The Tony Gale Column

Wednesday 16 January 2019 13:30

We got the first new face through the door this week with the arrival of Ryan Babel, and he’s someone who’s got Premier League experience, he’s got a goal in him, and he can play right the way across the frontline. He gives us that little bit more experience that perhaps some of the other players in his position don’t have. If he plays on the left he’ll like to cut in and get shots away, something he’s done to good effect right throughout his career, so it will be interesting to see where Claudio plays him. He was out of contract in the summer and so won’t have cost us a fortune, and it’s a short term deal so it’s a low risk one from our point of view.

Burnley away on Saturday was a perfect example of how you don’t get the rub of the green when you’re down the bottom. We didn’t create loads of chances but we definitely had the better of them throughout the 90 minutes. They had no shots on target and end up getting two goals – talk about Fulhamish! But in fairness to Burnley, they’ve shown that doggedness to get themselves out of trouble. If you look at their squad, man for man they’re no better than us I don’t think, but they showed that little bit of resilience.

I feel a bit sorry for André Schürrle. Whenever he scores a belter, it ends up being a consolation goal! That was the case at Cardiff, and it was the same at Turf Moor. It just shows what he’s capable of – get the ball to Schürrle and he’s always got a goal in him. We looked a lot more dangerous when Tom Cairney came off the bench on Saturday, so I’d like to see him in the middle of the park pulling the strings, creating the chances for the likes of Ryan Babel and Schürrle.

We’ve got Tottenham this weekend at the Cottage, and I think it’s a great time to play them. We haven’t had much luck this season but this is something that’s gone in our favour. Obviously they’ve still got a lot of firepower, but with Heung-Min Son off on international duty and Harry Kane injured, that’s a big percentage of their goal threat gone.

Kane not playing is massive. It’s not just his goals, it’s what he does in his linkup play as well. Harry tends to drop deep a lot of the time, and then the other wider players get in advanced of him. Let’s not get carried away, though. It’s not like Spurs don’t have top class players to fill those gaps. People tend to forget they’ve still got Fernando Llorente there who’s a player I rate very highly. Plus they’ve still got Lucas Moura and Erik Lamela, so it’s not like they’re completely without attacking options. They’ve still got real quality, but missing their two top scorers will put a few doubts in their mind and therefore it is a good time to play them.

I want to see us get into them, get on the front foot early on, don’t give them a chance to settle in with what will be a makeshift forward line for them. To take something from that match would give us a huge confidence boost. It will still just be three points at the end of the day, but beating a big team does give you a real lift, without a doubt. The games against the teams around us remain the more important ones, but if we can get something against Spurs it will give everyone a lift. We shouldn’t approach the match in a negative manner, as it’s a real good opportunity to go at Spurs.

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