Harry Winks

Photo by Richard Heathcote/Getty Images

Finally fully fit, Spurs ready for season-defining month

1 Comment

The next six games, spanning exactly four weeks, will go a long, long way toward defining Tottenham Hotspur’s 2017-18 season as either a progressive success, or an untimely failure.

[ MORE: Spurs cruise past fourth-tier Newport, reach FA Cup 5th round ]

This Saturday, it’s Arsenal who’ll visit Wembley Stadium (Watch live, 7:30 a.m. ET, on CNBC and NBCSports.com), followed by the first leg of a Champions League round-of-16 tie with Juventus, followed by an FA Cup fifth-round trip to Rochdale, followed by a pair of banana-skin fixtures in the Premier League (Crystal Palace and Huddersfield Town), and finally the decisive second leg against Juventus.

For all of his side’s recent success, Mauricio Pochettino is yet to guide Tottenham to the club’s first piece of silverware since the 2008 League Cup. While they’re outsiders to triumph in Europe, a trip to the semifinals — or even the quarters — would more than suffice for Spurs fans. The FA Cup, on the other hand, is well within reach, should someone do everyone a favor and knock off Manchester City.

[ MORE: Forecasting the Premier League’s top-four race ]

Following Wednesday’s fourth-round replay victory over Newport County, Pochettino reaffirmed his desire to continue to compete on every front available,  — quotes from the BBC:

“It’s the FA Cup and it’s difficult. But I am happy because we wanted to be in the next round.”

“It is important to keep going and winning games. We are going to be very busy in the Premier League, Champions League and the FA Cup but we want to keep this run.”

[ MORE: PFA urges Mahrez, Leicester to resolve standoff “ASAP” ]

In many ways, Spurs arrived a season (or two) ahead of schedule when they were the nearest challengers to Leicester City and Chelsea in the Premier League title race two years running. The idea, at least one might presume, was that Mauricio Pochettino’s side would continue to rise through the ranks before finally peaking in the first or second season inside the club’s new White Hart Lane stadium (set to open August 2018).

The highlight on Wednesday, however, was undoubtedly the return of star defender Toby Aldeweireld, who missed the last two months with a hamstring injury. To a lesser degree, Danny Rose and Harry Winks (both out since Boxing Day) also made their way back into the starting 11 following injuries of their own. Given it’s already a thin squad, the importance of having everyone available for selection isn’t lost on Pochettino — quotes from Sky Sports:

“It’s important for many players to have the possibility to play. It’s tough to find a place to play because the team is doing well. Today was a great opportunity for different players, like Toby, Danny and Harry Winks, to play games and compete at this level. It’s completely different to training.”

[ MORE: Chelsea’s Courtois talking new deal, but “heart is in Madrid” ]

Successive third- and second-place finishes, coupled with the ease with which they breezed through this season’s Champions League group stage — brushing aside the likes of Real Madrid and Borussia Dortmund — have left Spurs in something of a confusing no man’s land, where simply finishing fourth would represent a literal step back, even if not in terms of perception and expectation.

It’s a testament to the work that Pochettino’s done thus far, as well as a reminder of how far Spurs had, and still have, to go.

PL Preview: Tottenham vs. Everton

Getty Images
Leave a comment
  • Everton has not beaten Tottenham in any competitions since 2008
  • Tottenham are unbeaten in 10 home league matches
  • Everton have scored just one goal in their last four games

An important top-half clash comes your way Saturday as Tottenham hosts Everton at White Hart Lane, live on NBC at 12:30 p.m. ET or live online at NBCSports.com.

Spurs sit fifth in the Premier League table with 41 points, and they are looking in both directions as they chase Liverpool three points above them in a Champions League place and hope to fend off Arsenal two points back in sixth. While the Premier League title is likely wrapped up barring a historic collapse, the Champions League places are very much up for grabs.


Since losing 4-1 to likely champions Manchester City, Spurs have rebounded with three Premier League wins and a draw. Harry Kane is in unstoppable form, with a pair of hat-tricks over the festive period followed by a brace midweek in FA Cup action against AFC Wimbledon. Key to that midweek Cup match was the return of Moussa Dembele, who played a full 90 minutes for the first time since December 16th. Dembele has lost his place in the team due to both fitness concerns and poor form, but the 30-year-old played well against Wimbledon and could potentially see a return to the starting lineup.

On the other side, Everton has seen a brutal dip in form strike the Toffees, with just one Premier League win since December 2nd. A loss to Bournemouth and a draw with West Brom highlight the disappointing results of late, and it appears the honeymoon period with new manager Sam Allardyce is over.

However, they could receive a boost as new signing Cenk Tosun, a 26-year-old Turkish international, could make his first Everton appearance as the Toffees look for help up front. The striker had eight goals in 14 Turkish Super Lig appearances for Besiktas this season before his transfer, and 14 goals in 24 appearances over all competitions. Everton is starved for goalscoring prowess, with just one goal in their last four matches.

INJURIES: Tottenham — OUT: Harry Winks (ankle), Danny Rose (knee), Toby Alderweireld (hamstring). | Everton — OUT: Michael Keane (foot), Idrissa Gueye (hamstring).

What they’re saying

Tottenham manager Mauricio Pochettino on the potential for new signings: “Until today, now, no-one is close to arriving in this transfer window.  Maybe in five minutes something happens. But until now, before the press conference, nothing is close. I’m not concerned, not worried. I think we’re working and of course we’re awake about the market. If something’s available in the terms that we can take, of course we are going to do it.”

Everton manager Sam Allardyce on balancing Everton’s weaknesses: “I think the service provided in the final third is one of our weaknesses and why we’re not scoring enough goals. We don’t have enough natural goalscorers so we have to try and work on that without losing our defensive qualities.”


Cenk Tosun is a quality signing and will help Everton up front, especially against a defensively depleted Spurs, but they won’t be able to contain the home side all game, and this ends up as a 1-1 draw that is disappointing for both sides.

Pochettino: Win at Leicester necessary; Lamela available

AP Photo/Martin Meissner
1 Comment

Tottenham has one win from its last four matches, and Mauricio Pochettino needs to steady the Spurs ship in a hurry.

The London side is coming off a surprising home draw against West Brom, one week after losing the North London Derby. Throw in a narrow win over Crystal Palace that followed a defeat at Old Trafford, and it’s fair to call this a slump.

Good news: A big name is back.

[ MORE: Lukaku dodges ban ]

Erik Lamela hasn’t played for Spurs in over a year, and the Argentine is in contention to make a Tuesday appearance at Leicester City. Danny Rose is an option, though Toby Alderweireld and Victor Wanyama remain out of action. An ill Harry Winks is a question mark.

All of this as Pochettino says their title hopes would take a humongous hit if the poor form stretches into Tuesday.

“Of course, Manchester City have improved a lot from last season. The gap is massive – we will see what happens. We need to believe and try to win games. If we don’t win [against Leicester] – it is difficult to be a contender.”

Spurs won this fixture 6-1 last season, getting four goals from Harry Kane and a pair from Heung-Min Son. The Foxes have lost just once since September ended with a draw at Bournemouth.

Three things we learned from Arsenal v. Tottenham

1 Comment

LONDON — Arsenal blew Tottenham Hotspur away in the 194th North London derby on Saturday with the Gunners riding a furious first half display to grab a deserved 2-0 victory.

Goals from Shkodran Mustafi and Alexis Sanchez did the business for Arsenal who have now won 11-straight games at the Emirates, their best-ever run at the stadium, and have now started the campaign with six wins from six at home for the first time in a decade.

Here’s what we learned from a one-sided NLD.


Arsenal fans had been calling for all three of their top attacking talents to start and Wenger listened. Maybe he should listen to them more often…

From the start Arsenal looked the more adventurous, dangerous and incisive and both Alexandre Lacazette‘s runs in-behind opened up space for Mesut Ozil and Alexis Sanchez to have space in front of Tottenham’s back three. After causing Manchester City problems before the break when Lacazette, Sanchez and Ozil were on the pitch, Wenger got the message loud and clear.

Arsenal went for it and they were rewarded.

The Gunners’ rampant start was in danger of being in vein but Skhodran Mustafi’s wonderful header, from an Ozil free kick, gave Arsenal the lead their positive start deserved and Sanchez’s clever finish from Lacazette’s pull back gave the scoreline the look it deserved at half time.

In the second half Tottenham had more of the ball and Wenger responded by pulling off Lacazette with 20 minutes to go and bringing on Francis Coquelin. That decision was booed but Wenger couldn’t help but try and edge his side over the line.

This was Arsenal’s first derby victory in seven PL outings against Spurs and amid talk of power shifting in North London to Tottenham following their finish above Arsenal in the PL table last season, the first time in 20 years, a positive display from the start put Tottenham back in their place.

Wenger was able to put out his first choice starting lineup for one of the first times this season and it showed that 1-11, this Arsenal team is at least capable of reclaiming a place in the top four. Maybe that will then convince Ozil and Sanchez to sign new deal and end their contract sagas.

Regardless of that, the search for consistency, especially away from home, is now the key. Going all-out attack is Arsenal’s best chance of any success this season.


Granit Xhaka is much-maligned but in the first half especially he and Aaron Ramsey disrupted Tottenham’s flow and knocked Spurs out of their stride.

Time and again they dispossessed Mousa Dembele and Moussa Sissoko in central midfield for Spurs, with Tottenham’s back three on the back foot and unable to deal with the runs of Lacazette, Sanchez and Ozil with Hector Bellerin and Ramsey pouring forward whenever they could.

In the second half Spurs had more of the ball and pushed Arsenal back but the damage was done. Harry Winks came on for the disappointing Dembele to try and wrestle the tempo of the game back but it was all too little, too late.

Xhaka and Ramsey worked as a perfect pivot in the first half to give Arsenal the platform for victory.


Hugo Lloris, Harry Kane and Dele Alli had recovered from injury in time for the North London derby. It showed.

All three looked sluggish with Lloris already in the back of the net by the time Sanchez could smash home Arsenal’s second, Dele spending must of his time on the floor looking for free kicks and Kane (who had his right thigh heavily bandaged) well off the pace as he dragged efforts wide, was booked for a late challenge on Granit Xhaka and had an off day at the worst possible time.

Both Dele and Kane were hauled off 15 minutes from time looking jaded and frustrated. The gamble to rush them back to full fitness didn’t pay off.

Mauricio Pochettino had a face like thunder for much of the game with the Spurs boss patrolling the edge of his technical area with venomous steps.

Spurs have now lost against Manchester United, Chelsea and Arsenal so far this season. They only lost four games the whole of the 2017-18 campaign.

It’s still too early to say Tottenham’s title hopes were all but ended with this defeat at their bitter rivals, but they could well be 11 points behind leaders Manchester City by the time Saturday is over. That is a huge deficit to recover and their displays against the top teams so far this season have been full of trepidation and mistakes.

You can certainly understand the move to rush Kane and Dele back but it may not have been Pochettino’s best decision.

Premier League preview: Arsenal vs. Tottenham Hotspur

Photo by Clive Rose/Getty Images
  • 194th edition of the north London derby
  • Spurs unbeaten in 6 vs. Arsenal: D-W-D-D-D-W
  • Spurs 3rd in the PL; Arsenal 6th

Has the balance of power shifted in north London? The 2016-17 season was the first in 22 years to see Tottenham Hotspur finish above Arsenal. While it’s clearly just one out of 23 seasons to finish with Tottenham on top, their respective trajectories have been moving in opposite directions considerably longer.

The latest installment of one of the Premier League’s fiercest, and suddenly most consequential, rivalries kicks off a full weekend of action on Saturday (Watch live, 7:30 a.m. ET, on NBCSN and NBCSports.com), following the final international break of 2017.


Given Manchester City’s blistering start, the current season already seems a serious long shot that either side will mount a serious title challenge — Spurs currently sit third (eight points back of Man City) ahead of their trip to the Emirates Stadium, home of the sixth-place Gunners (12 back). The Emirates has been a tough place for Spurs to pull off the upset, having failed to win their last six times away to Arsenal, though draws in three straight will certainly have Mauricio Pochettino‘s side believing they’re now equals — if not superiors — and the time is now.

The international break couldn’t have come at a better time for either side: Arsenal, having been thoroughly beaten by City their last time out; Spurs, having suffered a handful of short- and medium-term injuries to a number of key figures — Harry Kane, Dele Alli and Harry Winks all skipped England duty to achieve full fitness ahead of Saturday, while Toby Aldeweireld is out an additional month and Hugo Lloris could miss another week.

As for the managers, Pochettino has been extremely complimentary of Wenger — as he’s always done since arriving at Spurs in the summer of 2014 — while his counterpart isn’t at all ready to concede Arsenal’s place at the north London summit.

What they’re saying

Arsene Wenger, on the rivalry: “Today, people always take one situation and it is permanent. The judgement is definite, permanent and forever. … It is down to us to change the opinions of people with our performances, I cannot say much more. If they have a perception like that they have a perception like that but how can you respond? Not by me talking here, we need to show on Saturday that it’s not true.”

Mauricio Pochettino, on Wenger: “In football history he is one of the great managers, the same level as Sir Alex Ferguson. He will always be a special manager. … To keep motivation more than three years is difficult. Five years, you must be very good, very good if you are 10 years. When you talk about 20 years it is amazing. Everyone who talks about him needs to show respect. … Arsene Wenger is my enemy because he is Arsenal manager but he is my colleague too. What he is doing at Arsenal and as a manager – I would like to be like him one day, 20 years at Tottenham.”

INJURIES: Arsenal — OUT: Olivier Giroud (thigh), Rob Holding (thigh), Santi Cazorla (achilles); QUESTIONABLE: Danny Welbeck (hamstring), Shkodran Mustafi (thigh) | Tottenham — OUT: Toby Aldeweireld (hamstring), Victor Wanyama (knee), Erik Lamela (hip); QUESTIONABLE: Hugo Lloris (groin); RETURNING: Dele Alli (hamstring), Harry Winks (ankle)


A draw featuring (multiple) goals for both sides seems completely inevitable and unavoidable. Spurs have closed the gap to the point they’ll actually expect to win at the Emirates, but the quality of Arsenal’s squad, coupled with their desperation to challenge for a top-four place, is more than enough to put the two sides back on level footing and result in a thrilling, end-to-end deadlock which leaves neither side particularly pleased in the end.