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Mourinho’s treatment of Luke Shaw follows pattern

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Jose Mourinho has brutally criticized Luke Shaw in public as the Manchester United left back, once the most expensive teenager on the planet, looks to have no future at Old Trafford.

[ MORE: Moyes apologizes to reporter

Following United’s 0-0 draw with West Bromwich Albion on Saturday, Mourinho spoke about Shaw who he left out of his 18-man matchday squad despite seeing his team ravaged by injuries and suspensions in recent weeks.

“The way he trains. The way he commits. The focus. The ambition. I cannot compare. He is a long way behind,” Mourinho said of Shaw.

These comments have rubbed a lot of people the wrong way, especially given the fact that the 21-year-old England international only returned in the summer from a career threatening double leg fracture he suffered at the start of the 2015-16 campaign.

Shaw has pushed hard, so it seems for the outside, to regain his fitness and win back his place in United’s lineup but the likes of Daley Blind, Matteo Darmian and Marcos Rojo have been deployed out of position at left back ahead of Shaw and he’s made just 15 appearances all season. Mourinho has called his fitness and focus into question twice this season already after a defeat at Watford and following a win at Swansea, plus rumblings coming out of United early on this season suggested that Shaw was struggling with the new regime.

Now, Shaw’s fitness history may suggest Mourinho’s comments about his focus are close to the mark.

During his first two seasons with Southampton in the Premier League he was substituted late in games on multiple occasions as he was tired and couldn’t complete a full 90 minutes. Then under Louis Van Gaal he was criticized for his lack of fitness but won over the Dutchman and put in superb displays early last season before his horror leg break.

There’s no doubting Shaw’s technical ability as one of the best young left backs on the planet but perhaps his attitude and fitness, something Mourinho has always put intense focus on, can be doubted.

Yet, wherever he has gone Mourinho has cast aside big names to try and make a point to the rest of the squad as to the levels expected by him and his coaching staff. And, usually, they’re youngsters he casts aside.

When you look to his rebuild of Chelsea from 2013 to 2015, the likes of Romelu Lukaku, Kevin De Bruyne and Ryan Bertrand were all cast aside and they’ve all gone on to become stars in the Premier League with other clubs and on the international stage with Mourinho looking somewhat of a fool for misjudging them.

However, was Mourinho’s harsh treatment of the aforementioned players — and many more with David Luiz cast aside and Bastian Schweinsteiger the latest example of someone castigated by Mourinho who has since admitted he was wrong — the catalyst for them to grow into elite players?

Who knows. But there is a pattern emerging of these players perhaps wanting to prove Mourinho wrong and this criticism of Shaw suggests the young left back has one more chance to impress his manager.

It would be no surprise if Shaw leaves United this summer and with Liverpool, Manchester City and even Chelsea reportedly on the hunt for a left back they could do a lot worse than put their faith in a player of great talent who is eager to prove Mr. Mourinho wrong.

As has been the case in the past, Mourinho’s wrath may be the making of a talented youngster dipping below his high standards. Yet, Mourinho, once again, may not be the man to directly benefit from his own harsh treatment.

Pochettino: “Challenge is to keep going” ahead of North London Derby

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Mauricio Pochettino was thrilled to see Tottenham Hotspur’s title push continue with a win over in-form Crystal Palace on Wednesday.

Spurs won 1-0 on a beautiful Christian Eriksen goal from distance, moving back to within four points of Premier League leading Chelsea.

[ RECAP: Palace 0-1 Spurs ]

Pochettino’s men didn’t stop fighting for the winner despite relentless fight from the home side, with improving mettle on display this season.

“Unbelievable. Very good performance. I think second half we played much better than in the first half. It was difficult in the first half for us to move the ball and find the space but we changed the shape at half time and it was more fluid, we started to find the space and started to push Palace deeper and deeper.”

After two tough London Derbies — Spurs fell 4-2 to Chelsea in Saturday’s FA Cup semifinal — Tottenham now has the big one: a visit from Arsenal in the North London Derby.

“It was good to get the three points and be alive in the race for the title. The challenge is to keep going. It is always better to win but it is true [the Arsenal game] is a big derby, perhaps the last at White Hart Lane and I think it will be an exciting game.”

We’re ready for it. Spurs will be favored to pick up all three points, but all bets are off when it comes to the NLD. That’s especially true considering the ticking Top Four clock for Arsenal and the title fight for Spurs.

Palace 0-1 Spurs: Eriksen saves the day

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  • Sakho stretchered off
  • Eriksen rescues title hope
  • Spurs four back of Chelsea

Palace made them work for it.

Tottenham Hotspur didn’t exactly sends chills down the spine of Chelsea with its performance, but Spurs found a way past tricky and in-form Crystal Palace on Wednesday at Selhurst Park.

Christian Eriksen‘s pretty goal sealed the three points for Spurs, who have five matches to chase down four points from the Blues.

Palace sits 12th, seven points clear of 18th place Swansea City.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]

Two in-forms started with confidence, Harry Kane lashing wide of the frame for Spurs and Wilfried Zaha driving Palace on the right wing.

Another in-form Eagles attacker, Christian Benteke, did well to create space and hit a low shot that forced Hugo Lloris to ground.

Victor Wanyama was on yellow when he slid to intercept Andros Townsend, taking the Englishman to the turf. Jon Moss gave Wanyama a harsh warning, but did not produce the red card.

[ MORE: Latest Premier League standings ]

[ MORE: Full lineups, stats, box score ]

Moussa Sissoko and Son Heung-min were called upon soon after the break to liven up Spurs attack.

The substitution that stood to shake up the match was Palace center back Mamadou Sakho, who was hurt with about 40 minutes to play.

Eriksen stung a shot across goal for the eventual winner, a rare moment of class from a three-match day that didn’t quite fit the standard of the Premier League.

Arsenal 1-0 Leicester City: Only an own goal

AP Photo/Alastair Grant
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  • Chances at a premium
  • Monreal forces Huth own goal
  • Arsenal moves sixth
  • Foxes six clear of drop

Nacho Monreal‘s desperate shot ricocheted off Robert Huth‘s chest and gave Arsenal a 1-0 win over Leicester City at the Emirates Stadium on Wednesday.

Entertainment value wasn’t high over the course of the match, as Arsenal had trouble piercing Leicester’s congested back four.

Arsenal is now three points back of Manchester United and four behind Man City before Thursday’s Manchester Derby.

Leicester is six points clear of 18th and has played one less game than most of the teams chasing them.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]

Arsenal had most of the ball to start the match, but needed to make the first big stop. Petr Cech kept the match goalless when he flew to stop a left-footed whip from Riyad Mahrez.

At the other end, Mesut Ozil set up Theo Walcott for a chance that prodded a solid save from Kasper Schmeichel.

[ MORE: Latest Premier League standings ]

Wilfried Ndidi was again a monster in the middle third for Leicester, arguably the main reason the Foxes have rebounded from their relegation plight.

Arsenal had a chance pushed away from danger by Robert Huth after Alexis Sanchez misjudged his time on the ball in front of goal in the 56th minute.

Schmeichel then dove to slap away a deflected Francis Coquelin shot.

[ MORE: Full lineups, stats, box score ]

Laurent Koscielny went down in pain after landing awkwardly in the 79th minute, leaving a gap in space that Shinji Okazaki would’ve exploited were it not for a block from Gabriel Paulista.

Leicester’s Yohan Benalouane should’ve seen red with 10 minutes to play following a leaping boot to the back of Olivier Giroud, but only a foul was given.

Ndidi made a sliding intervention on Mesut Ozil in the 85th minute, another terrific bit of work from the Nigerian.

That’s when Huth’s unlucky moment lifted Arsenal to the lead.

Middlesbrough 1-0 Sunderland: Derby honors and a bit of life

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  • Boro’s first PL win since Dec. 17
  • Smoggies move within six of 17th
  • Sunderland on verge of relegation

Marten De Roon snared Middlesbrough new hope at safety and a derby win as Boro scored early to complete a season sweep of Tees-Wear Derby rivals Sunderland on Wednesday.

The 1-0 win means Sunderland is 12 points back of 17th place Hull City with five matches to play. Hull has four matches left.

For Boro, it’s six points back of Hull but a devastating run-in that includes Man City, Chelsea, Southampton, and Liverpool.

The win was USMNT backstop Brad Guzan‘s second of the Premier League season, the first coming in the reverse fixture.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]

De Roon tilted the Tees-Wear Derby to Boro’s side with an opening goal that could signal the end of Sunderland’s slim safety hopes.

Stewart Downing tempted 2-0 with a hard low shot that Jordan Pickford did very well to save with a leg.

Sunderland did find a bit of danger when Didier N’Dong forced Brad Guzan into a save, but Billy Jones nodded over the frame.

[ MORE: Latest Premier League standings ]

[ MORE: Full lineups, stats, box score ]