Mourinho off to perfect start; Tottenham beat West Ham

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LONDON — Jose Mourinho got off to the perfect start as Tottenham’s manager, as his side won 3-2 at West Ham United to secure their first Premier League away win since January.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]

After a tough week for Spurs’ players after Mauricio Pochettino was fired and then Mourinho hired, they delivered a dominant display as they outclassed bitter rivals West Ham from start to finish.

First half goals from Heung-Min Son and Lucas Moura set Spurs on their way and Harry Kane added a goal in the second half as Mourinho celebrated wildly on the sidelines. Michail Antonio scored a late consolation for the Hammers.

With the win Spurs momentarily moved up to sixth place in the table, while West Ham are now without a win in seven as Manuel Pellegrini‘s continue their alarming slump towards the bottom.


3 things we learned

1. Mourinho off to perfect start: It doesn’t get much better than this for Mourinho. His Spurs side were solid, albeit it against a lackluster West Ham, and were lethal in attack. There was a clear plan to get the ball wide to Moura and Son as quick as possible and it worked. Spurs looked more like a counter-attacking team than one that pressed high as that was the biggest change from Poch to Mou. It worked a treat and Mourinho has settled in very well at Spurs.

2. Dele Alli delivers: During the week Mourinho revealed what he said to Dele Alli. “I asked him if he was Dele or Dele’s brother. He told me he was Dele. ‘OK,’ I said. ‘Play like Dele.’” And boy did he prove he was the real Dele Alli. An assist for Son’s goal and a big hand in Moura’s with a majestic flick while he was on the ground showcased his undoubted quality. Dele now needs to deliver on a more regular basis.

3. Hammers need Haller to regain his mojo: This was poor from West Ham as Pellegrini could well lose his job in the coming days and weeks. There was no bite, no grit and no real plan in their derby game against their biggest rivals. Sebastian Haller looked lost up top as the Frenchman wasn’t bothered about holding the ball up and his first touch was abysmal. He scored three goals in his first three games for the Hammers but has scored just once since August and he is low on confidence and support. Haller needs to regain his mojo and West Ham need to give him support. The 3-2 scoreline didn’t tell the story of just how bad Spurs were.

Man of the Match: Dele Alli – His flicks and tricks set up this win for Spurs and he looked back to his best. He tired in the second half but Mourinho has shown he will but his faith in the English playmaker. Dele repaid that faith.


Mourinho thought he’d got off to the perfect start as Dele Alli played in Kane who slammed home, but the offside flag chalked off the goal as Spurs didn’t get the goal their bright start deserved.

At the other end Ryan Fredericks cross found Haller at the back post but Paulo Gazzaniga saved thanks to a deflection from Serge Aurier. Spurs then sat back and struggled to get in the game but Roberto pushed Heung-min Son’s effort from distance away and Lucas Moura then headed wide.

Felipe Anderson was then set free and as he raced towards goal he lost his composure as his pass was behind Sebastian Haller. Toby Alderweireld went close from two set pieces and Son and Kane were then denied by Declan Rice after two lovely flowing moves.

But Son wasn’t to be denied as Alli found him in the box and he made space for himself before smashing a shot on goal which Roberto should have saved but the ball went in. Mourinho punched the air with delight and moments later Son was clattered by Fredericks who should have been sent off.

Before half time Dele Alli delivered a majestic flick while he was on the floor to set free Son and his cross was finished by Moura as Mourinho slid on his knees in celebration.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights ]

Spurs should have been 3-0 up at the start of the second half as Moura was played in and raced clear but instead of shooting or picking out Dele Alli, he did neither.

Soon they were 3-0 up as Kane headed home Serge Aurier’s cross to leave Spurs’ fans, players and manager in dreamland.

Kane was almost in again soon after as Spurs were lethal on the counter and Mourinho stood on and watched calmly on the sidelines as his side eased to their first Premier League away victory since January.

West Ham were poor throughout but substitute Michail Antonio did grab a fine goal but that did little to ease their woes, as they also had a late goal correctly chalked out by VAR due to offside and Ogbonna finished in stoppage time to make it 3-2.

Aside from conceding the two late goals, this was the perfect start for Tottenham’s new manager as Jose Mourinho celebrated with the Spurs fans at the final whistle.

Smalling considering full-time Roma switch: “Long may it continue”

Chris Smalling
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Manchester United loanee Chris Smalling is talking up life in Rome amidst a possible Serie A Team of the Season campaign.

Smalling had a disappointing 2018/19 season at Old Trafford, so it’s not a surprise that Solskjaer thought he could do better than the 30-year-old.

[ MORE: Premier League schedule ]

Instead, Smalling’s numbers are close to that of record-signing Harry Maguire in a Serie A league with slightly more scoring. Smalling ranks in Italy’s top ten for interceptions (2.2), clearances (4.5) and blocks (1.2).

Roma boss Paulo Fonseca wants the player to stay, as i Lupi are fifth in Serie A and Smalling when has played nearly every minute when healthy. Smalling told our friends Sky Sports that he has “an interesting decision to make.”

“Some of the other players said if you really hit the ground running, the love that you can have in this city is unbelievable. That’s really what I’ve felt and so have my family. Long may it continue.”

His age makes it tricky, but the advanced stats show that Smalling has been a very effective Premier League center back for four of his last six seasons.

Smalling may want to leave if Solskjaer isn’t prepared to hand him regular football, which would be a given in Rome. Now what’s the price tag?

According to WhoScored’s player comparison tool:

Chris Smalling
whoscored.com

Watch Live: Liverpool v. West Ham

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Liverpool v West Ham takes center stage at Anfield on Monday (Watch live, 3 p.m. ET on NBCSN and online via NBCSports.com) as the Reds aim to reclaim their 22-point lead at the top of the Premier League table.

WATCH LIVE ONLINE

Jurgen Klopp‘s side remain unbeaten this season and with five more wins needed to guarantee the Premier League title, the finishing line is in sight. They are aiming for an 18th consecutive Premier League win which would equal Man City’s record for the most victories on the trot in top-flight history.

As for David Moyes and the Hammers, they are scrapping for their lives at the other end of the table and their daunting run of fixtures makes them one of the favorites for relegation.

Last season the Hammers did draw at home against Liverpool in the PL which was a key factor in the Reds not winning the title last time out but West Ham look extremely far from the team they were last season.

Liverpool v West Ham is first against 18th and all signs point to a big win for the home side as their unbeaten season continues with 25 victories from 26 games so far.

In team news Liverpool are without captain Jordan Henderson who has suffered a hamstring injury and will be out for the next three weeks.

Naby Keita comes in for Henderson in midfield as the rest of the Liverpool team is what you expect.

West Ham are without the injured Ryan Fredericks who suffered a shoulder injury in the 2-0 defeat at Man City on Wednesday.

Teenager Jeremy Ngakia comes in to replace Fredericks, while Felipe Anderson also comes into the lineup.

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Kids under 12 banned from heading in UK

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LONDON (AP) Children up to the age of 12 will be banned from heading a soccer ball in practice sessions in England, Northern Ireland and Scotland as authorities look to address the potential long-term impact on health of head injuries.

[ MORE: US Soccer bans heading ]

The governing bodies of the three regions announced the new heading guidelines on Monday, months after a Scottish study found former professional players there were less likely to die of common causes such as heart disease and cancer compared with the general population but more likely to die with dementia.

The guidelines say there will be a “graduated approach” to heading in practice for kids from 12-15, while the heading will be restricted to one practice session per week for kids 16 and 17.

[ MORE: Premier League schedule

There will be no change in terms of heading in matches, taking into consideration the extremely limited number of headers which actually occur in youth matches.

The Scottish study did not state that heading a ball was the cause of the increased prevalence of neurodegenerative conditions among soccer players, but the decision to update the guidelines was taken to “mitigate against any potential risks”, the English Football Association said in a statement.

“This guidance is a responsible development to our grassroots coaching,” FA chief executive Mark Bullingham said, “without impacting the enjoyment that children of all ages take from playing the game.”

The associations said the guidance had been produced in parallel with the UEFA medical committee, which is seeking to produce Europe-wide guidance later this year.

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

Champions League score predictions: Round of 16

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The 2019-20 UEFA Champions League is finally back as the Round of 16 kicks off this week and two of the four Premier League clubs are in action.

[ LIVE: Champions League scores

Man City and Chelsea face Real Madrid and Bayern Munich respectively and both know they face tough tasks to advance to the Champions League quarterfinals as they do battle with two European heavyweights.

Glory in the Champions League is now the main focus for Pep Guardiola and Man City following their two-season European ban from UEFA which they are appealing. Frank Lampard‘s young Chelsea side host the Bundesliga leaders and hugely experienced Bayern, with the German giants the favorites to advance.

[ MORE: Which Premier League team(s) will reach last eight? ]

The Premier League sides are up against it but both teams are extremely capable of scoring goals for fun but it is at the other end of the pitch where they struggle as both Real Madrid and Bayern Munich will be hoping their star attackers shine on the big stage once again.

In the other two last 16 clashes this week Napoli host Barcelona as Lionel Messi warmed up very nicely with four goals against Eibar, while Cristiano Ronaldo’s Juventus head to Lyon for the first leg as the Italian giants are expected to advance with ease.

Both Messi and Ronaldo badly want another Champions League title to their name but Lyon and Napoli are more than capable of picking up big first leg wins at home.

Below we predict the scores for the UCL round of 16 games taking place over the next two days. Feel free to make your own predictions in the comments section below, too.


Tuesday
Napoli 1-1 Barcelona
Chelsea 1-2 Bayern Munich

Wednesday
Lyon 1-3 Juventus
Real Madrid 2-3 Man City