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Premier League 2016-17 season preview: Tottenham Hotspur

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Can Tottenham Hotspur go again?

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That’s the big question ahead of this season as Mauricio Pochettino‘s young squad finished third in the Premier League in 2015-16, pushing Leicester City all the way for the title until they fell off late in the campaign.

Harry Kane, Dele Alli and Eric Dier are the young English heart of this side, while Hugo Lloris, Jan Vertonghen and Toby Alderweireld bring the experience and defensive nous. This is a superbly balanced time which is capable of carrying out Pochettino’s high-pressing style expertly.

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Losing out on second spot to Arsenal on the final day of last season was a tough pill to swallow for Spurs fans despite their stunning season. They’ve qualified for the UEFA Champions League and it will be intriguing to see how their young squad handles the pressure of expectancy following their breakout campaign last season. Another top four finish will be on the minds of everyone at White Hart Lane ahead of their new stadium move and an exciting few years ahead for Spurs.

The north London club have another crop of promising youngster coming through and Pochettino is certainly the right man to get the best out of them.

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Poch’s team will win the title because… They are young, hungry and will learn from their sobering experience in the final weeks of last season. Spurs ripped teams apart on their day and now they have some help for Harry Kane up front in the shape of Vincent Janssen, they should have more staying power at the top of the table. Playing UCL games at Wembley Stadium will give them a big boost and if they get off to a good start, who knows?

Most likely they will struggle to hit the heights of last season and battle for fourth because… That’s probably where this team is at. They were sublime last season, don’t get me wrong, but they overachieved and got pretty lucky with injuries for the most part. Vertonghen will be a big miss early in the season and with the perennial giants all spending big and bringing in talented managers, Spurs will find it tough to stay in the top four.


Best Possible XI

—– Lloris —–

— Walker — Alderweireld — Vertonghen — Rose —

—– Dembele —– Dier —–

—- Eriksen —- Alli —- Lamela —-

—— Kane ——


Transfers in: Victor Wanyama ($14.3 million, Southampton), Vincent Janssen ($22 million, AZ Alkmaar)

Transfers out: Alex Pritchard ($10.4 million, Norwich City), Grant Ward (Undisclosed, Ipswich Town), Charlie Hayford (Free, Sheffield Wednesday), Christopher Paul (Free, QPR), Emmanuel Sonupe, Armani Daly (Both released), Federico Fazio (Loan, AS Roma), Filip Lesniak (Loan, Slovan Liberec)

Last season: Their highest-ever finish of third in the PL was a sensational result for this young Spurs side. Up until the final weeks of the season they pushed Leicester City hard for the title but then fell away drastically once their title dreams were over. In the Europa League they lost in the Round of 16 to Borussia Dortmund, plus lost in last 16 of the FA Cup to Crystal Palace. Overall, though, a fine season as they easily sealed UCL qualification which was their aim.

LONDON, ENGLAND - MARCH 05: Harry Kane of Tottenham Hotspur scores his team's second goal during the Barclays Premier League match between Tottenham Hotspur and Arsenal at White Hart Lane on March 5, 2016 in London, England. (Photo by Clive Rose/Getty Images)
(Photo by Clive Rose/Getty Images)

Star player: Harry Kane – He’s the man who puts the ball in the back of the net and the reigning PL golden boot winner will be their main man once again. Kane, 23, has scored 46 goals in his last 72 appearances in the PL for Spurs. He’s a goal-scoring machine who will be eager to make everyone forget about his woeful performances for England at EURO 2016 this summer.

Coach’s Corner: Pochettino has worked wonders to rebuild Spurs. When he arrived from Southampton two summers ago it took time to implement his style but now he’s had the squad he wants together for over 12 months, we are starting to see the benefits. The Argentine manager demands extreme work rate from his players but his methods get results. Leading Spurs into the UCL group stages is a superb achievement but he’ll want to make a splash in Europe and again in the PL this season.

LONDON, ENGLAND - MAY 02: Mauricio Pochettino the manager of Tottenham Hotspur reacts during the Barclays Premier League match between Chelsea and Tottenham Hotspur at Stamford Bridge on May 02, 2016 in London, England. (Photo by Ian Walton/Getty Images)
(Photo by Ian Walton/Getty Images)

PST predicts: Spurs will challenge for a top four finish but expectancy plus UCL rigors may way heavy on the shoulders of their young squad. We may not see another title challenge but Pochettino’s side can expect to challenge for at least the top four and go far in the Champions League. It will be interesting to see how Kane, Alli, Dier and Co. cope with the disappointment of failure with England this summer. Will they have a EURO 2016 hangover?

AFCON wrap: Diaby’s sensational rip highlights trio of matches

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The Africa Cup of Nations said hello to six more competitors on Monday, with a thrilling goal amongst the eight tallied across the competitions in Egypt.

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Mali 4-1 Mauritania

Two different men named Adama Traore — neither of them the Wolves winger — joined Moussa Marega on the score sheet but it’s difficult to describe the class and small margins that defined the tournament’s goal of the day.

Sporting Lisbon’s Abdoulay Diaby somehow got this shot off through two defenders and into the upper reaches of the goal to open the scoring in the three-goal win for Mali, which is having some summer when you take into account the U-20 World Cup.

Ivory Coast 1-0 South Africa

There were only 13 total attempts in the game, and Aston Villa’s Jonathan Kodija scored the lone goal of a tournament opening win for Les Elephants.

Tunisia 1-1 Angola

A draw was probably fair, as Youssef Msakni’s first half penalty was met by Djalma Campos’ late goal to split the spoils in Group E.

Copa America roundup: Uruguay tops Chile; Full knockout bracket

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Ecuador and Japan drew to allow Paraguay to sew up the final knockout round spot, sending Miguel Almiron and Co. into a match-up with Brazil.

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And Uruguay rode Edinson Cavani’s goal into the other side of the bracket, moving ahead of Chile in a tight match.

Ecuador 1-1 Japan

There was a lot to like in a match with 30-plus shots and the ultimate prize of a match-up with Brazil on Thursday in Porto Alegre.

Shoya Nakajima put the Asian side ahead a quarter-hour into the match, but Angel Mena provided an equalizer before halftime to put both sides in danger of failure to reach the knockout rounds.

Chile 0-1 Uruguay

Cavani scored for the second time this tournament as Uruguay claimed first place in Group A and a knockout round meeting with Peru.

Cavani’s deftly flicked header of a Jonathan Rodriguez pass pushed Uruguay above Chile, which had won both of its group matches and now meets Colombia on Friday.

Knockout round schedule

June 27
Brazil v. Paraguay

June 28
Venezuela v. Argentina
Colombia v. Chile

June 29
Uruguay v. Peru

July 2
Brazil/Paraguay v. Venezuela/Argentina
Colombia/Chile v. Uruguay/Peru

July 6
Third place playoff

July 7
Final

Norwich City adds Switzerland international Drmic on free transfer

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Norwich City has added a new star striker to a unit which produced 93 goals in the Championship last season.

Josip Drmic will join Swiss national teammate Timm Klose with the Canaries for the next three seasons, hoping to bring his Bundesliga and international experience to a Premier League safety campaign.

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Drmic turns 27 next month, and scored two goals in five appearances for Borussia Monchengladbach last season. He has 31 goals and seven assists in 107 Bundesliga appearances between Gladbach, Hamburger SV, Bayer Leverkusen, and Nurnberg.

Coach Daniel Farke got 30 goals from target forward Teemu Pukki, who plays a similar role to Drmic and has plenty of top flight experience with Celtic and Schalke amongst others.

Drmic can also operate on the wing, usually left over right, and has featured in both the 2014 and 2018 World Cup. From Canaries.co.uk:

“I’m going to do everything and give 100% on the pitch. I will be ready to give everything for the club. My job is scoring but I also want to help my team and help us be successful.

“When I first came to Norwich, the first thing I noticed was how kind everybody was. It’s given me a lot of positive energy and I’m excited to see what happens.”

Between Pukki and Drmic, Norwich can have faith that its well-prepared to have an answer up top.

Canada’s Beckie: Sinclair asked if I wanted to take penalty v. Sweden

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Prolific forward Janine Beckie didn’t dodge cameras after her missed penalty helped seal Canada’s fate at the 2019 Women’s World Cup, and she also explained why legendary striker Christine Sinclair wasn’t at the spot.

Beckie, 24, scored two goals in Canada’s run to the bronze medal at the 2016 Olympics in Rio, and the Houston Dash forward and Texas Tech product has 25 goals in 57 caps.

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The American-born Beckie was called upon to try to level the score against Sweden on Monday in the Round of 16, and took a solid effort which was parried by Hedvig Lindahl in an outstanding bit of goalkeeping.

“I’m confident in my penalty,” Beckie said. “I thought I hit it really well. I thought she made a really good save. It’s the big moments. It’s the moments that you live for. You get all the glory if it goes in, and you take the blame it feels like if you miss. That’ll stay with me for a long time.”

So why was she at the spot? Here’s Beckie on TSN, and Sinclair’s confirmation of the tale. As we expected, Lindahl’s success against Sinclair at the Algarve Cup played a role.

“Christine actually asked me if I wanted to take it. That’s a big moment for me and it’s gonna be hard for a while.”

Full marks for stepping up to both places: The penalty spot and the post-match interview.