Heung-Min Son

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Justin Kluivert reveals the PL clubs he’d like to join

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Okay, this is a bit different, but I applaud thinking outside the box.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights

It’s not often a player comes out and names the teams he would like to join in the Premier League, but Ajax’s teenage sensation Justin Kluivert has done just that.

Kluivert, 18, is having a fine season for the Dutch giants as he follows in the footsteps of his legendary favor, Patrick. The Dutch U-21 international has scored six goals and registered four assists in 16 starts in the Eredivisie this season from the left wing, his first full campaign with the Amsterdam club.

His contract runs out in 2019 but he is said to be in talks over a new deal and is quite happy to stay at Ajax, for now…

Speaking to Dutch outlet Helden, Kluivert revealed he would be open to any of these four Premier League clubs in the future.

“England appeals to me: Arsenal, Tottenham, Chelsea or Manchester United are nice clubs where I can see myself playing in a few years,” Kluivert said. “If you get a nice offer, you never know.”

Well played, young Justin.

This is one of the least subtle “I’m happy with where I am right now… but you never know” statements in soccer history.

Kluivert is obviously an incredibly talented forward and the fact that he’s been in and around Ajax’s first team over the past 12-18 months says it all. He’s come through the ranks at the one of the most demanding youth academies on the planet and his pedigree is undoubted given his father was one of the finest forwards Ajax and the Netherlands ever produced.

Which would suit Kluivert best?

You’d have to say Tottenham. Mauricio Pochettino‘s record with youngsters says it all and he’d like get game time right away if he joined within the next two years as Erik Lamela, Heung-Min Son and others have blown hot and cold out wide over the past few years. Look at what Pochettino has done for Harry Kane and Dele Alli, while fellow Ajax products Christian Eriksen and Jan Vertonghen have flourished under him at Spurs.

Much has been made of Jose Mourinho chatting with Kluivert Jnr. on the pitch after Manchester United’s Europa League final victory against Ajax last season, but would moving to Old Trafford to compete with Anthony Martial, Romelu Lukaku, Alexis Sanchez and Marcus Rashford for playing time be a smart move? Nope.

Arsenal would be a better option than Chelsea for Kluivert, as the latter stockpile young talent and barely use them before loaning them out and then hopefully making a profit on the deal, while the Gunners have at least got a history of giving youngsters a chance.

But if I was Justin Kluivert I’d go to Spurs.

Could Loris Karius really be the answer for Liverpool’s goalkeeping woes?

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The general consensus has been that while Liverpool continues to improve, the goalkeeping situation at the club has become untenable, and that the Reds will need to move on from Simon Mignolet in the summer.

With names like Atletico Madrid’s Jan Oblak, PSG’s Kevin Trapp, Stoke City’s Jack Butland, and Samir Handanovic all thrown around, the seat between the sticks at Anfield has been heating up.

Loris Karius has other ideas.

[ MORE: Chelsea puts West Brom to bed 3-0 ]

Signed for just $8 million in the summer of 2016, the 24-year-old German was thought of largely as a backup to Mignolet, and it’s been that way until just a few weeks ago. Having snatched the starting job from his Belgian counterpart after solid performances against Leicester City and Manchester City, Karius suddenly has a chance to not just lead Liverpool down the stretch run of a promising season, but potentially save the club millions of dollars this summer.

But could Karius really be the long-term option for Liverpool in goal? The sample size is small, but he’s showing promise the last few weeks.

The 2-0 win over Southampton was one of his best performances in a Liverpool shirt.

His recognition to notice danger before the chance was truly created allowed him to charge strongly off his line and stop a shot by Pierre-Emile Hojberg. He initially came to collect a cross by Dusan Tadic, but once it was clear he wouldn’t reach it, instead of finding himself caught in no-man’s land, he again recognized a play before it happened and back-tracked in time to acrobatically stop James Ward-Prowse‘s header.

And finally, Karius is even involved in the build-up to Liverpool’s first goal, correctly finding Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain in acres of space on the counter.

Against Tottenham, Karius came off his line to smother a big chance from Heung-Min Son with the Liverpool defense out of sorts, charging down the striker while stopping himself just short as to not concede a penalty. Karius’s ability to come off his line with precision will make Liverpool fans beam with glee, as Mignolet struggled mightily with that aspect of his game.

Karius has been a significant improvement over Simon Mignolet in general this season, with a significant advantage in his WhoScored rating (6.72 for Karius vs. 6.49 for Mignolet in Premier League play), while he also owns a far superior Squawka.com rating for the season (101.89 for Karius vs. 29.07 for Mignolet) thanks in large part to a better saves per goal tally (1.43 for Karius, 1.21 for Mignolet). He’s also not made a defensive error yet this season, according to Squawka, while Mignolet wrapped up three. The distribution numbers still favors Mignolet, but Karius has been able to have an effect up front in that department despite not having the consistency.

However, not all is where it needs to be. Against Manchester City, for example, Leroy Sane beat Karius at his near post from a tight angle with a shot a top goalkeeper should be saving.

Against Spurs, Karius did concede a penalty for coming out of net and fouling Harry Kane, but it was hard to blame the keeper after a laughable mis-kick from Dejan Lovren left him completely exposed and with few options.

The German will get plenty of chances to prove his worth, as Jurgen Klopp said he will likely stick with Karius in goal for Champions League play as well, giving him ample time to both impress and improve, or prove it’s all a fad.

Is Karius suddenly a hidden gem in the process of revealing itself to the Premier League and the world? Or is this a flash in the pan? If his form continues, will it be enough to allow Liverpool to focus its resources elsewhere this summer, or will they still feel compelled to reach into the coffers to improve at the position? It all remains to be seen, but the last few weeks have complicated the situation, if nothing else.

Pochettino, Guardiola preview key UCL clashes

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Tottenham and Manchester City begin their UEFA Champions League knockout rounds on Tuesday, with Spurs heading to Juventus and Man City at Basel.

[ MORE: JPW’s UCL last 16 predictions ]

Both Mauricio Pochettino and Pep Guardiola have been speaking about the importance of getting their UCL knockout stages off to the perfect start.

Speaking in Turin ahead of Spurs’ clash with Italian champions and last seasons’ runners up Juve, Pochettino revealed that his side will go all out for victory in the first leg in Italy.

“We are going to be brave, we are going to try to win,” Pochettino said. “We need to play with freedom and clear ideas. It’s a game we must enjoy.”

With Spurs top of the form table in the Premier League over the past six games, Harry Kane in superb goalscoring form and the likes of Dele Alli, Heung-Min Son and Christian Eriksen back to their best, it’s no wonder that Pochettino is feeling confident.

Most Spurs fans would take a draw or even a one-goal loss away at Juve in the first leg but given that this is an ageing Juventus side, it seems like a winnable tie for Tottenham.

In team news Toby Alderweireld was left at home by Pochettino as the Belgian continues to recover from a long-term hamstring injury. The Belgian defender was fit enough to start last week in the FA Cup replay win against Newport County, and declared himself fit to play against Arsenal in the north London, but Pochettino left him out of the win against the Gunners and explained why.

“He is 28 and it was a massive injury that we need to care about, because we could not put at risk his career,” Pochettino said. “We designed a plan to try to provide him with the best tools to recover as soon as possible and be stronger than before. In that period that he started to work with the team, under our judgement, he needs to build his fitness slowly. He needs to work hard. To play this type of game (against Juventus) you need to be 200 per cent.

“It’s not the same as training to compete, and that’s why we are caring about him with our plan, to try for him in to be at a high level of condition again, (and) can be competing for one place in the starting eleven. That is always what we try to do with different players. Of course we are sorry for him because when you miss some games like Arsenal or the Champions League, and we work a lot to play this type of game, I can understand that (he is frustrated). We are frustrated too because, when you cannot play, it is difficult to accept.”


As for Guardiola and Man City, their focus is not only on getting by Swiss champs Basel but being crowned European champs.

The Premier League’s runaway leaders are the bookies favorites to win the UCL, but Guardiola is understandably cautious as they head into the latter stages of a tournament they’ve slipped up in many times before.

“I don’t know,” Guardiola said when asked if they will win the Champions League. “Our target is to do better than last season. The teams are so clinical and we have to be. Basel have shown good performances in the group stage. They are good opponents. We will have difficulties here.”

Skipper Vincent Kompany, who reached the UEFA Champions League semifinals with City in 2015-16 under Manuel Pellegrini, believes that City now feel as if they belong among Europe’s elite.

“If there is a year, a moment when the club is ready to feel at home, then it’s now,” Kompany said.

City have Leroy Sane back in their squad after he made a quick recovery from the horror tackle he suffered at Cardiff City in the FA Cup last month, but Gabriel Jesus and Benjamin Mendy remain out injured and David Silva could be a doubt.

Kane leads Spurs to North London Derby win

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  • Tottenham goes third before Liverpool, Chelsea play
  • Spurs dominate with 18-5 shot attempts
  • Kane posts 7th goal in as many NLDs
  • Arsenal six points back of Top Four

Harry Kane‘s second half goal seized North London Derby glory for dominant-if-wasteful Tottenham Hotspur at Wembley Stadium on Saturday.

The 1-0 win pushes Spurs third for the time being, while Arsenal will finish the weekend at least six points back of fourth place.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]

While the goalkeepers weren’t physically tested in the first 15 minutes, both Hugo Lloris and Petr Cech had to be razor-sharp as Spurs and Arsenal each pushed the pace in attack.

The first save, from Cech on Heung-Min Son, may have been going wide in the 18th minute.

Harry Kane pushed a chance over the bar as the match neared the half-hour mark, and Eric Dier missed a more egregious redirection from the edge of the six-yard box following a mishit Mousa Dembele attempt from the edge of the 18.

[ MORE: Latest Premier League standings ]

[ MORE: Full lineups, stats, box score ]

Ben Davies and Kane combined for a powerful opener, with the left-sided man sending an inviting cross and Kane rising above Laurent Koscielny to pound a header home. Arsenal wanted a foul on Kane, whose hands caught Koscielny after his leap, but it’s difficult to agree with the visitors.

Spurs won a dangerous free kick when Hector Bellerin dove into Son’s legs two yards outside the 18. Christian Eriksen presided over the opportunity, but Cech made an outstanding punch save on an upper 90-heading effort.

He’d have another chance in the 62nd minute, but his waist-high driven cross didn’t make it into the mixer, going out for a corner.

Spurs had more chances to score, but Son shanked a 17-yard shot into the atmosphere before Dele tried to get too cute with a flick that went wide of goal.

Cech then denied a free-dribbling Erik Lamela. Would Spurs rue their misses? Cech denied Kane again in the 76th minute.

Lamela dragged a languid chance wide of the far post in the 90th minute.

Alexandre Lacazette butchered an opportunity to level the score at the outset of stoppage time, and then dragged a shot past Lloris but wide of the far post two minutes later.

Dembele fouled Welbeck in a dangerous position at the very end of stoppage time. Mesut Ozil lorded over the chance, but the wall did its job.

Liverpool-Spurs draw ends in… (We need a bigger word than controversy)

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  • Salah scores very early
  • Wanyama levels with outrageous hit
  • Kane misses questionably-awarded PK
  • Salah dribble wizardry gives LFC lead
  • Kane makes questionably-awarded PK for 100th PL goal

Harry Kane scored a stoppage time penalty after Mohamed Salah gave Liverpool a stoppage time lead as Tottenham Hotspur twice came back in a 2-2 Sunday draw at Anfield which handles the terms controversial and thrilling with kids gloves.

[ MORE: Klopp’s furious reaction ]

Kane had an early penalty saved by Loris Karius, and both opportunities were both delayed as referee Jon Moss and his linesman debated the awards.

Victor Wanyama‘s 80th minute hammer made it 1-1 after Salah scored off an Eric Dier giveaway in the first three minutes.

Liverpool moves third with the point, two points ahead of fifth place Spurs.

Kane’s goal was his 100th in the Premier League.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]

A horrible giveaway from Eric Dier resembled a perfect through ball for Salah. At this point, a giveaway to anyone else shy of Lionel Messi would feel better, and Salah curled around Hugo Lloris to make it 1-0 in the third minute.

Spurs seemed shaky until the quarter-hour mark, and Virgil Van Dijk made a nice block on Heung-Min Son to keep it 1-0.

James Milner hit a gorgeous shot across goal that was only just deflected by a sliding Davinson Sanchez.

Loris Karius made a nice stop on Mousa Dembele before half, and would neat to repeat the feat on Son after the break.

[ MORE: Latest Premier League standings ]

[ MORE: Full lineups, stats, box score ]

Christian Eriksen was lively as the second half progressed with Spurs looking the better for the next goal, though Harry Kane and Co. were offside on a number of occasions.

Dele Alli was booked for a dive in the 69th minute.

Liverpool stayed resolute until Emre Can couldn’t get all of his clearance effort, spinning the ball onto the path of Wanyama for an outrageous strike that made it 1-1.

An offside Kane drew a penalty kick following a Liverpool error leading to the striker leaping over a desperate Karius.

After review, the ruling was upheld. Studies have shown delays affect the shooter more than the keeper, and Karius saved Kane’s attempt before the rebound was sliced high and wide.

It was far from over, as Salah’s season-long wizardry continued with a mazy dribble that included an ankle-breaking step past Jan Vertonghen before popping the ball over Lloris.

And then a penalty kick was given against Van Dijk by the linesman. Erik Lamela leapt in front of Van Dijk’s clearing attempt to draw the PK, but only moments after the Reds finished their clearance.

Kane didn’t miss this time.

Take it away with some top class Super Bowl banter, Men in Blazers: