Cardiff City v Tottenham Hotspur - Premier League

Cardiff City 0-1 Tottenham Hotspur: Paulinho late beauty downs Cardiff despite Marshall blinder


David Marshall did everything he could for Cardiff between the sticks to keep his club unbeaten at home, but in the end he just delayed the inevitable as Paulinho scored in stoppage time to give Tottenham a 1-0 victory.

The game began very very open, with both sides countering the other and chances begging, but Spurs definitely on top.

The visitors pressed hard down the right-hand side, with Kyle Walker, Michael Dawson, and Christian Eriksen all proving useful in the build-up.

Referee Mark Clattenburg allowed a very chippy game to flow, refusing to give many questionable challenges and instead continuing play.  Both sides went hard into 50-50 situations, and the physical nature provided good entertainment despite the relative lack of a final ball.

Just before halftime Cardiff thought they had the opener against the run of play on a corner through the head of Ben Turner, but Clattenburg called him for a foul before he connected with the ball.

Hugo Lloris was lucky to get out of the first half unscathed, having made two errors.  It appeared he handed the ball outside of the box and fouling Frazier Cambell to deny him a shot on goal, but Clattenburg did not punish him.  He also dribbled the ball over the back line to concede the corner Turner nearly scored on.  These are rare mistakes for a keeper who normally excels both with the ball at his feet and coming off his line.

Spurs finished the first half with 14 shots to Cardiff’s 1, but the home side were battling bitterly in the midfield.  The second half started with Spurs even more desperately looking for the opener.

In the 51st minute Gylfi Sigurdsson blasted in a long-range bending strike that could unfortunately only clatter the crossbar.  The rebound fell to Roberto Soldado but he cranked his shot directly at Cardiff keeper David Marshall and Spurs were left with nothing.

Peter Odemwingie nearly pegged Cardiff on top in the 65th minute, as he continued to pressure Kyle Walker down the Cardiff right.  He cut the ball back towards the center of the box but flashed it wide.

The winner came finally, as Spurs threw everything they had at Cardiff down the stretch as the substitutes did the final work.  A long ball fell to Lewis Holtby, who slotted through Erik Lamela on the right side of the box.  Lamela brilliantly touched the ball with the outside of his foot to a streaking Paulinho, whose backheel into the net can only be described as sexy.

Spurs jump to 2nd in the table, level with Arsenal and only a goal less on differential. The heartbreak was tough for Malky Mackay and company to swallow, having hung on valiantly for the entire match.  Marshall was brilliant, having to deal with 29 Spurs shots, 12 of which were on target.


Tottenham Hotspur – Paulinho 90+2′


Cardiff City – Marshall; Taylor, Caulker, Turner, Whittingham; Medel, Campbell (Odemwingie, 65′), Kim, Gunnarsson; Theophile-Catherine, Bellamy (Cowie, 78′).

Tottenham Hotspur – Lloris; Walker, Dawson, Vertonghen, Naughton; Dembele, Paulinho; Townsend (Kane, 81′), Eriksen (Holtby, 89′), Sigurdsson (Lamela 71′); Soldado.

“Overweight” Costa comes to Mourinho’s defense

Diego Costa, Chelsea FC
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Diego Costa says he and his Chelsea teammates are to blame for Chelsea’s horrid start to the 2015-16 Premier League season.

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Speaking Thursday, during a bit of downtime over the current international break (Costa was left out of Vicente del Bosque’s squad for Spain’s final two EURO 2016 qualifiers this week), Costa placed the majority of blame at the feet of the entire team, but went on to most harshly critique himself for coming into the season unfocused and “overweight.”

Costa, on his lack of fitness and form to begin the season — quotes from the Guardian:

“We know we’re not in the form we were supposed to be at the beginning of the season. We need to blame the players because we came back from holiday very confident, thinking we could go back into how it was last season, and then realized the team was already in a bad situation.

“I’m going to be very honest: maybe a few weeks ago, five or six weeks ago, I was not on top of my game. At least physically. We talk within the players and we know that, maybe at the beginning, we were not 100 percent as we were supposed to be when we got here. I got injured at the end of last season and then I went on holiday. Maybe I got out of my diet and, when I came back, I was not the way I was supposed to be. I was a little bit overweight. That affected my game. You can be selfish and blame it on the manager but I’m not going to do that. I’m responsible 100%, and so are the other guys.

Given that Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho said on Thursday he doesn’t quite know what’s wrong with the defending Premier League champions, hearing someone — anyone — speak up and explain the club’s worst start to a season in 37 years will surely be a welcome sound to any Blues supporter’s ears.

[ MORE: Liverpool appoint Klopp as manager | Allardyce to Sunderland? ]

Costa, who is eligible to return from suspension next weekend when Aston Villa visit Stamford Bridge, has scored just one goal in league play this season (six appearances) after scoring 20 in 26 games last season.

Sam Allardyce to open talks with Sunderland

Sam Allardyce, West Ham United FC
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Now that Liverpool have selected and named their new manager, it appears Sunderland are finally ready to move forward with their own managerial search. (That’s clearly a joke, because it implies Liverpool and Sunderland ever duke it out for the same managerial candidate.)

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Anyway, the Black Cats will have to hire someone to replace the recently-departed Dick Advocaat at some point. We all knew that, despite the fact he’s probably earned a shot at that level, Bob Bradley was never really going to be considered for the job. With that in mind, if you’re not going to endear yourself to the entire United States of America with this hire, you might as well go for the best unemployed manager who’ll actually consider your approach.

That’s what Sunderland chairman Ellis Short appears to have done, as it was reported Thursday that despite an initial reluctance from Sam Allardyce — let’s be honest, he actually was holding out hope for the Liverpool job — the 60-year-old most recently in charge of West Ham United was willing and ready to enter into negotiations with the northeastern club.

One of the major sticking points during Sunderland’s courting of Allardyce is expected to be his demand for autonomy in the transfer market as well as a sizable transfer budget to sign his own players during the January window.

[ MORE: Advocaat: Sunderland squad too thin, chairman to blame ]

Allardyce seems like the no. 1 guy you’d like to bring in to steady a capsized ship — cough Sunderland cough — in any situation. Not only does he have a successful track record in the Premier League, but he’s the kind of no-nonsense leader a club like Sunderland so desperately needs as they find themselves in yet another relegation battle just eight games into the new season.

Short hopes to have Allardyce signed, sealed and delivered when the Premier League returns to action next weekend. In that event, Allardyce’s first game in charge of Sunderland would be a trip to West Bromwich Albion. His first home fixture? Home to Tyne-Wear derby rivals Newcastle United, a club whose boisterous fanbase still holds a great deal of disdain for Big Sam. Sometimes the football gods really are looking out for us.