Alderweireld, Vertonghen key to Tottenham’s success

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LONDON — Toby Alderweireld has settled in seamlessly to Tottenham Hotspur’s defense this season.

That’s probably because he has more than a few familiar faces around him.

On a trip to hang out with Tottenham and Buffalo Bills players last week, ProSoccerTalk caught up with Alderweireld, 26, at Spurs training ground for an exclusive chat as the stylish defender has started every single Premier League game at the heart of Spurs’ defense alongside fellow Belgian Jan Vertonghen. The duo are forming a formidable partnership as they have conceded just eight times in the opening 10 games of the campaign, the joint-best defensive record in the PL, and they go back quite a way.

[ MORE: JPW catches up with Kompany ]

Also around to help Alderweireld settle in at White Hart Lane are other Belgian internationals Mousa Dembele and Nacer Chadli, as Spurs’ lineup has a settled look about it with Mauricio Pochettino‘s men in sixth spot on 17 points from their opening 10 games.

What does Alderweireld make of the season so far as Tottenham prepare for their game against Aston Villa on Monday (Watch live, 3 p.m. ET on NBCSN and online via Live Extra)?

“We had only one defeat and that was the first game. We have a good organization and everybody works very hard for the team,” the former Atletico Madrid defender said. “I think up front we can make more of a difference but we are in a good way and we’ve had a lot of difficult games where we have stood our ground and I think we are a team who are difficult to beat.”

In his second season in charge, Pochettino has Spurs moving in the right direction and almost almost a third of the way into this campaign, how is the Belgian international finding life under the regimented Argentine coach?

“You can see that we want to play pressure on run a lot and have the ball as much as possible, so that is always natural that the team has the ball and wants to attack. It is nice to play for him,” Alderweireld said.

[ MORE: Tottenham smash five past Bournemouth ]

Last season Alderweireld was on loan at Southampton from Atletico Madrid and he enjoyed a magnificent season under Ronald Koeman at St Mary’s but returned to Spain and Saints couldn’t come to an permanent agreement with Atletico after the La Liga side exercised their option to cancel Saints’ previous option-to-buy clause. That led to plenty of suitors wanting to buy him permanently from Atletico and Tottenham won the race as Alderweireld joined for $17.5 million and was reunited with Vertonghen for the third-time in his career.

“I know him, especially from Ajax because I played with him but growing up in Belgium I didn’t play with him because he is two years older than me,” Alderweireld revealed. “It is nice to play with him, we know each other well and I think you can see that on the field.”

Vertonghen and Alderweireld
Vertonghen and Alderweireld playing for Belgium

As Alderweireld alluded to, he and Vertonghen have a strong bond as they both played in the same youth team in Belgium, Germinal Beerschot, and both grew up in and around Antwerp close to the Dutch border. The duo also made the switch to Dutch giants Ajax and played in their esteemed youth academy before making it into the first team alongside one another in the same time as current Spurs playmaker Christian Eriksen and Luis Suarez. Their careers have taken similar routes ever since.

[ WATCH: Stream every PL game via Live Extra

Now, they’re forming a strong partnership at the heart of Spurs’ defense with almost telepathic understanding at times as Vertonghen likes to stride out of the back and play with his left foot, while Alderweireld is deft with his right peg and both players are just as comfortable playing in the full back position.

Plus, they are both extremely comfortable playing alongside one another. Alderweireld explains.

“We know, we know. We talk a lot before the game about how to defend and how we have to do this,” Alderweireld revealed. “‘This kind of striker we have to do this’, so we talk a lot before the game and in the game it is split second. If you have to tell each other every time ‘watch this…’ then the moment it is gone. We know what to do in certain situations we know what to do. It is very important. We know from each other that when he makes a mistake I cover and when I make I mistake he picks it up. That is important not only with me and Jan but the team wants to work very hard and make sure other players’ mistakes don’t hurt us. That is why we have a good solidity.”

That solidity has been key to Spurs’ success this season and although they have drawn five of their opening 10 games, they’ve only lost once and that came on the opening day of the season away at Manchester United courtesy of a bizarre own goal from Kyle Walker. So, what are Vertonghen’s best qualities as Spurs’ vice captain continues to impress in his fourth season at the Lane?

“He is a very good defender and he can play the ball. You can always play him the ball and he knows what to do,” Alderweirled said, appreciatively. “He is quite quick, quite strong and good with the head, so he is an all-around player. That is important in the Premier League that you can defend your strikers, not only the strong ones but the fast ones and the small ones… it doesn’t matter, he can beat them all. So that is very nice to have him there and he is a very good defender.”

LONDON, ENGLAND - SEPTEMBER 26: Toby Alderweireld of Tottenham Hotspur celebrates scoring his team's second goal during the Barclays Premier League match between Tottenham Hotspur and Manchester City at White Hart Lane on September 26, 2015 in London, United Kingdom. (Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images)
Alderweireld celebrates scoring his Spurs in a win over Manchester City.

Another teammate for club and country who Alderweireld rates highly is Dembele. The midfielder has struggled with injuries and form since arriving at Spurs but has been pivotal in the midfield engine room in recent weeks and Alderweireld is a big fan.

“I think he is one of the best midfielders in the Premier League,” Alderweireld said of Dembele. “He is very strong and it is difficult to be strong and technical. He has both. I think if he is not getting injured again then he will be a massive player for us. He can give even more to the team if he is healthy and I think the game against Liverpool was a massive game from him. I hope he can show it now every week because he deserves it. He works very hard and is a very good guy. I really hope he can show it more because he is one of the best midfielders in the Premier League.”

With Dembele and Eric Dier providing a robust shield in front of Spurs’ defense, Alderweireld firmly believes his side are setting the foundations for a successful season which will see them challenge for a top for spot.

“That defensive solidity is the way we will get success,” Alderweireld said. “It is important that the team feels confident in playing and isn’t conceding, not giving away a lot of chances. If you have to score three, four, five goals to win it is not good. I think we can improve up front but we are working very hard in a good way and we are playing very well.”

The same can be said for Alderweireld and his good friend he shares the center back position with at White Hart Lane.

Alderweireld and Vertonghen together at Ajax, back right.
Alderweireld and Vertonghen together at Ajax, back right.

Brighton – Manchester United: How to watch, start time, odds, prediction

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Brighton – Manchester United: Impressive Brighton and Hove Albion hopes to continue Manchester United’s winless league season when the Red Devils visit the Amex Stadium on Saturday (Watch live at 7:30 am ET on NBCSN and online via NBCSports.com).

[ MORE: How to watch PL in the USA ]  

It will be the first two meetings in several days, as Brighton’s win at Preston North End and United’s takedown of Luton Town set up a League Cup fourth round date at the Amex.

[ MORE: ProSoccerTalk unfiltered, Week 2 ]

United handled Brighton well last season, winning 3-1 and 3-0, so this will be a great test at the acumen of both managers: Graham Potter in his second full season with the Seagulls and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer attempting to prove his doubters wrong.


Team news: Brighton – Manchester United (INJURY REPORT)

The Seagulls will not have Yves Bissouma, who was suspended three matches for his no-look, studs-up kick into the face of Newcastle defender Jamal Lewis. Brighton manager Graham Potter revealed that the long-term recovery of Jose Izquierdo is about two weeks away from being complete, while he has brought Adam Lallana back into the starting lineup as he’s now fully recovered.

 

Manchester United are without Axel Tuanzebe and Phil Jones as Solskjaer brings Wan-Bissaka, Matic and Greenwood coming into the lineup.


What they’re saying

Potter on the League Cup win setting up consecutive Man United tests: “It’s a big week for us with those two matches and then Everton before the international break. That’s what we wanted because we wanted to go through in this competition. Players always want to play and the best thing for them is to be out on the field on nights like tonight to keep everyone in the group ready for when they’re needed. You saw that today. There was a willingness to run and fight for the team and get the result and that’s why I’m very happy.”

United’s Solskjaer after goalkeeper Dean Henderson starred on his senior debut: “The goalkeeping department and training level has been really high, of course, you can see driven and dedicated people and I’ve enjoyed watching them. Dean in goal, good save, you can see he’s having to concentrate and it’s a different job to what he’s done a few times last season and he came up with the save when he had to.”

League Cup results
LUTON, ENGLAND – SEPTEMBER 22: Dean Henderson of Manchester United saves a shot at Kenilworth Road (Photo by Catherine Ivill/Getty Images)

Odds and ends (full odds provided by our partner, PointsBet)

Brighton is +375 to win at home, while a draw nets the wagerer +260. Manchester United is expected to win and thusly -130 to take all three points.

PointsBet is our Official Sports Betting Partner and we may receive compensation if you place a bet on PointsBet for the first time after clicking our links


Brighton – Manchester United prediction

The only thing keeping us from pegging a very impressive Brighton team to collect another win is the shadow cast by Manchester United’s 2019-20 season (and long tradition of winning). United was rusty in its loss to Crystal Palace and had to work hard to defeat Luton Town in the League Cup. If that rust was there last week, how do the legs feel after a week? Anyway, the Red Devils still have Bruno Fernandes and it just doesn’t seem like this team starts 0-2 (or even 0-1-1). I grimace as I write 2-1 to Manchester United.


How to watch Brighton – Manchester United stream and start time

Kickoff: 7:30 am ET Saturday
TV Channel: NBCSN
Online: Stream via NBCSports.com

West Brom – Chelsea: How to watch, start time, team news, prediction, odds

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West Brom – Chelsea: The Blues are in desperate need of a strong rebound when they visit The Hawthorns on Saturday (Watch live at 12:30 pm ET, on NBC and online via NBCSports.com).

WEST BROM – CHELSEA STREAM LIVE

The Baggies, on the other hand, are simply hoping to collect their first point of the season after suffering a 3-0 defeat to Leicester City on the opening day of the 2020-21 season and following that up with a 5-2 beatdown at the hands of Everton last weekend.

As far as favorable matchups go, facing the 20th-place side a week after losing to defending champions Liverpool is quite timely for Chelsea.

[ MORE: How to watch PL in the USA ]  

Here is everything you need to know ahead of West Brom – Chelsea this Saturday with team news, odds, stream link and more.


Team news: West Brom – Chelsea (INJURY REPORT)

West Brom – QUESTIONABLE: Ahmed Hegazi (thigh), Kamil Grosicki (back), Hal Robson-Kanu (leg) | OUT: Kieran Gibbs (suspension), Conor Gallagher (loan rules), Kenneth Zohore (calf)

Chelsea – QUESTIONABLE: Christian Pulisic (hamstring), Cesar Azpilicueta (thigh) | OUT: Hakim Ziyech (knee), Andrea Christensen (suspension)


What they’re saying: West Brom – Chelsea

West Brom manager Slaven Bilic, on struggling to sign players: “We don’t have a huge budget, that is why we are trying to be creative and lucky. That’s not easy but we are trying. … We have to do it to maintain a good chance.”

Chelsea manager Frank Lampard, on Thiago Silva: “It is exciting for us because he has had just over a week training with us. It was a perfect 60 minutes for him tonight. He will show the qualities he has. Of course, he will get fitter and better. He also gave us something for me on the night in the dressing room and on the pitch of a leader with authority in terms of his demands on others. He can’t speak the language but at the minute that’s not even a problem because his presence and the way he commands people around him is already showing that to me in training and in our game tonight.”


Odds and ends (full odds provided by our partner, PointsBet)

West Brom (+750) represent one of the biggest underdogs — or, opportunities, depending on how you look at it — of the still-young PL season. There’s not much to be won by betting on Chelsea (-280). Even the draw (+400) is pretty far out there.

PointsBet is our Official Sports Betting Partner and we may receive compensation if you place a bet on PointsBet for the first time after clicking our links


Prediction: West Brom – Chelsea

Barring some unforeseen circumstances — for example, a 12th-minute red card — it’s virtually impossible to see West Brom getting anything from this game. They’ve been incredibly poor defensively through two games, and they’re yet to face a side with anything close to the firepower which the Blues possess. West Brom 1-3 Chelsea.


How to watch West Brom – Chelsea stream and start time

Kickoff: 12:30 pm ET Saturday
Online: Stream via NBCSports.com

MLS upcoming schedule, MLS Cup odds

MLS betting odds
Photo by Ira L. Black - Corbis/Getty Images
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MLS betting odds and upcoming schedule: Major League Soccer still has six weeks left of fixtures left in the regular season after its long-awaited return from the COVID-19 shutdown.

[ TRANSFER NEWS: Dest to Barcelona? ]

The regular season is currently scheduled to end on Nov. 8, with the playoffs beginning that same week and culminating with MLS Cup on Dec. 12.

Click here for MLS betting odds and different odds on soccer and beyond from our new official sports betting partner PointsBet, as there will be plenty of selections to make each week with game lines and more available via NBC Sports Bet.

[ MORE: Five-subs rule again voted down by Premier League clubs ]

This page will be updated following the completion of every round of games in 2020, to feature the upcoming set of fixtures and MLS betting odds.


This weekend’s MLS schedule and odds (via PointsBet)

Sunday, Sept. 26

Nashville (+105) v Houston (+235) / Draw (+225) — 3:30 pm ET
NYCFC (-228) v Cincinnati (+550) / Draw (+300) — 7 pm ET

Sunday, Sept. 27

DC United (+225) v New England (+105) / Draw (+230) — 7 pm ET
New York Red Bulls (-167) v Montreal (+375) / Draw (+280) — 7 pm ET
Philadelphia (+120) v Inter Miami (+195) / Draw (+225) — 7:30 pm ET
Chicago (-139) v Atlanta (+300) / Draw (+275) — 7:30 pm ET
Toronto (+120) v Columbus (+195) / Draw (+225) — 7:30 pm ET
Minnesota (-125) v Real Salt Lake (+265) / Draw (+270) — 8 pm ET
FC Dallas (+125) v Orlando City (+170) / Draw (+245) — 8:30 pm ET
Colorado (+145) v Sporting KC (+150) / Draw (+240) — 9 pm ET
Vancouver (+375) v Portland (-189) / Draw (+325) — 10 pm ET
LAFC (-500) v San Jose (+850) / Draw (+525) — 10:30 pm ET
LA Galaxy (+150) v Seattle (+150) / Draw (+235) — 10:30 pm ET


MLS Cup winner odds

Los Angeles FC (+450)
Toronto FC (+450)
Seattle Sounders (+800)
Philadelphia Union (+1100)
Atlanta United (+1400)
Columbus Crew (+1400)
LA Galaxy (+1800)
New York City FC (+1800)
Sporting KC (+1800)
Portland Timbers (+2000)
Minnesota United (+2500)
New England Revolution (+2500)
Orlando City SC (+2500)
New York Red Bulls (+3000)
Montreal Impact (+4000)
FC Dallas (+5000)
Real Salt Lake (+5000)
San Jose Earthquakes (+6000)
Chicago Fire (+10000)
Colorado Rapids (+10000)
D.C. United (+10000)
Houston Dynamo (+10000)
Inter Miami (+12500)
FC Cincinnati (+25000)
Vancouver Whitecaps (+25000)
Nashville SC (+30000)

West Ham – Wolves: How to watch, start time, team news, prediction, odds

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West Ham – Wolves: David Moyes will be watching from home after testing positive for COVID-19, though he reportedly remains asymptomatic, when his West Ham United side welcomes Wolverhampton Wanderers to the London Stadium on Sunday (Watch live at 2 pm ET, online via Peacock).

WEST HAM – WOLVES STREAM LIVE

In recent history, West Ham have had an absolutely torrid time against Nuno Espirito Santo’s side since they won promotion from the EFL Championship. The Hammers have found the back of the net zero times, and collected zero points, in four meetings since Wolves returned to the Premier League.

[ MORE: How to watch PL in the USA ]  

Here is everything you need to know ahead of West Ham – Wolves this Sunday with team news, odds, stream link and more.


Team news: West Ham – Wolves (INJURY REPORT)

West Ham – QUESTIONABLE: Issa Diop (COVID-19), Josh Cullen (COVID-19)

Wolves – QUESTIONABLE: Fernando Marcal (undisclosed) | OUT: Jonny (knee)


What they’re saying: West Ham – Wolves

Stand-in manager Alan Irvine, on Moyes’ absence: “I’ve spoken to him several times this morning. He is not feeling any symptoms and hasn’t felt them any way through, so obviously it’s a bit frustrating for him, but he’s fine and he’s getting on with other things. Of course, David will be the manager and everything we do will be run through him. He will make the decisions on everything.”

Nuno Espirito Santo, on facing a team with COVID-19 cases: “We are not concerned, I wish David and the players the fastest recovery. What happened to West Ham can happen to any one of us. It’s tough when you are preparing for a game and you cannot be on the touchline. Now we’re not concerned, we’re confident and we trust the authorities to keep things safe for us.”


Odds and ends (full odds provided by our partner, PointsBet)

Everything points to a win for Wolves (+105) with West Ham (+270) made slight home underdogs, which should spell out everything you need to know about the Hammers. Best-case scenario for Moyes and Irvine would be to snatch a draw (+240).

PointsBet is our Official Sports Betting Partner and we may receive compensation if you place a bet on PointsBet for the first time after clicking our links


Prediction: West Ham – Wolves

West Ham might get out of the starting block at some point this season, but Wolves are hardly the ideal opponent you want to see when you have zero points and very few positives to start the season. Misery begets misery, and West Ham are in for a bit more. West Ham 0-2 Wolves.


How to watch West Ham – Wolves stream and start time

Kickoff: 2 pm ET Sunday
Online: Stream via Peacock