Tottenham offer tantalising glimpse of what Antonio Conte’s team can be in impressive Fulham win

·3-min read
Harry Kane made more history as Tottenham beat Fulham  (Tottenham Hotspur FC via Getty Images)
Harry Kane made more history as Tottenham beat Fulham (Tottenham Hotspur FC via Getty Images)

A 2-1 win did not reflect the scale of Tottenham’s dominance over Fulham as Antonio Conte’s side delivered a much-improved display to go second in the table.

Spurs’ pattern of earning results while not at their best felt unsustainable but they returned to something resembling their best form against the Cottagers to make it six games unbeaten at the start of the season.

Even a 2-0 lead by 75 minutes, through goals by Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg and Harry Kane, did not feel like a fair reflection of Spurs’ dominance, before Aleksandar Mitrovic scored a brilliant late strike to ensure Fulham were flattered.

Had disallowed goals by Heung-min Son and full debutant Richarlison stood, the scoreline would have more fairly reflected the flow of the match but both strikes were rightly ruled out by the VAR for fractional offsides.

Son, who remains without a goal in six appearances this season, also struck the crossbar and Richarlison the post, while the impressive Ryan Sessegnon, facing his former club for the first time, was among those to force saves from Bernd Leno.

Despite picking up seven points from Wolves, Nottingham Forest and Wolves, Spurs’ disjointed displays had raised questions about their creativity and ability to control possession but there were no such problems against Marco Silva’s side.

The returning Rodrigo Bentancur, who missed Wednesday 1-1 draw at West Ham with concussion, caught the eye in the middle of the park with a composed and forward-thinking display, while Cristian Romero’s return to the side and full debut for Clement Lenglet ensured Spurs were better at playing out from the back.

The win also highlighted the increased depth in Conte’s squad, despite the head coach’s sober assessment of their summer transfer window on Friday.

Richarlison replaced Dejan Kulusevski in one of five changes from the London Stadium and set the tone with an aggressive display, full of clever exchanges with Kane.

The Brazilian was the architect of the opening goal, hunting down possession on the right flank before playing a quick one-two with Hojbjerg, who did well to dig out a low finish from 12 yards in spite of the attentions of four defenders.

Richarlison might have had another assist when Eric Dier sent his cross over the bar and he deserved his goal at the death to stand, but Sessegnon was ruled offside after the forward had slid his low cross over the line.

Sessegnon also gave Conte food for thought at left wing-back with a performance that suggests he is increasingly capable of delivering in the final third.

Food for thought: Ryan Sessegnon impressed for Tottenham against Fulham (Tottenham Hotspur FC via Getty Images)
Food for thought: Ryan Sessegnon impressed for Tottenham against Fulham (Tottenham Hotspur FC via Getty Images)

His cross was turned home by Kane for 2-0 and he also set up a Richarlison volleyed effort which struck the base of the post and forced Leno into a one-handed save.

Ivan Perisic is likely to remain first choice but will know that his position is not safe while the 21-year-old is playing like this.

Praise for Spurs should come with the caveat that Fulham are still finding their feet back in the top flight, despite impressing against Liverpool and Arsenal, but Mitrovic underlined his quality with a brilliant consolation goal.

The striker found space down the left, beat Romero in a 50:50 and curled into the far corner.

Kane’s goal ensured he made more individual history, surpassing Andrew Cole as the Premier League’s third outright top scorer, on 188, and going level with Thierry Henry on 43 goals in League London derbies.

This game, though, was all about the team display from Tottenham, who will hope to kickstart their season ahead of the start of their Champions League campaign at home to Marseille on Wednesday.