Dembele and Dempsey's very different returns to Fulham

Clint Dempsey

Each of Tottenham Hotspur's summer recruits was vital to Fulham last season, but the manner of their departures from the club was entirely different, as has been their form this season.

There will be plenty of familiar sights for Clint Dempsey and Mousa Dembele this weekend as they head to Craven Cottage, but Dempsey in particular will face a hostile crowd he hasn't experienced before at the ground.

The American left Craven Cottage on very different terms to Dembele. The Belgian had started the season in excellent form for Fulham, with performances like the master class he delivered at Old Trafford making him a player coveted by many teams in the league. In the end, Spurs met the £15 million release clause in his contract, and Dembele left Fulham on as good terms as possible in that situation.

Dempsey, on the other hand, had been embroiled in a wrangle with the club all summer. This saw him fail to make an appearance for Fulham before his deadline day departure, having been one of their most important players over the previous few seasons.

Dempsey had been a loyal servant to the club until this year, indeed he is Fulham's all-time top Premier League goal scorer, but the acrimonious nature of his departure means he will not receive a warm welcome on Saturday.

Even more important to the players is the difference in form they have shown at their new club. Dembele has become a vital presence in the Spurs side, with Villas-Boas' side picking up only one league win in which Dembele hasn't featured, and winning every league game that the Belgian has started.

Dempsey has struggled so far at Tottenham, and failed to get anywhere near the form he showed for Fulham last season. The American is playing a new role at Spurs, just behind the lone striker in a position where he faces more pressure from defenders, and is expected to create as many chances as he takes himself.

There has, however, been an upturn in his form in recent matches, especially against West Ham, and the hope for Spurs will be that the familiarity of Craven Cottage will bring out the best in him.

Dempsey has repeatedly said that the fans don't know all that went on in his final months at Fulham, but regardless of this there will be little sympathy for him on Saturday. Dembele will receive a warmer welcome, but both will have to adjust to plenty of hostility from a crowd that exalted them mere months ago in the case of Dembele, and for most of the last five years in the case of Dempsey.

image: © NathanF

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