Three things we learned: Tottenham v Man City

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LONDON — Manchester City beat Tottenham 3-1 on Saturday to edge closer to the Premier League title.

A dominant display saw Pep Guardiola‘s men bounce back from three-straight defeats in style, with goals from Gabriel Jesus, Ilkay Gundogan and Raheem Sterling doing the damage, as they will soon be crowned as the Champions of England.

Here’s what we learned from Wembley.


CITY ANSWER CRITICS: BUT CAN THEY BE MORE CLINICAL?

After the week they’ve had, Pep Guardiola’s men showed plenty of guts to dominate the first half and they deserved to lead by more than one goal at half time. Still, they got the job done and now thy could seal the title on Sunday if (a big ‘if’) Man United lose at home to West Brom.

With 87 points on the board and 93 goals scored, City have shredded opponents time and again and their performance under the Saturday night lights summed up their two previous outings. Wonderful first half displays where they could have been home and dry but then they unnecessarily got themselves in trouble.

Raheem Sterling scored once but could have had four on Saturday, and that was the case against Man United last weekend in the shock 3-2 defeat after leading 2-0.

It seems ridiculous to say that City could be more clinical as they’ve scored 130 goals in all competitions this season, but given the sheer amount, and quality, of chances they create each game, the fact they’ve scored just six times in their last four outings is low, very low, for City.

They’ve missed Sergio Aguero big time with the Argentine suffering from a knee injury and out of the squad altogether on Saturday, with the jury still out as to whether Jesus can replace him long-term. The Brazilian shanked an effort badly wide in the second half when clean through and Sterling delayed his shot after rounding Lloris and then having another effort blocked wide. City are an unstoppable attacking  unit and they moved one win closer to the title, but they could’ve easily won by five or six on Saturday.


DE BRUYNE SHOWS POTY CLASS

Kevin De Bruyne may well win the PFA Players’ Player of the Year award this season (the votes for that award where collected a while back before Mohamed Salah went on his amazing goalscoring spree) and it will be richly deserved.

Amid Salah’s recent heroics, KDB’s brilliant season has become somewhat of an afterthought but the Belgian midfielder ran the show at Wembley, particularly in the second half, as he danced around tackles and responded well to crunching tackles from Eric Dier and Dele Alli in particular.

De Bruyne doesn’t have any weaknesses and his full repertoire was on show on Saturday with flicks, driving runs, and majestic passes. KDB has been consistently excellent and although he may lose some of the POTY awards to Salah, he’s been at a higher level all season long and delivered once again against one of the big boys.

It is a joy to watch KDB in full flow.


LLORIS BECOMING A LIABILITY

Hugo Lloris has made big mistakes in each of his last three Premier League games. The apocalypse is nigh.

So often a bastion of reliability, Lloris is having perhaps the worst spell of his Tottenham career since he joined in 2012 from Lyon. The Spurs and French national team captain is not playing well but it shouldn’t cost Spurs their top four spot as they still have a seven point cushion over Chelsea with five games to go.

But this really isn’t a new thing. Before this game Hugo Lloris had made 5 defensive errors which led to goals, with only Petr Cech having more (6) in the PL. Yet when you think about it, which goalkeepers in the PL are better than Lloris? David De Gea, Ederson and Thibaut Courtois, and that’s about it. This seems to be nothing more than a small blip in form for the Frenchman but the variety of his mistakes (flapping at a cross to let Morata score for Chelsea, hitting the ball off Diouf against Stoke and then lunging into a tackle to give away a penalty) will be concerning.

Lloris, 31, is entering his prime as a goalkeeper and the quintessential sweeper keeper is always eager to launch himself off his line whenever he can, as he did earlier in the first half to great effect. It is too harsh to call Lloris a liability but with mistakes in each of his last three games you can feel Tottenham’s fans not being as confident as they once were as he let in Sterling in the second half, flapped a bit to let in Sterling for City’s third and was too close to call on some of his passes.

Serie A: Leaders Inter Milan open door for Juve by drawing Roma

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MILAN (AP) Italian league leader Inter Milan was held by Roma to 0-0 on Friday, giving second-placed Juventus a chance to return to the top.

[ MORE: Chelsea transfer ban reduced; can sign players in January ]

The home draw left Inter only two points ahead of Juventus, which can regain the lead when it visits third-placed Lazio on Saturday.The result also wasn’t good for Roma, which moved from fifth to fourth place in the standings but remained nine points off the lead after 15 matches.

Inter forward Lautaro Martinez had one of the game’s best chances when he got past a defender and entered the area in the 68th minute, but his shot was blocked at the last minute. He called for a handball by the defender but the referee let play continue.

[ MORE: Brendan Rodgers signs new contract at Leicester ]

Inter was coming off five straight wins in the league, with its last setback in all competitions last month against Borussia Dortmund in the Champions League. Its last league loss was against Juventus in October, nine matches ago.

Roma was seeking its third straight league win. It had won five of its last six matches since last month.

Inter visits Barcelona in the Champions League on Tuesday.

Premier League Preview: Man City v. Man United

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  • Man City (3rd) trail Liverpool by 11 points
  • Man United (6th) eight points out of 4th
  • Last meeting: Man United 0-2 Man City

For the first time in recent memory, Manchester City and Manchester United each find themselves failing to meet expectations — by their own respective standards, at least — as they prepare to meet at the Etihad Stadium in the 179th Manchester derby on Saturday (Watch live, 12:30 p.m. ET on NBCSN and NBCSports.com).

Man City, the two-time defending Premier League champions, are looking increasingly unlikely to retain their crown for a third straight season but look a surefire bet to finish in the top-four, which is a place for which Man United would bite your hand off as they currently trail leaders Liverpool by more points (22) than they have points of their own (21).

[ STREAM: Every PL match live

The struggles for United have been all about consistency as Ole Gunnar Solskjaer‘s side hasn’t won back-to-back games all season. The Red Devils haven’t won two in a row in the PL since March. On the bright side, United turned in one of their complete performances of the season on Wednesday, spoiling Jose Mourinho’s return to Old Trafford and beating Tottenham Hotspur 2-1. Marcus Rashford scored both goals and Solskjaer couldn’t rave enough about his 22-year-old forward after the game. From start to finish, United were the better team and looked in majority control, which isn’t something they’ve been able to say often in 2019.

As for City, they’ve simply been “not good enough” without ever actually being “bad” this season, given Liverpool’s scintillating form (14W-1D-0L thus far). Realistically, City likely need to pick up all 69 remaining points this season, and even then they might still come up short.

Injuries/suspensions

Man City: OUT – Sergio Aguero (thigh), Aymeric Laporte (knee), Leroy Sane (knee), Oleksandr Zinchenko (knee)

Man United: OUT – Anthony Martial (hamstring), Eric Bailly (knee), Marcos Rojo (undisclosed); QUESTIONABLE: Paul Pogba (ankle), Nemanja Matic (groin), Diogo Dalot (groin)


Projected lineups

Man City: Ederson — Walker, Otamendi, Fernandinho, Angeliño — Rodri, De Bruyne, Silva — Bernardo, Jesus, Sterling

Man United: De Gea — Wan-Bissaka, Lindelof, Maguire, Young — Fred, McTominay, James, Mata, Lingard — Rashford


What they’re saying

Pep Guardiola, on the derby: “It’s Man United. I respect what they’ve done for English football, European, and world football. United have huge history and their quality is always there but we must try to beat them. We play against a good team, try to follow the performances we’ve put in and try to win the game. You know my opinion on the title race.”

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, on his derby memories: “It took many years before I played a Manchester derby myself. Of course, Man City are a better team now than when I was playing. … Confidence is a strange thing in football; you can get performances and results like Wednesday night and it boosts it so much. And I know our boys will be up for it. 24 hours less recovery time [than City] shouldn’t matter, you go on adrenaline.”


Prediction

The win over Tottenham was impressive, no doubt about it, but City remain a challenge of an entirely different class, no matter what their points total says. If the title is well and truly gone for Guardiola’s side, then retaining superiority in Manchester will have to suffice. City 3-1 United.

Premier League Preview: Everton v. Chelsea

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  • Chelsea sit 4th, with 29 points
  • Everton sit 18th, with 11 points
  • Last meeting: Everton 2-0 Chelsea

Everton’s start to the 2019-20 Premier League season has been beyond woeful (4W-2D-9L in 15 games) for any club, let alone one that had dreams of breaking into the top-six this season, resulting in manager Marco Silva losing his job on Thursday. Now, fewer than 48 hours later, the Toffees have to pick themselves back up and face a top-four side for the third straight game when Chelsea visit Goodison Park on Saturday (Watch live, 7:30 a.m. ET on NBCSN and NBCSports.com).

Having lost three straight PL games, including defeats to second-place Leicester City and leaders Liverpool this week alone, the next few weeks will go a long way toward seeing Everton leave the relegation zone in the rearview mirror or sink deeper and deeper into the muck of a season-long relegation battle. A piece of potentially positive news for Everton ahead of Saturday’s game: they are currently three games unbeaten against Chelsea (1W-2D-0L).

[ STREAM: Every PL match live

As for the Blues, this could turn out to be a decisive week in their season. After losing to West Ham United last weekend, Frank Lampard‘s side bounced back with a win over Aston Villa on Wednesday. Then came the best news of all on Friday: Chelsea’s transfer ban has been cut in half and they will be able to sign players in January, meaning their young, thin squad can be bolstered as the look to solidify their Champions League place for next season.

With a floundering side like Everton next up on the fixtures list, the chance to move further clear of the Champions League chasing pack is perfectly ripe. Tammy Abraham (hip) returned for the game against Villa and scored the opening goal to take is season’s tally to 11 (second, behind Jamie Vardy). The 22-year-old has benefited more than anyone from what turned out to be Chelsea’s one-window transfer ban, doing more than enough to secure his place for the second half of the season, no matter what business they do in January.

Injuries/suspensions

Everton: OUT – Andre Gomes (ankle), Jean-Philippe Gbamin (thigh), Fabian Delph (hamstring), Cuco Martina (knee)

Chelsea: OUT – Ruben Loftus-Cheek (achilles), Antonio Rudiger (groin)


Projected lineups

Everton: Pickford — Sidibe, Keane, Mina, Digne — Schneiderlin, Davies, Sigurdsson — Iwobi, Calvert-Lewin, Richarlison

Chelsea: Kepa — James, Christensen, Zouma, Azpilicueta — Kante, Kovacic, Willian, Mount, Pulisic — Abraham


What they’re saying

Interim Everton boss Duncan Ferguson: “I’m a coach at the moment so I don’t think that is something I am considering at this time. It is my dream to be Everton manager but I am also realistic. Who wouldn’t want to be manager of Everton? There will be many top managers who want this job.”

Frank Lampard, on the new-manager bounce: “[Marco] Silva tried everything for the club and I’m sure that he will go on to manage well elsewhere. They might have an extra energy tomorrow as they rally.”


Prediction

Chelsea have far too much balance between defense and attack to hand Everton the glaring opportunities they will need to beat a genuine top-four side. That said, there’s far too much talent in that squad to continue to get beaten every time out, and perhaps seeing someone else take the blame will lift the burden off them and allow them to perform. Everton 2-2 Chelsea.

Klinsmann gets first point as Hertha Berlin manager

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FRANKFURT, Germany (AP) Jurgen Klinsmann claimed his first point since returning to coaching as his Hertha Berlin team let slip a two-goal lead to draw with Frankfurt 2-2 in the Bundesliga on Friday.

[ MORE: Chelsea transfer ban reduced; can sign players in January ]

Hertha was clinging to a 2-1 lead in the 86th minute when Sebastian Rode hammered the ball in from a corner for Frankfurt to deny the Berlin team the win.

Hertha is in the relegation playoff spot in 16th and winless in its last six league games, while Frankfurt is 10th.

Dodi Lukebakio gave Hertha the lead with a shot through Frederik Ronnow’s legs. That goal was assisted by Marko Grujic, who later made it 2-0 with a header from a free kick.

However, Frankfurt almost immediately replied with a header of its own from Martin Hinteregger, the Austrian defender with five Bundesliga goals.

[ MORE: Brendan Rodgers signs new contract at Leicester ]

Frankfurt’s fans expressed their disapproval of the video assistant referee after it ruled out two goals for the hosts. There was a rare disallowed own goal when Hertha goalkeeper Thomas Kraft palmed a cross into his own net but was found to have been pushed while jumping.

Klinsmann took over Hertha last week on a temporary deal until the end of the season, after Ante Covic was fired with the team under threat of relegation. Klinsmann hadn’t coached since being fired in 2016 by the United States, and last worked at a club in 2009 at Bayern Munich.