Moussa Dembele

Preview: Tottenham v. Sunderland – Must win game for both sides

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  • Tottenham have won five and lost zero of the last seven Premier League games against Sunderland.
  • Sunderland have scored a league-high 46.4% of their Premier League goals from set pieces this season.
  • Tottenham have failed to score in four of their last six Premier League matches.

Gus Poyet’s Sunderland side head to White Hart Lane on Monday (3:00pm ET on NBCSN or live online at NBC Sports Live Extra) to try and match fellow relegation side, Fulham, with a win this weekend.

If they can secure the three points the Black Cats will put an end to their seven match winless streak, which has buried Sunderland at the bottom of the table. If there is a bright side to their position it’s that Sunderland holds three games in hand on Cardiff City, Fulham, Norwich and Swansea, and two games on West Brom and Crystal Palace.

Making up the seven point difference to get out of the relegation zone won’t come easy for Sunderland due to a final match schedule that includes Everton, Manchester City, Chelsea and Manchester United, as well as relegation-threatened Cardiff, West Brom and Swansea. So Poyet’s game-plan on Monday will be relatively straight forward – take the match to Tottenham in hope of grabbing all three points.

With only two goals in their last four matches, scoring remains the bane of Sunderland’s existence. The fact that three of those matches were against the unimpressive likes of Norwich City, Crystal Palace and West Ham only magnifies the problem.

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Fortunately for players like Connor Wickham, Jozy Altidore and Fabio Borini, Tottenham have been leaking goals lately. In their last four matches Spurs have conceded 11 goals, resulting in three losses and a drop to 7th in the table.

For a club with distant Champions League hopes (8 points adrift of 4th placed Arsenal), this match represents an absolute must-win for Spurs. Same deal for manager Tim Sherwood, who desperately needs his side to finish the season on a strong run of form if he is to have any chance of maintaining his position.

Spurs enter the match with a laundry list of key injuries including Jan Vertonghen (knee), Roberto Soldado (ankle), Kyle Walker (groin) and Erik Lamela (back) while Emmanuel Adebayor (heel), Vlad Chiriches (back) and Paulinho (conjunctivitis) are all back in contention after missing out in the 4-0 loss to Liverpool on March 30th.

For Sunderland, Kieren Westwood (shoulder) is a long term absentee while Steven Fletcher (ankle) is doubtful.

What They’re Saying

Tottenham manager Tim Sherwood: “I’ll be on the touchline on Monday – I’ll be knocking out as many people as I can… I’ve had a lot of time to prepare this week. If they don’t know what it’s all about this week, then they ain’t going to know.”

Sunderland manager Gus Poyet: “In January we were winning so many important games and it was bringing the players together. Now we need a shock to get us going again.”

Prediction

Physically, mentally and psychologically, Spurs have the look of a wounded side so a matchup with Sunderland is just what the Doctor ordered. Given the Black Cats’ relegation status, a result won’t come easy for Sherwood’s men. It will need to be earned. Personally, I think they get it but if it they don’t you can bet #SherwoodOut will dominate social media come Monday night.

 

 

 

Ranieri criticizes Leicester for lacking “desire and heart”

LONDON, ENGLAND - FEBRUARY 18:  Claudio Ranieri, Manager of Leicester City looks dejected during The Emirates FA Cup Fifth Round match between Millwall and Leicester City at The Den on February 18, 2017 in London, England.  (Photo by Clive Rose/Getty Images)
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LONDON (AP) Leicester manager Claudio Ranieri criticized his players for lacking “desire and heart” in a 1-0 loss at third-tier Millwall in the FA Cup fifth round on Saturday, the latest setback for the stuttering English champion.

[ MORE: FA Cup roundup — Premier League sides underwhelm in 5th round ]

Leicester, which is one point above the relegation zone in a woeful defense of its Premier League title, is without a victory in its last eight matches.

Millwall played most of the second half with 10 men and won thanks to a 90th-minute goal.

“I want to speak again with the players and say we have to fight every match,” an animated Ranieri said. “Who wants to fight? Tell me. I need the soldiers, I need the gladiators.

[ MORE: Fifth-division Lincoln City shock PL side Burnley in FA Cup ]

“It is strange because last season we won for this, to be more determined than the opponent and play with more heart than the opponent. We could also lose but we would fight every match. I want to see this, the fight until the end.”

Leicester’s next match is against Sevilla in the first leg of the Champions League last 16 on Wednesday.

FOLLOW LIVE: Spurs, Man United away in FA Cup 5th round

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - FEBRUARY 16:  Zlatan Ibrahimovic of Manchester United celebrates after scoring his third and his sides third goal during the UEFA Europa League Round of 32 first leg match between Manchester United and AS Saint-Etienne at Old Trafford on February 16, 2017 in Manchester, United Kingdom.  (Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images)
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Saturday’s FA Cup fifth-rounders served up the biggest Cupset of them all — fifth-division side Lincoln City knocking off Burnley of the Premier League — as well as two moderately shocking results — Leicester City losing to 10-man Millwall (League One) and Manchester City drawing 0-0 with Huddersfield Town (Championship).

[ FOLLOW LIVE: Sunday’s FA Cup 5th-rounders ]

On Sunday, two more of the PL’s big boys hope to avoid upsets and reach the quarterfinals of the 2016-17 tournament. First up, Tottenham Hotspur visit Fulham’s Craven Cottage in a renewed London derby, followed by Manchester United’s trip to Blackburn Rovers’ Ewood Park. For live scores and updates, hit the above link, or click right here.

Saturday’s FA Cup results

Burnley 0-1 Lincoln City — RECAP | REACTION
Huddersfield 0-0 Manchester City
Millwall 1-0 Leicester City
Middlesbrough 3-0 Oxford United
Wolverhampton Wanderers 0-2 Chelsea

Sunday’s FA Cup schedule

Fulham vs. Tottenham Hotspur — 9 a.m. ET
Blackburn Rovers vs. Manchester United — 11:15 a.m. ET

Monday’s FA Cup schedule

Sutton United vs. Arsenal — 2:55 p.m. ET

Report: AC Milan negotiating new deal for keeper Donnaumma

ROME, ITALY - FEBRUARY 13:  AC Milan goalkeeper Gianluigi Donnarumma gestures during the Serie A match between SS Lazio and AC Milan at Stadio Olimpico on February 13, 2017 in Rome, Italy.  (Photo by Paolo Bruno/Getty Images)
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Gianluigi Donnarumma has quickly become one of the most coveted goalkeepers in the world, and he’s only 17 years old.

[ MORE: Gameiro nets hat-trick in five minutes for Atletico ]

And that’s why AC Milan plans on doing everything in its power to hold on to the Italy international.

[ MORE: U.S. U-20s fall to Panama to begin CONCACAF Championship ]

According to CalcioMercato, the Rossoneri are preparing to lock up Donnarumma to a big deal once he turns 18 next week in order to fend off the likes of Premier League duo Chelsea and Manchester United, as well as Real Madrid.

However, agent Mino Raiola could stand in the way of Milan as they attempt to negotiate with the promising shot stopper out of fear that the club won’t be able to compete with Europe’s best teams.

Also, it has been suggested that Raiola is seeking at least $4.25 million per season for Donnarumma plus add ons, while Milan is said to be willing to go as high as $2.1 million annually.

Donnarumma is currently in his second professional season with Milan and has risen to the Italian national team level over the past year as well. The young keeper is seen as the logical successor to Gianluigi Buffon once his international career concludes.

Baggio marks 50th birthday by visiting quake victims

ROME, ITALY - SEPTEMBER 01: Roberto Baggio (L) is challenged by Diego Lugano during the Interreligious Match For Peace at Olimpico Stadium on September 1, 2014 in Rome, Italy.  (Photo by Valerio Pennicino/Getty Images)
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AMATRICE, Italy (AP) Italian great Roberto Baggio marked his 50th birthday on Saturday by visiting towns devastated by earthquakes last year.

[ MORE: FA Cup Saturday wrap — Man City held against Huddersfield ]

Baggio opted not to celebrate his milestone surrounded by celebrities, and instead spent the day in Amatrice, which was almost wiped out by the Aug. 24 earthquake.

The former world footballer of the year, who met children and others from the central Italy region, said “it was very emotional,” and he went there with his family “to fully understand what so many people are going through.”

Baggio also met the mayor of Amatrice, Sergio Pirozzi, and said they will remain in contact, “and we will try to do something concrete.”

Baggio was moving on to nearby Norcia, which was also damaged, and there was a party organized with a birthday cake.

The Aug. 24 quake killed nearly 300 people and left a further 4,000 homeless. There were aftershocks for several days as well as more quakes in October and January.

Baggio, who was nicknamed “Il Divin Codino” (The Divine Ponytail) for the hairstyle he wore for most of his career, scored 27 goals in 57 appearances for Italy and helped the Azzurri to third place in the 1990 World Cup and runner-up four years later, when he famously missed the last penalty kick of the shootout in the final with Brazil.

He won the Serie A title with Juventus in 1995 and with AC Milan the following year.