Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images

WATCH LIVE: Manchester City vs. Tottenham Hotspur

Leave a comment

Manchester City aims to extend its record Premier League win streak to 16 matches when it hosts Tottenham Hotspur on Saturday (Watch live at 12:30 p.m. ET on NBC and online via NBCSports.com).


There will be no David Silva for Man City, with Pep Guardiola inserting Ilkay Gundogan into the starting lineup. Eliaquim Mangala will start next to Nicolas Otamendi at center back.

Spurs have Erik Lamela, Fernando Llorente, and Serge Aurier on the bench.


Manchester City: Ederson, Walker, Otamendi, Mangala, Delph, Fernandinho (c), Gundogan, De Bruyne, Sane, Sterling, Aguero. Subs: Bravo, Yaya Toure, Foden, Gabriel Jesus, Bernardo, Zinchenko, Danilo.

Tottenham Hotspur: Lloris (C), Trippier, Dier, Vertonghen, Rose, Dembele, Winks, Eriksen, Dele, Son, Kane. Subs: Vorm, Aurier, Davies, Foyth, Sissoko, Lamela, Llorente.

UCL wrap: Final 16 set after goal-heavy day

AP Photo/Frank Augstein
Leave a comment

Porto, Shakhtar Donetsk, Liverpool, and Sevilla have completed the field for the UEFA Champions League’s Round of 16.

The Premier League’s Reds did it in smashing fashion, clobbering Spartak Moscow 7-0 at Anfield, while Porto scored five to clinch their spot.

Liverpool joins Tottenham, Man City, Chelsea, and Manchester United in a historic accomplishment, as the Premier League becomes the first division to put five teams in a UCL knockout round.

[ MORE: Champions League standings

Here’s the field for the knockout rounds:

AS Roma
Bayern Munich
Manchester City
Manchester United
Paris Saint-Germain
Real Madrid
Shakhtar Donetsk
Tottenham Hotspur

And here are the eight Wednesday finales:

Tottenham Hotspur 3-0 APOEL Nicosia

Spurs completed their Group of Death dominance with a goal and an assist from Fernando Llorente and markers from Heung-Min Son and Georges Nkoudou.

Liverpool 7-0 Spartak MoscowRECAP

Three goals from Philippe Coutinho led the way, as Sadio Mane also scored twice for the Reds in the rout. Rounding out the scoring were Mohamed Salah and Roberto Firmino.

Shakhtar Donetsk 2-1 Manchester CityRECAP

City went with a second-choice side, and was down 2-0 after little more than a half hour against a hungry Shakhtar side. Sergio Aguero’s penalty in stoppage time was not enough to extend Man City’s unbeaten run to 23 matches in all competitions.


Porto 5-2 Monaco
Feyenoord 2-1 Napoli
Maribor 1-1 Sevilla
Real Madrid 3-2 Borussia Dortmund
RB Leipzig 1-2 Besiktas

UCL AT HALF: More Ronaldo history, Liverpool rolling (video)

AP Photo/Paul White
Leave a comment

As it stands, Liverpool, Sevilla, Shakhtar Donetsk, and Porto will claim the final four places in the UEFA Champions League knockout rounds.

[ MORE: Dele’s new agent ]

Two teams, Liverpool and Porto, are doing so in style.

Tottenham Hotspur 2-0 APOEL Nicosia

Fernando Llorente has Spurs’ opener and set up Heung-Min Son for Tottenham’s second before the break as a mostly second-choice side is carrying play at Wembley Stadium.

RB Leipzig 0-1 Besiktas

An Alvaro Negredo penalty kick has the group winners leading on the road.

Liverpool 3-0 Spartak Moscow

Philippe Coutinho has two, including the cherry on top of this nice team goal, and Roberto Firmino also player a part in the Reds scoring thrice in the first 19 minutes.

Porto 3-0 Monaco

Porto is down a man but up three goals. Vincent Aboubakar has bested his UEFA Champions League single season record with his fourth and fifth goals of the group stage. Yacine Brahimi has the other goal.

Shakhtar Donetsk 2-0 Manchester City

Tosin Adarabioyo and Phil Foden are part of a young City back four, and the Premier League leaders’ unbeaten run in all competitions is in danger thanks to Bernard’s 26th minute arrow from the left and an Ismaily goal six minutes later.

Feyenoord 1-1 Napoli

They’ve traded goals at De Kuip, with Napoli opening the scoring in the second minute.

Maribor 1-0 Sevilla

Brazilian attacker Marcos Tavares has the Slovenian hosts on top.

Real Madrid 2-1 Borussia Dortmund

Borja Mayoral opened the scoring, then Cristiano Ronaldo made his next bit of history to make it 2-0 in the 12th minute. Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang pulled one back late.

Chelsea 1-1 Atleti: Blues finish runners’ up in Group C

Clive Rose/Getty Images
Leave a comment

Chelsea guided itself into the UEFA Champions League knockout phase on Tuesday after picking up a 1-1 draw against Atletico Madrid at Stamford Bridge.

[ MORE: Russia FA Chief Mutko receives life ban from IOC ]

The result sees Antonio Conte‘s group finish atop Group C, while Atleti bail out of the competition after finishing the group stage with seven points.

The Blues’ pressure proved to be too much for Atleti to handle though, with the London side breaking through in the 74th minute via an own goal by Stefan Savic.

It was Eden Hazard‘s darting run into the Atleti penalty area and left-footed blast that put Savic in an inopportune position, before he guided the ball into his own net.

Atletico needed a victory to push its way through to the last 16, however, the draw sees the Spanish side into the UEFA Europa League knockout phase.

Diego Simeone’s nabbed a goal in the 56th minute after Fernando Torres‘ headed flick gave Saul a wide open look at the net.

Antoine Griezmann had nearly opened the scoring for Atletico just moments in the second stanza, when the French international tested Thibaut Courtois from a free kick.

Atleti keeper Jan Oblak was surely counting his blessings throughout the first half, as Alvaro Morata and Co. gave the Spanish back line fits in the attacking third.

Oblak made a brilliant lunging stop to prevent Davide Zappacosta from finding the bottom corner in the 37th minute, after Cesc Fabregas set up the sequence for Chelsea.

The Blues had their first big chance in the 17th minute, when Morata cleverly spun at the top of the box before unleashing a curling effort that narrowly missed the right corner.

Pochettino says fatigue, not his new book, causing Spurs’ slump

AP Photo/Martin Meissner
Leave a comment

Tottenham Hotspur have lost their last three Premier League games away from home and won just one of their last five games in the league, thus Mauricio Pochettino has come under a bit of (justifiable) scrutiny.

[ MORE: Premier League TV, streaming schedule ]

Pochettino, who guided Tottenham to third- and second-place finishes in the last two PL season, respectively, has seen his side slip from third to seventh in the league table in four weeks’ time. Spurs are currently one point behind Burnley.

Naturally, the inquest has begun, and one of the more interesting theories used to explain Spurs’ recent struggles is as follows: relationships between Pochettino and his players have been strained ahead of the release of “Brave New World,” a book written by Guillem Balague, who shadowed Pochettino for the entirety of the 2016-17 season. The first excerpts were released in mid-October. Pochettino insists the book has no bearing on his squad — quotes from the AP:

“I think my relationship with them is so strong and to find excuses about the book is wrong. It’s a great opportunity to get a better idea that it’s not only about playing football.

“When you are clear with everyone, the problem doesn’t exist. The problem is when you lie, no?”

As for the real reason his side slipped into a mid-season coma, Pochettino says it’s more to do with fatigue than a perceived sense of broken trust:

“A player like Christian Eriksen maybe can be a little bit tired, but mental more than physical, because in the last international duty he played two amazing games to try to qualify for the World Cup, and he cannot rest, he cannot stop.

“Maybe him and Eric Dier, that is playing a lot. Maybe Davinson Sanchez. It’s the same group, the players that travel a lot and were involved in nearly all the games. Maybe they can feel a little bit tired about competing.”

That’s all extremely well and reasonable — not to mention, a far more logical explanation than the book theory. That said, let’s take a moment to consider why players like Eriksen, Dier and Sanchez — as well as others, like Harry Kane and Dele Alli — might be “a little tired,” whether it be mental or physical exhaustion, with only a little more than one-third of the season complete.

[ MORE: Prince-Wright’s picks — Spurs to bounce back vs. Watford? ]

By mid-July and early August, it had become crystal clear that the likes of Manchester City ($293 million), Chelsea ($273 million) and Manchester United ($228 million) were going to spend until they had elevated their respective squads to title-contending quality. Spurs, on the other hand, waited until Aug. 23 — 12 days after the start of the PL season — to announce their first signing, Sanchez. No additional transfer business (of real consequence) was done until Aug. 31, deadline day, when Serge Aurier and 32-year-old Fernando Llorente arrived.

If Pochettino, Daniel Levy and Co. think Spurs can continue punching above the squad’s monetary weight and contend year after year for the PL title without a serious financial push to acquire players on par with those being signed by fellow top-six sides, they are sorely mistaken. Clearly the new stadium will be a financial burden for an unknown period of time, as was the case for Arsenal until recently, so Spurs fans might just have to make themselves comfortable with once again being the fifth- or sixth-best team in England with a chance to crack the top-four in especially strange seasons.

[ MORE: West Brom hire Pardew | Allardyce takes charge at Everton ]

That’s without considering the futures of Kane, Alli, Eriksen and Dier — all of whom will attract serious interest from other clubs this summer, should Spurs not get into the Champions League, and every ensuing summer — as well as Toby Aldeweireld (28 years old), Jan Vertonghen (30), Mousa Dembele (30) and Danny Rose (27) — all of whom will soon be on the wrong side of the primes of their respective careers.

Early-season injuries to Rose, Dembele and Victor Wanyama, and now Aldeweireld, have left Spurs without a great deal of room for rotation. Pochettino might appear to have worked miracles in recent seasons, but he’s finding life a bit more difficult now that two years of good injury fortune has quickly turned against him.