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Spurs’ Kane ready for England captaincy

June 8, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

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Tottenham Hotspur striker Harry Kane says he is ready to succeed Wayne Rooney as England’s long-term captain.

Harry Kane

England manager Gareth Southgate has eased Manchester United forward Rooney, 31, out of the picture and says he will decide who captains his side on a match-by-match basis.

He has praised Kane’s “leadership qualities” and despite only being 23, the Spurs hotshot says he is ready to carry the responsibility that comes with the armband.

Asked if he thought it might be too soon for him to take on the captaincy, Kane replied: “For me personally, I don’t think so.

“I’ve been captain for Spurs a few times. You wear an armband and it gets built up a lot to be a captain.

“It is a fantastic thing, but in this team — and in this day and age — there should be more than just one leader out there.

“For me, I don’t think it would (be too early), but that is a matter of opinion really.”

On Southgate’s praise, he added: “It’s fantastic to hear. Any player growing up as a footballer dreams of being England captain one day and I am no different.”

Injuries mean Kane has not played for England since the 1-0 win in Slovakia last September that was to prove the one and only game of Sam Allardyce’s ill-fated reign as manager.

Having sat out England’s last six games, he is due to make his first appearance under Southgate in Saturday’s World Cup qualifier against Scotland in Glasgow.

Kane scored 29 goals to win the Premier League’s Golden Boot for the second year running, but he is desperate to improve an England record of five goals in 17 games.

“Club football, you are in a rhythm all the time,” said Kane, who scored seven goals in his last two games of the season for Spurs.

“You are playing week in, week out, but for your country, it’s not like that. You meet up every now and then. But it’s something I have got to get used to.

“I want to get back playing, hopefully get back scoring. If I score maybe a hat-trick at the weekend and a couple in the next game (against France on Tuesday), the ratio might not look so bad.

“As a striker, you can always change that. Five in 17 isn’t a terrible record, but it is something I want to improve. Hopefully that can start at the weekend.”

Four-goal Kane eyes golden boot after crushing Leicester

May 19, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

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Harry Kane staked his claim to finish as the Premier League’s top scorer with a scintillating four-goal blast in Tottenham’s 6-1 demolition of Leicester on Thursday.

Kane

Although Tottenham were unable to overhaul champions Chelsea in the title race, Mauricio Pochettino’s vibrant young side look certain to make a renewed challenge next term and Kane is the figurehead of that bright future.

Kane is hunting the league’s golden boot and the England striker was at his predatory best as he plundered the Leicester defence four times to move to the top of the scoring charts with 26 goals.

Everton’s Romelu Lukaku is second on 24 goals but Kane is well on course to nail down the goalscoring prize heading into Tottenham’s final fixture at Hull on Sunday.

South Korea’s Son Heung-Min scored twice for Tottenham, who swept to their 11th win in their last 12 league games after Leicester’s Ben Chilwell briefly reduced the deficit in the second half.

Tottenham, already guaranteed to finish second, now have more points than Leicester won the league with last season, but if Pochettino’s players were frustrated at falling short in the title race, they haven’t let it show.

Foreshadowing their imminent goal spree, Tottenham started with a swagger and nearly took the lead when Kane’s pass picked out Son, only for Chilwell to deny him with a last-ditch block.

Son’s movement was too clever for Leicester again moments later as he turned quickly and shot over.

Despite Tottenham’s pressure, they were lucky not to fall behind when Jamie Vardy scythed through their defence.

Accelerating onto Riyad Mahrez’s deft pass, Vardy had only Hugo Lloris to beat, yet he wastefully blasted straight at the Tottenham goalkeeper.

Unfazed, Pochettino’s team should have taken the lead when Son collected Dele Alli’s defence-splitting pass and blazed over with just Kasper Schmeichel to beat.

Kane was a constant menace and he went close with a curling effort before underlining his predatory excellence in the 25th minute.

Jan Vertonghen’s long pass targeted a penetrating run from Son and, with Leicester caught flat-footed, the South Korean quickly picked out Kane, who arrived on cue to guide a clinical finish past Schmeichel from close-range.

Although Leicester had a penalty appeal rejected after Toby Alderweireld collided with Vardy, Tottenham were proving impossible to subdue and the visitors doubled their lead in the 36th minute.

Alli was the catalyst, taking possession on the edge of the area and impudently bypassing the Leicester defence with a sublime chipped pass to Son, whose half-volley lacked power but still had enough accuracy to beat Schmeichel.

Son’s 20th goal of the season was just reward for Tottenham’s dominance, but Leicester got one back in 59th minute.

Despite replays showing he was marginally offside, Vardy was allowed to sprint onto a through ball, prompting Lloris to rashly race well outside his area in a failed attempt to clear.

When Daniel Amartey poked the ball to Chilwell, the Leicester defender steadied himself before firing home via Eric Dier’s out-stretched foot.

Even that needless setback couldn’t ruffle Tottenham and they responded with a well-worked third goal four minutes later.

Alderweireld looped a cross into the Leicester area and Victor Wanyama nodded back towards Kane, who reacted quickest to head in from close-range.

Kane turned provider for Tottenham’s fourth goal in the 71st minute as his pass teed up Son to flash a fine finish past Schmeichel.

With Leicester’s minds turning to their post-season holidays, Kane had acres of space to pilage the hosts’ defence and he completed his hat-trick with a superb 20-yard strike in the 89th minute.

Kane wasn’t finished yet and he produced a carbon copy of his third goal in stoppage-time, driving home from the edge of the area to put the seal on his goalscoring masterclass.

Spurs await ‘special’ White Hart Lane farewell against United

May 14, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

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Tottenham Hotspur manager Mauricio Pochettino expects a “special” day on Sunday when his side play Manchester United in the last game at White Hart Lane.

Spurs

With Chelsea having wrapped up the Premier League title by winning at West Bromwich Albion on Friday, Spurs’ farewell to their home of 118 years will now be the central focus of Sunday’s game.

“I hope Sunday will be the most special day in the last three seasons. It will be special for our fans, staff, players, people who love Tottenham,” Pochettino said.

“At the same time I am excited about the new stadium because the soul and the smell of White Hart Lane will keep there.

“When the new era and stadium arrive there will be different expectations, but, most important, always in our memory will be White Hart Lane, the soul and the smell.

“When you move to another area it’s so difficult, but now we are changing nothing because the new stadium will be in the same place as White Hart Lane and that is fantastic.”

Whatever the outcome, Sunday will be a deeply poignant occasion as Spurs say goodbye to a ground graced by such club greats as Jimmy Greaves, Danny Blanchflower, Steve Perryman, Glenn Hoddle and Paul Gascoigne.

A ceremony featuring figures from the club’s past will take place after the game and fans have been offered the chance to buy their seats for £50 ($64.40, 59 euros).

Demolition work on the Lane, Spurs’ home since 1899, will begin on Monday to make way for the club’s new 61,559-seater stadium, which will be completed in time for the 2018-19 campaign.

Spurs had hoped to bow out at the atmospheric old ground with a first league title since 1961, but although that objective has now disappeared, they still have a chance to make history.

Pochettino’s side are gunning for a 14th successive home league win, which would equal the club record, set over two seasons in 1987, and establish a new mark for consecutive home victories within the same campaign.

They can also go unbeaten at home in a league season for the first time since 1964-65.

United have unhappy recent memories of a farewell match at a venerable London venue.

Their Champions League hopes went up in smoke last season after they lost 3-2 to West Ham United in the final game at Upton Park.

United went 14 games without defeat at the Lane before last season’s 3-0 loss, but gone are the days when their former manager Alex Ferguson could dismiss Spurs’ threat with a disdainful: “Lads, it’s Tottenham.”

Spurs will finish above United this term for the third time in four seasons and Jose Mourinho’s side have little motivation to spoil the farewell party.

Four points off the top four, Mourinho has abandoned hope of qualifying for the Champions League via the league and is likely to rest players after Thursday’s Europa League semi-final success against Celta Vigo.

“In the Premier League we can only finish fifth or sixth, I think,” said Mourinho, whose team’s 25-game unbeaten run came to an end in north London last weekend following a 2-0 defeat at Arsenal.

“But obviously, like we did against Arsenal, we didn’t throw the match away. We played, we tried to win, we gave a difficult match to our opponent.

“That’s what we’re going to do. We’re not going to say that matches are not important.

“But we have one (the Europa League final) that is more important than others. The match on Sunday is important for us too.”

Marouane Fellaini, whose goal helped United secure a 2-1 aggregate win over Celta Vigo that set up a meeting with Ajax in the May 24 final, is unavailable due to a domestic suspension.

Pochettino has no new injuries concerns. Danny Rose is not yet match-fit despite having returned to training after injury, so Ben Davies is expected to continue at left-back.

Conte warns Chelsea to forget about Spurs

April 8, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

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Antonio Conte has warned his Chelsea stars not to worry about Tottenham’s results as the Premier League title race hots up this weekend.

Chelsea

With just eight games remaining Chelsea are clinging to a precious seven-point lead over second-placed Tottenham, but the Blues are showing a few glimpses of vulnerability.

Conte’s side ground out a barely deserved 2-1 win over Manchester City on Wednesday just days after crashing to a shock 2-1 home defeat against struggling Crystal Palace.

Meanwhile, Tottenham have reeled off five successive victories, including an incredible escape act at Swansea on Wednesday when they scored three times in the final minutes to clinch a 3-1 success.

With Chelsea playing on Saturday evening at Bournemouth, Tottenham have the chance to turn up the pressure again by temporarily trimming the lead to four points with a win against Watford at White Hart Lane a few hours earlier.

But Conte is adamant his players must forget about Tottenham’s form because Chelsea have their fate in their own hands.

“This race is open. I think now I can see two teams, Chelsea and Tottenham, in this race,” Conte said.

“There’s always pressure. If they win, if they lose, if they draw. It’s the same.

“It’s very important for us to look at ourselves and not the others. Tottenham’s result is important, but our results are the most important things.”

The Premier League era is littered with epic collapses from teams who thought the title was theirs and, with Chelsea needing 18 points to be certain of top spot, Blues midfielder Cesc Fabregas isn’t getting carried away yet.

“We’ve been saying it since the beginning of the season: it’s one game at a time,” he said.

“We have to worry about ourselves, not what the others are doing. As long as we keep winning then we don’t have to worry.”

Tottenham’s title hopes looked over until Dele Alli equalised in the 88th minute before Son Heung-Min and Christian Eriksen struck in stoppage time to kill off Swansea.

The wild celebrations from boss Mauricio Pochettino, his coaching staff and Tottenham’s players and fans underlined their relief at a result that allows them to continue dreaming of a first English title since 1961.

Having choked last season when they failed to catch champions Leicester in the closing weeks, Pochettino’s side are back in the hunt and Tottenham defender Jan Vertonghen said: “Chelsea look very strong but we can’t stop pushing and dreaming of the league.

“They have a couple of difficult games coming up. We have to keep winning and hopefully they get a bit stressed.

“I don’t know what is necessary to win the league, maybe a bit of luck, but I think this group has massive quality and is very special.”

The battle for Champions League qualification via the top four seems certain to go down to the wire.

Third-placed Liverpool, six points above fifth-placed Arsenal, can’t afford another slip when they face Stoke after allowing Bournemouth a late equaliser in a midweek 2-2 draw.

Reds boss Jurgen Klopp urged his team to emulate Chelsea’s steely streak when points are on the line.

“Probably if it was Chelsea, for example, the opponent would not have the ball three times in the last 20 minutes, I think. We don’t have this experience,” Klopp said.

Fourth-placed Manchester City, who host Hull, are without a win in four games and sit only four points above Arsenal, who have a game in hand and travel to Crystal Palace on Monday.

Manchester United are sixth and head to bottom-of-the-table Sunderland aiming to add to their former manager David Moyes’s problems.

Home draws against West Bromwich Albion and Everton have damaged United’s chances of making the top four and a win at the Stadium of Light is essential.

Jose Mourinho’s side can also push Sunderland — a hefty 10 points from safety — closer to the Championship at the end of a week in which Moyes was forced to apologise after threating to “slap” a female reporter.

Rooney breaks United record, City denied by Spurs fightback

January 22, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

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Wayne Rooney became Manchester United’s all-time leading scorer as his last-ditch wonder goal rescued a 1-1 draw at Stoke, while Pep Guardiola’s problems mounted as Tottenham came from two down to force a 2-2 draw at Manchester City on Saturday.

Rooney

Rooney surpassed Bobby Charlton’s tally of 249 goals for United when he struck with a superb effort deep into stoppage-time at the Britannia Stadium.

The 250th goal of Rooney’s glittering United career was just the 31-year-old’s fifth of a difficult season and came as a timely reminder of the striker’s class after he was relegated to the role of a fringe player for long periods this term.

It was also much needed by United, who had fallen behind in the 19th minute when Juan Mata deflected Erik Pieters’ shot into his own net.

Jose Mourinho sent on Rooney in the 67th minute and the England star, who had gone two games without a goal since equalling Charlton’s record in an FA Cup win over Reading on January 7, wasted his first chance to make history when he headed wide from six yards.

But Rooney refused to be denied and, with Charlton watching from the stands, his magic moment arrived four minutes into stoppage-time when he curled a superb free-kick past Stoke goalkeeper Lee Grant and into the top corner.

Rooney’s gem extended United’s unbeaten run in the league to 13 matches, but lost in the euphoria of his landmark strike was a disappointing result that leaves his team three points adrift of the top four.

“It means a hell of a lot. It is a great honour and I’m very proud,” said Rooney, who signed for United from Everton in 2004.

“It is not something I expected when I joined. The players who have played for this club have been world class.

“To be all-time top goalscorer is a huge honour.”

Charlton saluted Rooney’s achievement, saying: “I can honestly say I’m delighted for Wayne. He deserves his place in the history books.

“He is a true great for club and country.”

Mourinho added: “Before him the record belonged to a legend of English football. Now Wayne becomes a legend of Manchester United.”

At Eastlands, City took the lead in the 49th minute when Tottenham goalkeeper Hugo Lloris raced off his line in a failed bid to intercept Kevin de Bruyne’s pass, allowing Leroy Sane to steer his shot into the empty net.

- Chastening -

Lloris was culpable again five minutes later as the France international spilled Raheem Sterling’s cross and De Bruyne punished the mistake with a simple finish.

But Dele Alli sparked Tottenham’s revival with a close-range header in the 58th minute and, after Sterling had a penalty appeal controversially turned down, South Korea’s Son Heung-Min swept home to complete the comeback in the 77th minute.

It was another chastening experience for City boss Guardiola, who suffered the heaviest league defeat of his managerial career last weekend in a 4-0 loss at Everton.

“It was an outstanding performance, but it’s a pity what happened,” Guardiola said.

“We created more chances but were not able to win and again the right decisions were against us.”

Fifth placed City are languishing nine points adrift of leaders Chelsea, while second placed Tottenham lie six points behind the table toppers, who host Hull on Sunday.

Liverpool’s title challenge suffered a major blow as lowly Swansea enjoyed a shock 3-2 victory at Anfield.

Fernando Llorente put Swansea ahead in the 48th minute and struck again in the 52nd minute before Roberto Firmino scored for Liverpool three minutes later.

Firmino drew Liverpool level with a fine finish in the 69th minute, but Gylfi Sigurdsson struck in the 74th minute after more sloppy play from the Reds rearguard.

Swansea had started the day at the bottom of the table, but their first ever league win at Anfield lifted them out of the relegation zone and condemned Liverpool, seven points behind Chelsea, to their first home league defeat for 12 months.

“The defending around all three goals wasn’t good enough, 100 percent. Their third is a big mistake,” Reds boss Jurgen Klopp said.

Seamus Coleman’s 87th minute strike gave Everton 1-0 win at Crystal Palace that plunged the hosts into the relegation zone.

Andy Carroll showed West Ham can thrive without want-away star Dimitri Payet as his brace inspired a 3-1 victory at Middlesbrough.

Sunderland slumped to the bottom of the table after a 2-0 defeat at West Bromwich Albion, while Bournemouth drew 2-2 with Watford.

‘Naive’ Spurs nurse Champions League wounds

November 24, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

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Tottenham Hotspur were accused of being “naive” and manager Mauricio Pochettino of having made a reckless “gamble” following their embarrassing group-stage exit in the Champions League.

Spurs

Despite boasting the biggest wage bill in Group E, Tottenham were bundled out with a game still to pay following Tuesday’s 2-1 defeat at French Ligue 1 title-chasers Monaco.

Pochettino’s youthful side came close to pipping Leicester City to Premier League glory last season, but former England international Phil Neville said their callowness had been exposed in Europe.

“They’ve made naive decisions in the Champions League and Tottenham are being punished,” the former Manchester United and Everton player told BBC Radio 5 Live.

“Positions you take in the Premier League don’t get punished. Here they do.

“They were wide open at the back, disorganised in midfield. The Champions League has been a real learning curve and they’ve been found out.”

Wednesday’s sports headlines in the British newspapers will have made grim reading for Pochettino, who was said to have made unnecessary changes to his starting XI.

The Times branded Tottenham “toothless”, while both The Guardian and the Daily Telegraph accused Pochettino of taking a “gamble” that had not paid off.

The Argentine raised eyebrows by pairing Eric Dier at centre-back with Kevin Wimmer, leaving Toby Alderweireld on the bench, and picking Kieran Trippier over England’s Kyle Walker at right-back.

Midfielder Dele Alli played with heavy strapping on his leg after only recently overcoming a knee injury and Neville felt he was “not fit”.

Dier, who usually plays in midfield, conceded an early penalty for a clumsy foul on Fabinho and although Hugo Lloris saved Radamel Falcao’s spot-kick, it was to prove only a stay of execution.

After falling behind to Djibril Sidibe’s 48th-minute header, Spurs equalised four minutes later via Harry Kane’s penalty, only for Monaco to re-take the lead within 39 seconds through Thomas Lemar.

“We got ourselves back in the game at 1-1 and it was schoolboy to concede straight after that,” Kane told BT Sport.

While Spurs’ Champions League fate was settled at Stade Louis II, it is at Wembley that their shortcomings have been truly exposed.

Spurs agreed to play their home games in the competition at England’s national stadium due to rebuilding work at their White Hart Lane home.

But despite attracting vast crowds they have not looked at home in their temporary abode, losing 2-1 to Monaco there in their first game before going down 1-0 to Bayer Leverkusen.

“I think we made too many mistakes at home at Wembley,” Pochettino conceded.

With Monaco and Leverkusen now assured of knockout-stage places, the best Spurs can hope for from their final game against CSKA Moscow is the dubious consolation of a Europa League berth.

Spurs have an option to move into Wembley for the entirety of the 2017-18 season, when they will need to vacate White Hart Lane, but six straight defeats there have prompted talk of a ‘Wembley curse’.

“Yes, we played at Wembley this year, but it has to be a fortress at home,” Kane said.

While Spurs remain the only unbeaten team in the Premier League, they are currently in something of a rut, having won only one of their last nine fixtures in all competitions.

They visit league leaders Chelsea on Saturday in a fixture that will rekindle painful memories of their 2-2 draw at Stamford Bridge in May, which ended their bid for a first league title since 1961.

Widely lauded for his work at Tottenham so far, Pochettino needs to show he still possesses the power to inspire.

Spurs hope Kane can supply derby spark

November 5, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

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Buoyed by the return of Harry Kane, Tottenham Hotspur will look to arrest their current slump and improve their dismal record at the Emirates Stadium in Sunday’s derby against Arsenal.

Kane

Though they remain the last unbeaten team in the Premier League, Tottenham have gone six games without victory in all competitions since their stunning 2-0 defeat of Manchester City a month ago.

Wednesday’s 1-0 loss to Bayer Leverkusen left them in third place in their Champions League group and manager Mauricio Pochettino concedes preparation for the 179th North London derby has not been ideal.

“It’s true that we are not in a positive situation,” said the Argentine, whose side are fifth in the table ahead of the weekend’s fixtures, three points below second-place Arsenal.

“In the six games after Manchester City we have struggled to win games — four draws and two defeats. We are very conscious about that. We need to work hard and try more than before.

“We are in a difficult moment, but in football you always need to be ready to change the dynamic and we have a very good opportunity on Sunday to go to the Emirates and try to win the game.”

Pochettino is yet to lose a league game against Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger, winning one and drawing three of their four encounters, although he did taste defeat against him in last season’s League Cup.

Spurs have won just once at Arsenal since May 1993 — a 3-2 success in November 2010 — but will draw encouragement from Kane’s return to fitness after seven weeks out with an ankle ligament injury.

The 23-year-old England striker has scored four goals in his three league games against Arsenal and although he is understandably short of match fitness, Pochettino says he could start.

In Kane’s absence, Spurs have scored only three goals in their last six games and have not scored from open play in the last five.

Midfielder Mousa Dembele faces a late fitness test on a foot problem, but centre-back Toby Alderweireld (leg) and winger Erik Lamela (hip) are definitely out and Moussa Sissoko is suspended.

Arsenal go into the game carrying momentum, Wenger’s side having won 10 of their last 11 matches in all competitions.

They came from 2-0 down to win 3-2 at Ludogorets Razgrad in the Champions League on Tuesday, when Mesut Ozil’s sumptuous 87th-minute winner took Arsenal into the last 16 for the 17th season running.

Spurs have not finished above Arsenal since 1995, having been pipped to second place behind Leicester City by their rivals on last season’s final day.

But Wenger was reluctant to entertain suggestions his side have any kind of mental hold over their foes from the other end of the Seven Sisters Road.

“At the moment I’m more focused on the fact that this is more than a derby,” said the Arsenal manager, whose team trail leaders Manchester City on goal difference.

“It’s an important game for us because it’s a big home game and we have an opportunity to show that we have an interesting role to play in this Premier League, and that we can win these kinds of games too.”

Winger Theo Walcott is expected to overcome a hamstring problem to start, while midfielder Granit Xhaka returns after a three-game domestic ban.

But Wenger has doubts over Santi Cazorla (Achilles), Nacho Monreal (muscular), Hector Bellerin (knock) and Kieran Gibbs (shoulder).

Olivier Giroud, meanwhile, is putting pressure on Alexis Sanchez for the lone striker’s role, having scored three times in his last two appearances.

There has been just one 0-0 draw in the last 43 meetings between the teams and the omens for goals are good.

The last time Arsenal and Tottenham met at midday was in November 2004, when an 81st-minute Robert Pires strike was enough to give Wenger’s men a dizzying 5-4 victory at White Hart Lane.

Guardiola asks for patience after setback at Spurs

October 3, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

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Pep Guardiola advised Manchester City’s supporters it will take up to three years for his methods to fully bear fruit after his side lost 2-0 at Tottenham Hotspur.

Spurs

City had avoided defeat in the first 11 games of Guardiola’s tenure as manager, but they were given a rude awakening at White Hart Lane on Sunday as Spurs trimmed their Premier League lead to a single point.

Guardiola declared Spurs potential champions afterwards, but emphasised — as he had prior to the game — that his team are at a different stage in their development to Mauricio Pochettino’s side.

Asked if Spurs were title contenders, Guardiola replied: “They were last season. Why not? The same trainer, new players. In two, three years, my team will be better.

“In that sense it’s normal. In the Premier League there are many teams who can achieve that and Tottenham are one of them.”

He added: “They were the better team. It can happen sometimes.

“We play against one team that has been together the last two or three years, who last season were fighting until the end to win the Premier League.”

Guardiola, who had seen his team win the first six league games under his stewardship, acknowledged that City had been unable to live with Spurs’ asphyxiating high press.

“We knew how aggressive they are, home and away, but especially at home,” said the former Barcelona and Bayern Munich coach.

“Of course it was difficult because we had problems to find the guys when we want to find them and control our game. We lost a lot of balls in positions that were so, so dangerous.

“They were one step in front of us today. We just can say congratulations Tottenham, because when the opponent is better, you have to accept it and learn from that.”

Aleksandar Kolarov, who struggled during City’s 3-3 Champions League draw at Celtic, gifted Spurs a ninth-minute lead when he inadvertently turned Danny Rose’s cross into his own net.

Son Heung-Min set up Dele Alli to sweep in Spurs’ second goal in the 37th minute and the hosts would have won with even more room to spare had Erik Lamela not seen a penalty parried by Claudio Bravo.

Alli described the result as a “big statement”, while Pochettino said his team had been “nearly perfect”.

The Argentine took particular satisfaction from the fact Spurs had prevented a Guardiola team from dominating possession until the latter stages.

“To play a great team like Man City, you need to do a fantastic job,” Pochettino said.

“In theory we are a team that want to have control always. In front was Manchester City, who want the same as us, then it’s a battle on the pitch.

“For that I feel very pleased because our players showed a big commitment with the philosophy. The way that we played was fantastic.

“It’s too early in the season to talk about aims, but it’s important to be consistent. If we can play like this, why not be consistent during the whole season?

“I know it’s a big effort, but that is how we want to play. It was a good example today that we want to follow and build our project.”

Son and Lamela argued over who should take the penalty, but Pochettino played down the incident.

“When we prepare the game, two, three, four players can take the ball,” he said.

“If it’s (the injured) Harry Kane, he’s the first, and Lamela and Sonny one, two, three. But different things can happen on the pitch.

“Someone can say: ‘I’m confident to shoot the penalty.’ And it’s discussed between them. Always they’re allowed to discuss and take the decision if two players want to shoot.

“It’s difficult, eh, from the touchline, to say ‘No, no, you shoot!’ Because they’re fighting, it’s impossible for them to see us and you’re not allowed to go into the middle of the pitch.”

Rooney hails Man Utd momentum as Hull await

August 27, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

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Manchester United captain Wayne Rooney believes new manager Jose Mourinho’s methods are already bearing fruit ahead of his side’s Premier League trip to Hull City on Saturday.

Mourinho

United have won their two opening games, against Bournemouth and Southampton, and go into the weekend level on points with Manchester City, Chelsea and, unexpectedly, Hull at the head of the table.

Zlatan Ibrahimovic has scored four goals in three games and with world-record returnee Paul Pogba impressing in the 2-0 win over Southampton, Rooney feels United have hit the ground running.

“We, as players, have to adapt to what the manager wants us to do in our preparations throughout the week and, on match-days, we try to take the game plan of the manager onto the pitch,” he told MUTV.

“It’s what we’ve tried to do and, fortunately, we’ve started the season well. We’ve prepared well this week so we’re hoping that continues.

“The signings we’ve made this season have been really good signings. They’ve settled in really quickly and you’ve seen the impact they’ve had on the pitch already.”

While City, United and Chelsea’s presence in the top four gives the lead places in the Premier League standings a familiar look, Hull’s strong start to the season has surprised everyone.

After Steve Bruce quit as manager and Hull were left with only 13 senior players, the East Yorkshire club were installed as the bookmakers’ favourites to go down.

But they defied the odds to stun champions Leicester City 2-1 on the season’s opening day and followed that up with a 2-0 success at Swansea City.

One of Bruce’s principle reasons for leaving was frustration over the club’s lack of transfer activity and caretaker coach Mike Phelan says there will be no new faces on show at the KCOM Stadium on Saturday.

“It’s the same old, same old,” said Phelan, who spent 20 years at United as a player, coach and assistant manager under Alex Ferguson.

“Nobody has yet come into the building. We haven’t signed any new players. We are in talks with two or three new players.

“We’ve set our stall out and are pursuing interests, but at the moment nothing has been delivered.”

The identity of the man between the posts for Manchester City will be a hot topic once again on Sunday when Pep Guardiola’s side welcome West Ham United to the Etihad Stadium.

Claudio Bravo has completed his move from Barcelona for a reported initial fee of 13.75 million pounds ($18.2 million, 16.1 million euros).

But with the Chile international having only just arrived, Guardiola is expected to restore Willy Caballero to his starting XI, which means Joe Hart will drop to the bench.

Hart was hailed by City’s fans during Wednesday’s 1-0 Champions League win over Steaua Bucharest, but with youngster Angus Gunn also pushing for a place, Guardiola cannot even guarantee him a spot on the bench.

“If all four stay here, the best solution is for everybody to be involved in our idea,” Guardiola said.

“They are going to be in rotation, part of that. So (if) Joe, Willy and Angus stay, then it won’t be the same one who is always on the bench.”

Chelsea will look to pursue their renaissance under former Juventus and Italy manager Antonio Conte when they entertain Burnley at Stamford Bridge.

Burnley stunned Liverpool 2-0 at Turf Moor last weekend, despite seeing less than 20 percent of the ball, only to then crash to a woeful League Cup exit at fourth-tier Accrington Stanley.

At White Hart Lane, Tottenham Hotspur host Liverpool in a clash between two clubs hoping to gatecrash the Manchester duopoly at the top of the table.

“Both teams have consistency in the squad. There are of course new players, but not too many changes,” said Jurgen Klopp, whose tenure as Liverpool manager began with a 0-0 draw at Spurs last October.

“It will be exciting what will happen there.”

Arsenal, meanwhile, visit Watford.

Arsene Wenger’s men remain without a win after two games, but fans have been placated by moves for Germany defender Shkodran Mustafi and Spanish striker Lucas Perez.

Tottenham’s Pochettino looks to build round playmaker Eriksen

August 19, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

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Tottenham Hotspur manager Mauricio Pochettino is planning to further strengthen his squad during the remaining weeks of the transfer window and expects Christian Eriksen to commit his long-term future to the club.

Eriksen

Pochettino is attempting to bring together a group of players capable of coping with the demands of playing in the Champions League and improving on last season’s third-place finish.

Saturday’s visit of Crystal Palace to White Hart Lane presents Pochettino’s side with the opportunity to get their campaign up and running following the opening day 1-1 draw atEverton.

The Argentinian admits there is still business to be done, although he insists that does not include the possible exit of Juventus target Eriksen.

The 24-year-old Danish international playmaker has two years left on his current contract and Pochettino sees the player as someone he intends to build his side around.

“He is very happy here and we are happy with him and we will see what happens in the next few weeks,” Pochettino said.

“He has two more years on his contract and it is only a question of time before he agrees a new contract.”

Midfielder Nabil Bentaleb’s future is far less certain with Pochettino admitting he would be willing to allow the Algerian to leave.

He insists Clinton N’Jie remains part of his plans despite suggestions he could be used as part of a deal to bring in Marseille’s Georges-Kevin N’Koudou.

“Bentaleb is not in my plans but Clinton is in the squad and is at the club,” said Pochettino.

“I am very happy with the summer. I know this is difficult in this crazy business that today is football.

“We have our philosophy and we follow our way and I think that makes us different to the other clubs.

“We will try to to bring more players in. We hope to sign one, two or three players – or maybe no-one. It depends on many things that will happen. We will try to find some players to sign.”

Hugo Lloris, the Spurs keeper and captain, will be missing from the line-up after picking up a hamstring injury at Everton that is set to keep the France international out for four weeks.

“It’s always difficult when your captain is not on the pitch. It will always be difficult but we trust in Michel (Vorm, the second-choice goalkeeper) and I think he was doing well in the pre-season.

“He played a lot of friendly games, he is ready to compete. He is a goalkeeper who has a lot of experience in the Premier League and in internationals. There is no doubt about his quality.”

Crystal Palace will cross London after a difficult opening week that began with a 1-0 home defeat to West Bromwich Albion and continued with the £25 million ($32.9m) departure ofYannick Bolasie to Everton.

West Brom’s victory confirmed the goalscoring problems that haunted Alan Pardew’s men during the second half of last season and the Palace manager was left frustrated this week when a move for Liverpool striker Christian Benteke was rejected.

Connor Wickham is Pardew’s only fit forward and the former Newcastle United manager is keen to bring in another two strikers with Chelsea’s Loic Remy top of his list.

A loan move for the France international looks increasingly likely and having seen his side struggle to break down West Brom, Pardew will hope to arrange a deal before the visit to Spurs.

Pardew may also step up his attempt to bring in an extra midfielder following the departure of former captain Mile Jedinak to Aston Villa this week.

Pochettino expects improvement from sloppy Spurs

August 14, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

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Tottenham Hotspur boss Mauricio Pochettino believes his players might take a little longer to completely recover from their international exertions after they salvaged a 1-1 draw at Everton on Saturday.

Spurs

Pochettino was happy with the second-half comeback that earned his side a point in their opening match of the Premier League season, yet a flat first-half display led to some tough talk from the Argentine at half-time in the visiting dressing room.

And Pochettino believes the lack of energy before the interval might well have been down to his players shaking off the effects of international duty during the close-season.

“We started the game slowly with a lack of energy and I am very disappointed with that,” Pochettino said.

“We conceded the goal very early in the game and it was a big thing for us to manage that and difficult to recover the game.

“I was very unhappy with the first half and in the second half we played much better and we showed we looked like the team that played last season.

“We need to analyse what happened but in the end it is the first game of the season and there are a lot of things to do.

“We had a lot of players involved in the Euros and it is always difficult that they become fit and ready but I think in the end we need to take a lot of positives.

“In the end you try not to be too critical. It was my responsibility too and I tried to change things to change the score and create chances and win the game.

“We came very close to winning the game in the end because in the last 15 or 20 minutes we had control.”

Pre-season signing Vincent Janssen gave Pochettino food for thought with a sharp second-half cameo that could further his claims to start next week at home to Crystal Palace.

But France goalkeeper Hugo Lloris is already a doubt for that game after limping off before half-time with a hamstring problem that was due to be assessed on Sunday.

Erik Lamela’s 59th-minute header cancelled out a fifth-minute free-kick from Everton’s Ross Barkley and denied new Toffees manager Ronald Koeman a winning start.

But the former Southampton boss was content with his side’s efforts despite seeing them lose momentum after the break.

“First of all, I am happy about the team performance,” Koeman said.

“I think the first 45 minutes was really excellent. We had good team organisation, we put a lot of energy in, and we were very dangerous up front.

“We had a big opportunity before half-time to score a second goal, and if we take that then it’s a different game. Being one or two goals up is a completely different situation.

“We know it would be difficult towards the end because they have really good players, scoring players. But I think overall we worked very hard.

“Of course they had two big opportunities, great saves by Maarten Stekelenburg. That was important for us to keep the result, because it is also a mental question.

“But at least we showed what we like to see, and you could see the reaction of the fans, really supporting the team, and that is good to show today.

“This is the first game, but I am happy overall.”

Romelu Lukaku did not figure for Everton amid speculation Chelsea will make a renewed bid to sign him, but Koeman insisted an ankle injury and not any impending transfer was responsible for the Belgian striker’s absence.

Lukaku is expected to be available to face West Bromwich Albion at The Hawthorns next Saturday.

Spurs close in on Wembley stadium move

May 6, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

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Tottenham Hotspur are close to a deal to play Premier League games at Wembley in the 2017/18 campaign and are looking at staging Champions League matches there next season, FA chairman Greg Dyke said on Thursday.

Greg-Dyke-FA-chairman

Spurs will have a reduced capacity of about 32,000 next season due to building work and the club said they are discussing options to meet UEFA stadium requirements with Champions League qualification close to being assured.

The north London club need to find a home for the season after next while white Hart Lane is demolished and they erect a new 400 million pounds 61,000-seat stadium on the site.

Rivals Chelsea have also shown interest in using Wembley for up to three years, Dyke said, while they build a new 60,000-seat stadium at Stamford Bridge.

Dyke said he would welcome Tottenham and Chelsea playing at Wembley, saying it made sense for all parties concerned with the FA hoping to use the extra income for grassroots football.

“We’re certainly in discussions with Spurs that they should come in for a full season when they’re rebuilding their stadium. We’re a long way down the path with reaching an agreement,” Dyke, who has a few months left as chairman, told Sky Sports.

“We’re in discussions about them playing their Champions League games there at Wembley next year but I don’t know much about that. On the full season, I think we’re quite close to a deal.”

Spurs are all but assured of finishing at least third in the Premier League, which brings an automatic Champions League spot, given a superior goal difference over fourth-placed Manchester City, who are six points behind with two games to play.

Local rivals Arsenal played Champions League games at Wembley in the 1998-99 and 1999-2000 seasons before the national stadium was completely rebuilt and reopened in 2007.

Chelsea submitted plans in December to redevelop their Stamford Bridge ground, which holds just over 41,000. British media said that work on the new stadium would start in the 2017/18 season.

“I think Chelsea might come for a longer period (than Spurs) because they have really exciting plans for Stamford Bridge and may demolish the whole thing and build a whole new stadium on the existing site and if they can that would mean them coming for three years.”

A statement on the Spurs website (www.tottenhamhotspur.com) said they are looking at the possibility of playing Champions League games away from White Hart Lane next season to comply with UEFA stadium requirements.

There will be a reduced capacity at the current ground next term because construction work on their new stadium will affect a corner at the north end of White Hart Lane meaning the loss of about 4,000 seats out of just over 36,000.

Tottenham lose their heads and title chances

May 3, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

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Tottenham Hotspur lost their cool and their Premier League title hopes as they let slip a two-goal lead at Chelsea to draw a stormy London derby 2-2 on Monday.

Hazard goal

Comfortably ahead at halftime with goals from Harry Kane and Son Heung-min, Spurs were on course for a first win at Stamford Bridge in 26 years that would have kept the title race alive, but Chelsea hit back after the break with Gary Cahill and substitute Eden Hazard on target.

Tottenham ended up with nine players in referee Mark Clattenburg’s book and were lucky to have 11 men on the field at the end after a series of ugly exchanges.

With their hopes of catching newly-crowned champions Leicester City in tatters, a melee broke out in the tunnel after the final whistle with coaching staff and players from both sides involved in heated scenes that could bring FA punishments.

Tottenham are the first team in Premier League history to have nine players booked in one game.

“We were all involved today,” Spurs boss Mauricio Pochettino, who had to separate his left back Danny Rose and Chelsea’s Willian in the first half, said.

“When you play for the title and play a very big team like Chelsea it is normal to show emotion, but fighting on the pitch is not a good example for both teams.

“The tension, that Chelsea want to stop Tottenham, shows the respect they have for us. It is a pleasure to play in this intensity. When an opponent plays like this it makes me feel proud. This is football.” Tottenham midfielder Mousa Dembele appeared to poke Chelsea striker Diego Costa in the eye while midfielder Eric Dier was also lucky to avoid a red card for a wild tackle on Hazard.

Chelsea boss Guus Hiddink was pushed over in the fracas after the final whistle.

Chelsea skipper John Terry, who had returned to action after injury, said emotions were running high.

“Players are fighting for league titles, it’s emotions,” Terry, who led Chelsea to the title a year ago said.

“It boiled over let’s not get silly and start banning people, it’s a London derby and the fans want to see it.” Tottenham are guaranteed a top-four finish and Champions League qualifying spot but will want to finish the season runners-up. With two games left they are three points above north-London rivals Arsenal and six ahead of Manchester City.

“Next season, we need to be stronger than this one and try to be in the race for the title again,” Pochettino said.

“We are disappointed but (I’m) proud of my players. The season was fantastic and we will still fight for second place.

We have a three points gap to Arsenal, we need to keep the gap and we need to be ready for next week.” Tottenham finish with a home game against Southampton and an away trip to relegation-threatened Newcastle United

Tottenham title hopes in tatters following West Brom draw

April 26, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

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Tottenham’s Hotspur’s Premier League title hopes are hanging by a thread after a 1-1 draw at home to West Bromwich Albion on Monday left Leicester City tantalisingly close to being crowned champions of England for the first time.

Football Soccer - Tottenham Hotspur v West Bromwich Albion - Barclays Premier League - White Hart Lane - 25/4/16 Tottenham's Mousa Dembele, Jan Vertonghen, Harry Kane and Erik Lamela look dejected after West Brom's first goal Action Images via Reuters / Tony O'Brien Livepic

Craig Dawson’s 32nd-minute own goal put Tottenham in front as they sought to cut Leicester’s lead back to five points.

But Tottenham produced a nervy second-half display and Dawson redeemed himself when he headed his side level after 72 minutes to deflate the home crowd and no doubt kickstart a party in the east Midlands.

Tottenham struck the woodwork three times on a frustrating night and Leicester can now clinch the title if they beat Manchester United at Old Trafford on Sunday.

With three matches remaining Leicester have 76 points with Tottenham, the only side who can deny them the title, on 69.

Manchester City and Arsenal have 64.

“It was very frustrating,” Tottenham manager Mauricio Pochettino told reporters. “It was a game we had to win.

“The first half we played very well but we spent a lot of energy to make it 1-0 and in the second half we lost a bit of control of the game and that allowed them to believe.”

Asked if Tottenham had blown their title chances, the Argentine added: “It’s not over, the gap is seven points and we have three games left. But it’s true it’s very difficult.”

Tottenham bossed the opening period and West Brom barely got out of their own half in the opening 15 minutes.

Leading scorer Harry Kane saw his close-range shot turned onto the inside of the post by West Brom goalkeeper Boaz Myhill and then Tottenham’s Danish playmaker Christian Eriksen grazed the crossbar with a free kick.

West Brom were well organised, however, and had managed to blunt Tottenham’s attack until the opener arrived in unusual circumstances.

Eriksen’s dangerous free kick was aimed towards Jan Vertonghen but Dawson, in his desperation to intercept it, stumbled and saw the ball go into the net off his arm.

There was relief all around a chilly White Hart Lane as the home fans again began to dream of a first title since 1961.

But the second half did not go to plan.

West Brom were far more ambitious, causing Tottenham problems with a barrage of high balls into the area.

Even so Tottenham still should have doubled their lead when Eriksen and Dele Alli combined to tee up Erik Lamela but his close-range shot spun against the foot of the post.

Eriksen curled another effort just wide but the second goal would not arrive and the nerves began to jangle.

Salomon Rondon headed wide when unmarked and had another shot tipped over by Hugo Lloris. From the resulting corner the ball was whipped in and Dawson rose above Eric Dier to head past a flat-footed Lloris.

Tottenham were stunned and never really looked like snatching a late winner that would have kept the pressure firmly on Leicester. While Pochettino refused to admit defeat, his side’s priority now will be to consolidate second place.

Tottenham run riot at Stoke to cut Leicester’s lead

April 19, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

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Tottenham Hotspur took a large bite out of Leicester City’s Premier League lead with two goals apiece from Harry Kane and Dele Alli earning them a 4-0 victory at Stoke City on Monday.

Football Soccer - Stoke City v Tottenham Hotspur - Barclays Premier League - The Britannia Stadium - 18/4/16. Harry Kane scores the third goal for Tottenham. Reuters / Darren Staples

The visitors produced a scintillating display of attacking football to take full advantage of Leicester’s 2-2 home draw with West Ham United on Sunday and close the gap to five points with four matches remaining.

Leicester remain favourites with 73 points but Tottenham’s fourth victory in five games, achieved with a real flourish, means the title race is back on the boil.

“We are ready to put the pressure on Leicester. We think we can do it. Leicester are five points ahead but we have closed the gap, that’s all we could do,” Kane, who moved two goals clear of Leicester’s Jamie Vardy at the top of the scoring charts with 24 goals, said.

“We scored four but could have had six or seven. It is one of our best performances all season. I was itching to play. I had to wait a whole day and a half.”

England striker Kane gave Tottenham the perfect start after nine minutes, curling a textbook shot past keeper Shay Given after being played in by Moussa Dembele.

Stoke briefly threatened a response and Hugo Lloris made a fine save from Marko Arnautovic but Tottenham should have gone further ahead when Alli played in Christian Eriksen but the Dane curled a shot against the crossbar with the goal gaping.

More chances went begging early in the second half for Tottenham early in the second half but they doubled their lead after 67 minutes when Eriksen’s pass sent Alli clear and he calmly chipped Given.

Incredibly Alli struck the post after rounding Given shortly afterwards, a comical miss that had Spurs manager Mauricio Pochettino beating the turf in frustration, but it did not prove costly as Kane calmly converted Erik Lamela’s pull back after another rapid Spurs attack.

Tottenham were running riot and completed the rout after 82 minutes with Eriksen again the provider, clipping a clever pass to the outstanding Alli who swept home a volley to condemn Stoke to their joint worst home defeat in the Premier League.

Leicester march on, Tottenham not giving up chase

April 11, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

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Leicester City continued their inexorable march towards the Premier League title as Jamie Vardy’s brace earned them victory at Sunderland on Sunday but Tottenham Hotspur showed they will not give up the chase after demolishing Manchester United 3-0.

Football Soccer - Sunderland v Leicester City - Barclays Premier League - Stadium of Light - 10/4/16 Jamie Vardy scores the second goal for Leicester Reuters / Russell Cheyne Livepic

Vardy’s late goals in a 2-0 win at the Stadium of Light sent Claudio Ranieri’s side 10 points clear before second-placed Tottenham kicked off at White Hart Lane and judging by the way the Leicester fans reacted they have clearly started believing the impossible dream.

The visiting supporters, some of whom have already bought scarves embossed with “Premier League Champions”, gave a rousing rendition of “We’re going to win the league” at fulltime.

Tottenham, however, have proved durable pursuers while other more fancied sides have faltered and the way they turned over a lacklustre United suggests they still believe the season could have a final twist.

A flat first half at White Hart Lane, not helped by the score from Sunderland and United’s late arrival due to traffic jams forcing a 30-minute delay, was followed by a vibrant second period from Mauricio Pochettino’s team.

Three goals in six minutes from Dele Alli, Toby Alderweireld and Erik Lamela earned Tottenham a first home league win over United since 2001 — a result that meant Leicester are at least guaranteed a top-four finish and a place in the Champions League’s playoff round.

United, meanwhile, remained fifth, four points behind Manchester City, and their hopes of salvation this season are more likely to come in the FA Cup in which they face West Ham United in a quarter-final replay on Wednesday.

With five matches remaining Leicester have 72 points and Tottenham have 65 with Arsenal back in third on 59.

Liverpool moved into eighth place with a 4-1 home victory over Stoke City — the perfect warm-up for their Europa League quarter-final second leg against Borussia Dortmund on Thursday.

Leicester will be guaranteed an improbable first top flight title if they win three more matches after grinding past a poor Sunderland side who are sliding towards relegation.

Ranieri’s side have now won five matches in a row without conceding a goal and the Italian’s emotional reaction to victory suggests he finally believes the miracle may happen.

He quickly recovered his composure, however.

“The fans must continue to dream but we must stay focussed and concentrated, we have now two tough matches at home,” he said. “We have achieved nothing yet though. We must stay calm, stay strong and keep going.”

Vardy broke the deadlock in the 66th minute when experienced defender Younes Kaboul failed to deal with Danny Drinkwater’s long ball and the England striker guided his shot past goalkeeper Vito Mannone.

Jack Rodwell wasted a great chance to equalise for Sunderland, wafting a shot over with the goal gaping, and Vardy raced away to seal victory in stoppage time to take his tally in the league to 21.

He is the first Leicester player to score more than 20 goals in the top flight since Gary Lineker in 1984-85.

Only Tottenham’s Harry Kane has more this season, although the Spurs striker for once did not get on the scoresheet on Sunday.

He did have a hand in Tottenham’s opener though, releasing Christian Eriksen on the left before the Dane crossed for Alli to finish easily past David De Gea.

Four minutes later Lamela, guilty of a terrible first-half miss, curled in a free kick for Alderweireld to meet with a textbook glancing header and with Spurs rampant Argentine Lamela then finished off a flowing move with precise shot.

United’s fans had taunted Tottenham with a chant of “You Nearly Won The League” during the first half, but hope had returned in north London by the time the final whistle blew.

“It was important for us to show character after Leicester’s game, because we were under pressure,” Pochettino told reporters. “It’s true we gave a message to them that we are there. We are waiting and fighting.”

Divock Origi scored twice for Liverpool while Daniel Sturridge was also on target.

Pochettino hopes European exit helps Spurs hunt down Foxes

April 6, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

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Tottenham Hotspur’s clash with Manchester United on Sunday will show whether manager Mauricio Pochettino made the right call when he sacrificed progress in Europe to focus on clinching Spurs’ first Premier League title in 55 years.

Football Soccer - Liverpool v Tottenham Hotspur - Barclays Premier League - Anfield - 2/4/16Tottenham manager Mauricio Pochettino Action Images via Reuters / Carl Recine

Second in the table and seven points adrift of leaders Leicester City with six games left, Spurs were knocked out of the Europa League by Borussia Dortmund 5-1 on aggregate after Pochettino rested key players in the last-16 stage.

The Argentine made seven changes to his team for the first leg in Germany, resting Eric Dier and leaving leading scorer Harry Kane on the bench, along with Mousa Dembele and Erik Lamela. Spurs lost the game 3-0, effectively killing off their hopes of progression to the quarter-finals.

They got over that disappointment by putting three goals past Bournemouth in the league three days after the second leg, but Pochettino’s hope that the absence of European action would help his players hunt down the Foxes were derailed by the international break.

Spurs had only a day to prepare for their match against Liverpool last weekend and duly allowed Leicester to stretch their lead by dropping two points at Anfield, but have eight days to prepare for the visit of United.

“We haven’t had many clear weeks this season,” Pochettino told the club’s website (www.tottenhamhotspur.com). “We’ve had a lot of midweek games but… now we have a few days to recover and try to prepare for United.

“It’s important because we only really had one day to prepare for Liverpool. International weeks can be difficult … but now we have six games left in six weeks and time to prepare the players. We will fight until the end of the season.”

Meanwhile, United midfielder Ander Herrera backed his team to raise their game against Spurs, citing their record against the top teams this season.

United beat Spurs in their opening league game of the campaign, and have also recorded wins over Arsenal, Manchester City and Liverpool, as well as an away draw at leaders Leicester City.

“When we play against a top team, I am not so worried about our performance because we usually do quite well,” the Spaniard told British media.

“We have to prepare very good… because we watched Tottenham’s game against Liverpool. I think they deserved to win, they controlled the second-half almost fully, so it is not going to be easy.

“But when we play against top teams I think we perform better.”

Title battle no two-horse race, says Spurs boss Pochettino

April 1, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

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Tottenham Hotspur manager Mauricio Pochettino said seven teams still have a chance to win the Premier League this season, dismissing suggestions the title battle has become a two-horse race between his side and Leicester City.

Pochettino

Spurs, who visit Liverpool on Saturday, are five points behind Claudio Ranieri’s Foxes who lead the way with seven games remaining, but the London team’s Argentine boss said on Thursday that he is not discounting the chasing pack.

Tottenham, who are bidding for their first league title since 1961, are a further six points clear of Arsenal in third, although Arsene Wenger’s side have a game in hand, while fourth-placed Manchester City are 15 points off top spot.

“For me, at the moment we compete with different teams — not only Leicester, but Arsenal, Manchester City, (Manchester) United, West Ham and Southampton have the possibility (to win the title),” Pochettino told reporters.

“It’s mathematically possible. Seven games is a lot of points. You never know in football. We need to be focussed in every game.

“It’s not just a race between Leicester City and us.”

The next test of Tottenham’s title credentials comes at Anfield, where their recent record is miserable.

Spurs have won on just one of their last 21 league visits to Liverpool, who have become a bogey team for the Londoners.

Liverpool have won five and lost none of their last six league meetings with Spurs, scoring 18 goals in the process.

Pochettino reported that his squad had suffered no new injuries over the international break and that defender Toby Alderweireld, outstanding in Tottenham’s title push, was fit after missing out for Belgium this week through sickness.

“Toby was ill but he’s okay,” said the Argentine. “He has trained with us Tuesday, Wednesday and today. He’s good, he’s fully fit and no issues for Saturday.”

Liverpool could be without the in-form Roberto Firmino, who has yet to recover from the hamstring problem which forced him out of the Brazil squad, local media reported on Thursday.

Firmino, who has scored three goals in his last four appearances, missed Liverpool’s defeat at Southampton in their last outing prior to the international break.

Striker Christian Benteke is likely to be another Liverpool absentee, having returned early from international duty with a knee injury last week.

 

England team mates set to resume title rivalry

March 31, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

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Having combined seamlessly for England, the players of Leicester City and Tottenham Hotspur will resume battle in the Premier League title race this weekend with the two main protagonists facing testing fixtures.

England's players celebrate after scoring a goal during their Euro 2016 qualifying football match against Slovenia in Ljubljana, on June 14, 2015 (AFP Photo/Jure Makovec)

Hostilities were put to one side as the likes of Leicester striker Jamie Vardy and Spurs counterpart Harry Kane both impressed as England won in Germany and lost at home to the Netherlands.

Yet with the international break over, Kane, one of five Spurs players in the England squad, and Vardy, who played alongside England debutant and club mate Danny Drinkwater, are back in opposing camps.

Kane, who scored against Germany, will be hoping that his team win at Liverpool on Saturday and narrow the gap to leaders Leicester, who play Southampton at home on Sunday.

Vardy, who scored his first two goals for England in Saturday’s game in Berlin and Tuesday’s match at Wembley, is hoping to get back on the scoresheet after five league games without a goal.

“The (England) goals can only be good for my confidence and I will hopefully be scoring again at the weekend,” he said.

With only seven matches remaining, Leicester, seeking a fourth straight win when they face Southampton, are top with 66 points, five ahead of Spurs on 61.

Arsenal are a further six behind with a game in hand and on Saturday have a quick opportunity for revenge against Watford, who ended the Gunners’ bid for a third successive FA Cup triumph when they beat them 2-1 at the Emirates three weeks ago.

Fourth-placed Manchester City, whose title hopes virtually evaporated when they lost 1-0 at home to Manchester United, travel to Bournemouth, while fifth-placed West Ham United will be looking to continue their top-four push at home to Crystal Palace.

Palace have tumbled from fifth on New Year’s Day to 16th and will be desperate to end a run of 13 league matches without a win that has dropped them far too close to the relegation zone for comfort.

Bottom-placed Aston Villa, who sacked French manager Remi Garde on Tuesday, look to have very little chance of escaping and have caretaker Eric Black in charge for the visit of outgoing champions Chelsea on Saturday.

Unless Palace’s nosedive continues, two from Norwich City, Sunderland and Newcastle United look set to go down with Villa.

Norwich are at home to Newcastle, who now have 11 players sidelined with injuries after goalkeeper Rob Elliot was ruled out for the season after damaging knee ligaments in Ireland’s 2-2 draw with Slovakia.

Leicester win makes title a two-horse race – Koeman

March 15, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

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Leicester City’s win over Newcastle on Monday not only sent them five points clear of Tottenham Hotspur at the top of the Premier League, it effectively ended the challenge of Manchester City and Arsenal, said Southampton manager Ronald Koeman.

Football Soccer - Stoke City v Southampton - Barclays Premier League - Britannia Stadium - 12/3/16Southampton manager Ronald KoemanAction Images via Reuters / Ed SykesLivepic

While Leicester manager Claudio Ranieri has consistently batted away the “favourites” tag with the season winding down, his side have amassed 63 points, five ahead of Spurs, with eight matches to go.

They also stand 11 points clear of third-placed Arsenal and 12 ahead of Manchester City, and while both those sides have a game in hand, Koeman said Leicester’s 1-0 win on Monday had changed the complexion of the title race.

“It will now be a new situation for them because 11 points from Arsenal … 12 (ahead of) City, they are out of the title (race),” the Dutchman told Sky Sports television.

“It will be a fight between Tottenham and Leicester, and that makes the difference between before the game and after the game.”

Leicester, who made an unlikely escape from relegation last term, were among the bookmakers favourites to go down this season but now need a maximum of 20 points from the last eight games to clinch their first top-flight title.

Koeman, who won three league titles as a manager with Ajax and PSV Eindhoven and eight in his playing days with the Dutch sides and Barcelona, said the fact that Leicester were within touching distance of the title would play on their minds.

“It’s now a fight between two teams and before this game it was still a fight between maybe four or five. And that’s the difference, that starts to run in your mind as a Leicester player.”

Leicester will hope to take another step toward their first top flight title when they travel to Crystal Palace on Saturday, while Spurs host Bournemouth the following day.

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