Work ethic and red-hot striker allow AVB another shot

Fulham 0 Tottenham 3
Although Andre Villas-Boas would never admit to indulging in a spot of schadenfreude, it is unlikely that the Tottenham manager’s post-match cheer was inspired solely by his side’s third win in six days.

That these three points, acquired thanks to a workman-like victory over Fulham came in west London, two miles down the road from his old office at Stamford Bridge, was appropriate. Cast aside by Chelsea’s Russian billionaire owner Roman Abramovich earlier this calendar year, Villas-Boas sought another spot to crack English football. Now, slowly but surely, he seems to be doing it.

“I just want the fans to get behind the team,” he said. “It is the team who have been absolutely amazing. The praise must be all for them.

“At the moment we have taken advantage of other teams slipping up but we have to continue this form. You know a blip of form always arrives. At the moment it can change very dramatically.”

Often seen as a cavalier side with a soft centre, Tottenham ground out the three points on Saturday without ever really turning on the style.

Villas-Boas seems to have instilled an ominous ruthlessness at Tottenham and, when Fulham failed to match them physically, the visitors took full advantage.

Jermain Defoe, the embodiment of Spurs’ current momentum, hit another two to take his tally to the week up to four — and 14 for club and country already this season.

These latest additions typified the 30-year-old’s current hot streak as, after barely touching the ball in the first half, he sprang to life in the second to strike twice in seven minutes after Sandro’s speculative, long-range opener.

Considering the misfortune of Fernando Torres, Villas-Boas might have forgotten just how far an in-form striker can carry a side. Now he has no doubt.

“It was amazing,” he added. “Sometimes strikers look distant from the game but when the team sets them up it’s important that they have that clinical touch and he just has it. He is having an amazing season.”

FULHAM: Schwarzer 6; Riether 6 (Kelly 29, 6), Senderos 3, Hughes 5, Riise 5; Dejagah 6, Sidwell 6, Diarra 7, Frei 6 (Duff 62, 6); Petric 5 (Rodallega 79, 5), Berbatov 8.

TOTTENHAM: Lloris 7; Naughton 6, Dawson 6 (Gallas 17, 6), Caulker 6, Vertonghen 7; Dembele 7 (Carroll 84, 6), Sandro 7; Lennon 8, Bale 7 (Sigurdsson 62, 7), Dempsey 8; Defoe 9.

Ref: Chris Foy 6


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