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Premier League 2017-18 preview – Tottenham Hotspur

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Heading into 2017/18, Tottenham actually enters the Premier League season as a bit of an underdog after opting to go quietly into the summer without hitting the transfer market hard.

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While the likes of Chelsea, Manchester City and others went after several of the game’s biggest names and talents, Spurs continued to build its team with youth, and now it’s time to see if Mauricio Pochettino‘s choices have paid off as Tottenham seeks out a PL title.

Best, worst case scenarios – Best-case scenario is quite simple for Spurs… win the Premier League. There were moments last season that showed this team is quite capable of doing so, and the club’s run to end the year was nothing short of spectacular had it not been for a Chelsea side that proved to be a little too much. The talent is there in the squad, and Pochettino is a more-than-capable manager. The task is simply putting it all together.

However, things could come back and haunt Pochettino, such as the club’s lack of spending this summer. Alvaro Morata, Romelu Lukaku and Alexandre Lacazette are just a few of the PL’s top signings of summer, but all have one thing in common; they didn’t land at Spurs. At worst, Tottenham is a top-five or six team, but they’d certainly be disappointed to take a step back after their success in 2016/17.


Best possible XI is…

Lloris

Trippier— Vertonghen — Alderweireld — Rose

Dier — Wanyama

Lamela — Alli — Eriksen

Kane


[ MORE: 2017-18 PL season preview hub ] 

Transfers In: N/A

Transfers Out: Kyle Walker (Manchester City, $58 million), Federico Fazio (Roma, Undisclosed)

Last season:

— 2nd place in Premier League
— Eliminated in Champions League group stage
— Eliminated in Europa League Round of 32
— League Cup 4th Round (lost to Liverpool)
— FA Cup semifinals (lost to Chelsea)

Star player: Harry Kane — There’s really not much the England international can’t do, and Spurs will be relying on him once again this season to be one of the Premier League’s most-dangerous goalscorers. Kane has amassed the 30-goal mark in two of the last three PL campaigns for Spurs, with his 2015/16 total falling just short at 28. There’s no question who this team looks to when they need a goal, and it’s number 10.

Coaches’ Corner: Mauricio Pochettino — Since 2009/10, the worst Tottenham has finished in the PL is sixth. Barring something completely unforeseen, it’s hard to imagine Spurs falling out of that range this season. The Argentine manager has done everything right since arriving at the club in 2014. He’s brought a clear philosophy about raising youth and relying less on spending big in the transfer market to satisfy club needs, and guess what? It’s working.

PST predicts: Say what you will about Tottenham’s transfer market philosophy, but this team is still quite good when looking at past performance and the way the current roster is structured. Could a move or two in January help? Sure. However, there’s no reason Spurs cannot finish top four once again in 2017/18 and contend for the Premier League crown.

West Ham to friendly neighbors Dag & Red: “Will help save our club”

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English Conference Premier side Dagenham and Redbridge has seen better days, and is getting a hand from a Premier League pal.

[ WATCH: Fred’s vicious free kick ]

West Ham United will pay a visit to Dag & Red as part of the latter’s #SaveTheDaggers campaign, and the March 21 date will cost fans between $7 and $21 to see a top flight side at 6,000-seat Victoria Road.

Dagenham and Redbridge chairman Paul Gwinn said, “It really will help save our club.”

“So please come on down to the Chigwell Construction Stadium for an additional night of football. Bring a friend, or two, or more and we can use the gate takings to help get us back on track,” reads a press release.

Dag & Red was founded in 1992 and climbed as high as League One in 2011, and plays just 2.5 miles from West Ham United’s training ground. Newcastle’s Matt Ritchie and Dwight Gayle are among Dag & Red alums in the Premier League.

It’s a terrific gesture from West Ham, and is even more impressive in the United States where the growing club game is increasingly cutthroat (especially between non-synced leagues).

Angry Di Francesco extremely quotable after Roma loss

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AS Roma manager Eusebio Di Francesco absolutely roasted his charges after i Lupi tossed aside a Cenzig Under-inspired lead to fall 2-1 at Shakhtar Donetsk in the first leg of their UEFA Champions League Round of 16 tie on Wednesday.

Di Francesco had praise for Edin Dzeko, who assisted Under’s goal, as well as goalkeeper Alisson, but was mostly enraged by his side.

[ MORE: Recap + Fred’s vicious free kick ]

Rather than construct a narrative, we’re going to point out our five favorite selections from Di Francesco’s post-match talk.

4) “The difference was that in the first half we tried to hurt them while in the second we were looking to hold on – to what? I don’t know.”

— “To what? I don’t know” is hilarious. Di Francesco’s side has posted some serious wins this season, including killing off Chelsea 3-0 at home and coming back from 2-0 to draw the Blues at Stamford Bridge. He doesn’t preach sitting back.

3) “There were far too many schoolboy errors – even by players with a wealth of international experience.”

— Schoolboy errors!

2) “I saw two completely different teams out there today. There were lots of players I should have taken off after we conceded the first goal.”

— Again, one mistake by a number of players on Facundo Ferreyra is enough for Di Francesco. He’s not just happy to be here.

1) “I can’t imagine we’d get arrogant just because we’re winning an important game. It’s not as if Roma are used to reaching the final every year.”

— When you’re willing to essentially rip an entire club’s history — Roma’s been to just two UCL quarterfinals since losing the final to Liverpool in 1984 — you’re putting your footprints in new cement.

Europa League preview: Rating every second leg

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Christian Pulisic and Borussia Dortmund are one of many teams with their UEFA Europa League fates realistically in the balance come Thursday’s second legs of the Round of 32.

[ MORE: Sevilla 0-1 Man Utd | Mourinho reacts ]

Aside from a sextet of big teams posting blowouts, there’s still hope for the Round of 16 and a step closer to an automatic berth in the 2018-19 UEFA Champions League.

Basically done

Atletico Madrid 4-1 Copenhagen — 1 p.m. ET
Sporting Lisbon 3-1 Astana — 1 p.m. ET
Arsenal 3-0 Ostersund — 3:05 p.m. ET
Milan 3-0 Ludogorets Razgrad — 3:05 p.m. ET
Athletic Bilbao 3-1 Spartak Moscow — 3:05 p.m. ET
Braga 0-3 Marseille — 3:05 p.m. ET

In four of these cases, the heavy favorites emerged with multiple goal leads and at least three away goals.

Actually done

CSKA Moscow beat Red Star Belgrade 1-0 on Wednesday to win 1-0 on aggregate.

Unlikely, but big club lurks

RB Leipzig 3-1 Napoli — 1 p.m. ET
Villarreal 1-3 Lyon — 1 p.m. ET

In the case of Napoli, their 3-1 home loss to Leipzig was stunning but it’s impossible to rule out a club with such firepower. Villarreal trails by two to Lyon, but is home and dangerous.

Advantage one side, but anyone’s guess

Lokomotiv Moscow 3-2 Nice — 11 a.m. ET
Lazio 0-1 FCSB — 1 p.m. ET
Zenit Saint-Petersburg 0-1 Celtic — 1 p.m. ET
Red Bull Salzburg 2-2 Real Sociedad — 3:05 p.m. ET
Atalanta 2-3 Borussia Dortmund — 3:05 p.m. ET

Salzburg’s two away goals in a draw feels like a one-goal lead, and the one-goal matches are especially interesting. In the case of Atalanta, 1-0 to the Serie A side could undo Michy Batshuayi‘s first leg heroics for BVB.

Wide open

Plzen 1-1 Partizan Belgrade — 1 p.m. ET
Dynamo Kyiv 1-1 AEK Athens — 1 p.m. ET

Yes, nil-nil will get it done for the hosts, but there wasn’t a 0-0 in the entire group of first legs.

De Gea remarks on that save after Man Utd draws Sevilla

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It was probably the save of the UEFA Champions League’s Round of 16’s first legs, as David De Gea slapped away Luis Muriel’s bid to give Sevilla a halftime lead over Manchester United on Wednesday in Spain.

[ MORE: Recap | Mourinho reacts ]

Playing in his home country, De Gea had a massive outing in the scoreless draw.

The defiance of Muriel was De Gea’s second big save of the first half’s closing moments, and one of eight in the match.

“It was a good moment, a good save of course, especially because of the moment in the game. It was the last minute of the first half, it was important to not concede a goal. We defended well. They had control of the game, but it remains open.”

Watch the save below, and then catch De Gea against Chelsea on Sunday as two of the Premier League’s biggest clubs duke it out for Top Four positioning at Old Trafford (Watch live Sunday at 9:05 a.m. ET online via NBCSports.com).