has foxed us before with his formations. At least the Cottagers are starting to play more like a team week on week. Continuity is a cornerstone of success in the top flight and heaven knows Fulham have had precious little of that all season.

Here's hoping David Stockdale is at the top of his game again and that the back four repeat the solidity shown last week against Norwich.

Spurs had a transfer treasure chest bigger than Botswana's GDP last summer after cashing in on Gareth Bale, but boy have they given a salutary lesson in how not to spend it. As a consequence, the Lane can be the quietest ground in London for watching football.

Plenty of big names are sidelined for the underachieving big spenders. While Mousa Dembele is rated only 50-50 with a hip injury, Roberto Soldado, Etienne Capoue, Jan Vertonghen, Kyle Walker, Michael Dawson and Erik Lamela are all unfit.

So does that mean Fulham have a chance? In theory, yes. Dimitar Berbatov's scuffed effort won all three points here last season, but there have only been two other wins beside that down the years. Fulham clearly still convince nobody they are a side with goals in the locker, and poor Hugo Rodallega is going to need more help than he got last week in taking the fight to their London rivals.

In desperate times, teams pull off some strange results. It would be foolish to dismiss this derby as a game the Whites can perhaps afford to lose. Fulham need to be on their mettle for every one of these last four games, no question.

If there is consolation to be gained, it is seeing every one of Fulham's fellow strugglers tearing themselves apart. Internal strife among players at Cardiff, West Brom, Swansea and Sunderland, sackings and re-shuffles at Aston Villa and Norwich. It's the law of the jungle from now to the end of the season. Let's hope for a favour or two from Spurs this weekend.

COYW!