Danny Rose

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Premier League Preview: Tottenham Hotspur v. Liverpool

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Tottenham Hotspur would love to be the club to end Liverpool’s unbeaten Premier League season when the two sides meet in North London on Saturday (Watch Live at 12:30 p.m. ET on NBC and online via NBCSports.com).

Jose Mourinho insists his club believes it can a result despite the dour mood accompanying Harry Kane’s injury.

WATCH LIVE, ONLINE, HERE

Liverpool is facing injuries, too, but its trident remains healthy and led by Player of the Season candidate Sadio Mane.

The Reds hold a 13-point lead on the Premier League field and have a match-in-hand on everyone except West Ham United.

Spurs are still very much a part of the race for the Top Four should they be able to again navigate a long Kane absence. Tottenham is six points back of fourth place Chelsea.


Injuries/suspensions

Spurs: OUT —  Harry Kane, Hugo Lloris, Ben Davies, Tanguy Ndombele, Moussa Sissoko. QUESTIONABLE — Danny Rose.

Liverpool: OUT — Dejan Lovren, Joel Matip, Fabinho, James Milner, Naby Keita, Nathaniel Clyne. QUESTIONABLE — Xherdan Shaqiri.


Probable lineups

Spurs: Gazzaniga; Vertonghen, Sanchez, Alderweireld, Sessegnon, Dier, Lo Celso, Dele, Aurier; Lucas, Son.

Liverpool: Alisson, Robertson, Van Dijk, Gomez, Alexander-Arnold, Henderson, Wijnaldum, Lallana, Mane, Firmino, Salah.


What they’re saying

Spurs boss Jose Mourinho on facing Liverpool: “It’s the best team in our competition, just to say that – I could say more than that. We would prefer to play against them with everybody available. … But again that’s the way it is and we worked hard in the week, and the boys that are available, of course they are happy to play and when somebody doesn’t play you open the opportunity for somebody else, and we know the situation. We know how good they are, we can imagine that in this room only two persons think that we can win. Maybe only two, but we believe (puts his arm around Spurs’ press officer). We have to believe. If you don’t believe, get out man.”

Jurgen Klopp on Jose Mourinho: “A world-class manager with a specific mindset. He wants to win. I respect that a lot. Each situation his team is in he tries to use. That is how managers work. The good news is, we don’t play. We send out two teams and we have to make sure it works out. I don’t think anyone wants to play us right now. Spurs are never easy but they are now so let’s see.”


Prediction

Liverpool’s biggest question mark is in the midfield, but Tottenham’s hit there, too. We imagine this one will be a bit cagier than usual, perhaps even a surprise 1-1.

Spurs midfielder Sissoko out 3 months after knee surgery

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Tottenham Hotspur’s midfield is slowly reaching crisis status.

Already without Tanguy Ndombele due to a groin strain, Spurs have now lost Moussa Sissoko for three months after the French international went down with an MCL injury which required surgery, the club announced on Tuesday.

Sissoko was injured in the 1-0 loss to Southampton last week, although he completed the full 90 minutes as Jose Mourinho only used two substitutes. The club announcement stated he is not expected back in training until early April.

The injuries leave Harry Winks, Eric Dier, Victor Wanyama, Giovani Lo Celso, and Oliver Skipp as the only remaining true central midfielders on the senior squad. Dier and Winks has struggled mightily at times this season, Lo Celso has not locked down a consistent role, while Wanyama and Skipp have made just a combined 10 total appearances across all competitions.

Sissoko’s injury could have a serious effect on Tottenham’s January transfer window. Winks and Wanyama were rumored to be on the move, with Spurs hoping to upgrade in the midfield. Now, they are more likely to stay given the short supply of quality midfielders on the roster. Spurs could even look to buy should they look to upgrade on the currently available midfielders, although the quality of available players in January is often questionable.

In addition to a thinning midfield, Spurs are also dealing with serious injuries to talisman Harry Kane and goalkeeper Hugo Lloris, plus the absence of full-backs Ben Davies and Danny Rose.

Tottenham is scheduled to take on Liverpool this weekend, while an FA Cup replay with Middlesbrough and a Premier League game against Watford come their way next week. Spurs sit sixth in the Premier League table with 30 points, six behind fourth-placed Chelsea for the final Champions League spot.

Report: Mourinho arrival could see Vertonghen, Alderweireld stay at Spurs

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Belgian duo Jan Vertonghen and Toby Alderweireld are two of many Tottenham players out of contract in the coming summer, and to this point talks with both on a new deal had stalled.

However, there seems to be renewed hope that both stick around now that Mauricio Pochettino has departed and Jose Mourinho is on as the new manager in North London.

Lyall Thomas of Sky Sports reported Wednesday that Vertonghen is “keen to discuss” a new contract with the club now that Mourinho has been brought aboard. The report states that Vertonghen was open to discussions with Pochettino in the past, but no offer was ever officially extended. Vertonghen was reportedly informed this summer that the club would not let him leave and he would play for Spurs in the final year of his contract.

[ MORE: Premier League schedule ]

At 32 years old, Vertonghen has made six appearances for the club in the Premier League this season, with another three in Champions League play. He has battled a muscle injury of late but was on the bench for the comeback win over Olympiakos this week.

Alderweireld, meanwhile, has been quite open about his desire to leave the club this summer at the expiry of his deal, as the club has not offered him a new contract and there are thought to be a number of clubs interested in his services. However, a report by The Telegraph says that Alderweireld feels the arrival of Mourinho could calm his desire for a new challenge.

The 30-year-old defender admitted as such publicly after the win over Olympiakos, saying of Mourinho, “I am happy that I’m playing. I’m proud to work with a manager that has won it all. I am grateful that I can become a better player under him. I want to repay him for the faith he has shows in me.”

HLN reporter Kristof Terreur claims the club has not formally offered Alderweireld a new contract, but it was always expected he would leave even should they open talks. However, now it could be that Alderweireld desires to stay and talks can progress.

One of the biggest challenges Tottenham chairman Daniel Levy faced this season was the gaggle of players all out of contract either this summer or next, with very few seemingly willing to consider an extension. Alongside Alderweireld and Vertonghen, Christian Eriksen is also out of contract this summer, while the club will need to make a decision on the future of Giovani Lo Celso on loan from Real Betis. Eric Dier, Danny Rose, Victor Wanyama, and Oliver Skipp all have contracts expiring in the summer of 2021.

How should Tottenham line up under Mourinho?

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Jose Mourinho takes charge of his first game as Tottenham’s new manager on Saturday away at bitter rivals West Ham (Watch live, 7:30 a.m. ET on NBCSN and online via NBCSports.com).

But who will start? What formation will he use? Which players will he favor?

There are plenty of questions around Mourinho’s team selection, as he’s already hinted that he will keep things very similar to Mauricio Pochettino in terms of personnel and tactics.

Here’s a look at who we think Mourinho will select if he has his strongest possible XI to choose from.


Jose Mourinho’s preferred XI at Tottenham?

—– Lloris —–

— Aurier — Sanchez — Alderweireld — Davies —

—- Dier —- Ndombele —-

—- Sissoko —- Dele —- Son —- 

—– Kane —–


Analysis

Mourinho loves players who are strong, powerful and know how to defend. This is why I’ve picked this XI above. Hugo Lloris is the obvious starting goalkeeper when he returns from injury, while Serge Aurier will get the nod at right back and Ben Davies at left back. Jan Vertonghen has shown signs of struggling this season, as Davinson Sanchez and Toby Alderweireld would be a preferred partnership for Mourinho. Although he did the try and sign both Eric Dier and Alderweireld while he was in charge of United, so perhaps that will be his go-to partnership if Dier isn’t deployed in midfield. Dier in central midfield would make Spurs more solid defensively as he could slot in for one of the back four if they push forward.

In midfield the duo of Dier and Tanguy Ndombele could play together, but don’t be surprised if Mourinho brings in Victor Wanyama alongside Dier to bring some extra stability. He could also place Moussa Sissoko back out on the wing to use his incredible engine in wide positions, as he loves wingers who can get up and down the pitch. Having Sissoko and Heung-Min Son flying up in support of target man Harry Kane (who will be asked to channel his inner Didier Drogba) would be Mourinho’s ideal scenario. When it comes to a key playmaker, Mourinho loves Dele Alli and he will hand him the keys to Spurs’ attack given his recent upturn in performances. Christian Eriksen, Vertonghen and Danny Rose all seem to be on the outside looking in as Mourinho’s arrival could spark their early departures in January.

There are clear winners and losers from Mourinho’s arrival with Dier, Dele Alli and Harry Kane delighted, while the likes of Eriksen, Vertonghen and Winks know it could well be the end of the road for them at Spurs, and even Giovani Lo Celso too, as his loan spell from Real Betis can end without a permanent deal in the summer.

Mourinho: Tottenham can win the Premier League

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Jose Mourinho has been unveiled as Tottenham Hotspur’s new boss and he wasted no time making his mark in his first press conference as Spurs’ head coach.

[ MORE: Press conference in full ]

He was brash, confident and had plenty of one-liners to throw out to the media as he resembled that friend you have who is entertaining when you see them once a year, usually around the holidays.

But we will all be seeing a lot more of Jose in the coming weeks and months…

Mourinho, 56, addressed a pack press conference room at Spurs’ training ground on Thursday and was happy throughout as he smiled and joked about returning to the Premier League.

During the lengthy press conference, where he discussed many topics including praise for Mauricio Pochettino, lavishing praise on the current Spurs squad and saying he is humble and has learned a lot in the past 11 months since he was fired by Manchester United, Mourinho was asked if Tottenham can win the title.

“We cannot win the Premier League this year. I am not saying we will do, but we can win it next year,” Mourinho said. “If we win titles it will not be because of me. It will because of the club’s work. It will be because of the vision and plan of the whole club. The stadium is part of the vision, the training ground is part of the vision, keeping the best players is part of the vision. To refuse to let the best players go is part of the vision too. Maybe to have a manager with my experience is also part of the vision. If we win the title, doesn’t matter when, if we win a title during my period it will not be because of myself. It is just the natural consequence of the vision and the plan.”

That is a huge statement for a team which hasn’t won the league title since 1961 and are currently so far behind title chasing Liverpool and Man City, let alone Chelsea, Leicester City, Arsenal and Man United.

But with Spurs’ phenomenal new stadium, training ground and a plethora of world-class players at his disposal, maybe Mourinho is right to be confident that the 2018-19 UEFA Champions League runners up can be in the PL title hunt next season, as he admitted he doesn’t need to change that much from the team Mauricio Pochettino built.

“I don’t want to make big changes, I want to respect the base and the work that they did for five-and-a-half years, not two days,” Mourinho said. “We hope that is an update, it is not a change. The base is what they did before. This is not about me and not for me to come and say ‘everything was wrong with Mauricio’, not at all. It is to try and understand why results in the Premier League were not good and to try and reach a good level again. The players are very good and I’m not here to make dramatic changes.”

Mourinho seems hungry, rejuvenated and ready to sink his teeth into the job at Spurs, and he is no doubt in his favorite role as the underdog in comparison to Man United, Chelsea, Liverpool and Man City in the title race.

But there’s a lot of work to be done between now and any potential title bid, as they sit 14th in the Premier League table, without an away win in the league since January and 11 points off the top four.

After praising the squad of players he has at his disposal and insisting he doesn’t need to spend in January, Mourinho is unsure whether the likes of Christian Eriksen, Jan Vertonghen, Toby Alderweireld and Danny Rose will stick around as they continue to run down their contracts.

“I’ve had no time to look at individual cases,” Mourinho said. “The first thing for me is for the players to feel good and if they are going to leave in January or June or sign a new contract I think all of that based on feeling good and to feel good is to be ready and available on Saturday. Jan cannot do that because of injury. But they have to be ready for the team. Then it is about the club, it is about them, it is about me, it is about Mr Levy but fundamentally it is about the players being happy.  You have to choose what makes you happy but at this moment we have to look at the short term and we have to try and get two good results in the next two matches.”

Those next two matches come at West Ham on Saturday (Watch live, 7:30 a.m. ET on NBCSN and online via NBCSports.com) and then a crucial UEFA Champions League group game against Olympiakos at home next Tuesday.

If Mourinho gets off to a flier, Tottenham will have momentum and when the Special One has that and he’s happy, the rest of the PL will be wary.