Tottenham Hotspur v Manchester City - Premier League

Tottenham Hotspur 1-5 Manchester City: Citizens go top after yet another romp (video)

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Manchester City brushed aside Tottenham Hotspur 5-1 at White Hart Lane on Wednesday, as the Citizens went top of the Premier League table.

City were set on their way in the first half by Sergio Aguero, who finished off a slick move in the 15th minute to put the visitors 1-0 up. The away team dominated but Spurs thought they had equalized when Michael Dawson finished, but his effort was ruled out for offside.

Moments into the second half the game turned on its head as Danny Rose took out City’s Edin Dzeko in the penalty box and was shown a red card as Yaya Toure make it 2-0 from the spot. Then in the 52nd minute Dzeko finished off from close range as the PL’s new leaders threatened to wrack up yet more goals.

To their credit Spurs kept plugging away and Ettiene Capoue scored to make it 3-1, but Stevan Jovetic came off the bench to grab his first PL goal and Vincent Kompany rounded off the scoring late on in the 5-1 romp.

The 5-1 win adds to City’s 6-0 demolition of Spurs earlier in the season and the Citizens have now scored 68 PL goals in just 23 games this season. Remarkable stuff from Manuel Pellegrini’s men once again, as Tim Sherwood lost for the first time in the league as Spurs manager.

With their eight successive win City move top of the league and have a one-point lead over Arsenal in second, while Tottenham stay in fifth on 43 points.

(MORE: Latest Premier League Standings)

Man City started the brighter of the two teams, and in the 4th minute Aguero drifted past three Spurs defenders like they weren’t even there and hammered a shot across goal that pinged off the post and out to safety.

It was an early warning sign for Spurs, and one they didn’t heed.

After 15 minutes City sprayed the ball around and David Silva found a pocket of space in front of Spurs’ defense which he exploited and then sent a perfect pass through to Aguero and the Argentine finished with aplomb. 1-0 to the Citizens and they duly deserved to be in front.

source: AP
Toure slams home the spot kick after the game-changing moment saw Rose sent off for Spurs.

Aguero almost grabbed his and City’s second with a powerful header that Tottenham’s ‘keeper Hugo Lloris somehow kept out with a strong wrist. Spurs were rocking.

Lloris again was called into action as the ball pin-balled around the penalty box as Tottenham somehow cleared with Aguero and Dzeko sniffing around.

Spurs thought they had equalized in the 35th minute as a free kick from the left found captain Dawson unmarked at the back post and he converted into an empty net. However the assistant referee raised his flag for an offside call, which was correct, as City kept their 1-0 lead intact. Just.

Soon after tempers began to flare as Demichelis was booked for a lunge on Aaron Lennon, then Aguero limped off injured with a calf injury. Half time arrived with the Citizens leading 1-0 at the Lane.

After the break Man City went 2-0 up within four minutes of the restart as Fernandinho’s enterprising run found Dzeko who was taken out by Danny Rose and referee Michael Oliver pointed to the penalty spot. To make matters worse he also sent off Rose, as Yaya Toure stepped up to score the spot kick and Spurs were in all kinds of trouble.

In the 52nd minute it was 3-0 to City, as Dzeko finished off from close range following Silva’s shot being palmed onto the post.

City were rampaging as the league highest scorers looked dangerous every time they broke forward.

But Spurs, to their credit, kept battling away and French midfielder Capoue slammed home an effort from close range to give Tottenham’s fans faint hopes of sealing a comeback at White Hart Lane.

However those hopes were dashed as City’s Montenegrin international Jovetic curled home his first PL goal in the 78th minute, before Kompany tapped home two minutes from time to leave no doubt about City climbing to the top of the standings after a resounding win.

LINEUPS

Tottenham: Lloris, Walker, Chiriches, Dawson, Rose, Lennon, Bentaleb, Dembele (Capoue, 45), Sigurdsson (Naughton, 55), Eriksen (Holtby, 83), Adebayor

Goal: Capoue (59)

Manchester City: Hart; Zabaleta, Kompany, Demichelis, Clichy; Navas, Fernandinho, Toure (Nastasic, 64), Silva (Kolarov, 80); Aguero (Jovetic, 45), Dzeko

Goals: Aguero (15), Toure (50), Dzeko (52), Jovetic (78), Kompany (88)

Barcelona tops Levante, ties club record with 28 unbeaten

VALENCIA, SPAIN - FEBRUARY 07:  Jordi Alba of Barcelona celebrates scoring his team's first goal with his teammate Andres Iniesta during the La Liga match between Levante UD and FC Barcelona at Ciutat de Valencia on February 07, 2016 in Valencia, Spain.  (Photo by Manuel Queimadelos Alonso/Getty Images)
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Sir Alex Ferguson described the 2010/11 Barcelona team as the best team he ever faced.

This year’s Barcelona side has matched them.

With a 2-0 victory over La Liga basement-dwellers Levante on an own-goal forced by Jordi Alba plus a late score from Luis Suarez, Barcelona has gone 28 matches unbeaten in all competitions, without a loss since a 2-1 defeat to Sevilla on October 28.

Manager Luis Enrique, though, is unmoved. “What matters to me are the team’s objectives,” said Enrique after the win. “These are nice numbers, if they help us win titles at the end of the season, fantastic. We are in good position, but there is still a lot left.”

The Levante victory marked Luis Enrique’s 100th game in charge of Barcelona.

That 2010/11 season, led by Pep Guardiola, Barcelona came a Copa del Rey finals loss to Real Madrid from a quadruple, winning the league, Champions League, and Supercopa de Espana. This time around, they’ve already secured the Supercopa, sit atop the league table by three points over Atletico Madrid and seven above Real Madrid, have yet to lose a game in the Champions League, and the second leg of their Copa del Rey semifinal against Valencia is a complete formality. What’s more, the numbers from this streak are eerily similar to that wildly successful squad five years ago.

That campaign, Lionel Messi scored 31 league goals and 53 overall. An injury sapped him of time in this go around, but Suarez and Neymar have picked up the slack. There has been just one league game in which all three of Messi, Neymar, and Suarez has been held scoreless this season, and to find it you have to travel all the way back to the second game of the year, a 1-0 win over Malaga that saw Thomas Vermaelen score the winner. Those three have combined for 48 league goals this year, more than every team in the Spanish top flight save Real Madrid.

Paris Saint-Germain has a similar streak going at the moment, currently unbeaten in league play throughout the entire season, but their 1-0 loss to Real Madrid in the Champions League on November 3 means their streak across all competitions sits at 19 games.

Watch Live: Bournemouth vs Arsenal (Lineups & Live Stream)

LONDON, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 28: Mesut Ozil of Arsenal and Adam Smith of Bournemouth compete for the ball during the Barclays Premier League match between Arsenal and A.F.C. Bournemouth at Emirates Stadium on December 28, 2015 in London, England.  (Photo by Ian Walton/Getty Images)
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Arsenal is hoping to break its four-game winless streak as it travels to Vitality Stadium to take on Bournemouth, live on NBCSN at 8:30 a.m. ET or live online at NBC Sports Live Extra.

The Gunners have drawn three and lost one over its last four matches, leaving them unable to keep pace with Leicester City at the top of the table. With Leicester again winning this week and a matchup with the Foxes looming next time out for Arsenal, this match seems a must-win for Arsene Wenger and company if they wish to remain serious title contenders.

[ WATCH LIVE: Bournemouth vs Arsenal live online at NBC Sports Live Extra ]

Wenger has chosen to leave veteran defender Per Mertesacker on the bench in favor of Gabriel. Francis Coquelin also remains among the substitutes for the second straight match, meaning either Wenger prefers Mathieu Flamini in midfield, or Coquelin remains unfit for a full 90 minutes. Tomas Rosicky was injured last weekend and will be out up to three months, which could end his season.

Eddie Howe has named an unchanged starting lineup from their 2-1 away win at Crystal Palace last week. Winger Junior Stanislas is back on the bench after missing last week. In contrast to Arsenal, the Cherries are unbeaten in four and have won four of their last six, a stretch which has propelled them five points off the relegation zone and the same distance away from the top half of the table.

[ MORE: Premier League Sunday Preview ]

There are no new injury concerns for either side. Both have long-term absentees who are on the mend but still not close to a return. Danny Welbeck, Jack Wilshere, and Santi Cazorla are all out for the Gunners, while Bournemouth duo Max Gradel and Callum Wilson are also sidelined for a while but could return before the end of the season.

LINEUPS

Bournemouth: Boruc; Smith, Francis, Cook, Daniels; Surman, Gosling; Ritchie, Arter, Pugh; Afobe.
Subs: Federici, Distin, Stanislas, O’Kane, Iturbe, King, Grabban.

Arsenal: Cech; Bellerin, Gabriel, Koscielny, Monreal; Flamini, Ramsey; Oxlade-Chamberlain, Sánchez, Özil; Giroud.
Subs: Ospina, Gibbs, Mertesacker, Walcott, Campbell, Coquelin, Iwobi.

FIFA candidate Prince Ali claims voting pledge from Liberia

Jordan's Prince Ali bin al-Hussein, flanked by school-age soccer players in uniforms, speaks before about 300 guests during an event at a Roman amphitheater in Amman, Jordan, Wednesday, Sept. 9, 2015. The prince is running for FIFA president, saying Wednesday he will fight "deep-seated corruption and political deal-making" and make soccer's scandal-scarred governing body more transparent. (AP Photo/Raad Adayleh)
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AMMAN, Jordan (AP) FIFA presidential candidate Prince Ali of Jordan says the Liberia soccer federation has pledged its vote to him.

Liberia follows Egypt as the second African voter claimed by Prince Ali since the Confederation of African Football’s leadership endorsed Asian confederation president Sheikh Salman of Bahrain on Friday.

The CAF executive committee urged the 54 African voters among FIFA’s 209-strong membership to back the sheikh in the Feb. 26 election.

Prince Ali’s campaign team on Saturday published a three-page letter of endorsement signed by Liberia federation president Musa Bility.

Bility writes that Prince Ali “represents real change” while other candidates are “not even prepared to criticize” the FIFA system.

Bility was himself an applicant in the presidential contest, then failed an integrity test judged by FIFA’s election monitoring committee.

LVG says Mourinho speculation is false, calls the whole thing “nonsense”

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Louis Van Gaal is sick and tired of the media speculating about his employment (or potential lack thereof), as well as reports linking the presently unemployed Jose Mourinho to his job, so what we’re going to do now is speculate on those reports a bit more.

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s PL coverage ]

But first, we’ll give Van Gaal the chance to tell his side of the story. Who better to explain what’s going on at Manchester United than the manager of Man United, right? OK, Louis, take it away, mate — quotes from the Guardian:

“The last two months have been very difficult for my wife, my kids, my grandchildren and my friends to cope with. For me too, but I can cope. In the Netherlands they know I am too arrogant to doubt myself, but I also know that such a nonsense is being created about me. I do not believe that there is already a relationship between José Mourinho and Manchester United.”

“It is logical when you have lost four matches in a row, people are bound to be doubting. … I criticize the media for inventing stories. I never hired security. Never ever. And I am walking on the streets without security and all the people I meet are very positive.”

OK, now that that’s out of the way, Jose Mourinho is definitely talking to Manchester United, or someone is doing so on his behalf. There’s arguably never been a more sitting-duck manager in world football than Van Gaal is right now — not only have the results been extremely “meh” for nearly two seasons now, but he’s also got less than 18 months left on his contract, which means it would cost the club considerably less to make him go away than, say, David Moyes, who still had more than five years(!!!) left on his deal when he was fired in April of his first season.

[ MORE: Saturday’s PL preview — Leicester hammer Man City, Spurs go 2nd ]

Also, they were totally in for Pep Guardiola, too, and since they didn’t get him, they’ll have to respond thusly, and since Carlo Ancelotti has already been named Guardiola’s successor at Bayern Munich, Mourinho is the last “big name” out there right now. Unless, of course, they wanted to tap up Manuel Pellegrini, who’s on his way out to make room for Guardiola. Could be fun. But not as fun as Jose back in the Premier League, at Man United, in the same city with Pep. Remember the last time those two were employed on opposite sides of a heated rivalry?

As spectacular as this year’s PL season has been — and it’s bordering on the best of all time, still with 13 weeks to go — think about what that means for next season. It’s going to have be even more bonkers, so as not to seem boring by comparison. Louis van Gaal seems like a nice enough guy, but his team’s football isn’t that exciting on the field, and he offers little more off it. Mourinho isn’t the hero we deserve, but he’s certainly the one we need.