Three things learned from Tottenham’s win v. Man United

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LONDON — Tottenham beat Manchester United 2-0 on Wednesday as Spurs closed the gap on the top four and second-place United with a dominant display.

A goal from Christian Eriksen (after just 11 seconds) and a Phil Jones own goal put Spurs ahead and they never looked back against Jose Mourinho’s shell-shocked unit who never got going in front of a record crowd for a Premier League game at 81,798.

Here’s what we learned from a raucous Wembley Stadium.


UNITED PUNISHED FOR POSITIVITY

When the teamsheets came out, United had been a lot bolder than they usually were under Jose Mourinho away from home against a top six rival.

It cost them dear.

With Anthony Martial, Jesse Lingard, Paul Pogba, Alexis Sanchez and Romelu Lukaku all in the same starting lineup, this was perhaps a glimpse at a new attack-minded era since Sanchez’s arrival. It was, at times, embarrassing, for United.

They didn’t have balance in central midfield with Pogba pulled all over the place and Nemanja Matic overwhelmed, and that in turn starved United’s attackers of the surface they craved.

It was a bold move from Mourinho to go all-out attack from the start and it backfired massively. We all wondered what Sanchez’s arrival meant and where he would slot in, but the Red Devils looked completely top heavy.


TOTTENHAM’S TOP FOUR HOPES BACK ON TRACK

After a draw at Southampton last time out in the Premier League, then a draw at fourth-tier Newport in the FA Cup at the weekend, Mauricio Pochettino‘s men weren’t exactly in their best form heading into this game.

They delivered a stunning display, full of endeavor and passion as they first bullied United out of the game, then created chance after chance on the counter.

The one criticism you could have of Spurs is that they weren’t clinical enough, but then again, they didn’t need to be and never looked in danger against a lackluster United.

In front of a record crowd for a Premier League of 81,798, Spurs fans reveled in victory as they moved two points away from the top four on a night which also saw Chelsea thumped 3-0 at home to Bournemouth.

Spurs face Liverpool, Arsenal and Juventus coming up in a huge month in February and this win will set the tone for a pivotal stretch perfectly.

With Lucas Moura arriving on Deadline Day from PSG an introduced at half time of this win, Arsenal six points behind them after their defeat at Swansea and three of the current top four far from solid, Spurs have momentum and will be feeling good heading into the final third of the season and still in the UEFA Champions League.


SANCHEZ SHACKLED

The boos, predictably, rang out every time Alexis Sanchez touched the ball.

Making his Premier League debut for Man United after his move from Arsenal, Sanchez was shackled expertly by Spurs defense with Kieran Trippier snapping into tackles, Jan Vertonghen matching his pace and Eric Dier covering the space inside United’s left flank expertly.

Sanchez didn’t have a sniff all night long as Mourinho pushed him into the middle from the left to try and get him involved in the game. It didn’t happen. Apart from a few counter attacks in the first half, United weren’t awarded for their attacking lineup and Sanchez was given rough treatment but the fans and Spurs’ players all night long.

This was not a fine display from the Chilean on his PL debut for United and it underlined that he’s lackluster form for Arsenal for much of this season is still there.

Transfer rumors: Willian, Alderweireld to Manchester United

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The transfer rumor mill is picking up steam this Monday, including some persistent whispers regarding two Premier League players with possible futures at Old Trafford.

Both of these make a lot of sense.

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A day after Nemanja Matic stressed the need for experienced players at United, two good fits hit the rumor mill (again).

Matic’s old Chelsea pal Willian has interest from United if he seeks a way out of London — which seems likely — where he’s said to be ready to go if Antonio Conte remains as manager.

Then there’s Toby Alderweireld, whose been very strong at Southampton and Tottenham Hotspur but reportedly fallen out with current Spurs boss Mauricio Pochettino.

During a rut, the Tottenham manager claimed that Alderweireld was held out of Spurs’ lineup due to the form of the players in front of him.

Also from Sky, we’ll leave this quote from PSG chairman Nasser Al-Khelaifi on the idea of possibly selling Kylian Mbappe.

Al-Khelaifi told Canal+: “You want me to give you a number? More than €1bn! Yes, I said one billion! And even if you gave me a billion, I wouldn’t sell him.”

Pogba: Mourinho “made me progress in leadership”

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Paul Pogba says “we are never sure of anything but contractually, it’s sure” that he’ll remain at Manchester United.

That’s not exactly a ringing endorsement from United’s most expensive transfer purchase, as many have linked him with a move away from Old Trafford.

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He also said he’s not worried about his relationship with United boss Jose Mourinho, and pointed out that his problems and growth in Manchester are a natural part of a player’s progression. From Sky Sports:

“There were times where I wasn’t playing, I was on the bench. There was a lot of talk, people thought it wasn’t working out,” Pogba added.

“But a coach and a player don’t have to be best friends, we don’t have to go to restaurants together. I had a few little problems too… football is sometimes all about the mental side. He put me on the bench and I gave my response on the pitch. I always give everything I’ve got.

“He made me progress in leadership. I had the armband with Mourinho, it was the first time in a club, it’s important for me, it makes me grow to be also a leader in the France team.”

In a candid talk, the 25-year-old Pogba was asked about Paris Saint-Germain and told French television that he’d be open to representing the club in the future despite the fact that his parents are Marseille supporters.

Moore takes hold of West Brom’s promotion bid

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Darren Moore‘s spell as West Brom caretaker manager couldn’t quite pull off a miraculous run to Premier League safety, but the promise it contained has helped him to the first chance at earning promotion back to the top flight.

West Bromwich Albion announced Moore as its new manager on Monday, with the boss promising his Baggies would play attractive football while also being a side “that’s willing to fight and scrap for every ball.”

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Moore is also happy to carry a flame for minority coaches — called BAME (Black, Asian, and Minority Ethnic) — in England.

“If it does inspire others, I would be extremely proud,” he said. “I don’t just speak on behalf of BAME coaches but the young, aspiring British coaches across the board.”

Moore, 44, only lost one of his six PL matches as WBA boss, winning three times and inspiring many to wonder what would’ve happened had the Baggies’ pulled the plug on Alan Pardew — and Tony Pulis before him — earlier.

A center back in his playing career, Moore spent 18 seasons between a number of clubs including West Brom, Derby County, and Doncaster Rovers. He won promotion as a player twice with West Brom, and again with Derby.

Belgium goes to World Cup without Nainggolan

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BRUSSELS (AP) Belgium left midfielder Radja Nainggolan out of its World Cup squad despite a standout season with Champions League semifinalist Roma.

Belgium coach Roberto Martinez has long had a difficult relationship with the stormy midfielder. But after being called up for a warm-up game in March against Saudi Arabia, expectations had been that he would be on the 28-man roster announced Monday.

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On top of the troubled relationship, Nainggolan was also the victim of the unparalleled wealth of talent the small nation has produced over the past few years.

Thibaut Courtois, Vincent Kompany, Kevin De Bruyne, Eden Hazard and Romelu Lukaku were all named in the squad, which will be cut to 23 before the World Cup.