Tag Archives: Tottenham Hotspur

Opinion: Premier League title race done and dusted for everyone else, except Liverpool and Manchester City

We have headed into the first international break and the top two clubs are unsurprisingly, Liverpool and Manchester City. Who would have expected a different story than this?

Similar to the last season, the early extravaganza of the Premier League intends nothing but a two-horse title race between the Red Half of Merseyside and the Blue Half of Manchester.  These very two clubs are unarguably miles ahead of the other ones, they have their stunning peculiarity of to demonstrate unstoppable domination.

Jose Mourinho, while delivering his take on the proposed title race between Liverpool and City, insisted,

‘I was having the joke of Man City B, Spurs, Liverpool and Man City [challenging for the title]. ‘Just three or four weeks later, we understand clearly Liverpool and Man City are going to finish first and second, or second and first.’

Liverpool is the only side in the division with 100% record, who tops the table with 12 points. While Man City are second with 10 points in the bag.

The recent tussle of these two powerhouses has intensified the managerial rivalry between two of the best football coaches in the world, whose teams are on course to put forth a mesmerizing title race.

With a high investment done in the transfer market, Arsenal, Tottenham Hotspur, and Manchester United were tipped to enter in the title race but, with taking into consideration their early-season struggle and the gaps in their teams which have been brutally exposed, they will battle for the 3rd and 4th place.

There will surely be some stern test for them while going ahead in the season as there is always jeopardy and uncertainty in the Premier League. However, Liverpool’s competition will always be Manchester City.

Between them, they haven’t lost a league game since the end of January. It’s evident that they are both pushing each other upwards. They are relentless.

Reds’ front three are looking razor-sharp again this season. While Raheem Sterling and co have been ruthless in front of goal. Virgil Van Dijk continues to put forth a defending masterclass while Kevin De Bruyne is back and raining the assists.

In the end, last but not least. Who will actually win this extraordinary title race? Will the Blue Moon rise again or will the colour be Red?

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Premier League Review

I am starting this week’s review with the match between Manchester United and Wolverhampton Wanderers on Monday night because it had a big talking point.

The game finished 1-1 with goals from Anthony Martial and a trademark long range effort by Ruben Neves. The result itself was interesting enough as its evidence that Wolves aren’t far away from the top six.

The talking point came when United were awarded a penalty with the score at 1-1 and last week’s scorer of a penalty Marcus Rashford went into conversation with Paul Pogba. The result of the chat resulted in Pogba taking the penalty and then subsequently having the spot kick well saved.

Manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer revealed after the game that the penalty duties are being shared between Rashford and Pogba and that “whoever feels confident on the day” should take it. This for me is a risky and strange policy as it adds an unnecessary seed of doubt and pressure to the taker, which showed its force again in United’s next match on Saturday, More on that later.

Moving onto Saturday’s roundup which I am starting at Anfield where the only two teams with 100% records in the league went head to head as Liverpool faced Arsenal.

Liverpool were controlling much of the possession and territory but Arsenal created good openings on the break from record signing Nicolas Pepe and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang.

In the process, interestingly, Pepe became the first player to successfully dribble past Virgil Van Dijk breaking a record that has stood for well over a year, no mean feat. It has also become more evident that Liverpool are not performing as well in defence without Allison in goal and his deputy Adrian almost cost them another goal, as just like last weekend, one of his clearances went straight to the Gunners but luckily for him, Aubameyang, uncharacteristically, lacked composure.

Despite all of this, Liverpool’s territorial advantage paid off with them taking the lead through a Joel Matip’s header just before half-time.

After the break, David Luiz cost Arsenal any hopes, by first tugging Mohammad Salah’s shirt in the penalty area, with Salah himself scoring the penalty. It was the Egyptian once again who embarrassed Luiz by the touchline as the Brazilian needlessly dived in and Salah chipped the ball over him before running to the edge of the box and superbly curling into the bottom corner just before the hour. This ended the contest, although Arsenal did get a late consolation through Lucas Torreira.

The result means Liverpool are the only side in England with a 100% record and continues Arsenals poor record at Liverpool, however they can take something from the chances they created.

Now back to Manchester United who were playing Crystal Palace at Old Trafford, a venue where Palace hadn’t won since 1989.

United were dominant as expected, but couldn’t find the break through and Palace broke after 32 minutes which left Jordan Ayew one-on-one with David De Gea, who silenced the crowd by coolly slotting home.

There was yet more United penalty drama in the second-half when they were awarded a spot kick when Scott McTominay was bundled over. Everyone waited to see who would take the kick following Monday’s drama and this time it was back to Marcus Rashford.

However, he suffered the same fate as Pogba seeing his penalty cannon off the inside of the post. This only further strengthens my argument that Solskjaer’s method is an incorrect one. United continued to push and found an equaliser through summer signing Daniel James, who scored in consecutive home matches by curling in a delightful equaliser in the 89th minute following Pogba’s good tackle on Wilfred Zaha and with a neat build-up from Rashford and Anthony Martial.

The Red Devil’s thought they could still win it but were caught with too many players forward allowing Zaha to burst forward and find full-back, Patrick van Aanholt, who netted the winner in the 93rd minute, thumping in as the ball broke loose.

The result means United have picked up just one point from the last two matches and are showing they may struggle to get into the top four once again, a thought I had in pre-season.

Chelsea and Frank Lampard headed to Carrow Road to face a vibrant and confident Norwich side following their 3-1 win over Newcastle United looking for their first win of the season and Lampard’s first as a Premier League manager. Lampard continued to show faith in striker, Tammy Abraham and his decision paid off with the youngster scoring two excellent goals to open his Chelsea account. The first came after just three minutes, however, it didn’t take long for Norwich to hit back though, as just three minutes later, Todd Cantwell latched onto Teemu Pukki’s cut back.

Chelsea restored their lead 11 minutes after Cantwell’s equaliser for Norwich, Mount – cut inside the hosts’ defence and unleashed an unstoppable shot high into the net for his second goal of the season.

In a frantic first half Norwich equalised again and it was no surprise that it was Pukki, who scored his fifth goal of the season. Despite Norwich’s second leveller, Chelsea continued to pressure their opponents’ shaky defence; Mount and Christian Pulisic both saw efforts go wide within moments of the second half getting under way.

Abraham’s second goal saw him become the youngest Chelsea player to score twice in a Premier League fixture since 1998, twisting and turning and tying Grant Hanley and Jamal Lewis in knots before firing an unstoppable drive past Tim Krul.

The Blues thought they had scored again when Kurt Zouma poked a loose ball home, but it was ruled out by the video assistant referee after substitute Olivier Giroud was judged to have fouled the Norwich keeper, Tim Krul.

Lampard now has his all-important first win as Chelsea boss and will be looking to build on this victory.

Watford against West Ham is a match between two sides hoping to challenge in the top half of the league table.

However, only one of the two sides looked like they had that in them in this match at Vicarage Road and that was West Ham.

They have some terrific creative midfielders and their record signing striker, Sebastien Haller scored his first two goals for the Hammers as they ran out 3-1 winners.

Mark Noble’s third-minute penalty set West Ham on their way to their first win of the season after Manuel Lanzini had been fouled by Abdoulaye Doucoure.

Watford responded with a well-worked Andre Gray goal, with the forward drilling home a right-foot shot from Will Hughes’ pass.

It was then Haller who took centre stage as he led the line in exemplary fashion and contributed to all three West Ham goals. He displayed his predatory instincts that allowed him to comfortably claim his first goal for Manuel Pellegrini’s side before acrobatically doubling his tally.

Watford did create plenty of chances mainly through Gerard Deulofeu who had seven shots on goal, with only a close-range strike that hit the West Ham crossbar finding the target, alongside Hughes’ extraordinary miss from a yard out after Gray had squared the ball with the score at 1-1, that summed up the hosts’ lack of potency in attack.

At the other end the presence of Haller, Anderson and Lanzini provided too much power, pace and guile for the Watford defence to cope with. Gracia’s side now face a challenging sequence of fixtures – with a home game against Arsenal sandwiched between trips to Newcastle and reigning champions Manchester City – having shipped 41 goals in their last 18 matches.

At the same stage last term Watford had collected nine points after an impressive start, but a pointless return this time around represents a complete reversal of fortune.

Sheffield United were looking to back up their first win back in the top flight but came up against a Leicester City side that were just too good for them on the day.

Ayoze Perez robbed defender Chris Basham before James Maddison played a deft pass with the outside of his foot into space, allowing Jamie Vardy to race in and power home left footed. Vardy – a boyhood Sheffield Wednesday fan – had been booed throughout and duly cupped his ears in celebration. Billy Sharp and McBurnie’s second half introduction seemed to raise home spirits and suddenly Leicester’s midfield seemed unable to close spaces as quickly. It was Oliver McBurnie, who scored the equaliser from Sam Baldock’s pin-point delivery – proving why the Blades paid Swansea £20m for the striker.

They were level for just eight minutes, however, as substitute, Harvey Barnes, scored a marvellous winner six minutes after coming on, Barnes fired a half-volley from the edge of the box which flew past home keeper Dean Henderson.

Saturday’s final match saw a south coast derby as Brighton met Southampton, Brighton have started the season impressively, whilst Southampton headed into the encounter pointless and this showed in the early stages as Neil Maupay and Martin Montoya both had chances.

However, the game swung the visitors’ way when Florin Andone was dismissed following a rash challenge that left Yan Valery withering in agony near the halfway line. A challenge that Brighton manager Graham Potter said he “can’t defend”.

The Seagulls responded well, initially, with Lewis Dunk’s header chalked off by VAR, but the Saints capitalised on their numerical advantage in the second half. They took the lead through Moussa Djenepo, who came on as a substitute eight minutes into the second half and his impact was almost instant, cutting in from the left and curling into the top corner just two minutes after entering the fray.

A late Nathan Redmond goal secured the points for Ralph Hasenhuttl’s side.

Onto Sunday’s matches and a Tottenham Hotspur side buoyed by gaining a point at Manchester City took on a Newcastle United side with no points and were embarrassed by Norwich last weekend, surely this could only end one way. In fact, Newcastle looked like a completely different team from last weekend, credit to Steve Bruce for that, they were superb in defence and caused Spurs problems on the counter attack.

It was from one of these counters that they took a surprise lead through record signing Joelinton, this his first goal since joining. Spurs were caught with too many players forward and Joelinton controlled Christian Atsu’s through pass beautifully before drilling past Hugo Lloris.

Spurs enjoyed the majority of possession and territory but couldn’t find the creativity to unlock an excellent back five of Newcastle.

Cristian Eriksen and Giovani lo Celso, both started on the bench and came on together after an hours to try and add this creativity.

Lo Celso, nearly made the difference with a pass to Harry Kane in the penalty area and Kane went down under a challenge by Jamal Lascelles.

The Newcastle defender appeared to slip and dive across Kane, as he knew he had no chance of getting to the ball, clever or reckless the referee and the VAR decided it wasn’t a penalty.

Spurs created more opportunities the best of which fell to Lucas Moira, who shot over from eight yards after being found by former Newcastle player Moussa Sissoko, who was unsurprisingly roundly booed throughout by the toon army crowd.

Spurs couldn’t find a way through and from evidence of this and other weekend results we could be heading towards another two horse race for the title.

There was a meeting between the last two sides to finish 7th in the league at Molineux, where Burnley were the visitors to Wolves.

It was the Clarets who were the more effective side and eventually took the lead through an excellent strike from Ashley Barnes, his fourth goal in three Premier League games this season.

Burnley were denied a second goal when Rui Patricio produced an excellent save to keep out Chris Wood, while Ben Mee headed against the bar with the rebound coming off Wolves defender Ryan Bennett and hitting the post.

However, Wolves were awarded a penalty in the dying moments when Erik Pieters fouled Raul Jimenez.

After a video assistant referee check, Jimenez stepped up to calmly roll the ball past Nick Pope and earn Wolves a third successive Premier League draw.

Despite this lacklustre performance from Wolves, I wouldn’t be worried that they are set to suffer like Burnley did last season in the league due to being in European Competition.

The Final Match of the weekend was a routine win for champions Man City away at Bournemouth. Another goal apiece for Aguero and Sterling meant they lead 2-0 at half time. Bournemouth rallied and substitute Harry Wilson’s superb 25-yard free-kick raised hopes of a fight-back, However Aguero pounced for City’s third after good work from Silva. Wilsons strike means he has scored two stunners in his two first premier league matches.

Which midfielders should Tottenham sign in the summer window?

On June 1st 2019, Tottenham Hotspur played Liverpool FC in the Champions League final, unfortunately losing 2-0 after a first half penalty from Mohammed Salah and a second half finish by Divock Origi. However, if you were to suggest that Spurs would have ended up with a top 4 finish and a shot at winning the Champions League after being the first ever club to not make a signing in a transfer window since the current format came into existence in 2003, it would have been considered a bold prediction to say the least. In fact, it is their last signing, Lucas Moura, who has been instrumental in their run, scoring a hat-trick to come back against Ajax and secure Tottenham’s place in the final.

However, there were times during their last campaign where their lack of squad depth started to affect their performance after a slew of injuries, and this contributed to their poor end to the season. This was evident in their midfield. Therefore, if they do decide to spend big in the summer, this might be the area they choose to focus on. We have identified 3 transfers Spurs could invest in to address this dilemma.

Giovanni Lo Celso

Lo Celso appears to be Tottenham Hotspurs first target of the summer, with BBC Sport reporting that they had submitted a £53 million bid for the player. Lo Celso spent last season on loan from PSG with Real Betis and impressed with his crucial performances, Betis exercised their option to buy the player. Lo Celso was Betis’ topscorer in the league with 9 goals and contributed 4 assists and is probably seen by Tottenham as the perfect successor to Moussa Dembele. Since the Belgian began to suffer from recurrent injuries and then eventually moved to Chinese outfit Guangzhou R&F, Spurs have been missing an elite level ball progresser in their midfield, but they may have found their answer in Lo Celso.

According to Whoscored, across the 2018/19 season Lo Celso contributed to 2.1 tackles and interceptions per game while completing 2 dribbles and 0.8 key passes. Comparing this to Dembele’s 2017/18 season where he contributed 2.5 tackles and interceptions a game, 2.4 dribbles and 0.6 key passes, we can clearly see the similar traits that Tottenham see in the young Argentinian midfielder. Signing Lo Celso will allow Tottenham to quickly turn defence into attack and allow for more effective transitional play. He provides the North London outfit with a different option in midfield to what they currently have with Wanyama, Winks and Dier and therefore would be a fantastic signing.

The midfielder has a £88 million release clause meaning Tottenham may have to bid more in order to get their man, but if they were to secure the signing it would be a quality move.

James Maddison

With the future of Christian Eriksen’s career increasingly in doubt (the Danish midfielder’s contract expires in 2020) Tottenham may have to spend big in the transfer market to find a replacement. Eriksen joined for a bargain fee of £12 million in 2013 and has performed spectacularly for the Lilywhites, most recently scoring 8 goals and registering 12 assists in the 2018/19 Premier League season. His creative output cannot be understated and is an important part of the Tottenham offensive line, therefore it is important they replace him. Enter James Maddison.

When Leicester spent £24 million on the young English midfielder, they probably did not realise they were making the signing of the season. His numbers were impressive in the Championship; he scored 14 goals and provided 8 assists, while completing 2.8 key passes a game and 2.4 dribbles, but it was common belief that his numbers would suffer as he stepped up to a bigger league. However, while his goals and assists dropped to 7 and 7 respectively, Maddison has taken the league by storm this season, he has kept his average of 2.8 key passes a game (0.7 more than Eriksen has at Tottenham) and more importantly, according to Opta Sports, he was the only player to create 100 chances in the Premier League this season.

It would take a large bid to part Leicester with what can now be considered their prized asset, but if he was to move it seems he would almost seamlessly fit into Tottenham’s offence.

Tanguy Ndombele

The final target that I feel needs to be addressed is that of Tanguy Dembele. The transfer links to the French midfielder are not in short supply, with both Manchester City and Manchester United apparently being interested in the midfielder. But what would he offer Tottenham?

Tanguy Ndombele is a high energy midfielder, who has registered 1 goal and 7 assists for Lyon in Ligue 1 this season. The midfielder you could most compare him to in Tottenham’s midfield is Mousa Sissoko, who seems a completely new player this season, with his pressing ability making him the engine to an otherwise stationary Tottenham midfield. However, Sissoko turns 30 this year and has arguably left it a little too late to enter the form of his life and there is no guarantee that he will continue this form into next season, due to his track record of inconsistency. Tottenham may look to replace him with what looks to be the younger, hungrier model who has a much higher ceiling.

Ndombele registered 2.8 tackles and interceptions per game last season and completed 1.9 dribbles per game, so like Lo Celso he is highly press resistant and would allow Tottenham to quickly counter.  With this transfer it appears it will be either/or between Ndombele and Lo Celso as neither would likely want to play second string. Transfermarkt.com values Ndombele at 50 million euros, so if Betis were to push for Tottenham to play Lo Celso’s release clause, he may be the slightly cheaper option. With the purse strings appearing to be tight due to the construction of Tottenham’s new stadium, this may appeal to Levy and the rest of the board.

Five young Championship players who could step up to the Premier League this summer

The quality of the Championship has undoubtedly soared over recent years and as a result their are many young players making a name for themselves in English footballs second tier. With players such as Dele Alli and Harry Maguire beginning their careers outside the top flight and now starring in the Premier League with full international honours, it is clear that there is real talent out there. But which young Championship stars are ready to make the step up now?

Mason Mount, Derby (Loan)- The young loanee from Chelsea has really made an impact at Derby this season and has led them all the way to the play off final. With 11 goals and 6 assists the 20 year old has been in fine form despite a few injury troubles, and with Chelsea’s current transfer embargo Mount could become a key player for Sarri’s side next term. If not he will almost definitely be on loan at another Premier League club after proving he is a cut above Championship level. He has all the key skills a good attacking midfielder needs but is also not afraid to do the dirty work, tracking back and putting challenges in, expect big things from Mount over the coming years.

Daniel James, Swansea- Heavily linked with a big money move to Manchester United, Swansea winger Daniel James has turned heads with his incredible pace, dribbling skills and end product. The 21 year old was close to joining Leeds in January but the deal fell through at the last minute, contrary to many other players who’s form nosedives after a failed transfer, James continued his stellar form and recorded three goals and five assists after Christmas to take his overall tally to 5 goals and 10 assists in 38 games. The Welsh international went viral earlier this season after a goal he scored against Brentford highlighted his immense pace as he sped through the whole defence from just inside his own box and finished well.

Marcus Tavernier, Middlesbrough- Brother of Rangers captain James Tavernier, Marcus has made a name for himself on his own right after a string of promising performances for Tony Pulis Middlesbrough during 18/19. The left winger has broke through this season making 27 appearances and recording four goals and three assists with many feeling he would be the perfect replacement for Ryan Fraser at Bournemouth. Eddie Howe has a reputation for giving football league prospects a chance such as Callum Wilson and David Brooks and a move to the South Coast could be the perfect place for the 20 year old to develop.

Che Adams, Birmingham- The 22 year old striker has just enjoyed the best season of his career with Birmingham and has bagged 22 goals in 48 games, not missing a single League game and finally turning that potential into consistent performances. His finishing has dramatically improved and he is now much stronger, allowing him to hold the ball up much better and bring teammates into play. Premier League clubs such as Burnley, Crystal Palace and Southampton are interested in Adams and it seems inevitable the Leicester born goal scorer will be playing Premier League football next season, the only question is where?

Jarrod Bowen, Hull- Winger Jarrod Bowen has built on a very good 17/18 and upped the ante this term grabbing more goals, assists and playing more games. Playing predominantly off the right hand side cutting inside onto his left foot, Bowen has bewildered many fullbacks this season and almost managed the impossible of carrying a very average Hull side to the play offs. Unsurprisingly he picked up the player of the year, the fans player of the year and the players player of the year at the end of season awards and rumour has it Champions League finalists Tottenham are sniffing around the 22 year old.

Who do you think would have the biggest impact on the Premier League?

Fantasy League Picks For GameWeek 32

As the Premier League season draws to a close, the final eight games will be crucial for fantasy football fans to capitalise on games to gain the most amount of points as possible. This 32nd game week has various teams such as City, United, Watford, Wolves, Chelsea, Fulham, Cardiff, Spurs and Palace playing two games, so there is an increased chance of maximising your points tally by including players from these teams.

Starting off with the defence, Manchester City have games v Fulham and Cardiff, in both of which they should be keeping clean sheets. Therefore, Ederson (£5.6m) and Walker (£6.4m) look good value and would be the picks of this week. Bearing in mind City have a double game week which could bring a solid amount of points, especially against these teams who have been battling relegation. Our good value pick at the back would be Doherty from Wolves (£5.3m), who is playing Burnley and Manchester United. The Irish wing back likes to get forward and usually provides an assist or a goal, so with this double game week he has a chance to put some points on the board for your side.

Moving onto the midfield, the two star picks of the week would be our captain, Raheem Sterling (£11.6m), and Eden Hazard (£10.9m). Sterling is currently the man of the moment and is in the form of his life, and with games against Fulham and Cardiff, we wouldn’t be surprised if he can reach the 20 goal mark by the end of this game week. Hazard is also up against easy opposition, Cardiff and Brighton. Against both teams, he should be having a influential impact on the game, and being the penalty taker in the side gives a great chance for him to get on the score sheet. Our good value tip would be Deulofeu, the Watford winger (£5.7m). He has 12 goal contributions in 23 games for Watford this season, and up against Manchester United and Fulham, could add to that tally.

Finally, the strike force. Harry Kane (£12.5m) and Sergio Aguero (£11.8m) would be our top picks for this game week. Aguero has 18 goals in the premier league this season, and whilst going for the Golden Boot, he will be looking to bolster his goal tally with games against Fulham and Cardiff. Kane has a tough game at Anfield on Sunday, where he scored a 95th minute equaliser last season and 2 in the last 3 visits against Liverpool. In addition to this, Spurs play Crystal Palace in their new stadium on Wednesday, and Kane will be looking to open his tally as the Stadium is due to hold its first competitive game. Our good value pick of the week is Raul Jimenez (£6.5m). The Mexican has had a great first season in the Premier League, and will be hoping to help Wolves achieve the Europa League spot in 7th place with a couple of goals this game week against Burnley and Manchester United.