Pochettino confident on title-push after out-pressing Pep

Leave a comment

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.

[ MORE: 3 things we learned ]

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.

[ MORE: Player ratings out of 10 ]

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.”

Premier League social media wrap: Brighton, teqball, remembering Tiote

Premier League social media
Photo by Richard Heathcote/Getty Images
Leave a comment

Premier League sides are fully back in the flow of training with scheduled matches coming within a fortnight.

[ STREAM: Every PL match live ]

So it’s no surprise that banter’s back, too.

That’s where we’ll start Friday, with Irish center back Shane Duffy making sure he’s keeping things light as Brighton and Hove Albion prepares to defend its Premier League place.

Duffy turned a sprinkler on his teammates at training, showing that, yes, your high school career has some things in common with Premier League footballers.

How about some skills as Manchester United gets ready for its return to the PL pitch?

Bruno Fernandes and Andreas Pereira tangled with Fred and Diogo Dalot in a match of Teqball.

You’ll have to watch to see who won.

There’s also a sad anniversary on this day.

It’s been three years since former Newcastle United wrecking ball Cheick Tiote passed away at age 30 after collapsing during a training session with Chinese side Beijing Enterprises, causing shock and grief around the Premier League.

His former teammates were remembering him on Friday, the 2015 Africa Cup of Nations winner was definitely beloved and will always be remembered for his incredible goal to cap off Newcastle’s 4-4 comeback draw with Arsenal.

We’ll start with Norwich City backstop Tim Krul, who spent time with Tiote at Newcastle.

Former Magpies wizard Yohan Cabaye pinned an old memorial to his Twitter wall.

 

Preview: Borussia Dortmund v. Hertha Berlin

Borussia Dortmund v. Hertha preview, how to watch
Photo by Alexandre Simoes/Borussia Dortmund via Getty Images
Leave a comment

Four Bundesliga teams are unbeaten in their last five matches and Hertha Berlin is the unlikeliest of the bunch.

They’ll tangle with Borussia Dortmund at the Westfalenstadion on Saturday in the latest challenge of the Bruno Labaddia era in Berlin.

[ BUNDESLIGA: Week 30 preview and predictions ]

Labbadia is Hertha’s third manager of the season and Hertha has played a scrappy brand of football that has punched and counter-punched under his tutelage. That doesn’t mean they’ve failed to find finish, as Liverpool loanee Marko Grujic and Brazilian youngster Matheus Cunha have been potent.

Borussia Dortmund is a bigger ask, though Hertha made RB Leipzig make mistakes in a 2-2 tie.

[ LIVE: Bundesliga scores, stats ]

Will it be able to get a result at the Westfalenstadion? Perhaps this is a bridge too far, because Dortmund’s shown an explosive offense and its defense has been strong far more often than not this season.

That said, Erling Haaland is just returning to fitness and has just one goal since the league’s restart from the coronavirus pause. Mats Hummels will miss with a yellow card suspension and Marco Reus still isn’t back.

Maybe American teen Giovanni Reyna will get prolonged run along with Jadon Sancho. We’ll see!

Borussia Dortmund v. Hertha Berlin, how to watch

  • TV Channels: FS2
  • Stream LiveVia Fox Soccer
  • Americans Abroad: Giovanni Reyna (Dortmund)
  • When: Saturday, June 6 – 12:30 p.m. ET: Dortmund v. Hertha

Sheffield United season restart preview

Sheffield United season restart preview
Photo by Bradley Collyer/PA Images via Getty Images)
Leave a comment

With the 2019-20 Premier League season soon to restart, let’s focus on all 20 clubs and see where they stand ahead of the final nine matches of the season.

Sheffield United is next.

[ MORE: Remaining PL schedule in full ]

Let’s take a closer look at all things Blades when it comes to the season restart.


Outlook: Sheffield United has welcomed itself to the Premier League and put its feet up on the big boys’ tables while asking what’s for dinner. Blades sit seventh and will hope to continue a fairytale which has them on the precipice of the Europa League. Their fixture list in monstrous, especially at Bramall Lane, but Wilder’s proven capable of outwitting even the smartest of bosses for long periods of time. A name to remember is Simon Moore. The backup keeper and starter from Blades’ League One days could become vital should Manchester United defy expectation and pull Dean Henderson home from his loan upon its June 30 expiry.

[ MORE: Ranking every Southampton player in 2019-20 ]


Tactical analysis: Chris Wilder has flummoxed many a Premier League manager with his creative use of defenders in attack. United typically uses Jack O’Connell, John Egan and Chris Basham as a back-3 with Enda Stevens and George Baldock as the two wingbacks. Those players have accounted for six of United’s 18 PL assists this season. For more on the tactics, Wilder laid things out in entertaining fashion for Arlo White late last month.


Possible XI (3-5-2) 

—– Henderson* —–

— Basham — O’Connell — Egan —

— Baldock — Fleck —  Berge —– Norwood — Stevens—

—– McBurnie —– Mousset —–

The challenge here is fitting January signing Berge into the mix, as fellow central midfielders John Fleck, Oliver Norwood, and John Lundstram have been instrumental in this amazing season. Lundstram seems the most likely to cede his spot if someone will, which really says something about Berge’s immense talent. David McGoldrick and Billy Sharp have provided a lot up top, so McBurnie and Mousset will see plenty of time on the bench. And the biggest question of all is Henderson, who’s on loan from top seven rival Manchester United.

[ MORE: The 2 Robbies assess Sheffield United’s chances ]


[ STREAM: Every PL match live ]

Remaining schedule
Home: Spurs, Wolves, Chelsea, Everton
Away: Newcastle, Manchester United, Burnley, Leicester City, Southampton

Predicted finish: The Blades will get the chance to defend their home turf from not one, not two, not three, but four would-be European rivals (It’s a little generous to include Everton, but the talent is there). Throw in Leicester and Manchesteer United away, and there is a huge bridge to cross for Wilder’s men to keep their incredible season on the path toward unprecedented heights. It’s not just about keeping Spurs and Arsenal in the rear view mirror, as Blades meet the next four teams above their seventh-place footing.

Petersen’s header leads Freiburg past 10-man Gladbach

Freiburg v. Borussia Monchengladbach recap
Photo by Ronald Wittek/Pool via Getty Images
Leave a comment

Nils Petersen’s second half goal led Freiburg to a huge 1-0 win over 10-man Borussia Monchengladbach at the Schwarzwald-Stadion on Friday.

Freiburg keeps its Europa League hopes alive by moving onto 41 points, one behind sixth and seventh.

Gladbach fails in a bid to go third and remains fourth with 56 points, ahead of Bayer Leverkusen on goal differential.

A second yellow card to Plea was a double curse to Gladbach, who went down a man and now will miss a star forward against Bayern Munich.

[ LIVE: Bundesliga scores, stats ]

Bayer’s Ramy Bensebaini utilized a slick backheel turn to nutmeg an opponent and send in a cross that was put out for a corner kick.

Freiburg keeper Alexander Schwolow made a tight-angle save on Alassane Plea just after the quarter-hour mark.

Gladbach saw a chance chalked off after two dangerous bids resulted in an offside deflection into the goal.

Florian Neuhaus came close to scoring again when Lars Stindl headed the penultimate move of a fine team play into the six, but he popped it over the frame.

[ BUNDESLIGA: Week 30 preview and predictions ]

Gladbach’s second half again settled into the Freiburg final third, but it was a home sub that paid dividends at the other end.

Petersen improved his club record for goals when he nodded Vincenzo Grifo’s free kick home in the 59th.

Stindl wasn’t too far from equalizing with a 17-yard shot at the hour mark, but Plea’s second yellow card damaged Gladbach’s hopes of a comeback.