What would Mauricio Pochettino bring to Tottenham Hotspur?

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Rumors of Southampton manager Mauricio Pochettino leaving Saints and taking over at Tottenham are rife, with reports suggesting the Argentine boss could be in charge at White Hart Lane as soon as this week.

Tottenham have remained tight-lipped throughout the entire process, yet Pochettino’s silence on his future since the end of the season, has been deafening. Particularly for Southampton’s fans.

After stating he wanted to speak with the owners to see which direction Saints will be heading in, Pochettino has yet to confirm his future. Southampton’s boss has one year left on his deal and has been dismissive about future contract negotiations for months, hence this interest and reported talks with Tottenham Hotspur not coming as a surprise to many.

MORE: Report – Pochettino to be named Spurs boss this week

Personally, having been around Saints’ camp on multiple occasions this season, Pochettino’s body language alone suggests a move was always in the offing. Failing to look beyond this season when repeatedly asked about his and the clubs future, you could the patience of the 42-year-old wearing thin as more and more journalists lined up to try and trick him into revealing his plans.

However this shakes out, Pochettino is one of the best managers in the Premier League. No doubt about it.

When he took over Southampton in January 2013 they were flirting with relegation after just being promoted from the Championship. Pochettino secured safety and then kicked his team on during the 2014-15 season. Blending teenagers with talented veterans, the soccer Saints have played has been sublime and admired across the Premier League. They finished eighth, their highest-ever position in the PL and recorded a records points tally. Pochettino kicked on the careers of Saints’ inspirational players and helped the likes of Adam Lallana, Rickie Lambert, Luke Shaw and Jay Rodriguez get called up to the English national team. He has built a squad of talented internationals yet the core is built of academy products such as Lallana, Shaw, James Ward-Prowse, Callum Chambers, Harrison Reed, Sam Gallagher and others. That quality is hugely valuable to any club, as producing your own talent, rather than spending millions to buy players elsewhere is hugely beneficial even for a big club like Spurs.

They have the spending power to buy big but they didn’t work out well for Andre Villas-Boas when he plundered the $120 million Spurs received for Gareth Bale last summer. When you look at Tottenham, they have produced the likes of Tom Carroll, Harry Kane, Nabil Bentaleb, Danny Rose and Andros Townsend through their academy. If Pochettino can bring through several other youngsters into the first team it will save them millions and also allows the coach to instill his beliefs in the players from a young age.

source: AP
After a stunning season with Saints, Pochettino is a man in demand.

Working with talented teenagers is his forte and Pochettino’s ability to deliver a team playing attractive soccer with substance is well known in England. After his exploits this season, it is no surprise other clubs are courting his expertise as Saints are fun to watch, work incredibly hard, have integrated teenagers into their lineup seamlessly and pin other teams back by deploying a high-pressure approach few opponents can match.

He will bring all of that to Spurs as the North London club will get an innovative and hard-working manager who spends the entire day at the training ground with his large staff who tirelessly analyze every single aspect of the team. Having witnessed Pochettino’s work up close and personal, if he’s allowed to stamp his own mark on Spurs, just like he did with Saints, then he will only succeed at White Hart Lane.

That’s right. Tottenham may actually get a managerial decision correct for the first time in a long time. He is, of course, unproven at the very top level but after managing Espanyol in La Liga and now Southampton in the PL, it seems as though Pochettino’s career path is leading him towards Tottenham and masterminding their quest for Champions League soccer.

Russia banned from 2020 Olympics, 2022 World Cup

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Russia has been banned from competing at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics and the 2022 World Cup after the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) voted unanimously to ban the nation from international sport for four years for doping offenses.

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Individual Russian athletes will be allowed to compete under a neutral banner at this summer’s Olympics. The men’s national soccer team will also still be allowed to compete at the 2020 European Championship, where they will be one of the 12 host nations this summer.

The punishment was agreed by WADA’s executive committee at a special meeting at the headquarters of the International Olympic Committee in Switzerland. It is the most severe sanction yet against the country after accusations of systemic doping and deleting laboratory evidence.

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WADA president Sir Craig Reedie said, “For too long, Russian doping has detracted from clean sport. Russia was afforded every opportunity to get its house in order and re-join the global anti-doping community for the good of its athletes and of the integrity of sport, but it chose instead to continue in its stance of deception and denial.

“As a result, the WADA executive committee has responded in the strongest possible terms, while protecting the rights of Russian athletes that can prove that they were not involved and did not benefit from these fraudulent acts.”

Cruzeiro relegated from Brazilian top flight for first time

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Brazilian side Cruzeiro was relegated from the top flight for the first time in the club’s 98-year history following a 2-0 defeat to Palmeiras on the final day of the season.

Cruzeiro required victory and a loss by Ceara at Botafogo to stay safely in the Brazilian Serie A, but neither came to pass.

Palmeiras midfielder Ze Rafael scored in the 58th minute to send the visitors on their way, with fellow midfielder Dudu finished things off in the 84th minute. Referees ushered the players off the field immediately after the conclusion of the match as Cruzeiro fans rioted in the Mineirao stadium, ripping out seats, setting off smoke bombs, and clashing with police.

Cruzeiro finished 17th in the 20-team table, three points back of Ceara in 16th. In the Brazilian top flight, the bottom four teams are relegated. CSA, Chapecoense, and Avai were also relegated. Cruzeiro had won the Brazilian Serie A as recently as 2013 and 2014, winning four titles in its history. They also have six Copa do Brasil titles, most recently winning the league cup in 2017 and 2018.

Flamengo ran away with the championship, finishing on 90 points, 16 points clear of second-placed Santos and third-placed Palmeiras who both finished level on 74 points. Palmeiras had challenged for the title, but fell off at the end of the season with a five-match winless run through November.

Premier League Preview: West Ham United v. Arsenal

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Two struggling London sides meet Monday when West Ham United hosts Arsenal (Watch live at 3 p.m. ET on NBCSN and online via NBCSports.com).

The sides might’ve expected they’d be within close proximity at this point on the fixture list, but two wildly disappointing seasons means the three points between the Gunners and Irons comes with the former in 11th and the latter 16th.

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It’s been nine matches since Arsenal beat someone, 11 since it happened in the Premier League. West Ham hasn’t been much better, winning once in its last 10.

Freddie Ljungberg has yet to win as Arsenal interim boss, while West Ham manager Manuel Pellegrini could see his current stint in London end without more results like the Nov. 30 win at Chelsea.

Monday versus Arsenal would qualify.


Injuries/suspensions

West Ham United: OUT —  Jack Wilshere, Lukasz Fabianski, Manuel Lanzini, Winston Reid. QUESTIONABLE — Michail Antonio.

Arsenal: OUT — Dani Ceballos. QUESTIONABLE — Rob Holding.


Probable lineups

West Ham United: Martin; Cresswell, Ogbonna, Balbuena, Fredericks; Rice, Noble, Yarmolenko, Anderson, Snodgrass, Haller.

Arsenal: Leno; Kolasinac, Sokratis, Luiz, Bellerin, Xhaka, Torreira, Ozil, Pepe, Aubameyang, Lacazette.


What they’re saying

West Ham’s Antonio sees an opportunity: “The only three teams that are really performing are Liverpool, Leicester and Man City. Everyone else is getting beaten, and it means we’ve had a missed opportunity so far this season. We started the season off brightly, the best start we’ve had for four years, but then we’ve had a slump. Everyone’s having a slump and this is our slump. Now it’s time for us to start turning up. We’ve been in this situation before and we know how to dig in and pull ourselves up again.”

Arsenal’s Ljungberg on setting targets: “I don’t think we should stop talking about the top four, but for us it’s about concentrating on what we’re doing here now and not look up, down, sideways. We just need to work on our own game and our own confidence.”


Prediction

Really, you wouldn’t want to predict anything from these sides right now besides goals. We’ll give an edge in desperation to the hosts and a 2-2 draw.

La Liga: Sevilla held at Osasuna, Getafe maintains UCL fight

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Sevilla was held to a 1-1 draw at 10-man Osasuna on Sunday, giving both Real Madrid and Barcelona space at the top of the La Liga table.

Munir El Haddadi put the visitors 1-0 up just 11 minutes in, but Ezequiel Avila struck just before halftime to share the points. Sevilla was held to just two total shots through the opening 45 minutes, and despite Osasuna defender Oier Olazabal being shown a second yellow card with 29 minutes to go, Sevilla still managed just 11 total efforts through the 90 minutes, with four on target.

Getafe continued its battle for a top four spot as they won 1-0 on the road at Eibar. Angel Rodriguez bagged his eighth goal of the season to secure the win, cropping up in the 67th minute to finally put Getafe through. They had been turning the screw for some time, forcing Marko Dmitrovic into a pair of big saves just before the opener which came from an absurdly tight angle after Angel had rounded the goalkeeper. The win leaves them fourth, level with Real Sociedad on 27 points.

They were allowed to close the gap after Real Sociedad was held scoreless in a 0-0 draw at 14th placed Real Valladolid. The visitors put just two of their 14 shots on net, and dropped to fifth thanks to Getafe holding the head-to-head tiebreaker.

Athletic Club also fell back in the race for a top four spot, dropping a 3-2 decision on the road at Real Betis. Joaquin scored a first-half hat-trick, with all three goals coming in the opening 20 minutes to give him five in his last three games. Inaki Williams brought Athletic Bilbao one back before halftime from the spot, and Yuri Berchiche made things interesting with a minute to go, but that was all they could muster as the visitors fell to sixth on 26 points, above Atletico Madrid on goal differential with the two yet to play head-to-head.

Celta Vigo made it interesting as Iago Aspas scored a man-down goal, but Leganes held on for a 3-2 win over the 10-man visitors. Oscar Rodriguez had a first-half brace to help the hosts to a 3-0 lead, but Nestor Araujo and Aspas helped Celta Vigo make things interesting. Still, a 71st minute second yellow card for halftime substitute Gabriel Fernandez hampered the visitors in their efforts for a comeback, leaving Celta Vigo in the relegation zone, a point back of safety, with Leganes is four points behind them in 19th.