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Premier League 2017-18 preview – Tottenham Hotspur

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Heading into 2017/18, Tottenham actually enters the Premier League season as a bit of an underdog after opting to go quietly into the summer without hitting the transfer market hard.

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While the likes of Chelsea, Manchester City and others went after several of the game’s biggest names and talents, Spurs continued to build its team with youth, and now it’s time to see if Mauricio Pochettino‘s choices have paid off as Tottenham seeks out a PL title.

Best, worst case scenarios – Best-case scenario is quite simple for Spurs… win the Premier League. There were moments last season that showed this team is quite capable of doing so, and the club’s run to end the year was nothing short of spectacular had it not been for a Chelsea side that proved to be a little too much. The talent is there in the squad, and Pochettino is a more-than-capable manager. The task is simply putting it all together.

However, things could come back and haunt Pochettino, such as the club’s lack of spending this summer. Alvaro Morata, Romelu Lukaku and Alexandre Lacazette are just a few of the PL’s top signings of summer, but all have one thing in common; they didn’t land at Spurs. At worst, Tottenham is a top-five or six team, but they’d certainly be disappointed to take a step back after their success in 2016/17.


Best possible XI is…

Lloris

Trippier— Vertonghen — Alderweireld — Rose

Dier — Wanyama

Lamela — Alli — Eriksen

Kane


[ MORE: 2017-18 PL season preview hub ] 

Transfers In: N/A

Transfers Out: Kyle Walker (Manchester City, $58 million), Federico Fazio (Roma, Undisclosed)

Last season:

— 2nd place in Premier League
— Eliminated in Champions League group stage
— Eliminated in Europa League Round of 32
— League Cup 4th Round (lost to Liverpool)
— FA Cup semifinals (lost to Chelsea)

Star player: Harry Kane — There’s really not much the England international can’t do, and Spurs will be relying on him once again this season to be one of the Premier League’s most-dangerous goalscorers. Kane has amassed the 30-goal mark in two of the last three PL campaigns for Spurs, with his 2015/16 total falling just short at 28. There’s no question who this team looks to when they need a goal, and it’s number 10.

Coaches’ Corner: Mauricio Pochettino — Since 2009/10, the worst Tottenham has finished in the PL is sixth. Barring something completely unforeseen, it’s hard to imagine Spurs falling out of that range this season. The Argentine manager has done everything right since arriving at the club in 2014. He’s brought a clear philosophy about raising youth and relying less on spending big in the transfer market to satisfy club needs, and guess what? It’s working.

PST predicts: Say what you will about Tottenham’s transfer market philosophy, but this team is still quite good when looking at past performance and the way the current roster is structured. Could a move or two in January help? Sure. However, there’s no reason Spurs cannot finish top four once again in 2017/18 and contend for the Premier League crown.

LIVE, UCL last 16: Atletico v. Liverpool; Dortmund v. PSG

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The 2019-20 UEFA Champions League is finally back as the Round of 16 kicks off this week and Atletico Madrid host Liverpool and Paris Saint-Germain head to Borussia Dortmund in what should be two epic battles.

[ LIVE: Champions League scores

Liverpool are the first Premier League club to get going as Jurgen Klopp locks horns with Diego Simeone’s Atleti, who are a very dangerous team to play and they will scrap and battle for every ball against the reigning European champions. With Sadio Mane back fit, he could be the difference for Liverpool as the runaway Premier League leaders return to the stadium where they win their sixth European title at the end of last season. Madrid holds fond memories for Klopp’s boys. Atletico Madrid are struggling along in La Liga but they have played the underdog role very well in recent seasons and this encounter will be full throttle from the start.

Borussia Dortmund host Paris Saint-Germain in the other UCL last 16 first leg clash on Tuesday and that should be a cracking game between two very evenly-matched teams as former Dortmund coach Thomas Tuchel takes PSG to the Westfalenstadion. Kylian Mbappe v. Jadon Sancho equals chef’s kiss.

[ MORE: Which Premier League team(s) will reach last eight? ]

Next week the other four last 16 first legs take place as Man City and Chelsea are in action against Real Madrid and Bayern Munich respectively. Out of the four Premier League teams still in the competition, Liverpool and Spurs will be the most confident of advancing.

Below is the full schedule for the two UCL last 16 first leg games on Tuesday, with bothgames kicking off at 3 p.m. ET. You can follow the action live by clicking on the link above.


Tuesday Champions League action

Atletico Madrid v. Liverpool
Borussia Dortmund v. Paris Saint-Germain

Champions League score predictions: Round of 16

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The 2019-20 UEFA Champions League is finally back as the Round of 16 kicks off this week and two of the four Premier League clubs are in action.

[ LIVE: Champions League scores

Liverpool and Tottenham Hotspur, the two finalists from last season, are first up and both will be happy enough with their draws in the last 16.

That said, Jurgen Klopp and Liverpool know that Diego Simeone’s Atleti are a very dangerous team to play as they will scrap and battle for every ball against the reigning European champions. As for Spurs and Jose Mourinho, the news that Heung-min Son has broken his arm and could be out for the rest of the season is a huge blow but they host an inconsistent RB Leipzig.

Borussia Dortmund host Paris Saint-Germain and Atalanta host Valencia in the other last 16 ties this week and both should be cracking encounters between two very evenly-matched teams.

[ MORE: Which Premier League team(s) will reach last eight? ]

Next week the other four last 16 first legs take place as Man City and Chelsea are in action against Real Madrid and Bayern Munich respectively. Out of the four Premier League teams still in the competition, Liverpool and Spurs will be the most confident of advancing.

Below we predict the scores for the UCL round of 16 games taking place over the next two days. Feel free to make your own predictions in the comments section below, too.


Tuesday
Atletico Madrid 1-2 Liverpool
Borussia Dortmund 3-2 PSG

Wednesday
Tottenham Hotspur 2-2 RB Leipzig
Atalanta 2-1 Valencia

Lampard issues Chelsea injury update; Pulisic remains out

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Chelsea boss Frank Lampard issued a lengthy injury update after their 2-0 defeat against Man United and USMNT fans will not be happy to hear that Christian Pulisic remains out.

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Ahead of Chelsea’s pivotal top four clash at home against bitter rivals Tottenham Hotspur on Saturday (Watch live, 7:30 a.m. ET on NBCSN and online via NBCSports.com), Lampard could be without as many as five key players.

Andreas Christensen broke his nose and came off at half time against United, while N’Golo Kante was subbed off early after yet another leg injury for the French superstar.

“Callum, no. Pulisic, no. N’Golo, no, from that today. Tammy is a maybe. It is not going our way with injuries at the moment but the players who come in they have to show that. That is what the squad is there for. It is frustrating,” Lampard told Chelsea TV when asked about availability for Saturday.

Lampard then gave an extra update on Kante, who walked through the mixed zone after the game looking okay and told the French journalists who were assembled that it wasn’t too bad.

“It is an adductor injury,” Lampard confirmed. “We will have to assess it and scan it. It doesn’t look great. It is on the same leg [as he injured before].”

With four wins in their last 14 Premier League games Chelsea are not in good form and are just one point ahead of fifth-place Tottenham ahead of their game this weekend.

They also have a nasty habit of dominating matches but are failing to put multiple chances away and with these injuries piling up it certainly makes Chelsea’s decision to not spend in the January window to strengthen their squad, especially in terms of strikers, very surprising.

With Bayern Munich coming up in the first leg of their UEFA Champions League last 16 tie next week, Lampard will hope Chelsea’s luck turns and plenty of players return from injury.

FC Cincinnati coach Jans resigns amid investigation over remarks

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CINCINNATI — FC Cincinnati coach Ron Jans resigned amid an investigation by Major League Soccer of his use of a racial slur in the locker room.

Jans resigned late Monday, FC Cincinnati President Jeff Berding said: “The club had suspended Jans pending the investigation, which was prompted by a complaint from the MLS Players Association.

“As Major League Soccer’s investigation unfolded and some themes emerged, Ron offered his resignation and we agreed that it was the best course of action for everyone involved with FC Cincinnati,” Berding said.

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The club designated Yoann Damet as interim head coach while the team conducts a search. Cincinnati is training in Florida for its second season in MLS.

Cincinnati has been through two head coaches during its brief stay in the league. It fired Alan Koch after its 11th first-tier match, which left the expansion club with two wins, seven losses and two draws.

Damet also was the interim head coach while the team conducted a search that resulted in Jans’ hiring last August.

Cincinnati finished with the worst record in MLS in its inaugural season, with six wins, six draws and 22 losses. It scored a league-low 31 goals in 34 matches.

Cincinnati gained entry into MLS after a successful debut under Koch, who led the team to the semifinals of the United Soccer League’s playoffs in both 2017 and 2018.