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Pochettino tabs Champions League game vs. Man City as biggest of his life

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Mauricio Pochettino has taken charge of 22 Champions League matches in his career against the likes of Barcelona, Real Madrid, Borussia Dortmund, Juventus, and Inter Milan.

According to the man himself, none stack up to this week’s meeting with fellow Premier League giants Manchester City in the quarterfinals.

When asked if Tuesday’s game should be billed as the biggest of his life, Pochettino responded affirmatively. “Yes, as a coach. Yes. This is going to be one of the most important games.”

Pochettino then looked to try and downplay the significance of the match, saying Spurs had already reached their goals for the Champions League this season, claiming the rest is icing on the cake. “For us, it is a bonus to play in the quarter-finals. We are going to try to beat them. The [current] objective is to be in the semi-finals but it is going to be tough because Manchester City are a very good team and we respect them.”

The Argentinian hoped that the game brings out the best of the new stadium, and that while the full debut of the venue has passed, the honeymoon phase continues in full force. “We want to start tomorrow being very aggressive and try to dominate,” Pochettino said. “We have had time to prepare for the game. It is our second game in our new stadium and the first in the Champions League so we hope the atmosphere is amazing and tough for our opponent.”

Pochettino conceded that Manchester City has the deeper and more talented squad, especially given City’s return to health with Sergio Aguero, Benjamin Mendy, and Kyle Walker all expected to be fit for the match. “We must match their desire. The thing we cannot match is when we talk about talent but it going to be 11 versus 11 and I hope my team is going to be better than them.”

Amid City’s squad strengthening, Spurs is still missing a number of key players. Eric Dier, forward Erik Lamela, and Serge Aurier are all expected to miss the match through various injuries.

Tottenham peg Arsenal back on derby day (video)

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  • Controversial equalizer for Tottenham 
  • Harry Kane has nine goals in north London derbies, more than any other player in PL history
  • Mauricio Pochettino has never lost a home Premier League game against Arsenal
  • First draw of the season for Tottenham
  • Lloris saves Aubameyang’s 90th minute penalty
  • Torreira sent off in 90th minute

LONDON — Controversy reigned as Tottenham Hotspur drew 1-1 with Arsenal in the north London derby at Wembley on Saturday.

Harry Kane’s penalty kick (which should not have been awarded as he was offside) nicked a point for Spurs after Aaron Ramsey had given a solid Gunners side the lead in the first half.

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang then had a 90th minute penalty kick saved by Hugo Lloris as Arsenal missed the perfect chance to close the gap to their bitter rivals with Lucas Torreira sent off in stoppage time for the Gunners.

With the draw, their first of the season, Spurs remain in third on 61 points. Arsenal have 57 points.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]

Arsenal had the first big chance of the game as Alex Iwobi‘s deflected shot looped into the air and found Alexandre Lacazette who scuffed the difficult chance wide.

Spurs then did plenty of pressing but just as they got on top, Arsenal took the lead. Harry Kane lost the ball in Arsenal’s box and a long ball forward caught out Davinson Sanchez. Lacazette slotted the ball into Ramsey who raced free, rounded Lloris and tapped the ball home to give the Gunners the lead.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights

Kane had the ball it the net soon after but his brilliant header from a free kick was correctly ruled offside, while Son continued to run at Arsenal’s defense which held firm despite Eriksen firing an effort wide of the box.

On the counter Arsenal looked dangerous throughout the first half and Alex Iwobi’s curling short was brilliantly pushed away by Lloris. Right on half time Spurs thought they had equalized but Leno made a wonderful double stop to deny Eriksen and then Moussa Sissoko as the home side pushed hard to get level.

[ MORE: Latest Premier League standings ]

At half time Lucas Torreira came on for Matteo Guendouzi as the youngster was guilty of giving the ball away cheaply on several occasions.

In the second half the same pattern continued, as Spurs got into some great positions but Arsenal launched another great attack which saw Lacazette skew his effort off target from a glorious position inside the box.

Toby Alderweireld then smashed wide at the back post after another dangerous Spurs free kick, with Arsenal bringing on Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang to try and stretch Tottenham further on the counter.

[ MORE: Full lineups, stats, box score ]

Substitute Erik Lamela drilled a shot just wide as Spurs pushed hard for an equalizer late on, which they got in controversial circumstances.

A free kick into the box found Kane at the back post and he was bundled over by a combination of Shkodran Mustafi and Laurent Koscileny as Anthony Taylor pointed to the spot.

Replays showed Kane was offside when the cross came in, but Spurs’ main man dispatched the penalty kick to become the all-time leading scorer in north London derbies in PL history.

Arsenal were awarded a penalty kick in the 90th minute as Sanchez brought down Aubameyang in the box but Hugo Lloris saved his spot kick and Spurs somehow cleared the rebound to snatch a draw.

Torreira was sent off for a lunging tackle on Danny Rose in stoppage time as Arsenal also finished the game with 10 men.

Son the hero as Tottenham beat stubborn Newcastle (video)

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  • Son scores later winner
  • Tottenham up to second 
  • Newcastle, Spurs both hit woodwork with headers

Tottenham Hotspur beat Newcastle United 1-0 at Wembley on Saturday, as Heung-Min Son kept Spurs’ title hopes alive.

Missing Harry Kane and Dele Alli through injury, Spurs huffed and puffed throughout but it looked like a stubborn Newcastle would leave London with a point. However, Son’s strike from distance somehow squirmed under Martin Dubravka and in to seal a huge three points.

Son has now scored twice in four days for Spurs since returning from the Asian Cup, and despite being exhausted he has now pushed them four points behind league leaders Liverpool.

With the win Spurs move to second place in the Premier League on 57 points, while Newcastle have 24 points and sit in 14th.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]

Tottenham had plenty of the ball early on but Newcastle were solid defensively and looked to hit Spurs on the counter.

The first big chance of the game arrived and went to Spurs, as Erik Lamela‘s cross picked out Moura completely unmarked but he somehow headed wide from eight yards out

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights ] 

Lamela then sent a header against the crossbar from Jan Vertonghen‘s left-wing cross and Moura nodded wide as Spurs continued to push for the opener.

On the break Newcastle almost broke through as first Ayoze Perez and then Salomon Rondon had shots blocked with Tottenham scrambling to get back. Before half time Martin Dubravka saved Moussa Sissoko‘s shot but no Spurs players was on hand to tap home the rebound.

[ MORE: Latest Premier League standings ]

At the start of the second half Davinson Sanchez nodded a header from a corner wide as Spurs continued to pin Newcastle back.

The Magpies did break down the right and DeAndre Yedlin‘s fine cross was met by Rondon but his wonderful header hit the post and bounced clear as Newcastle came so close to scoring the opener.

[ MORE: Full lineups, stats, box score ]

Christian Eriksen‘s cheeky flick from close-range was then hooked off the line heroically by Fabian Schar and moments later Hugo Lloris denied Perez’s curler.

Substitute Fernando Llorente had a headed chance at the back post but blamed the sun being in his eyes for getting it horribly wrong. Matt Ritchie cleared another Eriksen flick off the line as Spurs threw everything at Newcastle late on and they broke through in the final few minutes.

A long ball up to Llorente was nodded down to Son and his shot from outside the box somehow squirmed under Dubravka and in. A horrible moment for Newcastle’s goalkeeper but Son, once again, delivered when Spurs needed him most.

Top Premier League storylines for midweek games

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We all love midweek Premier League action, and the games over the next 48 hours will be pivotal in deciding which direction the title race, top four battle and relegation scrap move in.

Buckle up, folks.

[ STREAM: Every PL match live

Below we take a look at the top storylines ahead of the games on Tuesday and Wednesday.


Wounded Leicester a familiar threat for Liverpool (Wednesday, 3 p.m. ET: Liverpool v. Leicester City ET – NBC Sports Gold [STREAM]) 

Beware of the wounded animal. Especially a fox with a pedigree of upsetting the odds. Leicester City have lost four games on the spin and Claude Puel is under pressure. But Leicester stunned Chelsea and Man City last month and defying the odds defines the vast majority of players in their squad. Heading to Premier League leaders Liverpool, this is a free hit for Leicester. They will sit back, soak up pressure and use the pace of Jamie Vardy and James Maddison on the counter which suits them best. Liverpool’s defensive injuries have stretched them to the limits in recent weeks, and their 4-3 win against Crystal Palace (another counter-attacking team) proved they can be undone a la last season. Leicester play better when they’re on the counter and playing against the top six. Jurgen Klopp will be wary of their threat, but he is unlikely to name a cautious midfield lineup like he did at Man City in their defeat at the start of this month.


Top four battle reaching climax

The race for a top four finish is heating up and it is magnificent. Arsenal and Manchester United sit three points behind fourth-place Chelsea and the latter look like they’re running through treacle right now. Gonzalo Higuain’s arrival should boost their potency in front of goal (he is in line to make his PL debut at Bournemouth) but United and Arsenal have momentum in the race for UEFA Champions League qualification. On paper, United and Arsenal should seal easy home wins against Burnley and Cardiff respectively. As for Chelsea, their trip to Bournemouth looks dangerous as the Cherries have matched up very well with them this season. Get ready for plenty of highs and lows for all three teams in the top four battle in the coming months, while Tottenham look like being dragged back in to the battle too given their bad luck with injuries and poor form.

  • Tuesday, 2:45 p.m. ET: Arsenal v. Cardiff City – NBC Sports Gold [STREAM]
  • Tuesday, 3 p.m. ET: Man United v. Burnley – NBCSN [STREAM]
  • Wednesday, 2:45 p.m. ET: Bournemouth v. Chelsea – NBCSN [STREAM]

Son to cure Tottenham’s blues? (Wednesday, 3 p.m. ET: Tottenham v. Watford – NBC Sports Gold [STREAM]) 

The past few weeks have been pretty terrible for Tottenham Hotspur. After being knocked out of the FA Cup and League Cup, seeing Harry Kane and Dele Alli injured, losing to Man United and seeing everyone around them win, Mauricio Pochettino needs a boost. Enter: Heung-Min Son. South Korea’s shock defeat to Qatar in the quarterfinals of the Asian Cup mean that Son is back a few weeks earlier than expected, and he will almost certainly line up as a center forward against Watford to add much-needed dynamism to Tottenham’s attack. Fernando Llorente has failed to impress in place of Kane, while the likes of Lucas Moura and Erik Lamela just haven’t added the quality needed in the final third with Spurs’ stars out. Watford beat Tottenham 2-1 earlier this season and Javi Gracia‘s side will fancy their chances of solidifying seventh place with a win. This game could really determine how Spurs’ season goes from here on out.

PL Sunday preview: Man City, Spurs visit relegation favorites

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Title/top-four contenders v. relegation favorites — that’s the name of the game on Sunday, when a pair of Premier League giants visit the bottom two teams in the league table…

[ MORE: What we learned in the Premier League, Week 23 ]

Huddersfield v. Man City — 8:30 a.m. ET, on NBCSN and NBCSports.com

The good news for 20th-place Huddersfield Town: the Terriers’ eight-game losing streak came to an end last weekend. The (still) bad news: a 0-0 draw against one of the other two teams currently occupying a relegation spot, Cardiff City, didn’t very little to chip away at what is now a 10-point gap between themselves and safety. Steady worse news, depending on how you look at it: manager David Wagner stepped down on Monday, leaving the club with interim boss Mark Hudson in charge. The (far) worse news: second-place, and resurgent, Manchester City are set to visit John Smith’s Stadium on Sunday.

Liverpool ground out a 4-3 victory over Crystal Palace on Saturday to stretch the Reds’ lead back to seven points in the title race. Put simply, Sunday’s fixture is a must-win scenario for Pep Guardiola‘s side, no matter the opponent, but doubly — or, triply — so against a side like Huddersfield. After losing three out of four PL games in mid-December, the defending champions have regained a bit of form in their last three games, winning all three — including a season-saving victory over Liverpool — and conceding just two goals in the process. Sergio Aguero and Gabriel Jesus are back amongst the goals, having between them scored five of the eight during the current run.

INJURIES: Huddersfield —  OUT: Aaron Mooy (knee), Danny Williams (knee) | Man City — OUT: Benjamin Mendy (knee), Claudio Bravo (achilles); QUESTIONABLE: Vincent Kompany (undisclosed)


Fulham v. Tottenham Hotspur — 11 a.m. ET, on NBCSN and NBCSports.com

Tottenham’s latest spell without star striker Harry Kane (ankle) begins on Sunday, with a trip to Craven Cottage to take on relegation-threatened Fulham. Mauricio Pochettino‘s side will also be without Kane’s most logical replacement, Son Heung-min, as he is with the South Korea squad at the Asian Cup. Kane was lost for up to two months in last weekend’s narrow defeat to Manchester United, a result which saw Spurs fall five points back of City and their respective leads on Chelsea (one point) and Arsenal and Man United (then seven, but since reduced to four) eroded as well. Either Fernando Llorente will start up top, or Pochettino will opt for a striker-less formation and rely upon the fluidity and attacking versatility of Dele Alli, Christian Eriksen and Erik Lamela.

As for Fulham, the Cottagers wish their greatest concern was as simple as losing a forward or two. Instead, Claudio Ranieri‘s side sits 19th after 22 games, now seven points (and another 17 goals in the goal-differential column) adrift of safety following Newcastle United’s emphatic victory over fellow relegation battlers Cardiff on Saturday. With just one win in their last nine league games (two in their last 19; three all season), the west London club’s return to the PL appears to be a one-season wonder before an immediate drop back down to the Championship. Having conceded 49 goals in 22 games, Fulham are on pace to give up 87 goals. The last side to concede more 80 goals in a season was — you guessed it — Fulham (85), the last time they were relegated in 2013-14.

INJURIES: Fulham —  OUT: Alfie Mawson (knee), Aboubakar Kamara (disciplinary) | Tottenham — OUT: Harry Kane (ankle), Lucas Moura (knee), Moussa Sissoko (groin), Victor Wanyama (knee)