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Moussa Dembele ready for Gareth Bale

last updated Saturday 05th November 2011, 10:26 AM

 Fulham striker Moussa Dembele
Fulham striker
Moussa Dembele
Moussa Dembele
Sweet feet and fleet feet are set to go toe to toe at Craven Cottage on Sunday and that clash of styles between Fulham's Mousa Dembele and Gareth Bale, of Tottenham, should ensure the season's trend of enthralling derbies is maintained.

When considering current individual contributions to the greater good of the Premier League, there are surely few more exciting players to watch than Dembele, whose mesmerising close control makes you wonder if the ball is stitched to his boots, and Bale, the winger whose speed and vision set White Hart Lane alight against Queens Park Rangers last weekend.

And if Fulham boss Martin Jol chooses to face his former club with Dembele starting on the right wing rather than his alternative position in the hole behind striker Bobby Zamora, the Belgium international will be staring Bale straight in the eyes.

Having watched enthralled, just like the rest of us, as Bale completed a wonderful seven-pass move for Spurs's third goal against QPR, Dembele today revealed his eagerness to go up against the Welshman.

The 24-year-old, exactly two years to the day Bale's senior, said: "I like to challenge myself, to compare myself against the best.

I've watched Bale a few times.

He is different from me.

He is more like a player who goes 'whoosh', who is very fast.

"But I saw his second goal on Sunday, and whenever I see something good that another player does, then I will think about it and try to learn from it.

"Nobody is perfect.

Even Lionel Messi or Cristiano Ronaldo can sometimes look like players from League One.

But the best players in the world always try to learn from somebody else.

"That is why I like to challenge myself against a big team like Tottenham.

It is not just Bale, they have a lot of really great players.

" Like Scott Parker, who outshone even Bale against Rangers and who on Sunday will engage in an intriguing midfield duel with former Spurs player Danny Murphy.

Having been present on the pitch to witness the veteran Fulham captain inspire only a second League win of the season against Wigan on Saturday - when his raking first-half pass allowed Zamora to set up Clint Dempsey for the vital opening goal - Dembele is backing his man.

He said: "Everybody knows Danny is a very important player for us.

He can pick the right passes.

He has enough experience, so he knows exactly what he has to do.

" Dembele, himself, added Fulham's second goal at the DW Stadium, the surprise being it was his first strike of the season.

The contribution Dembele has made to the Fulham cause since Mark Hughes, Jol's predecessor, bought him from Dutch Eredivisie champions AZ Alkmaar for £5million in the summer of 2010 has been immense.

The hours Dembele devoted as a youngster to practising on basketball courts and inside the family home near the Bercham district of Antwerp, testing the patience of a mother who had to sweep up the resulting shards of shattered crockery, enables him to twist and turn with the balanced dexterity of a slalom skier.

In the wake of the Wigan victory, Jol said: "Mousa is so gifted.

He has all the talent in the world.

But the next step is for him to score [more] goals.

" Dembele accepts that flashy footwork on the pitch is not enough and his overall contribution needs to embrace a better strike rate.

He said: "That is the thing I want to improve most, to score goals.

"For me, in the past, scoring has not always been the most important thing.

My priorities have been to play well, to be important for the team.

"After that, I've always told myself that if I score, then that's just okay.

But now I'm changing my thoughts and I want to score more goals.

Every day in normal training I'm trying to score more.

And after training I stay to practise my shooting as well.

" One of Dembele's rare goals came at Craven Cottage back in January when Fulham thrashed Spurs 4-0 in the fourth round of the FA Cup.

Harry Redknapp was so impressed that in the summer he was reported to have made a tentative inquiry about the player.

Spurs are doing very nicely having banked 19 points from their last seven League games to go fifth in the table.

But Dembele counters that form by pointing out how Fulham have turned the Cottage into a fortress which has borne witness to only one home defeat in domestic and European football this season.

Nicely rested after missing last night's Europa League tie against Wisla Krakow through suspension, Dembele said: "When I talk to my colleagues in the Belgium side - like Marouane Fellaini and Thomas Vermaelen - they all say they don't like to play at Fulham, that it is not easy to play against us at our place.

" He has to hope that holds true for the Spurs players on Sunday, with Fulham only just clear of the relegation zone after a testing campaign.

But Dembele insists the team's lowly standing is a false one.

He added: "We should be higher up.

There has not been one team that we've played this season who were much better than us.

" At the moment, there are not many attacking players much better than Dembele.

And he can confirm that by out-whooshing Bale on Sunday.

Source David Smith at Evening Standard
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