Fulham v Tottenham Sunday, 16:00 Sky Sports Premier League & Main Event
Great Christmas but not so happy New Year
It truly was a Happy Christmas for Spurs and their fans.
They put six past Everton two days before it and five past Bournemouth one day after; finally they were being talked about as genuine title contenders.
In the three weeks since, things have gone downhill pretty fast with two of their last three league games lost - now the pundits have them out of said race once more.
Their manager has been bemoaning the club's transfer policy, another new stadium delay has been announced and ahead of this match they've lost arguably their two best players - Harry Kane is out for six weeks with an ankle injury, while Son Heung-min, on fire in the past couple of months, has departed for the Asian Cup.
To add to their woes, Moussa Sissoko, another form player, is a doubt after limping out of last weekend's loss to Manchester United.
The good news for Spurs, winners of 10 of their 12 away games so far this season in the Premier League, is that here they face one of the division's real strugglers.
Fulham are deep in relegation trouble and have the league's worst defence. Their goals-against tally of 49 (in just 22 games) is six more than any other side.
At least new boss Claudio Ranieri has improved things slightly, although with rivals picking up too, they are now five points from safety - two more than when he was appointed in November.
It is at Craven Cottage where the improvement has been most apparent with Ranieri having only suffered one defeat in his five home games thus far. Drop rivals Southampton and Huddersfield have both been beaten, while both Wolves and Leicester have been held.
I still feel there are goals in this team, especially with Aleksandar Mitrovic leading the line; he has scored eight of the team's 20 goals and also has a good record v Spurs (three in three Premier League games). There are decent supply lines with the likes of Andre Schurrle and Ryan Sessegnon but the issues at the back remain concerning.
In particular, their defensive record against the 'Big Six' is a huge worry. In seven such games this season, Fulham have conceded two, three and four goals twice and five once.
Essentially they've been found extremely lacking against he best teams and so in terms of a betting assessment on the game, the big question really is how much of an impact will the loss of Kane (seven goals in his last seven games in all competitions) and Son (nine in 12) have?
The match odds don't expect it to be too problematic with Spurs still odds-on at 1.80. They will likely start Fernando Llorente, who bagged an FA Cup hat-trick only a fortnight ago, while Erik Lamela and Lucas Moura should still be creating chances from wider areas.
It's a price which will tempt many as it would surely have been considerably shorter but for Kane's injury.
Still, the clouds around Spurs right now mean it's also possible to make a case for the home win - a 5.70 shot. Fulham gave Spurs a good game in the reverse fixture at the start of the season (they equalised before losing 3-1) and with that decent home record of late, they will at least be able to take some confidence into the game despite their perilous position.
The draw can be backed at [3.65].
Goals quotes drift
As for the goals markets, again they have clearly been affected by the absence of Kane and Son with over 2.5 - something which has occurred in eight of Spurs' 12 away games - available at 1.84. The flip side is a 1.97 shot.
The circumstances suggest Spurs may struggle to smash in the goals like they've done in recent away games at Tranmere, Cardiff and Everton though and I'd be more inclined to back both teams to score at a similar price (20/23).
Fulham's strength is in attack, while that defence should offer up chances even against what is going to be a largely second-string forward line.
However, this bet has won in only two of Spurs last nine games (all comps) with Tottenham keeping a clean sheet in six of those. Their strong defensive stats put me off.
Eriksen can step up
While I was close to putting up the both-teams-to-score bet, I'm going to turn instead to Christian Eriksen in search of profit.
The midfielder is a player likely to step up to the challenge of being the team's leader in Kane's absence - he has certainly relished such a role for the Danish national team, as we saw during his goal-laden World Cup qualifying campaign.
Eriksen has scored four times in his last six league games and his chances of adding to his tally are arguably improved, not diminished, by Kane's absence for he will now also likely take any penalties Spurs are awarded. He is also a proven threat from free kicks around the box.
He's available at 11/4to score at any time which looks perfectly fair, while given just how vulnerable Fulham have been against the top sides, 22/1 about the Dane netting a braceshould not be ignored either.
Same Game Multi
As long as Spurs bring a positive mindset into the game (admittedly something that's far form certain given recent events), they should still be too good for Fulham, who are where they are in the table for good reason.
So, Eriksen to score first (something he's managed in two of his last six in the league) and Spurs to win with both teams scoring looks a decent bet for those seeking something juicy. It can be backed at 35.42.
Tottenham are unbeaten in their last 20 Premier League away games against promoted sides (W17 D3), since a 1-0 loss at QPR in April 2012.
1pt Christian Eriksen anytime goalscorer @ 11/4
0.5pt Christian Eriksen to score two goals or more @ 22/1