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Premier League preview: Tottenham v. Wolves

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Tottenham Hotspur looks to continue its hot streak as Spurs host Wolverhampton Wanderers on Saturday at 10:00 a.m. ET live on NBCSN or live online at NBCSports.com.

Spurs have rattled off five straight since a rivalry loss to Arsenal to Arsenal in early December, and they have found themselves in second place, above Manchester City with one match remaining in 2018. Tottenham has set a club record for most points at the halfway stage of a Premier League season with 45, and their sights are now set on a title race.

[ WATCH LIVE: Spurs v. Wolves live on NBCSports.com ]

They will be sweating a late fitness test from Dele Alli, who is hoping to shake off a hamstring injury to play in the Wolves match. Should he miss out, he would join a growing injury list for Spurs, including Mousa Dembele, Eric Dier, Jan Vertonghen and Victor Wanyama. Serge Aurier is also a question mark, having just returned to training from an injury.

For Wolves, who have gained just a single point in their last two matches after a three-game winning streak, Diogo Jota will again miss out due to a hamstring injury. The mini two-game winless skid has coincided with Jota’s injury, with the midfielder proving instrumental over the three-match win streak.

What they’re saying

Pochettino on playing through fixture congestion: “We’re in good momentum and it’s so important to keep that momentum. You cannot stop. We always try to give our best and then do everything to try to recover all the energy to be ready to compete again.”

Wolves manager Nuno on Spurs: “We will go there to compete. They are in a very good moment, 11 goals in two matches in a very busy moment of the season. They are doing very well, it shows the quality of the squad, of the management and we look at Tottenham knowing it’s going to be hard game. We have to fear all the teams in the Premier League. We have to respect and know the opponent has all the qualities.”

Prediction

This will be an entertaining match between two well-coached teams that play an enjoyable style. Yet, Spurs is in great form, and the absence of Diogo Jota neutralizes Wolves’ squad just enough to leave them vulnerable. The home side wins 2-0.

FOLLOW LIVE: Southampton v. Derby County

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Southampton and Derby County chase the final spot in the fourth round proper of the 2018-19 FA Cup with a replay at St. Mary’s on Wednesday.

[ FOLLOW: FA Cup scoreboard ]

The clubs drew 2-2 at Pride Park on Jan. 5, with a Nathan Redmond 2-0 lead going to waste for the Premier League visitors.

The victor gets a trip to the Crown Ground to face League One’s Accrington Stanley on Jan. 26.

Full fourth round fixture list

Jan. 25
Arsenal v. Manchester United

Jan. 26
Accrington Stanley v. Derby County or Southampton
Brighton and Hove Albion v. West Bromwich Albion
Bristol City v. Bolton
Doncaster Rovers v. Oldham Athletic
Man City v. Burnley
Middlesbrough v. Newport County
Newcastle United v. Watford
Portsmouth v. Queens Park Rangers
Swansea City v. Gillingham
Shrewsbury Town v. Wolves
Millwall v. Everton
AFC Wimbledon v. West Ham United

Jan. 27
Crystal Palace v. Spurs
Chelsea v. Sheffield Wednesday

Jan. 28
Barnet v. Brentford

Leeds’ Bielsa admits he spied “all the rivals”; How widespread is spying?

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Managerial darling Marcelo Bielsa spoke out Wednesday as fallout continues from a Leeds United scout caught spying on Derby County last week.

Bielsa says he’s spied on every team the club has played in the Championship this season.

[ MORE: Neymar praises Weah ]

How rare is this? And how big of a role has it played in Leeds’ 4-point lead in the race for automatic promotion to the Premier League? From the BBC:

“I observed all the rivals we played against and watched the training sessions of all opponents,” he said. “All the information I need to clarify, I gather it without watching the training session of the opponent, so why did I send someone to watch them? Just because I thought I wasn’t violating the norm. I gathered information that I can obtain in another way.

“We feel guilty if we don’t work enough, it [watching the opponents train] allows us to have less anxiety and in my case I am stupid enough to allow this kind of behavior.”

The 63-year-old Argentine has spent time at Lille, Lazio, Marseille, Athletic Bilbao, and Espanyol in addition to running the national teams of Argentina and Chile.

It does raise the question of how much spying is done in soccer. We know that the NFL’s New England Patriots cheated during a game against the New York Jets and that MLB teams try to steal signals, but sneaking around a training session… is that okay? Should it be?

55-goal Martinez re-ups with Atlanta through 2023

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Josef Martinez has signed a new deal with Atlanta United, with a contract tying him to the club through the 2023 Major League Soccer season.

Martinez, 25, has 55 goals in 61 games for the Five Stripes since arriving from Torino in 2017, a strike rate unlike anything the Venezuelan had been able to do in his career with the Serie A club, Young Boys, or Caracas.

[ MORE: Neymar praises Weah ]

That development has him happy to lock down a new Designated Player deal in Georgia, one that certainly would raise his transfer value. From AtlUtd.com:

“This means a lot to me because of the affection that the fans have shown me, that the fans show all of the players. It’s unique,” Martinez said. “They recognize the effort that you give and they know you did everything to win, and I think that’s why we love playing here. I have to thank everyone. My teammates, the city, my family and friends, because this is a dream I’ve always had. I’ve said before that I don’t want to go anywhere because this is my home. You can expect more work, more intensity, because that’s who I am. I want to win. I want to do everything for my teammates and for the city.”

With neither Newcastle nor Real Betis ready to meet Atlanta’s transfer fee for Miguel Almiron, the Five Stripes are in a bit of a bind with a reported deal for expected DP Pity Martinez despite having the league maximum three DPs in Martinez, Almiron, and Ezequiel Barco. Perhaps the European clubs are trying to force Atlanta’s hand.

Men In Blazers Podcast: De Gea heroics; Liverpool, Man City wins

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Rog and Davo applaud David De Gea‘s goalkeeping heroics in Manchester United’s 1-0 victory over Tottenham. Plus, wins for Liverpool and City in the title race.

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