Tottenham 3-2 Southampton: Sigurdsson puts icing on three-goal comeback after Eriksen double

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A pair of brutal mistakes by Kyle Naughton in the opening half hour set up Jay Rodriguez and Adam Lallana for opening Southampton goals, and it looked like another Europa League hangover for the home side.

But Christian Eriksen and Spurs held firm, and the Danish winger found himself a pair of goals before Gylfi Sigurdsson struck the winner two minutes deep into stoppage time.

The comeback was a spirited one, as it never seemed like Spurs were truly out of the match even after going down 2-0 on a half hour.

With the game wide open early and often, both teams got good looks into the box in the opening 10 minutes. Aaron Lennon’s cross into the box found no takers for Spurs, and Rickie Lambert’s run was cut off and Lallana’s ensuing shot was a good bit wide of the top corner.

With a couple more half-chances at either end, Southampton took full advantage of their first clear opportunity.  Artur Boruc’s goal kick leaped right over the head of a surprised Naughton and fell right to Rodriguez on the right flank, and with nobody back it was all the Burnley product who slotted past Lloris for the opener on 19 minutes.

The 24-year-old’s goal came right in front of the England manager Roy Hodgson watching a number of his international players at White Hart Lane.

The opener didn’t change much, but the visitors continued to be bright in the final third.  Six minutes later James Ward-Prowse came inches from a second, with his low effort deflected just wide.

source: AP
The pair of Southampton goalscorers pounced early but couldn’t produce enough after the half hour mark to hold off Spurs.

Southampton would get their second moments later, when a ball clattering around the Tottenham half came to Naughton in front of the box, and a heavy touch gifted the ball to Rickie Lambert who slotted Lallana through for another easy low finish.

The mistake by Spurs right-back is the club’s 15th defensive mistake leading to a goal, the highest mark in the Premier League. On the other end, it’s the England international’s first goal in eight games, again giving Hodgson cause to smile.

Spurs weren’t done, however, as they immediately responded with a mistake on Southampton’s part. It was Nathaniel Clyne’s turn for a heavy touch to betray him, and the ball fell at the feet of Christian Eriksen who made no mistake to bring Spurs right back into things.

The goal blasted Spurs right back into things, and although they couldn’t get another before halftime, their statement was made. Danny Rose had a brilliant opportunity to get his team level two minutes before the break, but after breaking free down the left, his cut-back for Aaron Lennon was off-target and it slid through the box untouched.

The home side would retain momentum through into the second half, and it paid off almost immediately. Roberto Soldado, starting in place of the injured Emmanuel Adebayor, broke with acres of space down the right touch, and he found a streaking Eriksen in the box for a close-range tap-in and a level 2-2 scoreline.

Tottenham’s furious start to the second half wasn’t over, and they peppered the Southampton box by pumping the ball in repeatedly.  It took a while for the next real chance, but Eriksen had a shot at a hat-trick getting behind the back line but substitute Callum Chambers threw his body in the way at the last moment for the block.

With tired legs taking over, the game settled down the stretch, but as expected, it sprung to life in the dying minutes as both sides pressed for the winner. Rickie Lambert’s 89th minute shot dragged wide before coming off, and then Spurs got their moment.

A long ball forward wasn’t dealt with right away by the visiting defense, and it fell to Eriksen who touched to Sigurdsson at the top of the box. There was some space to work with, and the Icelandic winger rifled confidently past Boruc deep into stoppage time.

White Hart Lane exploded, and the winner provided a massive lift for Tim Sherwood who had seen a dip in the club’s form since his initial boost.  The team can still hope for a European spot next season, although they need a fifth place finish to do so. They sit in that spot with the win, but Everton in sixth have two games in hand.

For Southampton, they miss their chance to jump Newcastle into eighth place. The club has had some quality showings this season, but weren’t consistent enough at White Hart Lane to secure their result.

LINEUPS:

Tottenham – Lloris; Naughton, Kaboul, Vertonghen, Rose; Lennon (Townsend 72′), Bentaleb, Chadli, Dembele (Sigurdsson 45′), Eriksen; Soldado.

Goals: Eriksen 30′, 46′; Sigurdsson 90+2′

Southampton – Boruc; Clyne (Chambers 45′), Fonte, Lovren, Shaw; Cork, Ward-Prowse, S. Davis, Lallana, Rodriguez (Rodriguez 64′); Lambert (Gallagher 90′).

Goals: Rodriguez 19′, Lallana 28′

Arsenal sends Gabriel Paulista to Valencia

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Arsenal has a thin defense, but that hasn’t stopped Arsene Wenger from thinning the squad even further.

Gabriel Paulista is headed back to the Spanish top flight after the completion of his transfer to Valencia. The Brazilian was sold for a reported $12.8 million, just below the $14 million price tag Arsenal coughed up to Villareal back in January, 2015. He will partner with Manchester City loanee Eliaquim Mangala at Valencia.

The 26-year-old made 64 appearances for the Gunners across all competitions, including 46 in the Premier League. His only goal for the club was Arsenal’s first of a 2-0 win over Bournemouth in December, 2015. His high-water mark with the club was a 120-minute performance against Manchester City in the FA Cup semifinals where Arsenal came back to win 2-1 on an Alexis Sanchez goal in extra time.

“We would like to thank Gabriel for his contribution to the club and to wish him well for his return to La Liga with Valencia,” Arsenal said in its confirmation of the deal.

Paulista was utilized more than expected last season thanks to an injury crisis at the back, and still the Arsenal squad doesn’t seem fat enough to offload defenders, but Gabriel’s over-aggressive nature and tackling inaccuracy led him to an early exit.

With Arsene Wenger now deploying a back-three, the only natural central defenders currently on the roster are Laurent Koscielny, Per Mertesacker, Shkodran Mustafi, and Rob Holding. Koscielny is suspended from a red card at the end of last season, and Mertesacker is battling a head injury. Sead Kolasinac, Nacho Monreal, and Calum Chambers have played CB for the Gunners in the recent past, but it is not their natural position.

Fabian Johnson misses Gladbach training with injury

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With John Brooks already out long-term due to a thigh injury, the United States may have another key injury to work around.

According to Borussia Monchengladbach manager Dieter Hecking, full-back/winger Fabian Johnson missed training on Friday due to an unspecified injury, and is now a question mark for Gladbach’s home match on Sunday against FC Koln. It could be nothing, but even the scare is cause for concern among U.S. fans.

Johnson has battled a few injuries the past couple of seasons, including a hamstring problem last spring that kept him out for nearly two months, including a pair of World Cup qualifiers in March.

Johnson’s absence would leave a hole at right-back for the United States. The 29-year-old has been deployed some at right wing for the USMNT, but he has been relatively poor at that position in the national setup, looking better when pushed further back where he is given more defensive duties, roaming forward with less frequency but more intent.

In place of Johnson, another converted winger in Graham Zusi has been seeing more time at right-back, but he offers less in the attack and lacks Johnson’s recovery speed, meaning mistakes by the Sporting KC veteran are punished more often.

Falcao scores again to extend red hot start

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Monaco is hoping to ride out the final two weeks of the transfer window with 18-year-old wonderkid Kylian Mbappe still in tow.

While they wait, they aren’t missing a beat.

With Mbappe out of the squad, Radamel Falcao has begun the 2017/18 Ligue 1 season as Europe’s hottest goalscorer. He bagged a hat-trick last weekend with Mbappe on the bench to give him four goals in the first two league matches. Then, with Mbappe out of the squad entirely, Falcao netted the winner in a 1-0 road win over FC Metz.

Falcao has scored five goals so far this year, and his club has a +5 goal differential. In a way, Falcao has already been worth six points thus far.

Thanks in part to Ligue 1’s early start, Falcao’s five league goals are by far more than anyone else in the major European leagues. Four players have scored a pair of Premier League goals, nobody in La Liga or the Bundesliga have scored more than one, and the Serie A season has yet to start.

The Colombian did the same thing last season. After eventually coming off the shelf from to hamstring and concussion problems to start the season, Falcao scored 10 goals in 10 Ligue 1 matches leading up to the new calendar year.

At 31 years old, Falcao isn’t a long-term solution and the club will clearly look to retain Mbappe despite Falcao’s hot start, but should they lose the young Frenchman, the club will be in good hands while they search for a replacement over the next year.

Arena should give Ream a look in Brooks’ absence

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With John Brooks out three months thanks to a horribly timed thigh injury, the United States yet again has to scramble to fill a void at the back. It’s not the first time an injury to Brooks has left the USMNT scrambling for cover at a thin position.

In the successful Gold Cup this past summer, with a largely domestic squad in place, Omar Gonzalez saw the bulk of the time at central defender, with Matt Besler his partner through the final two matches. However, with European-based players now in contention for spots with the early September international break, those two are unlikely to continue, at least not together.

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The most obvious choice to start September 1st against Costa Rica and likely shoo-in should he remain healthy for the next two weeks is Geoff Cameron. The 32-year-old has been back and forth between defense and midfield with club and country, and although he has publicly acknowledged his preference for a spot higher up the pitch, he was used in a back-three in Stoke City’s Premier League opener last weekend and is steadiest at the back.

But with a spot next to Cameron up for grabs in Brooks’ absence, a player who should get serious consideration is United States fill-in extraordinaire Tim Ream.

Ream has had to work hard to earn his place with the U.S., and while he’s seen time of late, he’s not been a first-choice pick. The 29-year-old has four caps so far in 2017, with two of those starts, including one in the impressive 1-1 draw against Mexico at the Azteca with the US still clawing its way back up the Hex standings. Even then, Ream would likely not have earned that spot had Arena not chosen to rotate nearly the entire squad between the pair of qualifiers in that window. His other start this year, the 1-1 draw at Panama, only came after Cameron pulled out of the squad the day of the game with a late injury. The last time Ream started back-to-back matches for the U.S. came back in 2015 when he was somewhat of a regular through the second half of the calendar year.

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But now, with Brooks out, Ream looks like the perfect man to fill in again. The 29-year-old defender finished last season in top form as Fulham narrowly missed out on promotion, earning the official website’s Man of the Match award in a May 2nd draw with Brentford, and won it again in the club’s final match of the season.

Without missing a beat, Ream has picked up where he left off last campaign in the first few matches this month. Last weekend against Reading at the Madjeski Stadium, Ream’s center-back partner Tomas Kalas was sent off 36 seconds into the match, forcing Fulham to play a man down for 89 minutes. Ream and company solidified the back, conceding just once in the 61st minute en route to a 1-1 draw.

The club still likely requires reinforcements at the CB position – Ream was forced to partner with right-back Denis Odoi against Reading with Kalas suspended and Michael Madl injured – meaning Ream could see an influx of competition in the coming weeks. However, as it stands, the American is far and away the best (and most improved) central defender on a club favored for promotion.

Gonzalez performed well in the Gold Cup, and Matt Besler was serviceable, but with few other options in the heart of defense to take Brooks’ place, Bruce Arena could yet again look to Ream for an in-form replacement.