Erik Lamela

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Premier League Preview: Manchester United v. Tottenham Hotspur

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Intrigue is at a very high level for Tottenham Hotspur’s visit to Manchester United at Old Trafford on Wednesday (Watch Live at 2:30 p.m. ET on NBCSN and online via NBCSports.com).

For one thing, there are table implications as United enters the day two points back of their visitors with the Top Four still in sight but in danger of slipping out of focus.

WATCH LIVE, ONLINE, HERE

But the bigger interest comes in the form of Spurs boss Jose Mourinho, who held the position for a combustible tenure at Old Trafford which included a Europa League and FA Cup title.

Mourinho’s been somewhat validated for the work he did at United since he was fired, with chairman Ed Woodward and new boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer having trouble finding flagship moments in their first full year working together.

And with United staring at a Manchester Derby this weekend, a loss on Wednesday could set the stage for more significant tumult in Manchester.


Injuries/suspensions

Manchester United: OUT —  Paul Pogba, Anthony Martial. QUESTIONABLE — Scott McTominay, Nemanja Matic.

Tottenham Hotspur: OUT — Hugo Lloris, Michel Vorm, Erik Lamela, Ben Davies. QUESTIONABLE — None.


Probable lineups

Manchester United: De Gea, Wan-Bissaka, Lindelof, Maguire, Shaw, Fred, McTominay, Pereira, Mata, James, Rashford.

Tottenham Hotspur: Gazzaniga, Aurier, Sanchez, Alderweireld, Vertonghen, Ndombele, Dier, Lo Celso, Dele, Son, Kane


What they’re saying

Man Utd’s Solskjaer on job uncertainty: “I’m just focusing on my job and that’s doing as well as I can, looking forward to the next game, but also look long term, plan things with board. It’s that time of year, it’s never nice to see your colleagues lose your jobs, three in a very short space of time. Some of them, you can talk about this VAR all day long, I don’t know what the reasons are behind the sackings at different clubs, but one result — Southampton-Watford — with the handball, and we’re talking about something completely different.”

Mourinho on facing his former club: “This is a closed chapter for me. I left the club and took my time to process everything that happened and to prepare myself for the next challenge. Manchester United for me is in my book of experiences. A little bit like Mr (Nelson) Mandela was saying: ‘You never lose. You win or you learn,’.”


Prediction

Oh, wouldn’t it just be very Jose to show up to his old home and deliver a victory with his new men? Although he was smashed at Chelsea in his first return as United boss, the teams feel a bit further apart in this scenario and neither Paul Pogba nor Anthony Martial will play for the hosts. 3-1, Spurs.

PL Sunday Preview: Palace host Leicester; Tottenham travel to Everton

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With eight Premier League fixtures on Saturday, two more remain in Matchweek 11.

Crystal Palace v. Leicester City  — 9 a.m. ET, on NBCSN and NBCSports.com

Leicester City has plenty of things going for itself: a super reliable Jamie Vardy, an impenetrable backline, and a recent 9-0 win against Southampton, to name a few. In other words, what was supposed to be a year filled with trials and tribulations following Harry Maguire‘s record departure and Brendan Rodger’s first, full season at the helm, has been a close replica of the Foxes’ historic 2015-2016 season. Whether it will have a similar Cinderella ending is a different discussion, but there are certainly parallels.

How will this surprising Leicester hold up at Selhurst Park, though? If Rodgers has ever struggled at a venue, it’s Palace’s.

“As long as there’s green grass and posts, it doesn’t matter where the game is,” Rodgers said prior to Sunday’s game. “We go there to win. They [Palace] have got an outstanding manager who I’ve got a huge amount of respect for. The team is coached extremely well and they have some outstanding players.”

Palace, who’ve climbed as high as fifth in the table this season, are in the midst of a challenging stretch of games. A loss to Manchester City and a recent draw to Arsenal have slowed down the Eagles, who have top-three sides Chelsea and Liverpool lined up following Sunday’s bout. That wasn’t the topic of discussion in at Selhurst, however. Roy Hodgson, who is three seasons into his tenure, confirmed that there are contract extension talks being held with Palace.

“I just read today or heard today that Donald Trump, who is a little bit older than I am [by one year], is planning to stay on as President of the United States for the next five years,” Hodgson said. “With respect, this is an important job I have here but not as important as being the leader of the free world.”

“I must say I don’t wake up every morning thinking how old I am,” he said. “I don’t feel 72, no-one is going make me feel 72 or make me feel like I am too old. The day may come when I feel that way and it certainly hasn’t happened yet.”

INJURIES: Crystal Palace —  OUT: Mamadou Sakho (match fitness), Connor Wickham (match fitness); QUESTIONABLE: Vicente Guaita (groin) | Leicester City — OUT: Matty James (calf)


Everton v. Tottenham — 11:30 a.m. ET, on NBCSN and NBCSports.com

Surely, the season has more turns to give, but as it stands, Tottenham and Everton are far from meeting expectations. Only two points separate the two sides, who stand 13th and 17th in the table, respectively.

Tottenham are winless in their last three and have only picked up one win in their last five games. Their latest showing, a 2-1 defeat to Liverpool, showcased glimpses of the formidable Spurs that made headlines last season. With Everton a lopsided loss away from hitting rock-bottom, Mauricio Pochettino and company have a slim psychological edge, if anything.

Maybe they’re unaware of their mental superiority, but the Argentine manager made sure to shine some light on the topic.

“We need to be positive, feeling that positivity makes us believe we can beat any team,” Pochettino said. “At the moment we struggle a little bit in our confidence.”

“The most important is how we are going to finish, it’s not nice to see you in the middle of the table but that is a reality we need to accept,” he added. “If you don’t accept the reality you are going to struggle. In our mind we know very well that we need time, to be strong, be solid and start to win because that is going to be the best thing for us.”

As for Everton, the team’s situation has distanced itself from the messages of hopeful. Only two points out of relegation, there’s a deep sense of urgency and panic at Goodison Park. It’s a now-or-never aura that surrounds the team, specifically boss Marco Silva.

“We have not achieved the results we want [this season] and taken what we deserve,” Silva confessed heading into Sunday’s bout. “The last game is clear of that but football is about results.”

“We need to change it as you can’t have two faces – one when you play at home and one completely different away,” he added.

Game on.

INJURIES: Everton —  OUT: Jean-Philippe Gbamin (thigh), Bernard (knee); QUESTIONABLE: Yerry Mina (knee) | Spurs  — OUT: Erik Lamela (thigh), Hugo Lloris (elbow); QUESTIONABLE: Jan Vertonghen (hamstring)

Pochettino adamant that Spurs problems weren’t off the pitch

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Mauricio Pochettino doesn’t think one big win makes everything okay at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, but he also thinks it wasn’t that bad anyway.

“The problem was on the pitch and that is all,” Pochettino said after Spurs thumped Red Star Belgrade 5-0 in UEFA Champions League action on Tuesday. “It’s normal to see problems on the pitch, and you try to find a way to spark the team. But things happen in football you can’t explain. It is so difficult and complex to explain.”

[ MORE: Match recap ]

Spurs got braces from Harry Kane and Heung-Min Son and two-assist days for Tanguy Ndombele and Erik Lamela.

Lamela also scored as Spurs built some positivity ahead of a big Premier League test from Liverpool at Anfield on Sunday.

“The most important thing is to be together and be calm and know that this type of thing can happen in any team,” he said. “It is most import to show togetherness. If you do not win, the reason is because you are not performing on the pitch, not something that happens outside of the pitch.”

Despite their relative struggles, Spurs are five points off the Top Four in the Premier League and on pace to qualify for the knockout rounds of the Champions League.

“It’s great for the confidence and tomorrow a day off because we scored five goals.”

Five-star Spurs thump Red Star Belgrade

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Erik Lamela set up two early goals and later scored as Tottenham Hotspur broke out of its funk to record a 5-0 win over Red Star Belgrade in UEFA Champions League play on Tuesday.

[ MORE: Champions League standings ]

Heung-Min Son scored twice and Harry Kane also scored as Spurs earned their first win of the group stage. Tanguy Ndombele joined Lamela with two assists.

Red Star is now 1W-12L ahead of the return fixture in Serbia.


Three things

1. Sweet release for Harry Kane: Tottenham’s talisman was ready from the first minute, and delivered a perfect header off a ninth minute corner kick for 1-0. There wasn’t much to worry about the rest of the way as Kane scored twice while taking six shots against a team which won’t be pleased to have to do it again come two weeks time in Serbia.

2. Well, actually, for almost everyone: Considering Spurs were an absolute shambles against Bayern Munich and have not impressed in domestic play, the win could be a welcome and positive kick in the pants for many Tottenham men. Serge Aurier‘s day against Bayern was possibly the worst performance of any Spurs player this year, and the Frenchman had an assist and was better versus Red Star (the right opponent at the right time, we might add). Dele Alli had one of his better games in a while, and Tanguy Ndombele hasn’t been poor but his two-assist night is a welcome sign.

3. Lamela helps pulls the strings: The Argentine was simply sensational early (and pretty good late, as he scored in the second half). Kane will get the love for the corner kick goal. but the second assist was all about Lamela.

Look…

at this…

ball.

 

Man of the Match: Lamela

 


The basics provided Tottenham’s opener, with Kane running off the near post to meet a corner kick and turning a header across goal and inside the far post. Pretty stuff, and good timing. Nerves settled after nine minutes.

Son made it 2-0 seven minutes later, getting on the end of a bouncing Erik Lamela cross to volley home.

Spurs’ third first-half goal was Son again, as the South Korean raced 60 yards to become a back post option after Tanguy Ndombele caused a turnover at midfield.

If anyone deserved Spurs next marker, it was Lamela. The Argentine made it so after Harry Kane’s classy long pass to Serge Aurier was turned onto his path in the 57th.

UCL AT HALF: Rodri injured; Spurs, Man City lead

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We’ve got goals in the UEFA Champions League!

[ LIVE: Champions League scores ]

All six 3 p.m. ET kickoffs have seen at least one marker, with five between the two Premier League sides in action.

Juventus 0-1 Lokomotiv Moscow

Turin has been hushed for the moment, as Aleksei Miranchuk gave the Russian visitors a lead despite Juve’s 12-2 shot advantage.

Man City 2-1 Atalanta

Influential midfielder Rodri has left Manchester City’s match against Atalanta with what appeared to be a hamstring injury.

Partnered with Fernandinho at center back again, Rodri, 23, has played in every match save one for City, and had gone 90 minutes in the last five prior to Tuesday’s 40-minute performance.

City went behind when Fernandinho conceded a penalty, but Raheem Sterling has sent Sergio Aguero up for two goals as the hosts have a lead at the Etihad Stadium.

Spurs 3-0 Red Star Belgrade

Tottenham didn’t have any problems dispatching its tepid league form for its Serbian visitors, as Erik Lamela set up Harry Kane and Heung-Min Son for early goals before the South Korean completed a brace before halftime.

Look at the industry on his third:

Galatasaray 0-1 Real Madrid

Some nerves settled for Zinedine Zidane as Toni Kroos’ deflected strike gives Real a halftime lead.

Olympiacos 1-1 Bayern Munich

Youssef El-Arabi gave the hosts a lead, but Robert Lewandowski scored for the 12th-straight game and 17th time this season to level the line.

Club Brugge 0-1 PSG

Mauro Icardi the lone goal scorer in Belgium.