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

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LONDON — Tottenham Hotspur beat Chelsea 2-0 at White Hart Lane on Wednesday as Spurs ended Chelsea’s incredible winning streak at 13, with the Blues falling one win short of setting the all-time top-flight record for consecutive wins in a single season.

[ RECAP: Spurs 2-0 Chelsea ]

Dele Alli scored two near-identical headers either side of half time to set Spurs on their way and the north London club never looked back and Chelsea never really threatened apart from dangerous counters at the start of both halves.

Mauricio Pochettino’s Tottenham are now back in the title race as they sit seven points behind leaders Chelsea, while Antonio Conte‘s boys will have to pick themselves and go again with their lead at the top now just five points and the chasing back hunting them down.

What a start to the second half of the season.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights ]


RED-HOT ALLI

We thought Dele Alli was good last season…

Alli, still just 20 years old, ended Chelsea’s winning streak as his cleverly peeled away behind Chelsea’s center backs twice and beat Victor Moses to head home. Chelsea had not conceded a headed goal in the Premier League all season and Alli outfoxed them twice.

Alli has now scored a brace in each of his last three PL games and seven in his last four games. He is flourishing in a role behind Harry Kane and they’re on the same wavelength. Alli had a slow start to this season with just three goals from his first 15 PL games but now he is on fire and is showing increased maturity and calmness in and around the box which evaded him at times last season.

Earlier this week reports suggested that Real Madrid is lining up a $63 million bid for Alli. His recent form suggests such talk is not only worthy but the fee is also way below his true valuation.

Pochettino said Alli is going nowhere and believes he can become the best attacking midfielder in Europe for the next decade. It’s hard to argue with that and it’s hard to believe that Alli was playing for MK Dons in England’s third-tier just 18 months ago.


SPURS WIN WING-BACK BATTLE

Danny Rose and Kyle Walker got the better of Victor Moses and Marcos Alonso as both teams deployed wing backs. As the game wore on Spurs’ wide men were more adventurous and that led to Alli’s goals.

Twice Walker surged at Alonso and twice he cut the ball back to an unmarked Eriksen who whipped in delicious crosses to the back post. Moses was concerned about the onrushing Rose on both goals and left too much space for Alli to get in behind Cesar Azpilicueta and Spurs’ man of the moment capitalized on those defensive mistakes.

In the early stages Alonso and Moses looked better in attack with Walker and Rose reluctant to surge forward. A quiet word from Pochettino midway through the first half saw Walker push up higher on Alonso and he had plenty of joy for the rest of the game.

Chelsea have looked incredibly comfortable with the 3-4-3 formation but Tottenham looked even more snug as the most consistent full backs in the PL stepped up and nullified the main weapon which has seen the Blues take the PL by storm in recent months.


TITLE RACE WELL AND TRULY ON

Liverpool, Arsenal, Manchester City and even Manchester United celebrated Tottenham’s win almost as fervently as Spurs’ fans on Wednesday.

The title race is back on.

With Chelsea rattling off 13 wins in a row and 16 wins from 19 before their derby defeat on Wednesday at Tottenham, the Blues looked capable of running away with the title this season.

Now, their lead has been cut to five points and Man City are also just seven points behind, while Arsenal is eight points back and Manchester United is 10 points.

Chelsea’s back-to-back games against Liverpool and Arsenal at the end of January and start of February are now looking  particularly pivotal in the title race if they drop points against Leicester an Hull before those massive clashes. .

The Premier League title race has been blown wide open by Tottenham’s victory.

PL Preview: Manchester City vs. Newcastle

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  • Newcastle has lost 8 PL away matches in a row
  • Man City last lost at home in PL play to Chelsea in Dec 2016
  • Newcastle has picked up 1 of a possible 30 points vs. PL top half this season

Manchester City has a great chance to rebound from its first loss of the season as they host struggling Newcastle at the Etihad on Saturday, live at 12:30 p.m. ET on NBC or live online at NBCSports.com.

WATCH LIVE, HERE

The Magpies have picked up their terrible mid-season form of late, but still remain just three points above the drop. They are unbeaten in three, with a win and two draws, and have lost just once in their last five.

Through Newcastle’s losing streak, the Magpies struggled to keep the ball out of their own net, with defensive issues all over the place. They suffered through a nine-game winless run where they conceded 19 goals. However, of late, the roles have reversed, and suddenly they can’t score. In their last four games, they have just two goals.

City, meanwhile, have a few injuries to deal with on the defensive side of things, where they cannot afford them. Fabian Delph went down in the last match and could be out for significant time, along with Vincent Kompany who continues to show his age and history of fitness issues.

INJURIES: Manchester City – OUT: Fabian Delph (knee), Benjamin Mendy (knee). QUESTIONABLE: David Silva (illness), Vincent Kompany (fitness). Newcastle – OUT: Jesus Gamez (ankle). QUESTIONABLE: Dwight Gayle (knock).


What they’re saying

Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola on build-up of injuries: “In these situations, it always depends on the mentality of the players, if they can make a step forward. If they can they play in positions that are not natural positions and the other guys help them, everything is going well.”

Newcastle manager Rafa Benitez on not having a full squad: “When you have a short blanket, if you pull it to your face, your feet are cold, if you cover your feet, your top half is cold.”

Prediction

Newcastle has been ok of late, but not nearly enough to keep Manchester City out of the back of the net. This could get ugly, with the Citizens looking to rebound from their season’s first loss. 3-0 Man City with the possibility that it could get much worse if Newcastle gives up.

PL Preview: Burnley vs. Manchester United

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  • Burnley has 1 win vs. Man United in last 23 meetings
  • Manchester United has not conceded a goal in 2018
  • Paul Pogba is joint-top of the league with 9 assists

A critical top of the table battle comes our way from Turf Moor (!!) on Saturday as Manchester United travels to Burnley live on NBCSN or live online at NBCSports.com.

WATCH LIVE, HERE

Since losing at Chelsea back in early November, Manchester United in unbeaten away from home and has won four of the five road matches. Burnley, meanwhile, has lost three matches in a row to start the new year and has not won in Premier League play since December 12th against Stoke City.

The goalscoring form of each team is also in stark contrast. Manchester United has not allowed a goal in any competition in 2018, and last conceded back on Boxing Day in a 2-2 draw with this Burnley side. The Clarets, meanwhile, have just one goal in their last three Premier League games and just three goals in their last six.

INJURIES: Burnley – OUT: Chris Wood (knee), Stephen Ward (knee), Jonathan Walters (knee). QUESTIONABLE: Chris Taylor (ribs). Manchester United – OUT: Daley Blind (undisclosed), Eric Bailly (ankle), Michael Carrick (heart), Zlatan Ibrahimovic (knee). QUESTIONABLE: Marouane Fellaini, Antonio Valencia.

What they’re saying

Burnley manager Sean Dyche on the gap in riches between clubs: “I don’t think any of us are surprised by the gap in the Premier League – I think it’s been there a long time and it’s getting harder year on year since the business model of football has changed.”

Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho on focusing despite transfer rumors: “In this moment, [Henrikh] Mkhitaryan our player, [Alexis] Sanchez an Arsenal player and with a match tomorrow, I want to switch off and focus on the most important thing, which is the match.”

Prediction

Burnley may be coming back down to Earth, but they are still a formidable team with great organization, and Manchester United will be once again held to a draw, this time 1-1.

Alexis Sanchez in Arsenal squad, could play vs Crystal Palace

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Ahead of his nearly imminent move away from the Emirates, Alexis Sanchez could make an appearance for Arsenal against Crystal Palace this weekend as he was with the squad at the team hotel on Friday night, according to reports in England.

According to the reports, Arsene Wenger has not decided if he will play Sanchez against Palace or not, as any potential injury could seriously jeopardize any outgoing transfer in the works. However, naming him to the bench and allowing Sanchez to make one last appearance in front of the home fans would be a nice touch before he leaves, likely for Manchester United.

It probably doesn’t help Wenger’s selection that oft-injured Danny Welbeck will miss the match after picking up a muscle problem in training.

Sanchez did not travel with the team to Bournemouth last weekend as Arsenal lost 2-1 in stunning fashion. Sanchez has missed four Premier League games this season, and Arsenal has lost three of them.

The reports state Sanchez trained with the Arsenal first team on Friday, but only because the youth team he trained with the day before had left for a road trip.

Reports: LA Galaxy trades Gyasi Zardes to Columbus for Ola Kamara

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According to a reports by the LA Times and by ESPN, the LA Galaxy have traded US international Gyasi Zardes along with allocation money to the Columbus Crew for striker Ola Kamara.

Both reports state that Columbus will receive $400,000 in guaranteed allocation money in the deal, plus another $100,000 should Kamara score 12 goals next season to trigger the incentive.

Zardes was once a force along the wing for Bruce Arena and the Galaxy, but the 26-year-old has declined heavily in the last two seasons as injuries and poor form have held him to just eight goals over the last two seasons, including just two last campaign. Meanwhile, Kamara has been a star for Columbus in his first two years in Major League Soccer, scoring 16 goals in 2016 before netting another 18 last season, leaving him third in the league in goals scored over those two seasons.

The LA Times report states that Kamara will earn a new contract after the trade, giving him a raise over his current $482,500 yearly salary.

Zardes is an interesting case who shouldn’t be given up on just yet. A homegrown player for the Galaxy, he scored 17 goals in the 2014 season, including on in the MLS Cup Finals as the Galaxy won it all. He earned a seemingly permanent place on the USMNT as a result, and has 37 caps to this date. However, his goalscoring form has since evaporated, leaving him with no more than six goals in an MLS season since, and has just six goals in those 37 caps for the national team.

The Galaxy will need to acquire an additional international roster spot in order to activate Kamara for the season opener on March 4th against Portland, as they have filled up their seven spots as of now.