Three things we learned from Tottenham vs. Manchester City

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LONDON — Tottenham Hotspur beat Manchester City 2-0 at White Hart Lane on Sunday as Mauricio Pochettino‘s side remain the only unbeaten side in the Premier League.

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A first half own goal from Aleksandar Kolarov was added to by a superb team move as Dele Alli slotted home and Man City never got going with Pep Guardiola left scratching his head on the sidelines.

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Spurs are second on 17 points, with City to on 18 points following their first defeat of the Guardiola era.

Here’s what we learned from White Hart Lane in a massive early season win for Spurs who laid down their title credentials.


SON STEPS UP

“Go on Sonny, more of the same son!” yelled a Tottenham fan as the players made their way back into the dressing room before kick off.

With Harry Kane out injured, Tottenham needed someone to step up in his absence, big time. Heung-Min Son has done just that. And then some.

The South Korean forward almost left Tottenham in the summer after not being happy to be a bit-part player at Spurs. Kane’s injury opened the door for somebody to be the new hero at the Lane. Many thought it would be new signing Vincent Janssen but his slow start to life at Spurs continues. Instead it is Son who has moved up to a central strikers role from the wing.

He scored two in the win at Middlesbrough last week, plus the winner at CSKA Moscow in midweek, and from the start he set the tone, skipping past two City players 30 seconds in and drilling just over. Shortly after he got in down the left but saw Claudio Bravo block his shot at the near post and Son then set up Alli wonderfully with a perfectly-weighted pass to make it 2-0. Son is flourishing in a central role and so often he dropped five yards in front of John Stones and Nicolas Otamendi, turned and was able turn and run at City’s defense.

With Kane likely out until early November, Spurs now have a go-to man up to who knits everything together seamlessly. His clever running, passes and ability to be on the same wavelength as Alli, Christian Eriksen and Spurs’ other attackers means Tottenham can continue their charge without top goalscorer Kane.

If Son would’ve been allowed to take the penalty kick instead of Erik Lamela wrestling it off of him, maybe it would’ve been 3-0. Still, Son is the main man for Spurs and when he was replaced late on, the home fans gave him a standing ovation. That said it all.


BLUEPRINT TO BEAT CITY EMERGES

Before this season began Guardiola spoke about how he’d come to England to see if the way his teams play could work. This was the first major speed bump in his playing philosophy which had, up until now, dominated. We saw it in midweek against Celtic in the 3-3 draw in the UEFA Champions League and it emerged again on Sunday: there’s a distinct way to beat Man City.

High pressure early and often is the model for success and it sounds easy enough but it so, so hard to do properly. Luckily Spurs have it down to a tee. Pochettino’s trademark style worked early and often against City and Guardiola had to admit failure in the way he set his team up.

He played Fernandinho in a more advanced role in the first half and with Fernando in a deeper role, City couldn’t stop the flow of white shirts running towards their central defenders. That in turn led to John Stones and Nicolas Otamendi overplaying at the back with their midfield outlets locked up and that also led to Claudio Bravo, once again, being targeted.

Bravo was almost caught in possession on multiple occasions and City never truly got going despite brief moments of promise from Raheem Sterling and Jesus Navas out wide, plus Sergio Aguero largely frustrate by Spurs’ tight defense, a lack of service and a smart stop from Hugo Lloris in the second half. Without the injured Kevin De Bruyne they lacked a cutting edge in the final third. City won’t be too concerned but this display highlights how they can be overwhelmed in the defensive areas by teams who are wiling to be brave and play them at their own game. City lost their first game under Guardiola and it provided a blueprint for how teams can get at them.


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The intensity of this game was up there with the best in the Premier League this season. Before the game it was touted as a clash between the only two unbeaten teams and two title challengers but many expected Man City’s six-game unbeaten run to continue and Spurs, at best, to get a draw. As we now know, that wasn’t the case and Spurs can be seen as legitimate title contenders.

Spurs have laid down an early-season marker that their third-place finish last season was not a fluke. Pochettino’s young side beat City twice last season and they’re the first to beat them this season. This victory before the international break will give them great hope that they can challenge for the title once again.

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As for City, the past few days have delivered a reality check. Drawing at Celtic in the UCL and then being comprehensively beaten at Spurs has left everyone with a sense that maybe Guardiola’s team won’t cut down everyone in their path. City are still top on 18 points but Spurs are just behind on 17.

Without the injured Moussa Dembele and Kane, Spurs’ young team proved they can rise to the occasion.

Gold Cup: Mexico secures place in knockout round with win over Canada; Martinique over Cuba

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The Mexico National Team at the 2019 Gold Cup has been very focused on introducing inexperienced players into the squad, and yet, it was a veteran on Wednesday that reminded everyone how much he still has left in the tank.

Mexico captain Andres Guardado, who came off the bench for the injured Erick Gutierrez in the first half, scored a brace as Mexico held off a surging Canada late in the match. Guardado’s first goal was an absolute golazo from 30-yards out, while his second showcased his poise and calm in the box.

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Mexico – as is custom for El Tri – controlled possession and looked very confident on the ball, zipping it around midfield and at times, playing on a faster speed than Canada, it seemed. However, with Canada sitting in a low defensive block, it took until the 40th minute for Mexico to get on the board through Roberto Alvarado finishing into an empty net after a big save from Canada goalkeeper Milan Borjan.

Canada pushed higher up the field in the second half and seemed to be turning the tide before Guardado picked up a loose ball – and there may have been a foul on Canada – and el Principito unleashed a rocket that Borjan had no chance to keep out.

Canada made six changes in the starting lineup from its first game and it was the introductions of Scott Arfield, Jonathan Osorio and Jonathan David in the second half that began to get Canada back into the game. A mistake by centerback Nestor Araujo in the 75th minute, trying to be fancy with a Cruyff turn allowed David to advance down the Mexico goal on a breakaway. After a cutback, David played Luca Cavallini in the box and Cavallini scored to cut it to 2-1.

However, Guardado, and LA Galaxy winger Uriel Antuna, put the game away for good two minutes later. Antuna got around his defender and centered to Guardado. The wily midfielder took three Canada defenders out of the play with a quick touch to his right, before scoring a deflected goal off the post and in.

Earlier in the evening, Martinique recorded a dominant 3-0 victory over ten-man Cuba. Star striker Kevin Parsemain didn’t score, though he did play a role in Martinique’s third goal with an outstanding back-heel pass.

Copa America: Watch Newcastle’s Almiron sets up Paraguay opener with 60-yard sprint (video)

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For the second time in as many games, Argentina has allowed it’s opponent to score the first goal. This time, it has Miguel Almiron to thank.

Starting with a dummy that lead to a more than 60-yard sprint to the end-line, Almiron showcased his top-line speed, strength, and dribbling ability as he lead Paraguay down the field in transition, eventually crossing into the middle. It was there that Olimpia’s Richard Sanchez met the cross and sliced it home to put Paraguay up 1-0 in the first half.

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Atlanta United fans saw plenty of that blazing speed during Almiron’s two years in the U.S. If Newcastle fans get to witness this in person more this coming season, Almiron will be a fan-favorite.

 

 

Transfer Roundup: Neymar to cost $337 million? Could Jorginho follow Sarri to Juve?

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Will he stay or will he go?

That’s the main question surrounding Neymar this summer. If reports out of France – and there are many – are to be believed, Neymar will have to stay.

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Le Parisien reported on Wednesday that if Neymar was to leave Paris Saint-Germain this summer, it would cost an insane $337 million (€300 million) in transfer fees. With that price, and UEFA Financial Fair Play rules, it pretty much rules out any club from Europe from signing the Brazilian star. Neymar has recently been linked with a move back to Barcelona, with $112 million and other players reportedly included in a deal from Barcelona to PSG.

There’s so many moving pieces involved in any case. Antoine Griezmann is expected to leave Atletico Madrid, with Barcelona the rumored destination. But if Neymar goes to Barcelona, could Griezmann head to PSG? Meanwhile PSG president Nasser al-Khelaifi pretty much called out Neymar for some of his off the field – and on the pitch – antics, likely hurting their relationship.

So while it seems like Neymar – and PSG – may want the relationship to end, PSG won’t miss out on getting its money back.

Here’s more transfer stories from around Europe:


Jorginho to Juventus? 

Jorginho is to Maurizio Sarri like red wine is to a medium-rare steak. They just go great together.

With Sarri moving to Juventus, that raises the question that Jorginho, who moved with Sarri to Chelsea, could move back to Italy this summer. There’s plenty of reasons why it could make sense. Despite playing 56 times for the Blues, including helping lead them to the UEFA Europa League title, he took plenty of criticism from the media and fans for his lack of defensive ability. Fans were also upset with Sarri’s insistence of playing Jorginho at the 6, and not at the 6 or as part of a double pivot with N’Golo Kante. In Premier League games that Chelsea was undone, it was because Jorginho was overrun in midfield.

Jorginho meanwhile could go back to Italy, where he has citizenship, plays for the national team and enjoyed so much success with Napoli.

According to reports out of Italy, Jorginho’s agent said that the player is happy in London, but they would wait and see what happens next from Juventus.

“Chelsea have a four-year contract with the man,” Joao Santos said, via Football Italia. “We’ll wait a few days to figure out whether there is any truth in this interest mentioned in the papers. His past at Napoli won’t be an issue, because Jorginho is a professional. Right now, Jorginho is happy at Chelsea. He found a great atmosphere and we can’t really say that he’d like to go elsewhere, but anything can happen on the transfer market. We’ll wait and see…”

Follow Live: Mexico faces Canada in Gold Cup doubleheader nightcap

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From Mile High USA, Denver, Colo., the 2019 Gold Cup continues with a highly-anticipated matchup between Mexico and Canada.

El Tri is coming off a 6-0 rout of Cuba in the opener at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena last week, while Canada thrashed Martinique, 4-0 in its opener. All of which leads to Wednesday, when an up-start Canada faces a young and firing Mexico in the 10 p.m. ET nightcap.

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The LA Galaxy’s Uriel Antuna, a late addition to the squad, scored a hat-trick against Cuba and is one of the many young players getting their first chance to impress new Mexico coach Gerardo “Tata” Martino. Meanwhile, Canada is having a recent resurgence, with young stars Jonathan David, Alphonso Davies and Mark-Anthony Kaye all making an early impact.

Meanwhile, Cuba and Martinique now battle it out in the first match of the night from Denver at 8 p.m., with both sides hoping for three points and a chance to emerge from the group in third place. Cuba has already lost one player to asylum in the U.S., but it’s unclear what kind of impact that will have on the team.

Follow along with us on the link above and in the comments below.