Tomorrow afternoon, London plays host to not one but two crackling derby matches.
At 3pm GMT Tottenham have to pick themselves up after their Thursday night Italian job and host Fulham at White Hart Lane, while an hour later and nine miles across the capital, Chelsea welcomes West Ham United to Stamford Bridge.
Both these matches will have huge implications in the race for qualification to next season’s Uefa Champions League.
Spurs currently sit in third place, five points behind spluttering Manchester City and two points ahead of Chelsea however the Blues have played a match less. Arsenal and Everton lurk dangerously close just four and six points behind Spurs respectively. If goal difference becomes a factor, Chelsea (+26) and Arsenal (+23) looked to be in pole position.
In north London, the odds favor Spurs who have only lost once to the Cottagers in their last 10 meetings but the toll of Thursday night and their dramatic extra-time win over Inter Milan will surely catch up with them mentally and physically at some point in the 90 minutes.
Andre Villas-Boas will have to use his resources extremely wisely. The return to the starting XI of top scorer, Gareth Bale should be the boost that the team needs.
Chelsea find themselves in a similar situation to Spurs as they were also pushed to the maximum in the Europa League by Steaua Bucharest. With a fixture list that is beginning to get exceedingly busy, Rafael Benitez will be hoping for a smoother afternoon than the one he experienced at Upton Park.
Back in December, his Blues team lost 3-1 to the Hammers for the first time since May 2003. The Spaniard who’s contract is up at the end of the season continues to be attacked by his own supporters and he must be aware that unless Champions League football is secured, his resume will take a battering.
What to watch for…
Fernando Torres – can he score in two consecutive matches (17 goals in all comps)
Frank Lampard – will he bite the hand that used to feed him (186 apps for West Ham)
Gareth Bale – The de facto player of the year (7 goals in last 6 BPL matches)
MADRID (AP) Jose Mourinho’s agent says the Manchester United manager paid more than 26 million euros ($27 million) in taxes when he lived in Spain from 2010-13.
The information was made public on Tuesday by Gestifute, a company run by Mourinho’s agent, Jorge Mendes.
[ MORE: Pulisic wanted by Arsenal, Spurs ]
The Portuguese company has been releasing details about its clients’ tax declarations after European media outlets published what they claimed were details of apparent tax arrangements made by top soccer players and coaches, including Mourinho, Cristiano Ronaldo and Mesut Ozil.
Gestifute, which also has Ronaldo as a client, has already published documents allegedly showing that Spanish fiscal authorities have certified that Mourinho and Real Madrid star Ronaldo are “up to date on … obligations.”
Mourinho coached Real Madrid from 2010-13 and took charge of United this season.
This is going to turn out to be one of the most exciting years of Matt Hedges’ life.
The FC Dallas man lead one of the best back lines in Major League Soccer to the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup and the Supporters’ Shield.
[ MORE: PST talks with Hedges, Zimmerman ]
He’s also likely set for a chance to return to the USMNT fold under new coach Bruce Arena, as Hedges is one of the best players to be largely ignored by Jurgen Klinsmann.
Hedges, 26, was named the MLS Defender of the Year and made the Best XI, and now he’s inked a new long-term deal with FC Dallas.
The four-year deal will keep Hedges in Dallas through his 30th birthday. Capped once, Hedges has 159 appearances with 11 goals for FCD.
Christian Pulisic is one of the most exciting young prospects in the world.
It’s a statement that isn’t often said without hyperbole when it comes to American standouts, but the 18-year-old Borussia Dortmund man has seen his names in the gossip pages a few times this year.
While Liverpool has often been the destination, Italian site Calcio Mercato says Premier League interest is wider than Merseyside. The clubs? Arsenal and Tottenham Hotspur.
[ VOTE: Who should win USMNT player of year? ]
Dortmund doesn’t want to sell the youngster, who is locked up through 2019. The whispered price has been $31 million at a minimum, but perhaps BVB would be tempted given their wealth of young attacking options.
Pulisic has made 27 appearances for Borussia Dortmund, nabbing four goals and six assists. He has 11 caps and three goals for the USMNT as well.
Cristiano Ronaldo had been linked with massive tax evasion, but Real Madrid would ask you to kindly go back to treating him like a king now that he’s proven his innocence.
In a move usually reserved for politicians aiming for high office, Ronaldo’s agent released some of his tax documents to prove everything’s above board.
It all looks good, unlike what befell Neymar and Lionel Messi, so back off, huh?
[ MORE: Wednesday’s Champions League preview ]
From Real Madrid:
In view of the stories published over recent days and in consideration of the certificate issued by the Spanish Tax Agency which confirms that our player Cristiano Ronaldo is up to date with all of his tax obligations, Real Madrid C. F. call for the utmost respect to be shown towards Cristiano Ronaldo, whose conduct has been absolutely exemplary throughout all of his time at our club.
Only the utmost for CR7.
Real Madrid hosts Borussia Dortmund on Wednesday in a match which will decide Group F of the UEFA Champions League.