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Top Premier League storylines: Week 9

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Week 9 of the 2019-20 Premier League season is upon us, back from the international break and fast approaching the start of the busiest period of the season in just over a month’s time.

[ MORE: Spurs’ Son happy South Korea “unscathed” in North Korea qualifier ]

Here’s what to keep an eye on this weekend…


Liverpool’s perfect start on the line at Old Trafford 

For all of Man United’s struggles since Sir Alex Ferguson‘s departure in 2013, Liverpool have only beaten the Red Devils three out of 12 PL meetings (four draws), including a solitary victory at Old Trafford back in March 2014. The major difference between those Liverpool teams and the current edition is, of course, the Reds’ current title-storming pace. Jurgen Klopp‘s side will put its 100-percent record on the line on Sunday. Any other team will believe they can walk into present-day Old Trafford and leave with a victory, but it’s always that much trickier anytime it’s a derby the nature of Liverpool and Man United.


Man City in desperate need of sharp turnaround

Last time out, Man City suffered a thorough home defeat at the hands of Wolverhampton Wanderers, dropping them eight points off the pace of Liverpool just eight games into the season. At the risk of forgetting recent history (as in, less than a year ago), things are quickly trending toward Liverpool running away from the pack, including the two-time defending champions. City didn’t lose their first game until Dec. 8 last season. Pep Guardiola‘s side has already lost twice this season, which they avoided doing until Dec. 22 a year ago.


When will Spurs right the ship? (Will they?)

Not even five months removed from appearing in the Champions League final, Tottenham are in a full-on crisis. Mauricio Pochettino appears to have lost the dressing room, largely because chairman Daniel Levy denied a number of outgoing transfers to players currently performing well below par — those facts are probably very closely linked with one another. Losing 3-0 away to Brighton & Hove Albion, as they did last time out, only served to highlight the glaring problems at Spurs. Anything but a victory over 20th-place Watford would be a disaster of an even higher order.


Would Silva survive another dismal defeat?

Marco Silva‘s employment as Everton manager looks more and more tenuous every time his Toffees leave the field of play. Following four straight defeats to Bournemouth, Sheffield United, Man City and Burnley, how much longer will owner Farhad Moshiri give the Portuguese to turn results around?

Jose Mourinho on Tottenham unveiling: “I am humble”

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Okay, this is still weird, but Jose Mourinho has given his first press conference as Tottenham Hotspur’s head coach.

As expected, it was box office.

Mourinho, 56, answered questions from reporters at Spurs’ training ground on Thursday ahead of their clash at bitter London rivals West Ham United on Saturday (Watch live, 7:30 a.m. ET on NBCSN and online via NBCSports.com).

The former Chelsea and Manchester United boss began by praising his friend Mauricio Pochettino who was fired less than 12 hours before he was hired as Spurs’ new manager.

“Mauricio, for the work he did, this club will be always his home,” Mourinho said. “He can come when he wants. When he misses the players, when he misses the people he work with. The door is always open for him. He will find happiness again. He will find a great club again. He will have a great future.”

Mourinho then interestingly said he will not make the same mistakes he made previously in his career, as he’s spent his recent time off tweaking his methods and thinking about how he can evolve as a coach.

“You never lose your DNA. You are what you are. During my career, I made mistakes. I’m not going to make the same mistakes. I’ll make new mistakes,” Mourinho added. “I am humble. I am humble enough to analyze my career, and the problems. There was no one else to blame… I went really deep in that analysis.”

The press conference room was packed, with a limit of one journalist per organization such was the demand, and Mourinho smiled and lapped up the attention as he is back in the Premier League after a 11-month hiatus after his firing by Man United.

“Happiness-wise I am convinced my choice was a great one,” Mourinho said. “The club is huge. I know that I have potentially a great job in my hands.”

With Spurs 11 points off the top four, Mourinho has a heck of a job on his hands but he is now in role he relishes.

The Special One is the underdog once again.

Gareth Bale sparks angry reaction at Real Madrid

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Gareth Bale has upset plenty of people around Real Madrid and in Spain over the international break.

Following the 2-0 win against Hungary on Tuesday, Bale, 30, celebrated Wales reaching EURO 2020 by singing “Wales. Golf. Madrid” with this teammates, while holding a flag which had the same message and “in that order” printed on it.

Safe to say that didn’t go down well in Madrid, with Bale’s critics, of which there are many, livid with his actions.

Did it needlessly poor fuel on the fire? Yes. Was it a bit of banter towards his situation for Bale? Yes.

It has already spoken about playing for Wales being more fun than playing for Real Madrid and many in the Spanish capital were surprised to see him play for Wales over the international break as his last game for Real was on Oct. 5 due to injury.

Real’s fans don’t like Bale and their former president Roman Calderon called his behavior “childish” as others said fans should demand he leaves in their next game against Real Sociedad at home on Saturday.

Here are a selection of the headlines across the Spanish newspapers, as Bale still has three years left on his current contract a Real and looks set to stay, despite Zinedine Zidane desperate to offload him in the summer.

Chairman of Swedish club Ostersund appeals against conviction

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OSTERSUND, Sweden (AP) The former chairman of Swedish soccer club Ostersund has appealed against his conviction for serious financial crimes.

Daniel Kindberg was sentenced on Nov. 5 to three years in prison, banned from doing business for five years and ordered to pay damages after being found guilty of funneling millions of kronor in taxpayer money into Ostersund. The scheme involved two other men and three companies, one being the Ostersund municipality’s housing corporation for which Kindberg was chief executive.

Kindberg said immediately after the verdict was handed down that he would appeal, describing it as “a legal scandal.” His defense lawyer, Olle Kullinger, says the appeal was submitted this week and will be heard in the Court of Appeal in Sundsvall, likely next year.

Kulllinger said Kindberg is appealing against the conviction, the damages, and “regarding all points of the indictment.”

Ostersund, which plays in Sweden’s top league, will not be facing any sanctions from the Swedish soccer association following Kindberg’s conviction.

More AP soccer: https://apnews.com/Soccer and https://twitter.com/AP-Sports

Report: No money in January for Mourinho

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Jose Mourinho will have to deal with the squad he has for the rest of the season, according to a report the Guardian.

The report states that Tottenham isn’t making any money available for signings in January, meaning that Mourinho won’t have the chance to add to his Spurs squad. Usually, when a new coach comes in, they’re given at least a transfer window to bring in one or two players, especially mid-season, to stabilize the squad.

[READ: Mourinho speaks for the first time as Spurs manager]

It’s certainly an unusual move from Tottenham. It leaves Mourinho in a bad spot in terms of the five first-team players who will be out of contract in June. If any of them, including Jan Vertonghen and Christian Eriksen, leave on transfer, perhaps Tottenham can use those funds towards new signings. However, it’s more likely at this point that all five will finish the season at White Hart Lane and leave, setting up a massive summer for Mourinho.

At the same time, Tottenham has shown financial austerity for the past few seasons, as it struggles to pay back the loans it took to renovate its stadium. Pochettino didn’t make a single signing for the entirety of the 2018-2019 season and while the club broke its transfer record to sign Tanguay Ndombele, there wasn’t investment throughout the squad.

Considering Tottenham’s financial behavior, it does question why Mourinho took the job in the first place. But with his reported eight-figure salary, and the chance to work with Harry Kane, Mourinho may have decided it’s worth it, even if he can’t sign his players and mold the squad in the way he wants.