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Harry Kane’s relentless drive key to record-breaking 2017

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LONDON — Harry Kane‘s record-breaking 2017 wouldn’t be possible without one thing: his relentless drive.

Kane, 24, scored 39 Premier League goals in the calendar year to break Alan Shearer’s record as the Tottenham Hotspur forward bagged a hat trick at Wembley on Boxing Day to break the record in style.

More impressive than his penchant for scoring goals of all types, leading the line tirelessly and dropping deeper to open up space for others to exploit is his drive and determination to get even better in 2018.

After bursting onto the scene in 2014-15 following various loan spells at lower-tier clubs, Kane was dubbed a “one season wonder” by opposition fans across the Premier League. Kane now has two-straight Golden Boots in the PL and is on course for a third-straight as well as being England’s main man, and probably their captain, at the 2018 World Cup next summer, plus driving Spurs on in the knockout stages in the UEFA Champions League.

The doubters fueled his determination to become the leading marksman on the planet in 2017, a year which also saw him as the only Englishman nominated for the Ballon d’Or.

“Does that still spur me on? Probably, it’s always in the back of my mind,” Kane told reporters in the tunnel area at Wembley on Boxing Day. “I’ve always said that when people doubt me I want to prove them wrong whether it’s at a young age or now, that’s just my mindset, something in me since a young age. I’ll keep getting better, keep trying to improve. I’ll keep doing it for nine, 10 seasons and see where it takes me.”

Kane’s record of 56 goals in 52 appearances for club and country in 2017 surpasses what Cristiano Ronaldo, Lionel Messi, Roberto Lewandowski and Edinson Cavani have achieved. He’s top of the tree in the soccer pantheon right now, in terms of goals and attacking play, and that’s where he plans to stay for the next decade.

“When you look at Messi and Ronaldo, I’ve obviously still got a long way to go before I can be compared to them but it’s a start and that’s what I want to do, keep improving and be up there one day,” Kane said. “That’s always the goal, to be bracketed with the best players in the world. Messi and Ronaldo have set that standard for so long now. To nick ahead is something I’m proud of and it’s just the start for me. I want to do it year in, year out. They’ve done it for eight, nine years now so be classed in that bracket, that’s what I’ve got to do. That’s my aim.”

His manager at Spurs, Mauricio Pochettino, waxed lyrical about Kane’s achievements in 2017 and believes he is now “in the same company” of Ronaldo and Messi because of the hard work and dedication the Englishman puts into training each and every day.

Kane is humble and focused when he talks to the media, with his latest match ball for a treble being held by a Spurs employee in a plastic bag as he smiled and joked about what he had for his Christmas dinner.

He is efficient and deadly when he plays. You never see him in trouble in the tabloids. Off the pitch he is totally dedicated to getting the best out of his career. He is, in many respects, the complete package and the epitome of a role model to not only youngsters but current pros and his teammates.

I remember just before he burst onto the scene, he was given a run in Spurs’ first team by Tim Sherwood at the end of the 2013-14 season. In one game he suffered a head injury. Kane raced over to the touchline to get his head bandaged up and a new shirt on and was desperate to get back on the pitch and help out his team as Sherwood barked out orders.

After Kane’s hat trick on Boxing Day his teammates spoke to the media in the tunnel area of Wembley and were somewhat in awe of his achievements in 2017.

Tottenham’s captain Hugo Lloris, who has played with the likes of Thierry Henry and Antoine Griezmann among many other great forwards in his career, believes Kane is the best.

“I’ve never played with a striker capable of scoring so many goals in a year. I’ve played with a lot of top strikers and probably he is the best I’ve played with,” Lloris said. “He deserves all the praise at the moment. Now the most difficult part is coming because he needs to stick at this level. But with his mentality and quality I have no doubt he will do that. He is one of the best and he is going to keep showing it.”

Lloris continued: “If he scores one goal in a game, he wants two or three. This is his mentality. He’s a goal machine. It’s his target. When he enters the pitch, he focuses on that. His job is to score goals and it’s his mentality every day. The perception from outside is different now. He has more attention from the fans and media. But he has a good head on his shoulders and a lot of humility and that’s the key. He will keep working hard and I’m sure he will break more records if he does.”

Dele Alli, so often Kane’s partner in crime, told Pro Soccer Talk that Kane could break more records in 2018.

“Harry is one of those players that just because he’s broken one record, he’s not going to stop now,” Alli smiled. “He is going to keep going and working hard every day. Who knows, next year in 2018 he might break it again.”

Kane’s incredible goalscoring record is only half the story. His dedication and relentless drive to burst onto the scene in his early 20s is what is driving him to be among the best on the planet.

The conversation about whether or not he is world class is over. Now he is trying to prove he’s the best center forward on the planet.

Arsenal – West Ham: How to watch, start time, team news, prediction

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Arsenal – West Ham: Mikel Arteta and Arsenal take on another London pal when his former manager David Moyes brings West Ham to the Emirates Stadium on Saturday (Watch live at 3pm ET Saturday on NBCSN and online via NBCSports.com).

Arsenal beat Fulham in its first match of the Premier League season and will be further buoyed by a new long-term contract for Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang.

[ MORE: How to watch PL in the USA ]  

West Ham has been very frustrated by the transfer market, with captain Mark Noble reacting publicly when the club sold Grady Diangana. That was before a 2-0 home loss to Newcastle on Saturday.

STREAM ARSENAL – WEST HAM LIVE

Here is everything you need to know ahead of Arsenal – West Ham this Saturday with team news, odds, stream link and more.


Team news: Arsenal – West Ham (INJURY REPORT)

Shkrodan Mustafi and Pablo Mari are out for Arsenal, while Granit Xhaka is a question mark. Gabriel Martinelli and David Luiz remain long-term absences.

Jack Wilshere rolled his ankle at training this week for West Ham and is not expected to be available.


What they’re saying

New defender William Saliba on a lifelong affair with Arsenal: “I had an Arsenal jersey when I was little with Thierry Henry [on the back], so I liked the club since then. Now I am very proud to have the Arsenal jersey. I don’t know why! I went in the shop, and I only wanted Arsenal. I liked Vieira and Thierry Henry because I was little and I only knew the French players and they were very good. I am very, very proud to have the number four, so I have to be ready to carry number four.”

David Moyes on West Ham’s cup win after losing to Newcastle: “I just want to win whatever game we play next. I’d have taken 3-0 before the game but I thought that by the end I was disappointed that we hadn’t won by more. Keeping a clean sheet was good as well and we look forward to the next game and get a win in that. Any cup win, any competition I am thrilled to do so.”


Odds and ends (full odds provided by our partner, PointsBet)

The home Gunners are -190 to win while West Ham getting anything would surprise the bookmakers to the tune of +340 for a draw and +475 for Moyes’ boys to upset his former midfielder.

PointsBet is our Official Sports Betting Partner and we may receive compensation if you place a bet on PointsBet for the first time after clicking our links


Prediction

Arsenal did the double against West Ham last year and it will be interesting to see whether Moyes tries to beat the Gunners with his top talents or again opts for grinders as he did in the loss to Newcastle. We think Arteta will have more up his sleeve and the Gunners were off all week. Arsenal 4-0.


How to watch Arsenal – West Ham stream and start time

Kickoff: 3 pm ET Saturday
TV Channel: NBCSN
Online: NBCSports.com

Leeds edge Fulham in seven-goal thriller

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Leeds – Fulham was a belter of a game, as Leeds won for the first time since gaining promotion back to the Premier League but they didn’t make it easy for themselves as they squandered a 4-1 lead but held on for the win.

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Leeds took the lead through Helder Costa’s stunner but Aleksandar Mitrovic briefly leveled things up from the penalty spot. Mateusz Klich then made it 2-1 to Leeds from the spot before half time and after the break Klich set up Patrick Bamford to make it 3-1. Costa made it 4-1 but then goals from Bobby Decordova-Reid and Mitrovic made it 4-3 and set up a wild finish, but Fulham couldn’t find an equalizer.

The win was Leeds’ first in the Premier League for over 16 years, while Fulham have now lost their opening two games back in the Premier League and have conceded seven goals in the process.


3 things we learned: Leeds – Fulham

1. “Bielsaball” will deliver classics: Their first two games back in the Premier League have both ended in 4-3 results, one defeat and one win. Leeds will be fun to watch this season. Now, they should have wrapped this game up and created so many chances but they ran out of steam in the second half. That is because they press so high early on and “Bielsaball” is based on that. Maybe they will have to tweak their tactics to cope with the PL but probably not. That means it will be fun to watch Leeds for the foreseeable future.

2. Both teams hampered by defenses: Attack is not the problem for either of these team but at the back they made so many mistake. Bielsa and Scott Parker both love to watch their teams attack but if they’re going to fulfil their potential this season (top 10 for Leeds and staying up for Fulham) they have to cut out silly errors at the back. Both teams gave away sloppy penalty kicks and failed to defense crosses as they left huge gaps at the back. They have to shore things up.

3. New Leeds signings taking a while to settle: Rodrigo was okay but Robin Koch had another game to forget as it is taking Leeds’ two main summer signings a while to settle in. Fulham’s new boys did okay. Maybe the new boys had less time to settle in due to the shorter offseason? But when you look at Everton and Newcastle and Leicester in the opening week of the season, their new boys settled in quickly. Leeds have spent big on new signings and they need more from them.

Man of the Match: Patrick Bamford – He won a penalty, scored a goal and set up another and he is proving he is capable of making a difference in the top-flight.


Leeds got off to the perfect start as they were 1-0 up within the first five minutes. A Kalvin Phillips corner was flicked on to the back post and Helder Costa was somehow left totally unmarked but finished superbly as he smashed home off the woodwork and in.

Michael Hector’s header was deflected over by Robin Koch as Leeds were pinned back after taking the lead. At the other end Koch had a header on goal which Fulham’s new goalkeeper Alphonse Areola tipped over.

Fulham were handed a golden opportunity to get back in the game as Koch slid in and just caught Joe Bryan as a penalty kick was given and Mitrovic made no mistake from the spot. 1-1. In his first two Premier League games for Leeds, Koch has now given away two penalty kicks.

No sooner had Fulham looked settled, they gave away an equally soft penalty kick as Bryan pushed Patrick Bamford in the back at the crucial moment and Klich slotted home to make it 2-1.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights

A few minutes into the second half Klich set up Bamford who exposed a huge gap in the Fulham defense and slotted home his second Premier League goal in as many games. Bamford then turned provider as he surged down the left and pulled it back perfectly for Costa to slot home and make it 4-1.

Fulham got themselves back into the game as substitute Decordova-Reid smashed home after good work from Andre-Frank Anguissa to make it 4-2.

Kenny Tete then whipped in a lovely cross which Mitrovic headed home to make it 4-3 and moments later Neeskens Kebano hit the post and Mitrovic flashed a shot just wide as the away side surged forward in search of an unlikely point.

In the end, Leeds rallied and just held on for their first Premier League win since 2004.

Diogo Jota to Liverpool confirmed

Jota to Liverpool
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Jota to Liverpool is confirmed, as the Portuguese international has sealed his switch to Anfield.

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Diogo Jota, 23, has reportedly signed a five-year contract at Liverpool after the clubs agreed a fee which could rise to $58 million.

Jota is eager to add an extra dimension to Liverpool’s attack is ready to roll.

“It’s just a really exciting moment for me and my family,” Jota said. “All of my path since I was a kid and now, to join a club like Liverpool – the world champions – is just unbelievable. I just want to get started. It is one of the best teams in the world – the best at the moment because they are world champions. When you look at the Premier League, you always see Liverpool as one of the biggest teams in the country, so it’s impossible to say no. So we just want to come [here], to give our best and hopefully I can become a good option for Liverpool in the future.”

Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp could hardly hid his excitement that Jota is now a Liverpool player.

“He’s a player who gives us so many options to use him. He’s 23 years old, still far away from being kind of a finished article, so much potential,” Klopp said. “He has the speed, he can combine, can defend, can press. It makes it just more unpredictable and gives us real options for different systems because he can play pretty much all three positions up front in a 4-3-3, if we play with four midfielders he can play both wings.

“So, these kinds of things. It’s just nice. And he has some natural things which we have in our game, like this desire and the greed and the direction. He is part of this unbelievable Portuguese generation in the moment, where they have really a lot of obviously quite skilled players. We saw the Portuguese team last time, it’s quite impressive. So, I’m really happy to have him here. And on top of that, a really good guy and really happy to be here.”

This has all happened very quickly but it works out well for everyone. Would Wolves have loved to have kept Jota? Of course.

Speaking to reporters ahead of Wolves’ clash with Manchester City on Monday (start time, 3:15pm ET, stream live on Peacock), head coach Nuno Espirito Santo praised Jota’s contribution to the club and said he is joining the right club in Liverpool.

“Diogo is amazing and everybody knows the relationship we built. What Diogo did for us is absolutely fantastic,” Nuno said. “I think Diogo is going to the right place and we wish him all the best, knowing that it never be forgotten, especially by our fans, all the memorable moments that Diogo provided.”

Wolves have bought Portuguese starlet Fabio Silva this summer and have Pedro Neto, Daniel Podence and Adama Traore who can support Raul Jimenez in attack. They will be just fine without Jota. He joined them on loan from Atletico Madrid when they were a Championship club and helped them gain promotion to the Premier League and has been incredibly consistent in terms of goals and assists over the last two seasons.

At Liverpool Jota will have to wait for chances behind Mohamed Salah, Roberto Firmino and Sadio Mane but his style of play suits them perfectly and it is a great move for him. Working under Jurgen Klopp will take his game to the next level and Liverpool’s secondary attacking options have just got a lot better, plus they’ve added Thiago Alcantara to upgrade their midfield.

Diogo Jota to Liverpool is now a done deal and he leaves Wolves with the best wishes of everyone and for a transfer fee which justifies letting him go as he cost them just $16.5 million less than three seasons ago.

Manchester United – Crystal Palace: How to watch, start time, team news

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Manchester United – Crystal Palace: Manchester United finally begins its Premier League season with a visit from Crystal Palace at Old Trafford on Saturday (Watch live at 12:30 pm ET on Peacock).

[ MORE: How to watch PL in the USA ]  

The two sides met at Selhurst Park in July. Marcus Rashford had a goal and an assist in a 2-0 win over the Eagles, a bit of vengeance after Patrick van Aanholt keyed a Palace upset of the Red Devils at Old Trafford in August 2019.

STREAM MANCHESTER UNITED-CRYSTAL PALACE LIVE

Here is everything you need to know ahead of Manchester United – Crystal Palace this Saturday with team news, odds, stream link and more.


Team news: Manchester United – Crystal Palace (INJURY REPORT)

Paul Pogba starts for Man United as he continues to get back in shape after COVID-19 quarantine, as Solskjaer noted the Frenchman gets himself ready quickly. Mason Greenwood is on the bench, while Timothy Fosu-Mensah starts at right with Aaron Wan-Bissaka only fit enough for the bench. Donny van de Beek is also on the bench.

Mamadou Sakho returns for Palace, while Wilfried Zaha is handed the captains armband for the first time and he captains Palace against his former club.


What they’re saying

Donny van de Beek on joining Man Utd“Everyone has helped me a lot and wanted to make me feel at home and this is really good for me and it has given me the confidence to play. … It’s a family club, I feel this already from the first seconds I have been here. Old Trafford is an amazing stadium. The nicest thing will be when the fans are there too and I cannot wait to play for the first time in front of them. I hope to see them soon in the stadium because for our team they will give us a lot of power when we can have them with us.”

Palace’s Roy Hodgson on perceived wantaway Wilfried Zaha: “Nothing’s changed at all since the last 230 times I’ve spoken on the subject, I don’t think. He’s fit, he’s well, he’s playing extremely well, he’s looking forward to Saturday and we’re looking forward to using him. I’m pretty sure when something major happens on the Wilf Zaha front, the mass media will be the first to know.”


Odds and ends (full odds provided by our partner, PointsBet)

Palace is the biggest underdog of the weekend at +850, with hosts United at -325. Even a draw at +440 would be a big surprise.

PointsBet is our Official Sports Betting Partner and we may receive compensation if you place a bet on PointsBet for the first time after clicking our links


Prediction

Palace will be playing its third match in a week and that could have them a bit sharper than their opening day hosts or lagging a bit. Given United’s superiority in attack and the impossibility that Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s men will sleep on a team that upset them in the same building a year ago, we’re going 3-1 to the Red Devils. Wilf Zaha scores against his former team, but Aaron Wan-Bissaka gets an assist versus his.


How to watch Manchester United – Crystal Palace stream and start time

Kickoff: 12:30 pm ET Saturday
Online: Stream via Peacock