Three things we learned from Tottenham’s win vs. Sunderland

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LONDON, England — Following Tottenham’s 5-1 demolition job of Sunderland on Monday night, Spurs have kept their top four dreams alive.

Just.

Tim Sherwood’s side scored three goals late on, as Sunderland’s early lead evaporated when Tottenham piled on the pressure. It was an impressive all round display from the home side, especially as their manager has been under intense pressure in the last few days.

Here’s a gander at three things we learned.

Spurs need to build their team around Christian Eriksen

The little man from Denmark, he can play a bit. With Spurs 1-0 down and struggling to get a grip on the game early on, Eriksen came to life as he set up two goals and terrorized Sunderland’s defense. He cut in from the left flank to tee up Emmanuel Adebayor and Harry Kane, before smashing in a delightful shot himself. On this form, the 22-year-old playmaker Spurs signed from Ajax last summer is the real deal. It has taken him a while to get adjusted to the Premier League, but as the end of the season nears, Eriksen’s magic is there for all to see. If Sherwood is given a chance to rebuild Tottenham’s squad, which is unlikely, then he should build his team around Eriksen. Whoever is in charge of Spurs for the long run, Eriksen should be the talisman the North London club are built around.

source: AP
Sherwoo’d passion for the game seeps through in his management style.

Sherwood’s passion an inspiration

When Vlad Chiriches inexplicably gave the ball away on the edge of Tottenham’s box after 17 minutes, which caught goalkeeper Hugo Lloris out of position and allowed Lee Cattermole to slot the ball home, you feared the worst for Spurs. But reminiscent of their manager’s gritty persona, Spurs dug in and turned things around. Swearing on the sidelines, ranting and raving at the referee, turning around to the home fans and asking them to “f****** encourage” players instead of having a go, Sherwood was on top form.

(MORE: Sherwood unfazed by speculation, as Spurs boss impresses with passion)

At one point he ran to the press seats and grabbed a TV so he could see a penalty appeal. Laughing and joking, he looked like a bloke he knew his days are numbered, if you believe reports, as manager at White Hart Lane. But he’s going to go out with a smile on his face. His players laugh and joke along with him, and when Adebayor scored his second, he ran to Sherwood to salute him. Sherwood saluted him back with a smile on his face. No matter if the former Spurs skipper is given the boot or stays on after this summer, his passion is infectious and is one of his biggest assets.

Black Cats in freefall

Monday’s defeat to Tottenham was Sunderland’s fourth in a row, as they are now without a win in nine games since they beat neighbors Newcastle United. Speaking after the game Gus Poyet lambasted his side after a performance riddled with mistakes.

“We cannot defend, we cannot make decisions, we cannot cope with one vs. one’s, we cannot pass the ball, we cannot have a shot on target. There are so many things that we cannot do.”

It’s hard to argue with him. The fiery Uruguayan saw his players squander an early gift, as they led 1-0 after 17 minutes, but despite a few flashes of brilliance from Fabio Borini in the first half, the Black Cats were totally second best as their race against relegation is running out of time. Rock bottom with seven games to go, Sunderland are seven points from safety and now face Everton, Man City and Chelsea in their next three. If they get nothing from those, it could well be ‘bye, bye’ Black Cats. If it isn’t already.

Watch Live: Swansea host Manchester United

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Swansea City welcome Manchester United to the Liberty Stadium on Saturday (Watch live, 7:30 a.m. ET on NBCSN and online via NBCSports.com) with Jose Mourinho’s side aiming to stay top of the Premier League table.

[ STREAM: Swansea v. Man United ]

Yes, it’s early days, but the Red Devils were imperious in their thumping 4-0 win against West Ham United to open their season. Romelu Lukaku and Nemanja Matic dominated and Mourinho’s men are now a powerful, well-oiled machine.

As for Swansea, they struggled at Southampton but came away with a draw, however the main storyline surrounding the South Wales side this week has been losing Gylfi Sigurdsson to Everton for over $60 million. Paul Clement will have to act fast to spend that cash wisely, but there is no doubt the Swans will miss their Icelandic playmaker.

In team news Swansea bring in Kyle Bartley and Roque Mesa as they line up in a 3-5-2 formation with Jordan Ayew and Tammy Abraham up top.

Man United are, unsurprisingly, unchanged.

LINEUPS

Swansea City: Fabianski; Fernandez, Bartley, Mawson; Naughton, Mesa, Fer, Carroll, Olsson; Ayew, Abraham. Subs: Nordfeldt, Rangel, van der Hoorn, Fulton, Narsingh, Routledge, McBurnie.

Manchester United: De Gea; Valencia, Bailly, Jones, Blind; Matic, Pogba; Mkhitaryan, Mata, Rashford; Lukaku. Subs: Romero, Lindelof, Smalling, Fellaini, Herrera, Lingard, Martial

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.