Kicking the can on Clint Dempsey’s precarious place with Spurs

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Clint Dempsey may have bagged a goal to start 2013, but yesterday was a decidedly mixed one for the U.S. international. With Gareth Bale suspended for diving too much, you would have expected Dempsey, having returned from a groin injury during Spurs’ trip to Sunderland, to start on the left side of André Villas-Boas’s 4-4-2. Instead, Gylfi Sigurdsson got the call.

To his credit, Sigurdsson has forced Villas-Boas’s hand. For the better part of a month, the attacking midfielder has been Spurs’ best player on the ball. If it wasn’t for Gareth Bale’s Boxing Day explosion, you could argue the Icelander has been the team’s best attacker (per minute) period. If he’s fighting Clint Dempsey for playing time, there’s little doubt Sigurdsson has started to get the upper hand.

It’s a battle that’s been implied since Deadline Day, when Spurs took advantage of a short-sighted Liverpool to land the American on the cheap. The move pushed Sigurdsson down the depth chart, and while both players struggled in their first months at White Hart Lane, Dempsey was able to maintain his relative advantage.

Now that Sigurdsson is flashing his Swansea form, he and Dempsey may have swapped spots, a state that could see “Deuce” eventually struggle for playing time. Over the next month, if Emmanuel Adebayor goes the Africa Cup of Nations (for Togo), Dempsey should get starts up top (provided Villas-Boas doesn’t use the absence as an excuse to switch back to a 4-2-3-1). There, Dempsey will be expected to produce goals. If he can’t catch fire, he’ll may slot in behind Sigurdsson on the depth chart when Adebayor returns.

On a fully healthy Spurs team, that means Dempsey is the second attacker off the bench. Specific matchups and game situations may see him used before Sigurdsson, but unless Dempsey can start to winning this one-on-one with the Icelandic international, he’s going to scrounging for playing time in the new year.

It’s a situation that’s always brought the best out of Dempsey in the past. At Fulham, he would habitually lose his place whenever the Cottagers were forced to swap coaches. Within months, he’d not only be back in the starting lineup but be one of Fulham’s best players.

The only difference this time: Dempsey had a spot to lose. André Villas-Boas has never forced him to prove himself. The Portuguese manager has put his faith in Dempsey.

At a competitive place like Tottenham, though, faith is not enough. Bottom line: Dempsey needs to play better to keep his spot.

LIVE, League Cup: Man United, Man City in action

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Ten League Cup games take place on Tuesday, with the third round of the competition kicking off.

[ LIVE: Follow League Cup scores ] 

There is one all-Premier League clash as Wolves host Leicester City, while Manchester City, Manchester United, Crystal Palace, Bournemouth, Burnley and Fulham all face lower league opposition.

Jose Mourinho’s United side host Frank Lampard‘s Derby Country at Old Trafford, while reigning League Cup champions Man City head to Oxford United in a real David vs. Goliath battle.

Below is the schedule in full for Tuesday’s games, while we will keep you up to date with the action here at Pro Soccer Talk.


Tuesday’s EFL Cup schedule (all games 2:45 p.m. ET, unless noted)

Manchester United vs. Derby County — 3 p.m. ET
Oxford United vs. Manchester City
Wolverhampton Wanderers vs. Leicester City
West Bromwich Albion vs. Crystal Palace — 3 p.m. ET
Bournemouth vs. Blackburn Rovers
Burton vs. Burnley
Millwall vs. Fulham
Blackpool vs. Queens Park Rangers
Wycombe vs. Norwich City
Preston North End vs. Middlesbrough

Report: Mourinho tells Pogba he will not captain Man United again

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Reports are circulating that Jose Mourinho has told Paul Pogba he will not captain Manchester United again.

After United’s 1-1 draw against Wolves on Saturday, Pogba approached reporters in the mixed zone at Old Trafford and told them United must “attack, attack, attack” when playing at home.

He set up United’s goal against Wolves but was at fault for the equalizer.

Pogba has worn the captains armband for several games this season (mostly due to Antonio Valencia’s ongoing injury problems) despite his outspoken nature in the media and reports of a rift between himself and Mourinho over the past 12 months.

The BBC claim that Mourinho has told Pogba he will not wear the captains armband again, as the French superstar appeared to undermine his authority when it came to tactics. A separate report from The Times states that Mourinho told his entire squad that Pogba would no longer captain the team on Tuesday ahead of their League Cup clash with Derby County at Old Trafford, as he addressed the team at the training ground and dropped Pogba from the matchdsy squad.

Mourinho is said to have reminded his players that nobody is bigger than the club and was furious with Pogba’s attitude in recent games.

Speaking in his programme notes ahead of their clash with Derby on Tuesday, Mourinho said the following about his players.

“[The game against Wolves was] an important lesson; a lesson that I repeat week after week after week, a lesson that some boys are not learning,” Mourinho said. “Every team that play Manchester United are playing the game of their lives, and we need to match that level of aggression, motivation and desire – 95% isn’t enough when others give 101%.”

Rumors persisted all summer long about Pogba leaving United to move to Barcelona or going back to Juventus.

Those reports will now intensify ahead of the January transfer window as Mourinho seems to have finally lost his patience with the enigmatic midfielder. Pogba’s agent, Mino Raiola, has had plenty to say about his client and will no doubt be talking in the coming days.

Since his then world-record transfer of $120 million from Juve in the summer of 2016, Pogba has struggled to find cosistency at United under Mourinho and was dropped last season and his attitude was questioned.

Even though his form for France in their 2018 World Cup win was much improved and he won many plaudits, Mourinho was hardly complimentary of Pogba’s displays, further fuelling the fire of a significant rift between the duo.

It seems that the relationship between Mourinho and Pogba has now hit rock bottom. Where do they go from here? What a mess.

Details for free NBC Sports Gold Premier League pass

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A free preview of the NBC Sports Gold Premier League pass is now available to sign up for.

[ SIGN UP: Get NBC Sports Gold free ]

The deal will begin on Sept. 26 and run until Oct. 1, with access to a huge range of exclusive live Premier League games online, plus plenty of other shows and features from around the PL.

If you can’t get enough from the Premier League, Gold’s Premier League Pass is for you.

Click on the link above to sign up for the deal.

 

Premier League player Power Rankings

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Premier League player Power Rankings are back after Week 6 of the 2018-19 season.

[ MORE: Full Power Rankings archive ]

The cream usually rises to the top but this week we have quite a few surprise inclusions into the upper echelons of our rankings.

Remember: this is a list of the top 20 performing players right now in the Premier League and based on them actually playing in the previous Matchweek. If they didn’t play due to injury or suspension, they aren’t going to make this list. Simple.

Let us know in the comments section below if you agree with the selections.


  1. Ilkay Gundogan (Man City) – New entry
  2. Mohamed Salah (Liverpool) – New entry
  3. Aaron Lennon (Burnley) – New entry
  4. Jamie Vardy (Leicester City) – New entry
  5. Ruben Neves (Wolves) – Up 7
  6. Bernardo Silva (Man City) – New entry
  7. David De Gea (Man United ) – Up 11
  8. Jorginho (Chelsea) – Even
  9. Sadio Mane (Liverpool) – Down 3
  10. Harry Kane (Tottenham) – New entry
  11. N’Golo Kante (Chelsea) – New entry
  12. Eden Hazard (Chelsea) – Down 12
  13. Andrew Robertson (Liverpool) – New entry
  14. Joao Moutinho (Wolves) – New entry
  15. Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (Arsenal) – New entry
  16. James Madisson (Leicester City) – New entry
  17. Lukasz Fabianski (West Ham) – New entry
  18. Raul Jimenez (Wolves) – Down 2
  19. Aleksandar Mitrovic (Fulham) – New entry
  20. Joe Hart (Burnley) – New entry