Man of the Match: There are days when Gareth Bale looks like the best wide player in the world. He was almost at that level on Saturday, involved in all three Tottenham goals as Spurs got an early, defining victory for the André Villas-Boas era.
In the second minute, Bale came back and showed for a pass he immediately played back to Jan Vertonghen, the Belgian defender streaking on goal from 35 yards out before beating Anders Lindegaard for the opener. In the 32nd minute, it was Bale’s turn to carry the ball through the final third, cutting across the defense from the middle of United’s half before beating Lindegaard far post from the right of the box. In the second half, Bale’s shot on goal led to the rebound that Clint Dempsey converted for the game-winning goal.
Packaged for takeaway:
- It’s hard to exaggerate what this win will do for André Villas-Boas’s profile in England. The former Chelsea manager has been a press whipping boy since flaming out last year at Stamford Bridge. Now the 34-year-old Portuguese has a signature win, one that started with a goal that could have been drawn up on the team’s whiteboard.
- And for the first time since 1989, Tottenham has won at Manchester United, though to do so, Spurs had to survive a second half siege that rarely saw them in possession in United’s half of the pitch.
- It was like a reenactment of the Helm’s Deep scenes from The Two Towers. Perhaps my mind is blitzed from the early morning West Coast wake up, but I can’t remember ever seeing that level of sustained pressure for so long. It was 49 minutes of Spurs packed into their own end waiting for Gandalf to ride over the hill.
- At full time, the Red Devils had 74 percent of the possession, a ratio amassed after the teams had split possession for most of the first half. Aside from the Dempsey goal, Spurs did nothing on United’s half of the center line.
- That United dominance (and the change from the first half) was brought about by two things. First, the team obviously played better. Second, Wayne Rooney came off the bench, replacing Ryan Giggs and pushing Shinji Kagawa out wide.
- Rooney made a near-immediate impact, putting a cross in for Nani that led to the Red Devils’ first goal. He was miles better than he’s otherwise been this season. It’s been so long since we saw this type of play from Wayne Rooney, we were beginning to wonder whether he still had it in him.
- Two minutes later, Kagawa was beating Brad Friedel with a perfectly placed shot from the left. With Dempsey’s goal coming in between, United goals had the home side within one, the teams having combined for three goals in less than three minutes of clock time.
- An equalizer looked inevitable. Rooney hit the post on a direct kick and had another shot from the right go just wide. Robin van Persie had multiple chances, while Nani and Kagawa came close to getting a second.
- After going into halftime having registered only one shot, United finished the match with 17, seven on target.
- And while United were probably the better team for slightly more than 50 percent of this game, their terrible defending, particularly in the first half, cost them. Spurs executed from the opening kickoff, were far more energetic for the first half hour, and somehow managed to fend off a final, equalizing goal from United.
- If Chelsea’s win at Arsenal made them a title contender, what does this result make Spurs? It makes them capable. The start of the Villas-Boas era at White Hate Lane had been filled with mixed signals. Today was the first unmitigated sign Spurs could replicate last year’s fourth place finish.
- As for United, it was a bad half hour, going down 2-0 before coming into the game. They got burned badly, and their defense (having allowed nine goals in six games) looks very vulnerable. They could have used Nemanja Vidic on each of the goals.
Three total hours of football.
One goal in total.
Yeah, we’d say Saturday’s Premier League matches are waiting for a breakthrough or three.
Southampton 0-0 Hull City — STREAM (NBCSN)
The Tigers registered the first three shots of a testy game, but are yet to find the goal which will worry Swansea City ahead of Sunday.
Sunderland 0-0 Bournemouth — STREAM (CNBC)
Artur Boruc has several saves for the Cherries as Sunderland works hard to avoid becoming the first relegated club of the Premier League season.
West Bromwich Albion 0-1 Leicester City — STREAM
Vardy punished Pulis’ plans when Leicester took advantage of a poor back pass from Allan Nyom. Shinji Okazaki sent Vardy on goal, and the striker hit to the near post to beat a splayed Ben Foster.
Stoke City 0-0 West Ham United — STREAM
Winner goes top half which, suffice it to say, is not the way either side envisioned 2016-17 playing out.
Four Premier League games are coming your way on Saturday.
[ STREAM: Every PL game live here ]
Relegation haunted Sunderland host Bournemouth knowing they could be relegated with a defeat and other results going against them. Hull, who hover just above the relegation zone head to Southampton, while Stoke City welcome West Ham to the bet365 and West Brom welcome Leicester in a Midlands derby.
You can see every goal as it goes in on Premier League Goal Rush by clicking on the link below.
[ STREAM: “Goal Rush” here ]
For those of you familiar with the Premier League Breakaway Show during busy days (Boxing Day, New Year’s Day, Championship Sunday etc.) in the PL, this will follow that model of being very similar to the NFL RedZone with action shown from all of the games in the 10 a.m. ET window.
The feature game this weekend on “Goal Rush” will be Southampton and as goals and incidents occur around the league, you will be transported to the action as it happens.
More info is available here, plus the schedule for all four games at 10 a.m. ET is below. You can stream each game live by clicking on the links below or above.
10 a.m. ET: Southampton vs. Hull City – NBCSN [STREAM]
10 a.m. ET: Sunderland vs. Bournemouth – CNBC [STREAM]
10 a.m. ET: Stoke City vs. West Ham – Premier League Extratime [STREAM]
10 a.m. ET: West Brom vs. Leicester City – Premier League Extratime [STREAM]
Fresh from the announcement that Tottenham will play all of their home games in the 2017-18 season at Wembley Stadium, Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger has shared his thoughts on the years ahead for Spurs.
[ MORE: Spurs’ US connection continues ]
He is far from positive about Spurs temporarily moving across north London to Wembley while their new 61,000 capacity stadium, on the site of their current White Hart Lane home, is finished.
Wenger, 67, spoke about Spurs’ stadium move ahead of the final North London Derby at the old White Hart Lane on Sunday (Watch live, 11:30 a.m. ET on NBCSN and online via NBCSports.com) and gave his rivals a little advice after he oversaw Arsenal’s move from Highbury to the Emirates Stadium in 2006.
“Much more [difficult] than you imagine it,” Wenger said. “First of all because you face financial restrictions, like we did. Although it might be less in the future because we have more income. Secondly as well because you don’t feel at home like you were before. And you need to recreate a kind of history to feel comfortable and to feel that you play at home. I would say [it takes] two years.”
With Spurs on the verge of finishing above Arsenal for the first time in 22 years (and the first time since Wenger has been at the club) the power struggle in north London has never been closer. Even if Wenger doesn’t want to admit it…
Yes, it will take them time to adjust to their new stadium when they move in as planned for the 2018-19 season but in the meantime Spurs’ record at Wembley has been appalling this season. Mauricio Pochettino‘s men have won just one of the five games they played there with two defeats in the UEFA Champions League as they played their group stage game at the home of English soccer.
Aside from the obvious difficulties of moving from their atmospheric and historic current home at White Hart Lane, there are some pretty cool plans for Spurs to say farewell to their home of 118 years.
Perhaps the coolest is that every season ticket holder this season will receive a key chain which shows off blades of grass from the final White Hart Lane pitch.
With a busy week behind us it’s time to stock of who the stars players in the Premier League are.
[ MORE: Power Rankings archive ]
Remember: this is a list of the top 20 performing players right now in the Premier League.
Let us know in the comments section below if you agree with the selections of the top 20 players in the PL right now.
- Dele Alli (Tottenham) – Up 1
- Christian Eriksen (Tottenham) – Up 3
- Eden Hazard (Chelsea) – New entry
- Marcus Rashford (Man United) – Up 9
- Vincent Kompany (Man City – Up 14
- Romelu Lukaku (Everton) – Down 4
- Leroy Sane (Man City) – Down 3
- Wilfried Zaha (Crystal Palace) – Down 2
- Heung-Min Son (Tottenham) – Down 6
- Toby Alderweireld (Tottenham) – Even
- Alexis Sanchez (Arsenal) – New entry
- Mamadou Sakho (Crystal Palace) – Down 5
- N’Golo Kante (Chelsea) – Down 1
- Diego Costa (Chelsea) – New entry
- Harry Maguire (Hull City) – Up 1
- Jan Vertonghen (Tottenham) – Down 1
- Christian Benteke (Crystal Palace) – New entry
- Josh King (Bournemouth) – New entry
- Gylfi Sigurdsson (Swansea) – New entry
- David De Gea (Man United) – Even