Harry Kane

Four things learned: Man City v. Spurs

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Manchester City and Tottenham played out a dramatic 2-2 draw at the Etihad Stadium on Saturday, as Kevin De Bruyne impressed but Spurs pegged the reigning champions back and late VAR drama stole the show as Gabriel Jesus‘ strike was ruled out.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights

Just like their clashes in the Premier League and UEFA Champions League last season, this was appointment viewing as Sergio Aguero and Pep Guardiola went at it on the sidelines and Spurs rode their luck with Jesus’ goal in stoppage time ruled out for handball.

Here’s what we learned from a heavyweight battle between two title contenders.


JUST LIKE UCL CLASH, VAR DECISION BURNS CITY

Gabriel Jesus thought he had won it in stoppage time as he curled home a beauty to make it 3-2, but VAR was used correctly and it was another dagger deep into the heart of Guardiola and City.

Aymeric Laporte flicked the ball off his arm towards Jesus and VAR quickly cleared up that it was a handball in the box. Incredible drama for the second time in three games for Spurs at Man City, and Guardiola, one of the biggest advocates for VAR, has been burned by it twice in damaging fashion.

Man City fans will point to Fernando Llorente’s handball in their UCL quarterfinal victory last season and why that wasn’t ruled out and that is a valid point. But under the PL’s laws with handballs in the box, Laporte handling the ball pushed it into the path of Jesus and without that knock off his arm, City don’t score. It is as simple as that.


CITY’S SHAKY DEFENSE WILL HOLD THEM BACK

There is a Vincent Kompany sized hole at the heart of Man City’s defense and Spurs made the most of it. Tottenham had two shots on target and scored with both, as Man City looked shaky with both Otamendi and Zinchenko caught out of position. Fernandinho‘s absence was also felt as Ilkay Gundogan and Rodri failed to stop Spurs’ counter attacks, especially in the second half.

City tried to sign Harry Maguire this summer and Virgil Van Dijk in the past and it is clear that Guardiola isn’t happy with John Stones, Otamendi and Laporte as his three first-choice center backs. City made live to regret not paying a little extra for Maguire this summer. It was an area they clearly needed to upgrade and they didn’t.


KEVIN DE BRUYNE RAN THE SHOW

Kevin de Bruyne’s return to full fitness is a massive boost for Man City this season. He grabbed two assists in the first half and absolutely ran the show with two moments of real quality.

The Belgian wizard had last season interrupted with two serious knee injuries, but he’s eager to make up for lost time after grabbing two assists last weekend and another two in Matchweek 2. De Bruyne’s pass to Sterling for the opener was brilliant but his cross for Aguero to double the lead was a thing of beauty.

De Bruyne’s precision was spot on, as usual, and he is coolness personified. The way he strokes the ball around is majestic.

It is absurd that Man City won three domestic trophies and racked up 98 points last season with De Bruyne only playing 19 PL games. Imagine what they can do, alongside David Silva, Bernando Silva, Raheem Sterling and Aguero, if he’s fit for the entire campaign.


SPURS FAIL TO FEED Harry Kane, AS AGUERO, GUARDIOLA FALL OUT

Christian Eriksen, Tanguy Ndombele and Erik Lamela failed to feed Harry Kane and their entire attacking unit faltered because in central midfield they were completely overrun. Harry Winks did his best to put out fires, but not having a true holding midfielder in the engine room hurts Spurs badly. Victor Wanyama, Eric Dier and even Moussa Sissoko aren’t the flashiest of players, but the balance of Spurs’ midfield was off and Kane was isolated for most of the game.

As for Man City’s top goalscorer and star striker, he may not be around for much longer. Aguero clashed with Guardiola as he was subbed off in the second half and there was a heated exchange between the two as they had to be separated.

You love to see the passion from both the manager and star striker, but with tension bubbling under the surface for years over Aguero’s playing style in a Pep side, this looked a lot more personal. In the coming weeks we will find out just how damaging this public spat will be for both Guardiola and Aguero.

Opportunistic Spurs, VAR produce draw at Man City

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Tottenham Hotspur flummoxed controlling Manchester City, twice answering goals in a 2-2 draw at the Etihad Stadium on Saturday and then getting a shocking reprieve from VAR in stoppage time.

The draw snaps a 15-match league winning streak for City.

Gabriel Jesus‘ well-crafted would-be winner was taken off the board when VAR found the ball to glance off Aymeric Laporte‘s arm.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ] 

On a day when Harry Kane was largely invisible, Erik Lamela was dynamite in producing a goal before assisting Lucas Moura.

Kevin De Bruyne had two assists for City, setting up Raheem Sterling and Sergio Aguero. But Aguero will be remembered more for his angry run-in with Pep Guardiola after a second half substitution.

Man City out shot Spurs 13-1 in the first half, but Spurs scored with its only shot on target.

For the match, the shots margin was 30-3.


Four stars 

4. Davinson Sanchez – Couldn’t reach De Bruyne’s second assist of the day, but was otherwise impenetrable.

3. Raheem Sterling – A menace down the flank with a pretty headed goal to boot (or head).

2. Erik Lamela – Subbed off with a goal and an assist in the 85th.

  1. Kevin De Bruyne – On fire from Moment No. 1.

Three things we learned (from JPW)


The game began with monstrous spells of possession from the hosts, and Spurs had trouble getting any touches on the ball over the first quarter hour.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights ] 

Sterling broke through in the 20th minute when De Bruyne swept a gorgeous cross to the back post. The English striker was at an acute angle and Hugo Lloris will have wanted to do better with a well-placed header.

That seemed to have snapped Spurs out of their funk, if only for a minute, as Tanguy Ndombele spotted Lamela on a counter and the Argentine used two Spurs to craft a clever shot around Ederson.

The stalemate lasted a dozen minutes, as De Bruyne moved toward the touch line and cut an invitation outside the six. Aguero RSVP’d with the outside of his boot.

De Bruyne looked ready to single-handedly will a third goal past Lloris, but it was Spurs who claimed the next marker when Moura — on for less than a half-minute — headed Lamela’s corner home.

Rodri then pasted a shot that Lloris tipped over the bar, and the French goalkeeper had to react quickly after charging out to misplay the corner.

Giovani Lo Celso subbed into the match for the final few minutes to make his much anticipated Premier League debut.

Report: Eriksen turns down another contract offer from Spurs

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According to a report by journalist Graeme Bailey, Tottenham has seen another contract offer rejected by attacker Christian Eriksen, and with the European transfer deadline approaching, they fear growing interest from abroad.

Bailey’s report states that Spurs’ offer has been in the works “for weeks” and that while Eriksen has turned it down, it remains on the table should he change his mind. The offer is reportedly enough to make Eriksen the highest paid player at the club, passing Harry Kane, but the club has yet been unable to extend him past the expiration of his current contract next summer.

The English window has passed, and the report states that Manchester United pressed for a move before the deadline but Eriksen wished to leave the Premier League.

Bailey states that La Liga clubs are the most interested, and while Real Madrid could look to Eriksen to counter Barcelona’s rumored approach for Neymar, Atletico Madrid has the biggest financial power following Antoine Griezmann’s big-money sale to Barca. Atleti’s attacking ranks are loaded, but Eriksen would give them even more firepower behind Diego Costa, Alvaro Morata, Joao Felix, Thomas Lemar, and the incoming Kieran Trippier down the flank.

While Eriksen could still stay should no offers come in, but it would seem the club may have no option but to sell.

Premier League Club Power Rankings: Week 1

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We here at ProSoccerTalk are trying to put a new spin on our weekly Premier League power rankings this season, and we’ve got a few weeks to figure out the best way to track the most powerful teams in the world’s top league.

[ MORE: USSF promotes Stewart, hires USWNT GM ]


20. Watford — Many were tipping Watford for bigger things after a very decent 2018-19, and those opinions were rewarded by conceding three goals at home to a club that scored 16 away goals last season. Shoulder shrug emoji?
Last season’s final power ranking: 11
Opening Day: Lost 3-0 v. Brighton and Hove Albion
Up next: 10 a.m. ET Saturday at Everton

19. Southampton — Maybe Burnley’s Erik Pieters and Ashley Barnes traded bodies with Trent Alexander-Arnold and Roberto Firmino, but Saints need to be better than a 3-0 opening day loss to Burnley.
Last season’s final power ranking: 15
Opening Day: Lost 3-0 at Burnley
Up next: 10 a.m. ET Saturday v. Liverpool

18. West Ham United — Not many teams can make Issa Diop look like an episode of “my very first time as a professional.” Ain’t too many teams like Man City.
Last season’s final power ranking: 10
Opening Day: Lost 5-0 v. Man City
Up next: 10 a.m. ET Saturday at Brighton and Hove Albion

17. Norwich City — Let’s be real: The 4-1 loss to Liverpool could’ve been 6-4. The Canaries created plenty of chances.
Last season’s final power ranking: N/A (Championship)
Opening Day: Lost 4-1 at Liverpool
Up next: 10 a.m. ET Saturday v. Newcastle United

16. Newcastle United — Arsenal did the St. James’ Park faithful a solid by keeping Lacazette, Pepe, and David Luiz on the bench.
Last season’s final power ranking: 13
Opening Day: Lost 1-0 v. Arsenal
Up next: 10 a.m. ET Saturday at Norwich City

15. Bournemouth — Eddie Howe‘s teams are usually a bit more savvy against the lower lights of the league.
Last season’s final power ranking: 14
Opening Day: Drew 1-1 v. Sheffield United
Up next: 10 a.m. ET Saturday at Aston Villa

14. Crystal Palace — Could’ve use Wilfried Zaha in the Starting XI, and how Roy Hodgson settles the Ivorian will go a long way towards its season fate.
Last season’s final power ranking: 12
Opening Day: Drew 0-0 v. Everton
Up next: 9 a.m. ET Sunday at Sheffield United

(Photo by Mike Egerton/PA Images via Getty Images)

13. Sheffield United — 33-year-old Billy “Mr. Sheffield United” Sharp getting his first Premier League goal to draw the Blades’ first PL match in years was my favorite moment of the weekend.
Last season’s final power ranking: N/A (Championship)
Opening Day: Drew 1-1 at Bournemouth
Up next: 9 a.m. ET Sunday v. Crystal Palace

12. Chelsea — Frank Lampard is right in that the Blues were better than a 4-0, but he’s also wrong in ignoring Jose Mourinho’s overall point; The young lineup to face Manchester United at Old Trafford on Opening Day was as naive as the players in it, even if Mason Mount was a nice surprise.
Last season’s final power ranking: 4
Opening Day: Lost 4-0 at Man Utd
Up next: 11:30 a.m. ET Sunday v. Leicester

11. Everton — A second-successive season opening red card at Palace. The 0-0 result is respectable, but not great if you want to be a Top Six side.
Last season’s final power ranking: 5
Opening Day: Drew 0-0 at Crystal Palace
Up next: 10 a.m. ET Saturday v. Watford

10. Leicester City — Controlled play but really should’ve been able to get it over the line against a Wolves team who was in Armenia a few days earlier.
Last season’s final power ranking: 8
Opening Day: Drew 0-0 v. Wolves
Up next: 11:30 a.m. ET Sunday at Chelsea

9. Wolves — To get a point at Leicester despite playing Thursday in Armenia is solid.
Last season’s final power ranking: 6
Opening Day: Drew 0-0 at Leicester City
Up next: 3 p.m. ET Monday v. Man Utd

8. Aston Villa — Showed discipline under siege.
Last season’s final power ranking: N/A (Championship)
Opening Day: Lost 3-1 at Spurs
Up next: 10 a.m. ET Saturday v. Bournemouth

(Photo by Neville Williams/Aston Villa FC via Getty Images)

7. Arsenal — The problems Arsenal had winning the ball versus Joelinton, a promising player and big signing, makes you wonder what will happen against Roberto Firmino and Harry Kane.
Last season’s final power ranking: 7
Opening Day: Won 1-0 at Newcastle
Up next: 7:30 a.m. ET Saturday v. Burnley

6. Burnley — We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again: We have too often bet against Sean Dyche, who like his Clarets is tactically smart and physically terrifying.
Last season’s final power ranking: 16
Opening Day: Won 3-0 v. Southampton
Up next: 7:30 a.m. ET Saturday at Arsenal

5. Brighton and Hove Albion — Raise your hand if you saw the Seagulls going on the road and professionally out-maneuvering Watford at nearly every turn. Put your hand down. Dishonesty isn’t cool.
Last season’s final power ranking: 17
Opening Day: Won 3-0 at Watford
Up next: 10 a.m. ET Saturday v. West Ham

4. Liverpool — Mohamed Salah was wonderful and Fabinho a treat, but you’d be naive to gloss over another shaky defensive performance after a summer of rough ones.
Last season’s final power ranking: 2
Opening Day: Won 4-1 v. Norwich City
Up next: 10 a.m. ET Saturday v. Newcastle United

(Photo by Robbie Jay Barratt – AMA/Getty Images)

3. Tottenham Hotspur — Thoroughly dominated Aston Villa and, most important, found its way through the packed in back.
Last season’s final power ranking: 3
Opening Day: Won 3-1 v. Aston Villa
Up next: 12:30 p.m. ET Saturday at Man City

2. Manchester United — Spare a thought for David De Gea, whose first half allowed for the Red Devils’ standout final half hour.
Last season’s final power ranking: 9
Opening Day: Won 4-0 v. Chelsea
Up next: 3 p.m. ET Monday at Wolves

  1. Manchester City — Raheem Sterling is unfair, and City hasn’t even really worked Joao Cancelo into the mix. And Bernardo Silva was injured.
    Last season’s final power ranking: 1
    Opening Day: Won 5-0 at West Ham
    Up next: 12:30 p.m. ET Saturday v. Spurs

Premier League Numbers Nerd: Week 1

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Small sample sizes can make for terrible science, but they’re delightful for stat hounds and simple amusements.

For example, the Premier League’s opening weekend saw a hat trick for Raheem Sterling and braces for Harry Kane, Marcus Rashford, and Ashley Barnes.

[ MORE: USSF promotes Stewart, hires USWNT GM ]

Who was the top dog of the week in terms of match rating, though? Man City’s Riyad Mahrez, who was nearly perfect with two assists, 83.3 percent passing despite his placement in low success areas of the pitch, four tackles, two interceptions, and four key passes.

Here are our favorite numbers, notes, and names from Week 1 (Stats via WhoScored):

Two (2) assists is the current top total in the league. It won’t surprise you to see Mahrez and Paul Pogba on that figure, but the third player to do it is… Burnley’s Erik Pieters!

Four (4) players won eight or more aerial duels: League-leader Christian Benteke (9) of Crystal Palace, as well as Newcastle’s Joelinton, Burnley’s Ben Mee, and Brighton’s Shane Duffy.

Under five: Three players in the Premier League played 90 minutes and couldn’t register higher than a 5.0 on WhoScored’s rating system. Kurt Zouma of Chelsea (4.86) could not come close to replicating his stalwart play with Everton last season and conceded a penalty and four goals. West Ham star Issa Diop (4.93) had the sort of statistical day a lot of players do against Man City, and two of his back line teammates joined him in the Bottom Six. And Grant Hanley of Norwich City posted a 4.99, dinged largely by an own goal despite completing 92.3 percent of his passes against Liverpool.

Five (5) –> Villa fans will want this to be six, as Tyrone Mings couldn’t stop Tanguy Ndombele‘s equalizer, but no player in the Premier League blocked as many shots as the former Bournemouth man. And we’re not done with him yet.

(Photo by Marc Atkins/Getty Images)

Five is also the league-best number of key passes recorded, by Chelsea’s Pedro. Perhaps Frank Lampard‘s feeling about his team’s play in a 4-0 loss to Manchester United will make sense over time.

And five is also the most fouls drawn by anyone in Week 1, with Villa’s Jack Grealish and Palace’s Jordan Ayew needing some time in an ice bath.

Finally, five is the number of players who completed more than 80 passes on Opening Day. Leicester’s Ben Chilwell led the way with 85, followed by Granit Xhaka (Arsenal), Toby Alderweireld (Spurs), Harry Winks (Spurs), and Jonny Evans (Leicester).

Seven (7) interceptions were made by Newcastle’s Fabian Schar, the most in the league. Seven is also the amount of fouls committed by Crystal Palace’s Luka Milivojevic against Everton, three more than anyone else (Yes, he saw yellow).

Eight (8): The amount of shots taken by Harry Kane, double the amount of anyone else in the Premier League.

Eight is also the most successful tackles won by a single player this weekend, done by Liverpool’s Fabinho and Aston Villa’s John McGinn?

Seventeen (17): This would also be more appropriately read as “Seven-(expletive)-teen!” Aston Villa’s Mings cleared danger 17 times against Spurs, almost double the No. 2 man, Palace’s Martin Kelly.

100%: Only one field player in the league played more than a half-hour and completed all of his passes, and that was… Christian Pulisic of Chelsea and these United States of America. He was 12-for-12, but here’s the bad news: That came as part of a statistically miserable 6.09 showing.