Clinton N'Jie

Tottenham Hotspur sign Nkoudou for $14.4 million

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Tottenham Hotspur have finally completed the signing of Georges-Kevin Nkoudou from Marseille for $14.4 million.

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Nkoudou, 21, has signed a five-year contract at White Hart Lane and he has been training with Spurs since last Thursday while the deal was being completed.

The winger scored 10 goals and added five assists in 41 games for Marseille last season and Clinton N'Jie will head in the opposite direction on loan as part of the deal.

There has been plenty of banter flying around about the protracted nature of Nkoudou’s transfer with the French U21 international spotted in and around north London over the last week or so, but finally Spurs can announce the deal is done.

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Nkoudou is a pacey winger he will conclude Spurs’ summer transfer business after they signed Victor Wanyama and Vincent Janssen earlier in the window.

Mauricio Pochettino was said to be interested in Wilfried Zaha, Moussa Sissoko and Isco but it looks like this is it for the team who finished third in the Premier League last season and are looking forward to the UEFA Champions League group stage.

PSG wins Ligue 1 crown quicker than anyone in history

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A spell of three early  goals in six minutes saw Paris Saint-Germain annihilated Troyes 9-0 and clinch the Ligue 1 title with a whopping eight matches still remaining, the earliest anyone has ever clinched the league.

Edinson Cavani started things off in the 13th minute, and by the 19th minute Javier Pastore and Adrien Rabiot had added goals to send PSG to halftime already cruising. Following the break, Zlatan Ibrahimovic grabbed a hat-trick in just 10 minutes, and PSG went right on cooking to the final whistle, with Zlatan of course getting one more goal.

Before the match, with the league crown all but in his grasp, manager Laurent Blanc had harsh words for the rest of the league.

“There was a debate on whether it was pathetic or fantastic, but Paris has made its way. Many competitors have struggled to follow us,” said Blanc. “However, I repeat, in a season you can only take six points against PSG. Our opponents did not do what was needed.”

It sounds whiny, but it’s not – he’s absolutely right. The French league as a whole this season was a massive disappointment. Typical powerhouses Olympique Marseille and Saint Etienne had nightmare seasons, finishing 10th and 7th respectively. Last year’s title challengers Lyon finished fourth. Moncao has only lost four matches all season thanks to their perennially strong defensive shape, but fell well behind thanks to a complete lack of forward movement leading to a frustrating draw total of 13.

The league’s top finishers last season were sellers in the summer transfer market, shipping much of their top talent abroad. Lyon sold young striker Clinton N'Jie to Spurs after he finished the Ligue 1 season with four goals in his last six matches. Monaco cashed in on Anthony Martial, Geoffry Kondogbia, and Aymen Abdennour, while they sent young left-back Layvin Kurzawa to the French capital. Maybe the worst of all, Marseille lost Dmitri Payet to West Ham in a messy transfer that concluded in plenty of finger-pointing.

So unless the French league decides to step up its game, PSG will be no match for its competition, which can only serve to harm all involved – including Blanc and Les Parisians – so it’s no surprise he’s calling out his constituents.

Premier League Playback: Key questions for Klopp at Liverpool

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KLOPP’S INSTANT IMPACT

Whistling like a German kettle on the sidelines at White Hart Lane, Jurgen Klopp was full of that “full throttle” approach he expects from his players.

During his debut both in charge of Liverpool and in the Premier League, Klopp impressed with his passion on the sidelines as he gesticulated furiously in a circulations motion with his right hand while whistling ferociously every single time his side gave away the ball. The result? Liverpool’s players slotted straight back into their positions as if they were sheepdogs being controlled by a shepherds whistle. In just four days of training with his new squad, Klopp already seems to have got them on his side.

[ MORE: Three things we learned

Plenty of questions still remain following his first outing. Overall, a 0-0 draw away at Tottenham Hotspur probably won’t be the liveliest of his Liverpool career but Klopp will see it as a decent result at in-form Spurs. Missing Danny Ings (at least for six months), Daniel Sturridge, Roberto Firmino and Christian Benteke (all likely to be back this week) from his lineup, Klopp placed Divock Origi in attack and the 20-year-old delivered a performance where his pace caused Spurs problems and he was unlucky to see his header come crashing off the crossbar and out after a blistering start to the game from Liverpool. Origi impressed Klopp, who revealed he tried to sign him for Borussia Dortmund in the past but how he uses him, Sturridge and Benteke remains to be seen. It’s a huge question as right now it seems to be a case of one striker from three.

[ MORE: Klopp cool, praises attackers ]

Keeping up that “full throttle” start for an entire 90-minutes will be tough but speaking to the media after the game, Klopp declared himself more than satisfied with his first point as Liverpool boss but did reveal some of the answers to how his team didn’t manage to get a win.

“The problem of the game was that when we had the ball we were not cool enough. We didn’t use our skills. We were a little too hectic or eager. Something like this,” Klopp said. “We didn’t see the option as much but it is normal. You start like this, you got the ball from this space and you should open your view and you can play it this side because Tottenham is a zonal defending team. We didn’t use these situations but we had our moments. A very good corner [Origi’s header against the bar] and some other situations where we could have been a little better but for today it is really okay. After three or four days it was brilliant. Now we have our own experience together and we can go on working.”

Klopp is renowned for having his team work hard and press high up the pitch. The 4-3-2-1 — Christmas Tree formation, as it’s commonly known — system worked well on Saturday with the players at his disposal. However, with key attackers set to return from injury you’d be hard-pressed to believe that Klopp won’t line up with two up front when Southampton come to Anfield next Sunday for his first home league game in charge of the Reds. In midfield the trio of James Milner, Lucas and Emre Can worked tirelessly, with Klopp yelling “Yaaaa. Come on!” when Can rattled into a challenge in the first half. He praised that narrow midfield three afterwards and during the game he was very positive and constantly cajoled his side and applauded even their mistakes. Let’s see if he does that in a few months from now

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]

Some pretty impressive stats emanated from Liverpool’s opening performance under Klopp. They became the only team to outrun Tottenham this season, as their boss Mauricio Pochettino is another fierce proponent of high-pressing. Liverpool also completed more sprints than Spurs, 50 more to be exact, and although they ran out of steam after their exhilarating opening 25-minute spell to the game, Klopp’s boys did gain a second wind in the second half after Simon Mignolet denied Harry Kane and Clinton N'Jie when Spurs were on top.

It will take Liverpool’s players some time to live up to the high-paced demands of Klopp, but Saturday proved that they are not too far off how he expects them to play and approach games. Their fitness levels will need to be worked on and that is not easy to implement midway through a season. Now is the time to be patient as there are plenty more hurdles for Liverpool and their new manager to negotiate and plenty more questions to be answered. We got a taster of what’s time to come from Klopp, and judging by the German-inspired flags proudly waved by their fans, they already approve of “The Normal One” during a rather normal first game in charge.

Premier League Schedule – Week 9

Result Recap & Highlights
Chelsea 2-0 A Villa Recap, watch here
C Palace 1-3 West Ham Recap, watch here
Everton 0-3 Man Utd Recap, watch here
Man City 5-1 B’mouth Recap, watch here
N’castle 6-2 Norwich Recap, watch here
Saints 2-2 Leicester Recap, watch here
Swansea 0-1 Stoke Recap, watch here
Tottenham 0-0 L’pool Recap, watch here
Watford 0-3 Arsenal Recap, watch here
WBA 1-0 Sunderland Recap, watch here

CITY’S OUTSIDERS STEP UP

Without leading scorer Sergio Aguero and chief creator David Silva for the next four weeks through injury, Manchester City’s second-string attackers were expected to step up and deliver the goods against Bournemouth on Saturday. They did. Impressively. Raheem Sterling scored his first senior hat trick in the first half and Wilfried Bony struck twice to humble Bournemouth 5-1 and keep City top of the Premier League with 21 points from a possible 27.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights ]

Going into a huge Manchester derby at Old Trafford on Sunday, big question marks were hanging over City and how the likes of Sterling, Bony and Kevin De Bruyne could handle the pressure in the absence of the two players many believe are the best attackers in the Premier League. The fact that summer acquisitions Sterling and De Bruyne cost City $150 million in transfer fees alone tells its own story. Their strength in-depth is greater this season which is a big reason why they are many people’s title favorites.

De Bruyne was particularly outstanding on Saturday, as the Belgian international is settling into life at City extremely well. His ability to run at players from a central position was fully utilized by Manuel Pellegrini at the weekend and with the pace of Sterling and the strength of Bony having the Cherries in a spin, City could have had eight or nine. In truth, they took their foot off the gas in the second half with a big UEFA Champions League game coming up against Sevilla on Wednesday in Group D play, then United to come next weekend in the 170th derby. Vincent Kompany is also likely to return after being an usused sub and rested against Bournemouth and it’s a big week for the Citizens to prove they now have the cover, especially in attack, to deal with the absence of Silva and Aguero. If they can get positive results against Sevilla and United, the early season PL leaders can feel very good about the months ahead. Plus, it’s always handy to have ‘Dav the Wizard’ and Kun Aguero to slot back in whenever they’re needed…

HAZARD’S BENCHING HARSH?

On Saturday Chelsea got back to winning ways, as Jose Mourinho’s side beat a lackluster Aston Villa outfit 2-0 at Stamford Bridge. Diego Costa bundled home the opener and his shot cannoned off Alan Hutton and past Brad Guzan for another in the second half to wrap things up. That was the game. It was pretty straightforward.

The main storyline to come out of the Bridge was not what happened on the field but more about who spent most of the game off of it. Mourinho raised plenty of eyebrows when Eden Hazard was left on the bench for the visit of Villa but afterwards he described exactly why the Belgian wizard, who is the reigning PL Player of the Year, was left on the bench.

“I left out Hazard because we are conceding lots of goals. We need to defend better,” Mourinho said. “When you don’t have the ball, quality means nothing and what means [thumps chest]… you have or you don’t have. It was just a tactical decision, leaving super quality on the bench, but bringing tactical discipline and hoping that the team could be solid. Willian and Pedro did amazing defensive work and allowed the midfield players to be very comfortable. I continue that way, or he comes in our direction and tries to replicate the same work that Willian and Pedro did.”

Tactical. Really?

In the games Chelsea have been been dreadful in this season, and that’s been plenty of them, Hazard has been the one player who has shown he can beat a man and has that extra bit of quality. Sure, Pedro and Willian deserve chances to shine but this is Eden Hazard, the man who tore apart opposition defenses in the PL at will last season. If anybody deserves an extended run in the team it is him. Mourinho may have got the desired defensive work out of Willian and Pedro — we all know Hazard struggles with tracking back, as it was proven when Chelsea lost to Atletico Madrid at home in the UEFA Champions League final in 2013-14 season — but by publicly ostracizing Hazard and calling out his work-rate, the latest mind game from Chelsea’s manager may have grave consequences and cost the Blues their best player in a season where they desperately need him to regain his best form and lead them back into the top fourth. This is either brilliant management or madness from Mourinho. I suspect the latter.

FOUR-MIDABLE WIJNALDUM; MAGPIES WARY

Georginio Wijnaldum smashed in four goals for Newcastle on Sunday, leading the Magpies to their first win of the season in a pulsating 6-2 victory over Norwich City. In his ninth PL game in charge of the club former England boss Steve McClaren finally got a win but he knows Wijnaldum’s clinical finishing can’t paper over the cracks. Newcastle scored with all six of their shots on target and Wijnaldum now has six PL goals for the season as the marauding Dutch midfielder is looking like one of the bargains of the summer as he’s perfectly timed runs from midfield are causing opponents havoc.

[ MORE: Standings | schedule | stats ]

In an incredible first half Newcastle went 1-0 up but Dieumerci Mbokani equalized, then they went 3-1 up but Nathan Redmond pulled another back to make it 3-2 at the break. Redmond hit the post in the second half and Newcastle kept dropping deeper and deeper. In truth, the scoreline flattered McClaren’s side. Apart from Moussa Sissoko and Wijnaldum’s brilliance, plus a thumping volley from Aleksandar Mitrovic in front of his adoring fans, Newcastle still have plenty of issues to resolve as they aim to get out of the relegation zone. At least McClaren knows it as he failed to lose sight of the bigger picture in the postgame press conference, which cannot be said for most managers when you score six goals in a much-needed win.

“It’s Newcastle, is it possible to make any sense?” McClaren told reporters. “That’s what we are fast discovering. But I think that was just reward. I’m so pleased for the players, so pleased for the fans. Like we have said all along not to get too down and after tonight, we are not going to get high. There’s a lot of work to do, but it shows today when it comes together what we are capable of doing.”

Next up for Newcastle, the small matter of facing a Tyne-Wear derby against the team who sits bottom of the PL table: Sunderland. Buckle up. With Sam Allardyce in charge for the Black Cats and narrowly losing his first game in charge away at West Brom in controversial fashion, this is going to be a rambunctious derby next Sunday with three points, momentum and local pride on the line at the Stadium of Light.

Premier League Playback comes out every week as PST’s Lead Writer and Editor takes an alternative look at all the action from the weekend. Read the full archive, here. 

Three things we learned from Klopp’s Liverpool debut vs. Tottenham

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LONDON — Tottenham Hotspur and Liverpool played out a 0-0 draw on Saturday at White Hart Lane, as the Jurgen Klopp era began with an entertaining stalemate.

[ RECAP – Spurs 0-0 Liverpool ]

Klopp’s side started brightly but faded as the first half wore on, and in truth a draw was a fair result as these two top four hopefuls squared off.

[ MORE: Klopp cool, praises attackers ]

Here are three things we learned from Klopp’s debut at the Lane.

XMAS TREE, KLOPP PASSION

Standing in front of dozens of photographers before the game, Klopp stood with his arms crossed and looked poignantly towards Liverpool’s fans holding up banners and flags with the German flag emblazoned across many. “Liverpool Uber Alles” read one. For breaks in play during the first half, Klopp often looked back over to the fans as he seemed to be trying to make sense of it all and cultivate his famed ability to connect the club he manages with its supporters. He punched the air in delight when corners were awarded to his team and was hugely positive in his approach towards his players with his Germanic gesticulations causing plenty of chuckles among fans and media members surrounding Liverpool’s bench.

The German applauded high-pressing down the right flank from his forwards early on and stood on the edge of his technical area in an eased, yet somewhat agitated state, throughout. When Divock Origi‘s early header came off the underside of the bar, he first winced but then applauded his team. Time and time again he let out a whistle, reminiscent of a kettle, when Liverpool lost the ball and waved his right hand in a circular motion to let his team know it was time to get back in defensive shape. That whistling and motion will become commonplace for Klopp. Yelping “Yaaaa, come on!” when Emre Can made a crunching tackle in the first half, Klopp’s passion was clear on the sidelines just in front of the press box. What was also clear was the formation he started with. Klopp favored a Christmas Tree (4-3-2-1) formation which allowed Adam Lallana and Philippe Coutinho to create just behind the willing runner of Origi. When Daniel Sturridge and Christian Benteke return from injury they could well force Klopp into playing two up front, but youngster Origi led the line well and the solidity the all-action display of Can and experience of Lucas and James Milner in the middle made sure the back four got plenty of protection. The narrow formation worked well and allowed both Alberto Moreno and Nathaniel Clyne to push forward from full back. It remains to be seen whether this festive formation will be Klopp’s first-choice moving forward, but in a case of horses for courses in his first game in charge, he got the balance between fast paced attacks and staying tight at the back spot on.

SPURS DISJOINTED

Mauricio Pochettino was almost as animated as Klopp on the sidelines, as the Argentine coach was not only infuriated with several refereeing decisions as Liverpool broke up his teams attacks, but also seemed agitated with the his teams lack of fluidity in attack.

Christian Eriksen, Erik Lamela and Harry Kane drifted in and out of the game, and missing the destructive force of Eric Dier in the center of midfield, Spurs failed to get the ball to their danger men often enough. Kane and substitute Clinton N'Jie (who looked lively) both tested Simon Mignolet and on another day Spurs could have nicked this. Overall, a draw was a fair result and Spurs have now lost just once all season and that was on the opening day, 1-0 away at Manchester United in another narrow encounter. Pochettino’s side aren’t far from being a very, very good team but they are just lacking that extra bit of nous in the final third. With Kane’s poor run in front of goal continuing — it’s just one goal in nine outings so far this season in the PL — those games Tottenham were sneaking 1-0 and 2-1 wins in last season have all of sudden turned into a plethora of draws. Spurs have five draws from nine games this season, more than any other team.

LONDON, ENGLAND - OCTOBER 17: Jurgen Klopp, manager of Liverpool instructs his players during the Barclays Premier League match between Tottenham Hotspur and Liverpool at White Hart Lane on October 17, 2015 in London, England. (Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Images)
Klopp instructs his players. 

FITNESS, TRANSITION KEY FOR LIVERPOOL SUCCESS

Without a preseason to whip his team into shape, it was always going to be a case of slow progress for Klopp in his first season in charge at Liverpool. Known, like Spurs boss Pochettino, for his high-pressing style of play and his intense training sessions, Klopp’s men came flying out of the traps early and looked fitter, sharper and stronger than Spurs. However, it was unlikely that high-tempo would remain throughout and past the half hour mark Spurs began to take control. Kane and N’Jie went close as Mignolet brilliantly denied them, and for the rest of the game it was an even encounter.

Liverpool’s players, at times, looked visibly tired and although they gave their all for Klopp on his debut, it is clear that fitness levels need to improve if they are going to live up to his lofty expectations. Stats following the game showed that Liverpool’s players covered more distance and made more sprints in this game than any other during the current season and also became the first team to outrun Spurs, who are renowned for their all-action displays. It was a decent start for the German coach, especially with key players out, but there is plenty of hard work to come on the training ground in the weeks and months ahead.

Tottenham Hotspur 0-0 Liverpool: Draw on debut for Klopp

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  • Origi hits crossbar with header
  • Kane, N’Jie denied by Mignolet
  • Klopp debut ends with draw
  • Sturridge out injured

LONDON — Tottenham Hotspur and Liverpool played out a 0-0 draw at White Hart Lane on Saturday, as Jurgen Klopp’s first game in charge of the Reds yielded plenty of promise but no goals.

[ MORE: Watch full match replays ]

Playing without the injured attacking quartet of Danny Ings, Daniel Sturridge, Roberto Firmino and Christian Benteke, Liverpool started superbly and Divock Origi‘s header crashed against the underside of the crossbar but came back out. Spurs then had a glut of chances before half time but found Simon Mignolet in good form in goal for Liverpool, as the Belgian goalkeeper denied both Clinton N'Jie and Harry Kane.

With the point Spurs have 14 points after nine games of the season, while Liverpool have 13.

[ MORE: Klopp satisfied, praises attackers ]

Early on Liverpool — starting in a narrow 4-3-2-1 formation — came flying out of the traps with Adam Lallana and Divock Origi combining well, and in the 10th minute the Reds came agonizingly close to taking the lead. A corner from the right was flicked on by Emre Can and Origi’s header at the back post came off the underside of the crossbar and bounced out. Klopp applauded his teams endeavor, but a glorious chance had been wasted. Soon after Spurs were forced into a sub as Nacer Chadli went down and Clinton N’Jie came on in his place.

[ MORE: Latest Premier League standings ]

Liverpool continued to press for the rest of the first half, with Spurs struggling to get a foothold in the game but in the 29th minute they almost went ahead as Lallana was dispossessed and Harry Kane played in Clinton. The Cameroon forward sent in a superb shot with the outside of his right foot but Simon Mignolet made a terrific save to his right to keep the scores level. Tottenham continued to push as half time arrived with Mignolet saving well down low from Kane, then Mamadou Sakho blocked Dele Alli‘s follow up on the line. N’Jie went close again before half time but his shot rippled the roof of the net as Spurs finished the first 45 strongly with Klopp whistling encouragement from the sidelines as his team pressed high but ran out of steam.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights ]

After the break both teams canceled each other out with few scoring chances created, despite that Liverpool looked the more likely to break the stalemate with Origi driving a low shot in on goal in the 78th minute which Hugo Lloris saved well down low.

[ MORE: Click here for full lineups, stats, box score

Late on Spurs pushed for the winner as Eriksen danced through Liverpool’s defense and teed up Kane on the edge of the box, but his low drive was tipped wide by Mignolet. Then Can had a shot from distance which went narrowly wide but the game finished 0-0.