Premier League Preview: Tottenham Hotspur vs. Fulham

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  • Eriksen has scored four goals, added three assists in his last four PL games for Tottenham
  • Spurs have yet to lose a game from a winning position, Man United are the only other PL team to do that
  • No side has taken fewer points from London derbies this season than Fulham’s six

Tottenham welcome Fulham to White Hart Lane on Saturday (Watch live on NBCSN, 7:45 a.m. ET and online via Live Extra) as the London rivals clash with both teams in need of three points.

Spurs are still in the hunt for a top four spot — seven points off fourth placed Arsenal with four games to go — but know they can’t afford to slip up between now and the end of the season. As for Fulham, they have won back-to-back Premier League games for the first time since October and are dragging themselves towards safety.

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Tim Sherwood saw his side battle back from 3-0 down to draw 3-3 at West Bromwich Albion last weekend, yet Sherwood knows his team must do better against a fired-up Fulham. Felix Magath has worked wonders at Craven Cottage but isn’t taking anything for granted, even though the Cottagers are just two points behind Norwich City after they beat the Canaries 1-0 last Saturday.

In team news Tottenham will be without  the injured Roberto Soldado, Etienne Capoue, Jan Vertonghen, Kyle Walker, Michael Dawson and Erik Lamela. Fulham’s on loan midfielder Lewis Holtby won’t be allowed to play against his parent club, while record signing Kostas Mitroglou is out injured with his long-term knee injury.

What they’re saying

Felix Magath on Fulham’s recent revival: “It’s not the time for celebrating because our aim is to stay in the league. You see, there are a lot of days between the time we can celebrate and now. Now we go to Tottenham and have a very tough game ahead and so we have to try to win. Nobody can be safe. If you realise the results, especially Sunderland who were close to getting a win at Manchester City, at the end of the season almost everything is possible. Everybody has a chance, so we can go to Tottenham and try to win.”

Tottenham boss Tim Sherwood on Spurs keeping their focus: “They’re fighting for their lives and we know it will be difficult. But as I keep saying, our need is as great as theirs. There are no easy games but it’s always been the aim to just get as many points as we can and finish up as high as we possibly can, so we’ll continue in that vein on Saturday.”

Prediction

Spurs need to stay in touch with the top four and if they’re going to have any chance of pulling off a shock late surge into the Champions League spots they need to beat Fulham. I think the Cottagers have turned the corner and are now hard to beat and capable of recording shutouts. My pick would be a draw here, as Fulham will frustrate Tottenham in their own backyard.

Chelsea Ladies sign NWSL superstar Sam Kerr

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Sam Kerr is heading to London.

The Australian megastar is leaving the Chicago Red Stars for Chelsea after scoring two MVP awards in the National Women’s Soccer League (2017, 2019).

[ MORE: NYCFC teen off to Gladbach ]

Kerr, 26, has 38 goals in 83 caps for the Lady Matildas, scoring four times in one World Cup match against Jamaica last summer.

Her 69 goals are the most in an NWSL career, and she admits it was a challenge to leave her comfort zone and head to Europe.

“Probably the part that was most difficult was leaving friends and the US because I’ve created such a home there, but it was just time for me to make a change. And once I had my eyes set on Europe, it was kind of an easy decision to choose Chelsea as a club.”

It’s a huge signing for Chelsea, who is leading the table through five matches with an unbeaten 4W-1D record. She’ll join the team in January.

Zlatan Ibrahimovic says goodbye to the LA Galaxy

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Zlatan Ibrahimovic has bid adieu to Major League Soccer, thanking the LA Galaxy for “making me feel alive again.”

The Swedish superstar averaged nearly a goal per game with the Galaxy, and was rumored to be in line for another two years at the club.

[ MORE: Columbus acquires Nagbe ]

Perhaps those reports, and maybe AC Milan’s struggles to score goals, have made more suitors come forward. Time will tell.

The Galaxy said the decision was a “mutual parting of ways” and thanked the player for his work both on and off the pitch.

From LAGalaxy.com:

“We would like to thank Zlatan for his contributions to the LA Galaxy and Major League Soccer,” said LA Galaxy President Chris Klein. “Since his arrival in 2018, Zlatan has positively influenced the sport of soccer in Los Angeles. We are grateful for his work ethic and passion. We thank Zlatan for his professionalism and immeasurable impact on the Los Angeles community and the soccer community in North America as a whole.”

Zlatan’s full thoughts, below, were a bit more Zlatanny.

Klein will have his hands full in replacing Ibrahimovic, who scored 52 times in 53 matches, but the Galaxy have always managed to bring in big names.

Getting a star playmaker is even more important as El Trafico rivals LAFC have rewritten the MLS record book and snared plenty of attention in California and across the league.

Columbus acquires Nagbe from Atlanta for $1M in allocation

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Darlington Nagbe is headed for a reunion with old boss Caleb Porter.

Columbus has sent over $1 million in allocation money to Atlanta United in order to claim the influential midfielder.

[ MORE: Top 25 players in USMNT pool ]

Porter coached Nagbe at the University of Akron and the Portland Timbers, and has 25 USMNT caps but has turned down Gregg Berhalter’s requests for service.

Nagbe made 46 appearances across all competitions for the Five Stripes this season, scoring twice with five assists. He has 313 matches played between Portland and Atlanta.

From MLSSoccer.com:

“Darlington Nagbe is a proven winner and the type of player who can be a difference-maker in our team,” Crew SC president and GM Tim Bezbatchenko said in a statement. “In addition to his skill set, we believe that Darlington is someone whose character and values fit well within our organization. As we stated heading into this offseason, we continue to look both domestically and internationally for players that will make our team better, and we believe Darlington is an important part of those efforts.”

It’s a bold statement from Columbus, who had a reputation for getting the most of its talent under Berhalter but faded under Porter after a hot start. The Crew began 2019 with a 4-1-1 record but lost 13 of its next 15 matches.

Of course, being MLS, the Crew then only lost 2 of their final 13 matches. Shoulder shrug emoji.

NYCFC teen agrees move to Borussia Monchengladbach

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New York City FC’s impressive academy has earned one of the bigger transfer market payoffs in MLS Homegrown history, and will join the current Bundesliga leaders after next season.

Joe Scally, 16, is headed to Borussia Monchengladbach on a $2 million transfer with a sell-on clause, and will spend the 2020 MLS season with his boyhood club. Scally has played in the Open Cup, but has not debuted in an MLS match.

[ MORE: Top 25 players in USMNT pool ]

The $2 million figure is on the edge of Top 30 for departing MLS players, according to Transfermarkt, just behind Cyle Larin’s move from Orlando City to Besiktas.

Scally appeared 11 times for the U.S. U-17 national team, going 90 minutes in all three matches and assisting on the lone American goal at the World Cup in Brazil.

From Borussia.de:

“Joe Scally is a top American talent who we have been following for a long time. We see a lot of potential in Joe and we are looking forward to him joining up with us in January 2021. Until then, we will work together with New York City FC to prepare him for his move to Germany,” said Borussia’s sporting director, Max Eberl.

Not sure just how long they could’ve been following a 16-year-old, but we digress.

Scally will join U-17 teammates Giovanni Reyna (Borussia Dortmund) and Maximilian Dietz (Freiburg) on the books at a Bundesliga club. Recent U-17 call-ups Pablo Soares (Gladbach) and Noah Jones (RB Leipzig) are also with clubs in Germany’s top flight.

Last month, NYCFC sporting director Claudio Reyna told me that Scally was the perfect example of a young player trusting a club’s preference of changing his position.

“The perfect example is Joe Scally on the U-17 World Cup team. He came to us from a club in Long Island as an athletic box-to-box midfielder. He was very strong, but we saw him as an outside back. The lesson that we now we share that with our players, don’t get upset if you move to a position, but Joe Scally understood, never complained, he played wherever he was told to do, and now he’s a right back now, 16 years old going to the World Cup after being in our academy for two and a half years.”

Looks like it’s worked out.