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Pochettino confident on title-push after out-pressing Pep

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LONDON — Mauricio Pochettino won the tactical battle against Pep Guardiola on Sunday as Tottenham Hotspur inflicted the first defeat of Pep’s reign at City.

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Going into the game Guardiola’s side had won six-straight matches in the Premier League but they were coming up against a Spurs side who were the only other unbeaten PL team. With both teams playing a very similar philosophy, it was set to be a close, tight encounter.

It wasn’t.

Tottenham set the tone early and Man City never recovered. High-pressing expertly is Pochettino’s penchant and he out-did Guardiola. Man City’s manager admitted that post-game but had a little shot at Spurs too: “In two or three years my team will be better,” Guardiola said.

In the here and the now they weren’t but I see what Pep was trying to say.

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Pochettino is now in his third season at Spurs and once again his young side seem to be improving and developing under his intense philosophy. With Spurs now the only unbeaten team in the PL, Pochettino was asked about the staying power of his side.

Consistency is key but Pochettino, who hailed this performance as “nearly perfect,” has high hopes for his side who pushed Leicester all the way for the Premier League title last season.

“It is too early in the season to talk about aims but it is important to be consistent If we can play like this, how we played today, why can we not be consistent throughout the season?” Pochettino said. “That is a big effort but that is the way that we work and we want to play. I think today was a good example that we want to follow and to build our pressure.”

The pressure was intense and too much for City to handle.

The excellent Heung-Min Son dropped deep and ran at John Stones and Nicolas Otamendi time and time again in a central forward role, with Dele Alli, Erik Lamela, Moussa Sissoko and Christian Eriksen all breaking from midfield. Spurs were handed a gift early on as Aleksandar Kolarov put into his own net and they never took their foot of the gas as Son brilliantly set up Alli for the second.

With Pochettino and Guardiola’s ideologies similar, Spurs’ boss used his superior experience with his group of players to his advantage. He beat Pep at his own game.

“It was a really exciting game and both teams play in a really exciting way,” Pochettino said. “We share a similar philosophy and I think it was an exciting game. I enjoyed it a lot from the touchline. The fans enjoyed it a lot and the neutral enjoyed too. Both teams, the mentality was to go forward and play football and to try and win the game.”

Guardiola’s famous six-second rule he developed at Barcelona wasn’t apparent on Sunday. City didn’t press Tottenham high and hard enough and spent most of the first half passing themselves into trouble around the own penalty box. All credit to Spurs who had seen the blueprint Celtic had delivered in City’s midweek UEFA Champions League draw with them and carried it out with more quality.

One thing was clear from this game at White Hart Lane: Pochettino and Guardiola’s teams will be right up there at the end of the season when all is said and done. Along with Arsenal, Liverpool and perhaps Manchester United, these are the two stand-out teams in the league.

In the summer Spurs didn’t spend big but instead added prudently by giving new contracts to key players, plus bringing in the likes of Victor Wanyama, Vincent Janssen and Moussa Sissoko who all add extra depth to their squad. Without the influential Harry Kane and Moussa Dembele on Sunday they beat City comfortably. That fact shouldn’t be overlooked.

Pochettino knows his side have somewhat flown under the radar so far. His team haven’t been the biggest spenders or been the most talked about in the papers but slowly people are starting to realize that last seasons title push wasn’t a fluke. After seven games of the season, it is clear Tottenham has the quality to fight for the title, again, and Pochettino knows it.

“I feel very proud. It is true that we are in a different level than other clubs we work very hard to try to improve and the way that we want to play we have enough quality,” Pochettino said. “If we play with passion and the passion we showed today, we have quality enough to fight with the big teams.”

Ilkay Gundogan: ‘OK’ to award Liverpool Premier League title if season cancelled

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Manchester City midfielder Ilkay Gundogan believes that Liverpool have every right to be awarded the Premier League title if the the season were to be cancelled due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Liverpool, who haven’t lifted a top-flight title for 30 years, currently hold a 25-point lead over second-best City, and are two wins away from officially sealing the title.

“For me, that would be okay, yes,” Gundogan told German broadcaster ZDF, after being asked if Liverpool should be named champions if the season were to end early.

Despite believing that awarding Jurgen Klopp and company the title is the fair thing to do, the Germany international is concerned that the cancellation of the league will not only backfire on the top threshold teams but those on the bottom end of the table as well.

“You have to be fair as a sportsperson,” the 29-year-old said. “There are different opinions. For clubs who have had a very good season, it obviously wouldn’t be nice if it was cancelled now.”

“On the other hand, for clubs who aren’t doing as well and are maybe in the relegation places, an abandonment would obviously suit them.”

Gundogan added he’d be open to taking a wage-cut should City and other English clubs follow Juventus and Borussia Dortmund’s lead in asking players to trim their earnings in order to play non-playing staff.

Of course I think it’s okay, that goes without saying, [but] there’s been no discussion in England yet,” Gundogan said. “Perhaps that’s because the English clubs are a bit financially stronger than the clubs in Germany at the moment.

“I don’t know who has the final say in that decision. On the other hand, if a player says, ‘no, I don’t want that, I worked hard for it, I get my salary,’ then it can go in the opposite direction.

“For me personally, it would be okay but, to be honest, you have to be tolerant and if there are players who are against that, then that’s also an acceptable situation.

Harry Kane fails to rule out future Tottenham exit

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Harry Kane won’t rule out a future Tottenham exit, admitting that it largely depends on lifting silverware with his boyhood club.

Asked by Jamie Redknapp on an Instagram live session whether he would end his playing career at Spurs, the 26-year-old striker responded that it all depends on the “progress of the team” and added that he’s not the type of person to be somewhere just for the sake of being there.

In other words, he wants to win titles with Spurs, soon. If not, his days in north London may be numbered.

It’s one of those things, I couldn’t say yes, I couldn’t say no,” Kane told Redknapp on Sunday. “I love Spurs, I’ll always love Spurs. But it’s one of those things – I’ve always said if I don’t feel we’re progressing as a team or going in the right direction, then I’m not someone to just stay there for the sake of it.

“I’m an ambitious player, I want to improve, I want to get better, I want to become one of the top, top players,” he added. “It all depends on what happens as a team and how we progress as a team. So it’s not a definite I’m going to stay there forever – but it’s not a no either.”

Kane, along with his teammates at the time, got the short end of the stick under Mauricio Pochettino, losing a Champions League final and a League Cup final. The striker is aware that Spurs, top to bottom, have – and have had – the firepower to lift silverware but need the final push, which they may unlock under proven winner Jose Mourinho.

“We’ve been saying that for a couple of years now,” says Kane, “we have got a fantastic team but for one reason or another we haven’t been able to get the trophies that, when you look from the outside, we’ve got the team to get.”

“It’s a hard thing to take as a player. I want to win at everything I do so when we’re coming close and you don’t quite get there it’s hard to take and starts to build up. But from my point of view, and the team’s point of view, all you can do is do everything you can, give your best to win every game, to win trophies. For one reason or another, we haven’t quite got there yet.

“Next year, the gaffer now, it’ll be his first chance to really have a pre-season with the team and embed his values into the team and we’ll see what happens. Of course, I want to win, I want to win team trophies, I want to be doing it sooner rather than later. So we will have to see how it goes.”

Kane, who is third on Spurs’ all-time scoring list, is fond of Mourinho, a manager he grew up watching and respects. The strike admits they chat on a regular basis about soccer and a plethora of other subjects, but is aware that if Spurs want to reap all the benefits from having him onboard, the players will need to leave it all on the field.

“He came in and what you see is what you get,” Kane said. “He’s an honest guy – he’ll tell you if you’re doing things well or if you’re not. If he likes you he’ll tell you and if he doesn’t like you he’ll tell you.

“From my point of view, I have built a good relationship with him. We talk every few days or so, talk about all different things, talk about the team, when we were playing, what we can do, how we can improve.

“For me, it’s great to work under a manager like Jose. Obviously growing up, watching football, he was a big part of that. It’s another opportunity for me to work with one of the best managers in the world.

“I’m excited to see how that relationship unfolds and see what we can do on the pitch. So far he’s been great and I know he’s excited to put his stamp on the team when he gets his opportunity.

“When a manager like him comes in and you know he’s won everywhere, I’m sure he has no intentions to not do that at Spurs. From a player’s point of view we know we have a top, top manager, so it’s up to us to go out there and perform.”

What we love about West Ham United

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This week at ProSoccerTalk we will be detailing what we love about each Premier League club competing in the 2019-20 season and next up is Tottenham.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights ] 

Each day we will release details on why who adore each team in particular as we remind ourselves just how awesome the PL is as we await its return following the suspension due to the coronavirus pandemic.

This afternoon, we forge ahead with the Irons, the Hammers, the West Ham United Football Club.


The Bubbles: Let’s be honest here, “I’m Forever Blowing Bubbles” is one of the coolest song/gesture combinations in world football. The bubbles floating across the field as the Irons seek three points is *chef’s kiss.*

The Academy of Football: Current captain Mark Noble is the latest in a long line of celebrated footballers to come out of West Ham’s Academy. And there are some giants in there, including the subject of our next topic Sir Bobby Moore. West Ham has produced Joe Cole, Michael Carrick, Jermain Defoe, Paul Ince, Trevor Brooking, and Frank Lampard Senior and Junior.

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Frank Lampard and Joe Cole (Photo by Bryn Lennon/Getty Images)

 

 

 

Sir Bobby Moore: Can you believe we’ve got a member of the Carolina Lightnin’ on this list? Obscure American soccer jokes aside, Mr. West Ham didn’t just captain the club but also the national team that won England’s only World Cup (West Ham legends Geoff Hurst and Martin Peters were also on the team). Moore is one of the greatest defenders of all-time, having played more than 500 times for West Ham in addition to his status as a centurion for the Three Lions. A Ballon d’Or runner-up in 1970, “Sir Bobby” was an absolute monster of the game. Plus, he was in “Escape to Victory.”

West Ham United
The Bobby Moore statue outside Wembley Stadium (Photo by Dan Istitene/Getty Images)

Mark Noble: There’s something remarkable about everyman Mark Noble, and not because the 32-year-old finishes penalties like a surgeon and looks like the definitive everyman. Doesn’t he give hope to every average-built person on earth? Poor Mark is five appearances from 500 for his career, and will likely meet that milestone by the end of this season, presuming it comes! His 60 goals are seven shy of Carlton Cole’s modern West Ham standard of 67, while his 59 assists lap the field.

Noble (Photo by Mike Hewitt/Getty Images)

Juventus players, staff set to sacrifice up to $100M in wages

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Juventus players and coaches have agreed to forego pay for March, April, May, and June to the tune of approximately $100 million.

The Old Lady has been hit internally by coronavirus, with players Paulo Dybala, Blaise Matuidi, and Daniele Rugani testing positive for COVID-19.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights ] 

Italian football federation chief Gabriele Gravina has become a worldwide name during the COVID-19 crisis, and praised the move by Juve’s players and staff (via Football-Italia).

“The agreement reached by Juventus is an example for the whole system. I thank Giorgio Chiellini, his teammates and Maurizio Sarri because, in wake of the collaboration that the FIGC hopes to have in days, they placed general interests at the heart of their conversations with the club.

“Unity and solidarity in the world of football represent the first great response to the emergency we’re experiencing, and that risks becoming even more serious if we don’t resume playing soon. Only through the contribution of all the protagonists, each of them playing their part, will we make football stronger.”

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