EXCLUSIVE: Bob Bradley eyes trophies in Norway with Stabaek, as pivotal stretch arrives

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Bob Bradley continues to work miracles as the first American to manage a club in the top-flight of European soccer.

His latest Houdiniesque act has seen Bradley, 57, take tiny Stabaek into a title challenge and the Norwegian Cup semifinals with two months of the 2015 Tippeligaen season to go. The former U.S. national team head coach exceeded everyone’s expectations in his debut season in Norway last year, leading his newly promoted side to a midtable finish and a semifinal spot in the cup. In Year Two, despite a huge turnover of players at the club with little resources, he’s bettered it, considerably.

[ LONGFORM: NBC Sportsworld on Bradley – “That’s Football” ]

With eight games to go in the Tippeligaen, Stabaek sit in second place and eight points behind Norwegian powerhouse Rosenborg. Stabaek face “The Troll Boys” twice in the next 10 days away from home in both the league and the cup, with the first match coming up in the league in Trondheim on Sunday. Stabaek is no flash in the pan. They’ve been in second since Week 6 of the current season, while Rosenborg have been top for all but one week. These two teams are on opposite sides of the spectrum in terms of finances, infrastructure and historical success, but tiny Stabaek, led by the only non-Nordic head coach in Norway’s top-flight, are capable of punching well above their weight.

In an extended interview with ProSoccerTalk, the former head coach of the U.S. from 2007 to 2011 revealed how he has built this Stabaek side for second-season success, their mindset going into a crucial 10-day period and Bradley also speaks about his future in Norway as his contract is up at the end of the current campaign.

After traveling to Norway last summer to write this longform piece for NBC Sportsworld, it’s been fun to watch Stabaek’s progress under the guidance of the former Princeton, Chicago Fire, USA and Egyptian national team coach.

I, JPW, am asking the questions below, Bradley is answering them.

Enjoy.

JPW: Bob, as always, pleasure to speak with you. Can you sum up what this second season has been like so far in Norway? How has the team progressed?

Bob Bradley: We couldn’t bring anybody in, we had to sell. So we went through most of preseason with some of the returning guys from last year but working to build on that result we had last year, trying to have a picture of what the team would look like but also thinking and trying really hard to make sure people knew we were going to push and improve on that season. We had to bring in some players, especially with some of the attacking players we had lost. Eventually we sold Franck Boli to a club in China and for Stabaek we made good money back and right at the end of the last transfer window we were able to bring in some interesting attacking players, including Adama Diomande who is Norwegian and had parents from the Ivory Coast. He had been at other Norwegian clubs like Stromsgodset and somehow had gone from Dinamo Minsk then he needed a version of rebuilding his career a little bit. He knew how good, in a similar situation, it had been for Kofi Adu’s career, and we were able to get Dio here.

I watched him a lot on tape and my first impression was that in the group here he was a good teammate, he made very hard runs, worked very hard for the team, good teammate. As a striker he had a physical dimension, something we didn’t have last year. We didn’t know in pure goalscoring how it would work. We told Dio in the beginning that he had a lot of good qualities and we didn’t want to lose any of what he had going for him. But we wanted to try and add to the package and push him. His response was great. In 21 league matches he scored 17 goals. He has been fantastic when you combine him with the other two players we brought in. Ernest Asante who is a fast winger from Ghana who was at Start. We ended up getting Yassine El Ghanassy who is a project as well. Most recently in the summer Muhamed Keita, who is a similar story to Dio. But we gave our team a different look. More athletic, more dangerous. We scored some great goals. Of course when you add it all up, people were again talking about our football, able to press a little bit higher. All this kind of stuff. The only thing that then happened is we lost Diomande to Hull.

How big of a blow was it to lose your top scorer, Diomande, right at the end of the transfer window to Hull City?

We have eight matches left, we are in second place and are in the semifinals of the cup. On one hand I certainly always understood that when I came to Stabaek the club, financially, had hit rock bottom and the work we had to do had to help the club rebuild financially. You can always get a mix between getting good football, results and good players, and then when all that happens it also means the possibility of getting players to the point where they are attractive to other clubs and bringing money back in. It all goes hand in hand. But to lose an important player like that is also hard for the team. It means that our challenge going forward is greater. He missed the game with Odd that we lost 2-1 last week, he had an injury at the end of the Sandefjord game so we already started working last week how we play without him. Lot of the same football ideas and how it’s not one guys responsibility but more a collective. Trying to be a little more mobile. We lost the physical presence but we still have some interesting attacking players.

Run me through how the second season has gone, how have you managed to continue the upward curve and challenge for a title just a year after returning to the top-flight?

The challenge for us now is on September 13 in Trondheim against Rosenborg. They are eight points ahead. To make this interesting we have to win. Then 10 days later we go back to Trondheim for the semifinal of the cup. There has been a lot of work this week both on the field and with video, and also just some meetings with the team to make sure everyone understands we are excited for Dio and proud of what he was able to do with us. But people are writing us off, they’ve done it before. It is our job to try and make things better and compete at a better level and make sure everyone understands if we go on the field and play our football, push games, then every single time we step on the field we can always win. Another challenge, it is not easy sometimes when a part of the message you are spreading with the players from the beginning… I said to this group after the end of preseason when we had finally brought in Dio and Asante and El Ghanassy, I said to our team ‘I think we have the chance to do something special this year. There is real talent. The personality of the team is different.’ We are more athletic than last year and to build something that was going in a strong way, part of that message every day was ‘how far can we go?’ Then when you get to a moment like this, then obviously the long-term good of the club, that doesn’t necessary go hand-in-hand with the message we’ve been trying to build on every day this season. That’s a challenge. You have to look at these players and make sure they understand that people have written us off before and I don’t buy it. They don’t see the way the work every day and the way we work with each other and the way we push the football. This is the next goal, this is the challenge.

I remember being in Trondheim and watching your side win at Rosenborg last year. How difficult will those two games (league game on Sept. 13 and cup semi on Sept. 23) be and this is the pivotal moment in your two-seasons in Norway, right?

When you win and you move forward as a team it gets exciting because you get bigger games. For us, within 10 days to play Rosenborg twice, and they’re having a fantastic season, they have been very strong and very good going forward. We lost a very disappointing 3-2 game against them at home earlier in the year when we went up 2-0. Somewhere around 35 minutes they got a corner, the referee ends up giving a PK on a soft handball. They score right before half, so it’s 2-2. Second half we turn the ball over and they score on the counter so its 3-2, then they have a man sent off and we push but lose 3-2. That was a very good game. We were very disappointed with ourselves. What happened that day, for 20 or 25 minutes we pushed the game pretty hard but when we went up 2-0, in some ways we backed off a little bit and that gave them a push and they’re a good team, so when they’re behind they are also going to respond. That led to them being in our end a little bit more… we remember that game. It was a game that we felt we didn’t finish off. We first get the chance to go there in the league and as I mentioned, when you’re eight points back with eight games to play, to give yourselves a chance you have to win. A tie does no good in the battle with Rosenborg. Obviously a point in terms of still getting a medal at the end of the year could come in handy but our mentality from the first game is to really go up there and try to throw everything we have at them and come away with three points. Then based on how that game goes we can look closely at everything and figure out 10 days later what is our best way for the cup.

Former USMNT head coach Bradley is making quite a name for himself in Norway.
Former USMNT head coach Bradley is making quite a name for himself in Norway.

With eight games to go you are in the Europa League spot. How big would that be for the club, to qualify for Europe?

For us now, we need to finish this season in a strong way. The starting points would be to win the league and to win the cup but the way things work in Europe is that the possibility of still getting a medal and still qualifying for the Europa League qualification, there is still a lot to play for at the end of the year. Even if you’re not in range for the Championship. But that is one step at a time. First and foremost, for us it’s been a week of dealing with things with Dio. Late on Monday someone in the club said ‘looks like you’ll keep everybody’ and I said ‘we’ll see’ because obviously the window in England shut a day later. We never heard anything from Hull until Tuesday morning, this thing came at the last second and I’ve said many times, there are different factors that need to be considered. Smaller clubs that rely on selling players, that means that at the end of windows there is usually a price. We have had some conversations with others clubs and they were not in the ballpark of what we had said. Then when Hull came in, it was the case. As I said before, in the two years here, first year everyone predicted we would go down, a team that came up from the second league and we finished in midtable and made the semifinals of the cup.

From the first half of the season last year to the second half of the season the team changed tremendously because we sold Morten Thorsby to Heerenveen last year and we lost Adu after a six month loan and went back to Brugge and then on to Malmo where he is playing in the UEFA Champions League. The second half of the year we had to come up with some new ideas. Andrew Jacobson was here on loan, Magne Hoseth came for the second half of the season. We had an interesting a different look in the second half of the season. At the end of the year, for a number of reasons, if you look at the team who started the games in the second half of the season, when we started this year seven or eight of those guys were not here. Fredrik Brustad and Franck Boli weren’t here and those two guys were our top goalscorers from last season. When we were in Portland in preseason and people saw us play and said ‘boy, you guys play good football’ but we were a young team and didn’t really have strikers at that time. But then we added some players and we’ve seen great development from a few others from last summer, a young Norwegian left back Birger Melling. He had come through Viking and Middlesbrough as a young player. He plays left back and when we go behind sometimes we push him forward to left wing and he has just been called into Norway’s U-21 squad. 

The fact is that you take Morten Thorsby and Franck Boli, then we sold the young midfielder Anders Trondsen to Sarpsborg and now Dio, we have sold four players in the last year and I think if you add all that up it is over $5 million. For Stabaek that is a big deal. That doesn’t always help in the fight for trophies so again you have to focus everybody on the job in hand. Everybody believes we can still do this.

How difficult is it to be creative with new signings and for a club like Stabaek to cast the net far and wide? 

Stabaek is a small club. Franck Boli, Luk Kassi and Mande Sayouba all are young players from the Ivory Coast that were here before I arrived and were part of a relationship with an academy in the Ivory Coast. Some of the other players are just in different situations. We have to be creative. Jan Peder Jalland and I certainly look at a lot of video. Inge Andre Olsen bring us names and does a magnificent job working with agents. We have to look in a lot of directions and be creative about how to bring players here because compared to most clubs our resources are not too great.

Crunch time has arrived for Bradley and his Stabaek squad.
Crunch time has arrived for Bradley and his Stabaek squad.

With Diomande leaving for Hull, is that the harsh reality the club faces? In the past Sporting director Inge Olsen told me that he hopes the players and coaches like you develop and then move onto bigger and better things. Are people taking notice of Stabaek?

I mentioned how Dio saw the way how things worked for Adu. I think that the word has gotten out a little bit. People see the way we play, have found out about the way we train. They see that guys have improved. We still  have an awful lot of games were players from opposing teams, after the game they say ‘I really like the way you guys play football.’ So I think there’s a positive vibe about the way we work. The players here, when they talk with other players they speak in a good way. There have been so many examples [of players moving onto bigger leagues] and when these guys now step up a level and improve, people see that and it will also help the word get out. As I told you last year we have a lot of scouts at every game and they see what’s going on in terms of the football. I will run into scouts and they say they enjoy watching the team and how certain guys have improved. So those are good things. When the word spreads in those areas that can help in terms of attracting other players. That doesn’t mean you now have the money to spend, we are still limited in terms of what we can spend, even with the money we’ve made.

The money gets used in other ways, there is already talk about one of the fields in the back that we use with the academy as well, it needs a new artificial surface. When the money comes in from Hull that will be one of the first things on the list. In a small club the money gets spread a lot of ways. Of course when the club financially had some trouble there is also some debt to paid off. Unfortunately it’s not like all of that money gets put back into player acquisition but it is part of the way it works. The football, developing players, helping the club rebuild itself where the word about the club, finances and everything has improved. Those of us who have been part of this project in the past two years feel good about that. But that doesn’t make everything perfect. There is still the part where you are competing for trophies and we want to feel like you have just as good a chance as everybody else. In this window for example, Rosenborg added a number of players and they are clearly in a position to do that. Everybody in Norway knows that financially Rosenborg is on one end and Stabaek is on the other. Again, I don’t say any of that as a complaint because I knew all of this before I got here. I’m not complaining about it. I knew.

With Molde and Rosenborg both qualifying for the Europa League group stage and the Norwegian national team doing well, what does that mean for Tippeligaen? Is the level rising?

It says that Rosenborg and Molde are both good teams and both played well and now can hopefully do well in the group stage. I think the potential in Norwegian football is great. Obviously everyone knows about Martin Odegaard but there are other talented young players and the federation they are trying to make sure the national team program here has a common philosophy. We have all of the national team coaches here watching our games and those of our younger teams. There is a lot going on in Norwegian football and like any place, you try to make the need for each club to do stuff at the highest level possible. Talent is being developed and pushed. That is no different than a small country like Norway or a big country like the United States.

Bob, what about your own situation: you are coming towards the end of your two-year project. Have there been talks about a new contract?

My contract is up at the end of the year. There has been way too much talk about it. It’s a daily topic over here in the media. We are at the start of a discussion here. Inge has said publicly over and over that they’ve seen the work here over the last year-and-a-half and he feels very strongly about that it is at the highest level and there needs to be an opportunity at a higher league. But you never know when and if and how that happens. When people have asked, I have simply said right now my focus is on this season and this group of players. That is the way I’ve always worked. When we get to the end of the year we will size up everything and figure it out.

Finally, what would winning a piece of silverware mean to you?

We feel very good with the way we’ve worked and the football we’ve played. The idea that we could top off all of that with a trophy this year, that would be an incredible achievement for everybody involved in this club in the last two years. Of course, we are not there yet. The idea that in both cases making it happen goes through Trondheim on a year when Rosenborg has been excellent, that’s quite a challenge. We’ve earned the right to go there and believe  in what we’re doing. Now, it’s up to us.

WATCH: Harry Kane sets Tottenham record

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Harry Kane and Tottenham Hotspur are names that go hand-in-hand for a generation of Premier League viewers, so how fitting that the English center forward has now scored more goals in a Spurs shirt than anyone in history?

Very.

Kane, 29, fired Tottenham in front of Manchester City on Sunday at home, giving Spurs a 1-0 lead against the run of play and earning him his 267th goal in the club’s shirt.

[ MORE: Tottenham 1-0 Man City reaction, analysis, recap ]

The goal, also his 200th in the Premier League. Only two other players have done that: Alan Shearer (260) and Wayne Rooney (208).

Kane doesn’t turn 30 until the summer. If his ankle cooperates and he stays in Enland, well, sorry Alan.

England star Kane has now passed the legendary, late Jimmy Greaves for most Tottenham goals but needs another 21 to break Greaves’ record for league goals in a Tottenham shirt. Greaves scored 357 goals for Spurs, Chelsea, and West Ham in the pre-Premier League era.

WATCH TOTTENHAM vs MANCHESTER CITY FULL MATCH REPLAY STREAM – LINK


Harry Kane reacts to breaking records, beating Man City

What he said to NBC after the game. “It’s hard to put into words, a magical moment and especially do to it in a win as well. Being here at home in front of the fans. There’s been so much talk about it and I just wanted to get it done as soon as possible. To do it in a big game against one of the biggest teams in the world…it’s a great feeling. When I started playing regularly 8, 9 years ago, it wasn’t even in my mind to score 200 Premier League goals. When Tim Sherwood gave me my first start, I was so desperate to make my mark. A lot of hard work, with Mauricio and all the coaches. Jimmy Greaves is a complete hero, one of the best to play the game. To be in that company is a special feeling. I’m sure his family is watching and proud as well.”

What he said to crowd after the game: “Thanks for supporting me my whole career. Thank you to my wife, my kids, family and friends. And to my teammates. It’s super. Let’s keep the support going and see where it takes us.”

Ever Wonder why Manchester United is nicknamed The Red Devils?

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Our ‘Ever Wonder’ series will run throughout the 2022-23 Premier League season and focuses on key stories behind the history, tradition and culture of all 20 Premier League clubs.

[ MORE: Check out our ‘Ever Wonder’ series in full ]

Have you ever sat there and wondered why certain chants became iconic at a club? Why a team has a certain nickname? Why they play in those colors? How they were founded? Yep, us too.

[ MORE: How to watch Premier League in USA

This season we will be digging deep to tell the stories of the rich history, tradition and culture from around the Premier League and give you the answers to things you want to know more about.


How did Manchester United become known around the world as the Red Devils?

It is one of the most famous nicknames in the sporting world: but how did Manchester United become known as The Red Devils?

Previously they were known as ‘The Busby Babes’ as legendary manager Sir Matt Busby created one of the greatest teams the football world has ever seen.

United had so many incredibly talented and extremely young players and the Busby Babes were a revelation.

Why a new nickname was needed

However, tragedy struck in 1958 as the Munich Air Disaster occurred.

A plane carrying Manchester United’s players and staff back from a European Cup game in Belgrade crashed in heavy snow after a refueling stop in Munich. 23 were killed, including eight players, and the Busby Babes nickname became a painful reminder of the awful tragedy which rocked the club and the entire world.

In the aftermath of the disaster, Sir Matt Busby rebuilt the club and decided to look for a new nickname as Manchester United wanted to become more intimidating to opponents and they now had a squad of more experienced players and the Busby Babes nickname needed to be replaced.

The answer for that new nickname?

Well, it came from a local rugby club from Greater Manchester, who had played in France. Because of course that is the answer.

Rugby? South of France? Les Diables Rouges?

Salford, who are based just 4 miles away from Old Trafford, were known as the Devils and they played in red. The rugby club went to play in the South of France for two months in 1934 to help grow the popularity of the game.

Salford made such an impression that locals referred to them as ‘Les Diables Rouges.’ In English that is: ‘The Red Devils.’

It is said that Busby liked the nickname of Salford rugby club and the aura it created and as he planned for United to now be a more physical, defensive and tough-tackling side, he decided United’s new nickname would be The Red Devils too.

In 1973 the Red Devil appeared on United’s official club badge for the first time and it has been there ever since.

10 things we learned in the Premier League: Week 22

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There seems to be a real amount of bellyaching, if that isn’t too harsh of a term, because we’re sitting here in February without an absolute sense of who will be the two, or three final Premier League teams to contend for the Premier League Trophy.

A bonkers weekend of Premier League results also did absolutely nothing for the narrative, especially after Man City didn’t take advantage of Arsenal’s loss at Sean Dyche’s Toffee Shop.

Admit it — yes, even you, Arsenal fans — saying without reservation that one team is going to be in the Premier League title fight on the final day is very difficult this season and that’s probably for a number of reasons.

[ MORE: Kane makes up ground in Golden Boot again ]

For one thing, this is the first Feb. 5 in the last six years that either Manchester City or Liverpool isn’t atop the Premier League table.

And that atop the table, Arsenal, has not been in the top five on a Premier League table at this point in a season since the 2016-17 season. That, coincidentally, was the last time City or Liverpool didn’t win the league.

So, yeah, it takes a leap of faith to declare that Arsenal’s five-point lead with a match-in-hand is as comfortable a lead as it would appear were City or Liverpool here… and probably Chelsea, Man City, and even Spurs. This is new territory. And it’s exciting which, by the very nature of verb, is not comfortable, sound, or solid.

Here’s what the Premier League table’s looked like at the end of February 5 since the 2015-16 season (Keep in mind this is also “matches in hand” time of year the last four seasons, and that usually there have been many more matches played because the World Cup wasn’t in November).

Premier League table on Feb. 5 of the last eight seasons

Season denoted by * indicate there are matches-in-hand amongst teams

2015-16: Leicester City (50 points), Man City (47), Spurs (45), Arsenal (45), Man Utd (40)
2016-17: Chelsea (59 points), Spurs (50), Man City (49), Arsenal (47), Liverpool (46)
2017-18: Man City (69 points), Man Utd (56), Liverpool (51), Chelsea (50), Spurs (49)
2018-19: Liverpool (62 points), Man City (59), Spurs (57), Chelsea (50), Man Utd (48)
*2019-20: Liverpool (73 points), Man City (51), Leicester (49), Chelsea (41), Spurs (37)
*2020-21: Man City (47 points), Man Utd (44), Leicester (42), Liverpool (40), West Ham (38)
*2021-22: Man City (57 points), Liverpool (48), Chelsea (47), Man Utd (38), West Ham (37)
*2022-23: Arsenal (50 points), Man City (45), Man Utd (42), Newcastle (40), Spurs (39)

I mean, that is some viewing, isn’t it? Only three times in eight has the table had as many as four teams within 10 points of first at this point in the season, and we’re a point away from having all five.

You’d have to favor Arsenal to deliver the goods still; Past performance be darned, the Gunners may be unleashing a new dynasty or even just a ridiculous single season on the world. And they could lose to Man City twice and still have a match-in-hand to make up the point.

But as those two matches indicate, Arsenal is also yet to play Man City in the Premier League play. They’ll also see their young squad taxed by Europa League at some point (Aren’t these new knockout round play-offs enticing but so off-putting?)

Anyway, the point is that I want you to know that I understand if you’re feeling thrown by the table this week. The truth is there’s an awful lot of season left — around 3-4 matches per team less than usual — and the following is true:

  • Arsenal is still the front-runner
  • Arsenal has also continued to leave the runway clear for an in-form Man City
  • Man City is very much not in-form
  • Manchester United, Tottenham, and even Newcastle have realistic mathematical paths to climb into the discussion if they win their games against Arsenal and Man City.

Soooooooo…. what did you learn from the Premier League this weekend? Cause here’s where our writers are living, as Joe Prince-Wright (JPW), Andy Edwards (AE), and Nicholas Mendola (NM) share their observations from across the most recent PL games.

10 things we learned in the Premier League: Week 22

1. Kane Spurs put a bit of chaos in Premier League title fight on historic night (Spurs 1-0 Man City): Look, this is likely still just a three-team Premier League race even taking into account what we’ve posted above. And I personally might want to argue the case that Manchester City has the best odds to sort it all out given past history, but who knows what’s going to happen to Pep Guardiola’s clearly on-fire galaxy brain if City surges in the Champions League, let alone drops out of it. But I can also tell you that a City win on Sunday after Arsenal flopped at physical Everton on Saturday — get ready for more of that, Gunners — would’ve had me feeling like both Manchester sides held the only hope that the title fight wouldn’t just be a scrap over which Gallagher brother’s Oasis songs were the best. There’s just something about Harry Kane, though, and Antonio Conte is the man pulling the strings down in London. Throw in Newcastle only having to worry about one match that isn’t in the Premier League for the rest of the summer, and Spurs’ win over Man City sounded a note for chaos. Can you imagine Arsenal not falling completely off but going through a naive spell? Can you dial up a scenario in your head where Christian Eriksen’s injury and Casemiro’s red card tax United out of title fight? And might you see Man City’s season going with more ennui than a Morrissey B-side or, worse, Belgium’s World Cup campaign? Folks, anything might be possible this Premier League run-in! (NM).

2. Casemiro’s not-so-idle hands put three points in uneasy place (Man Utd 2-1 Crystal Palace): Scoring chances were plentiful for the Red Devils (14 shots, with an xG total of 2.04) and eventually Marcus Rashford put one away in the 62nd minute, giving him 11 goals in 13 games. Those numbers go with four assists in all competitions since returning from the 2022 World Cup. It appeared at that point that Palace would go quietly into the night and humbly accept defeat, until Casemiro was sent off in the 70th minute for putting both hands around Will Hughes’ neck. United was resilient and had to be, as Crystal Palace took just six minutes to take advantage of their numerical advantage; Cheick Doucoure volleyed from the edge of the penalty area and Jeffrey Schlupp redirected the initial effort on target and past David de Gea to set up a tense final 15 minutes and nine nearly never-ending minutes of stoppage time. But Man United will wake up Monday and wonder why they can’t be the in-form team that runs up the table. (AE)

3. Everton does best Burnley imitation, bullies leaders Arsenal (Everton 1-0 Arsenal): From the very first whistle Everton looked well-organized, had a clear plan, and their players believed in what they are doing. The new manager bounce from Sean Dyche was incredible but it isn’t just a bounce. It’s because he’s a very good manager who did a phenomenal job at Burnley. Dominic Calvert-Lewin was the focal point up top, and Dwight McNeil and Alex Iwobi delivered energy and quality from out wide. Abdoulaye Doucoure, Amadou Onana, and Idrissa Gana Gueye will excellent in midfield and the solid back four never looked out of position. This was exactly what we would expect from a Dyche side and if Everton changed their kit colors to claret it was like watching his peak Burnley teams. Arsenal was bullied throughout, couldn’t find their rhythm, and had no answer for the energy Everton showed. Now, can Dyche get that effort and organization week-in, week-out? It is clear the Toffees have the players to drag themselves away from a relegation scrap and also now clear they have a manager who is able to lead them up the table. Dyche to Everton felt like a perfect fit about five years ago and it has started exactly how he would have hoped. (JPW)

4. Lopetegui’s Wolves feast on wounded Reds as top-four hopes locked in the medical tent (Wolves 3-0 Liverpool): Injuries definitely start the story of this one, a 3-0 that was much closer on the xG scoreboard but just as divided in spirit. Jurgen Klopp’s one-time mentality monsters looked mentality defeated, especially in front of either goal, as the boss exclaimed after the game — full comments below — that the club was lined up as directed but “passive, not active.” Wolves, meanwhile, were very active, and Klopp would’ve wondered what might’ve been when Neves lashed in the third goal by darting between a collection of lined-up Liverpool backs to snap home the end product of Adama Traore’s robust work breaking the lines and conducting a trademark dribble. The Reds have big holes by Darwin Nunez is snakebit in front of goal and Cody Gakpo may get there. At the moment, Liverpool’s entire attack seems to be, “Let’s hope Mo Salah cooks today.” Not great, Al. (NM)

5. Anthony Gordon looks uncaged in short but thrilling Newcastle debut (Newcastle 1-1 West Ham): We knew that Anthony Gordon was fast, worked hard, and had promise, but the blonde-topped pest that is Newcastle’s new $45 million man was flat-out electric in his first match for Newcastle. He could’ve easily had one assist today off the bench and two was reasonable. His introduction to the game gave the second half interest given he just moved up north but you know what? He delivered in every way imaginable but a goal. I thought his price tag was silly and the asking price laughable, but would be super happy to be wrong and the initial results are very good. Maybe Gordon was being held back this year at Everton, or maybe he just caught the vapors of an SJP debut. Either way, it looks nice for Newcastle who won’t be happy with a point vs West Ham but should be: The Irons are much better than their season’s results. (NM)

6. Enzo Fernandez impresses but rest of Chelsea… not-so-much – (Chelsea 0-0 Fulham): Chelsea’s spending spree saw the Blues sign eight new players to swell Graham Potter’s first-team squad to 30 players, including Enzo Fernandez, who arrived in west London as the most expensive signing in British football history ($129 million) on Tuesday. The Argentine midfield wasted no time and looked a cut above everyone else on the field as he made his Premier League debut with precious little time to train with his new club. And excuse the dark humor, but his teammates must’ve missed the memo on smashing the transfer record; $360 million later, mid-table Chelsea were able to secure a point in a 0-0 draw with European hopefuls Fulham at Stamford Bridge. (AE)

7. Leicester wins thriller at Villa, but the manner don’t matter more than the result (Aston Villa 2-4 Leicester): Leicester overturned not one, but two deficits to put an end to their five-game winless skid and secure a 4-2 victory over Aston Villa at Villa Park on Saturday. The victory takes Leicester (21 points), who had previously taken just one point of a possible 15, up to 13th in the Premier League table, now three points clear of the relegation zone. Eight teams remain within three points of 18th-place Everton, including those currently below them. Aston Villa (28 points) are not among them, but they remain 11th following the defeat. (AE).

8. Gritty Nottingham Forest sees off disjointed Leeds (Nottingham Forest 1-0 Leeds): Nottingham Forest did not play well but they did what they had to do as defensively they are so solid; Steve Cooper’s men have a clear plan and they are doing the basics so well. With Brennan Johnson in this kind of form plus other threats on the break, Forest are looking set to stay in the Premier League quite comfortably.

Meanwhile, Jesse Marsch and Leeds look very disjointed as they continue to integrate new signings and get players back to full fitness. They looked like a team struggling for confidence and with no win in their last seven the pressure is mounting on Marsch. It seems like they just need one lucky break to get going again and regain their early season form. The Leeds fans aren’t happy, however, and a bad week with their two games against in-form Man United could see the owners forced into a change. (JPW)

9. Savvy Bees make most of Saints’ weaknesses (Brentford 3-0 Southampton): Brentford are very good at whipping in crosses and winning balls in the air. Like Dracula, Southampton do not like crosses. This did not seem to be a good matchup for Saints before this game and it went exactly that way. Thomas Frank’s side were ruthless when their chances arrived and Southampton’s jumbled defense gave them too much time to pick out crosses and then switched off to defend the players arriving to score. These were basic errors from Southampton and it’s the reason they are bottom of the league. These crosses and the chaos they cause before, during, and after the ball is coming in is also why Brentford are pushing for European qualification. This turned into a very routine win for the hosts as the pressure continues to mount on Nathan Jones with six defeats in his seven Premier League games in charge. Saints aren’t cut off at the bottom, yet, but it is getting to a very precarious situation for Jones as new players have arrived but there has been no real improvement for Saints since Ralph Hasenhuttl was fired in November. (JPW)

10. Bournemouth shows hope but Brighton’s got too much class (Brighton 1-0 AFC Bournemouth): Kaoru Mitoma certainly looks to be comfortable in the Premier League, and who needs a 20-yard banger or intra-box juggle-and fire every week? This time Mitoma turned up with a late header for his show-stopper. But Bournemouth can and should feel renewed optimism after new owner Bill Foley sanctioned moves for some badly needed flair players. One of those, Dango Ouattara, looks downright dangerous, while Ivorian attacker Hamed Traore and Ghanaian striker Antoine Semenyo are proper alternatives to Kieffer Moore and injured Dominic Solanke. When the Cherries get Marcus Tavernier back, the puzzle will be much closer to their best. How many pieces remain missing is what will dictate whether Bournemouth keeps its puncher’s chance to stay up. (NM)

Kane’s history-maker delivers another Tottenham win vs Man City

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Tottenham Hotspur Stadium remains a house of horrors for Pep Guardiola and Manchester City following Spurs 1-0 win on Sunday, as Harry Kane made Premier League and Tottenham history in North London.

It’s Spurs’ fifth-straight win over City at home, a stunning run for any team against three-peat chasing visitors. Spurs also finished the game with 10 men after Cristian Romero collected a late, second yellow card, but City still could not find a way home.

Kane’s 267th Tottenham and 200th career goal came off a City error in the 15th minute and the visitors never found an equalizer, shut out for the first time since an Oct. 16 loss at Liverpool.

WATCH TOTTENHAM vs MANCHESTER CITY FULL MATCH REPLAY STREAM – LINK

Arsenal (50 points) were handed just their second defeat of the season on Saturday, beaten 1-0 away to Everton as Sean Dyche made his debut as Toffees manager, and it was North London rival Tottenham that acted on it.

City remains five points behind Arsenal, who holds a match-in-hand, while Spurs climb onto 39 points. That’s one behind Newcastle and three back of third-place Man United, though Spurs have played more games than anyone else in the Premier League other than Fulham.

[ MORE: How to watch Premier League in USA ]


Harry Kane reaction to win, record-setting goal

What he said to NBC after the game. “It’s hard to put into words, a magical moment and especially do to it in a win as well. Being here at home in front of the fans. There’s been so much talk about it and I just wanted to get it done as soon as possible. To do it in a big game against one of the biggest teams in the world…it’s a great feeling. When I started playing regularly 8, 9 years ago, it wasn’t even in my mind to score 200 Premier League goals. When Tim Sherwood gave me my first start, I was so desperate to make my mark. A lot of hard work, with Mauricio and all the coaches. Jimmy Greaves is a complete hero, one of the best to play the game. To be in that company is a special feeling. I’m sure his family is watching and proud as well.”

What he said to crowd after the game: “Thanks for supporting me my whole career. Thank you to my wife, my kids, family and friends. And to my teammates. It’s super. Let’s keep the support going and see where it takes us.”


Pep Guardiola reaction

“We started really well. As usual against Tottenham, home or away, we make a mistake and they punish us. They are a team at 1-0 down who are not easy. We had chances with Riyad, but even with our people up front it’s not easy, and we dropped three points.”

Why he didn’t start Kevin De Bruyne for tactical reasons, but subbed him anyway: “We brought him in for the last pass. In the second half it was moree difficult. He can make one of these actions.”


Stars of the Show

Harry Kane: What else can you say about him?

Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg: The sort of guy who makes the middle of the park a danger zone, and today that meant an assist.

Manuel Akanji: One of the precious few City players who continues to consistently show hunger.

Ivan Perisic: Up and down the left side, should’ve had an assist to Kane late.

Jack Grealish: A constant menace who won fouls out of nothing. You might not like that, but it worked a treat.

Tottenham vs Manchester City
fotmob.com

What’s next?

Man City is home to Aston Villa on Sunday, Feb. 12, a day after Tottenham heads to Leicester City.


Harry Kane goal video: Tottenham, England star makes big history


Tottenham vs Manchester City live updates, as they happened

Tottenham vs Man City final score: 1-0 (Kane, 15′)

12:57pm ET: Nearly for both sides! Julian Alvarez tears into a shot that just misses the frame at one end, and Kane should’ve had a corner for a denied chance at the other end but it was ruled he just missed the frame.

12:51pm ET: A short City corner nearly makes it 1-1, but Eric Dier’s thigh gets a piece of the ball that looked marked for upper 90. It’s another corner, and there’s a handball shout against Cristian Romero that goes unheeded. Now Spurs race back the other way and Ivan Perisic comes close to finding Kane with a dragged shot-cross through the six. It’s getting fun!

12:43pm ET: So nearly 2-0, but Ben Davies’ header off a corner kick is just off the mark.

Wait, what’s that? Kevin De Bruyne’s music? A game plan crying out for him is now getting its pleas heard as cameras catch the Belgian getting dolled up for his introduction.

12:37pm ET: Back in play, albeit slowly, and the second half’s first real moment comes when Grealish wins a foul on the left off of Emerson Royal. The lofted in free kick is a bit wayward and seems to carry too much, and the passage ends with a City goal kick. Still 1-0 Spurs.

12:20pm ET: HALFTIME STATS! It’s still 1-0 to Spurs on Kane’s record-making goal. Here’s how the match looks, via FotMob:

Tottenham vs Manchester City live
fotmob.com

12:17pm ET: Crossbar smashed! Riyad Mahrez nearly has it 1-1 at the break. We’re almost done with two minutes stoppage time.

12:13pm ET: Close! Grealish has been a live wire and whips in a shot that cannot find the frame. City cannot find Erling Haaland and the xG battle is even at 0.37 even if City has 68 percent of the ball and a 6-2 edge in shots. Still 1-0 Spurs, who have a corner and cannot get through City because Kane and Eric Dier have a few chances to snap a loose ball home.

12:05pm ET: It’s slowed down a bit, so let’s take a moment to shout out reaction from the other two Premier League players who can say they’ve scored 200 goals in the competition.

Here’s more on Harry Kane’s Tottenham record and new berth in Premier League history.

11:52am ET: YELLOW CARD, TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR. Man City right back at it, but Spurs take the ball back and Kane wins a free kick just inside the circle. City takes the ball back and Jack Grealish and Rico Lewis are bringing electricity to the center of the park. Lewis is chopped down by Rodrigo Betancur, who sees a yellow card for his petulance.

11:47am ET: GOOOOOAAAAALLLL! TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR! And it’s history for Harry Kane! It had still been a lot of City, but a bad giveaway deep in its own end allows Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg to lay the ball off for Kane inside the 18. From this angle and range, the new all-time Tottenham Hotspur goal scorer is not going to miss and Spurs lead at home with his 267th goal in the shirt. It’s also his 200th Premier League goal. What a moment! Tottenham 1-0 Man City, 15′.

11:36am ET: It’s been a good start for Man City, with a couple of corner kicks. City, however, looks like it will be dealing with an 18 that resembles cartons of milk on the shelf at the grocery store. City currently opening the door to find a compact Spurs unit all over the pitch, with several shots blocked inside the 18.

11:15am ET: Good morning! Nick Mendola here with you ahead of a game Antonio Conte would love to get and Pep Guardiola will be planning to capture. Some odd comments from Guardiola before the game about Kevin De Bruyne being out of the Starting XI for tactical reasons, while Phil Foden misses out through injury/illness. Exciting under-the-radar Maximo Perrone has a spot in the 18, too, and some are suspecting him as a long-term Rodri clone. As for Spurs, Conte does get Richarlison on the bench, which also holds room for new signings Pedro Porro and Arnaut Danjuma. Depth options and two tactical wizards on the touch line should make this a complete game… unless Erling Haaland makes it a fait accompli before it has a chance to become a chess match. (NM)


Tottenham team news, injuries, lineup options

OUT: Lucas Moura (calf)

Manchester City team news, injuries, lineup options

OUT: John Stones (thigh), Benjamin Mendy (suspension – MORE), Phil Foden (foot)


How to watch Tottenham vs Manchester City live, stream link and start time

Kick off: 11:30 am ET, Sunday
TV channel: NBC
Online: Stream via NBCSports.com


Key storylines & star players

When these sides met just two weeks ago, Tottenham found themselves 2-0 up at halftime and threatening to cause the Man City upset yet again, effectively handing rivals Arsenal a three-point boost in the title race. Then the second half kicked off, and the two-time defending champions poured in four games, including three in the first 18 minutes. Another fantastic half wasted by Tottenham, though it was typically a poor start followed by a frantic finish of their own. Harry Kane will pass Jimmy Greaves as Spurs’ all-time top scorer when he scores his next goal, taking his total in all competitions to 267. If Kane scores that goal in a Premier League fixture, the record goal will also be his 200th in the league.

Erling Haaland (25 goals) is the only player with more PL goals than Kane (16) this season, and though his numbers are certainly eye-popping, his arrival has clearly unsettled Pep Guardiola’s tactical system to some degree. A season ago, Manchester City conceded just 26 goals in 38 games (0.68 per game). This season, 20 goals in 20 games, up nearly a half-goal per game.

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