Stars and Duds from Spurs 1-2 Liverpool

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Tottenham Hotspur had almost nothing to offer aside from Lucas Moura, while it’s hard to find a criticism of Liverpool as the Reds cruised to a 2-0 win on Saturday at Wembley Stadium.

[ MORE: Recap | 3 things ]

Stars

Virgil Van Dijk — There are times I believe I could keep a clean sheet for Liverpool with the big Dutchman back there. He simply nullifies any cross that isn’t magical, and makes life significantly easier for his center back partner and accompanying fullback.

Sadio Mane As usual, the Senegalese attacker was a pace merchant who caused problems with dribbles and tricks, but on Saturday he also pulled the strings at times in leading the attack. Now should he have conceded a stoppage time penalty kick? Perhaps VAR would’ve moved Mane off our list.

Lucas Moura — If Spurs had a star, it was the Brazilian, who was one of the few players relativley unbothered by the absence of Dele.

Naby Keita — Missing on a 64th minute bid to make it 3-0 almost stopped us short of keeping his name on this list, but he made a first-half star intervention in his own box to keep Spurs from a dangerous chance.

Jurgen Klopp — Opinion alert: Liverpool is a more complete team against possession-oriented squads when Jordan Henderson isn’t included as a key piece. Sitting his captain just after Henderson signed a new contract was a brave and smart move.

Duds

Mauricio Pochettino — Before we lay out Tottenham’s individual player failures, it’s important to note that a few of them were inspired by decisions of Spurs management. Playing Harry Winks wide in place of the injured Dele Alli had the entire unit out of whack and stopped Winks from doing what might’ve helped battle Liverpool’s 4-3-3: actually clogging the middle. That said..

Harry Winks — Better once moved into the middle of the fray, but still gave the ball away cheaply at times. Not a good day even considering he was put in a poor position by Pochettino.

Harry Kane — We know Dele wasn’t out there and Eriksen was playing a bit deeper, but this was not a performance befitting one of the best strikers in the world.

Eric Dier — Just sloppy. Rarely can you fault Dier for effort, which makes it hard to fault him, but he didn’t have his A or B game in the locker today and it was not going to be enough against the Reds.

Three things we learned: Tottenham v. Liverpool

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LONDON — In a battle between two Premier League title contenders, Liverpool proved they’re the real deal and Tottenham showed they are perhaps on the slide this season.

Jurgen Klopp‘s Liverpool were comfortable throughout as they beat Tottenham 2-1 on Saturday at Wembley, with a goal in each half from Georginio Wijnaldum and Roberto Firmino doing the trick. Erik Lamela pulled a goal back but it was too little too late for Mauricio Pochettino‘s sluggish Spurs.

Tottenham have now lost back-to-back PL games and concerns about them sustaining a top four challenge this season are starting to linger.

Here’s what we learned from the clash at Wembley.


LIVERPOOL UNDERLINE TITLE CREDENTIALS

Five wins from five so far this season, and this was the best of the bunch.

Liverpool defended resolutely, dominated midfield and launched searing counter attacks as they beat title rivals Tottenham with ease at Wembley. Klopp’s side set the tone early on, with James Milner, Naby Keita and Georginio Wijnaldum forcing Mousa Dembele, Harry Winks and Eric Dier into several giveaways.

The only question mark remains is about Liverpool’s composure. They had the chance to put the game to bed multiple times but failed to score again on the break and were almost made to pay after Lamela’s late goal, then some pressure from Spurs. Klopp looked frustrated on the sidelines as his team failed to manage the game effectively, but they’d done enough over the course of the 90 minutes to ease to victory.

Liverpool have only started a top-flight season with five victories on two previous occasions (1978-79, 1990-91) and on both occasions they finished in the top two that campaign, winning the title in 1979. There’s still a long way to go but ahead of a pivotal two months where they face Chelsea in the PL and League Cup, Man City in the league and PSG and Napoli and the UEFA Champions League, Liverpool have put down a marker as they continue to lead the Premier League.

Their display at Tottenham proved their early season promise can correctly be converted into talk of a serious, and sustained, title push.


POCH’S CONCERNS COMPOUNDED

Mauricio Pochettino raised plenty of eyebrows when he called out his team for not being at their best in the aftermath of their big win at Manchester United late last month. Prothetic Poch knew exactly what was coming up.

A defeat at Watford arrived just before the international break and Spurs’ sluggish start and finish to the first half handed Liverpool the initiative as Tottenham lost back-to-back PL games for the first time since May 2016.

There are a few factors to explain this sticky patch for Spurs: 1) most of their squad had no preseason and Pochettino’s high-pressing tactics need a rigorous preseason. 2) there is still some uncertainty in the air over their delayed move back to their new White Hart Lane home. 3) injuries to Dele Alli and Hugo Lloris were huge in this loss to Liverpool.

The latter reason is something which will be sorted out in the next few days when Dele and Lloris return. Without the former they lacked a presence between midfield and attack and Harry Kane in particular was isolated. Without Lloris, well, they probably wouldn’t have concede the first goal as Michel Vorm flapped at a corner and couldn’t keep out the header.

The other issues are more difficult to solve. Only three of Spurs’ starting lineup didn’t play in the latter stages of the World Cup this summer and fatigue will continue to creep in over the next few months as the busy Champions League and cup schedule intensifies. Harry Kane once again struggled through and doesn’t look to be at his best.


SALAH QUIET AS FIRMINO, MANE SHINE

Mohamed Salah isn’t quite having a Sophomore slump, but he isn’t the main man right now for Liverpool. And that’s great news for Klopp. So often last season Liverpool ran out of ideas if Salah wasn’t on form.

With the Egyptian star feeling his way into the new season with just two goals to his name so far, Sadio Mane and Roberto Firmino carried the threat against Spurs.

The former didn’t score but opened up so much space behind Tottenham’s usually stout defensive line. He took a little too much time to supply a finish or a pass for his teammates on a few breakaways, but Mane’s pace caused all kinds of problems and his cross led to Firmino’s goal.

As for the Brazilian striker, he continues to almost, quite amazingly, fly under the radar. He looked sharp throughout with his twists and turns and almost flicked home twice in the opening two minutes.

Mane and Firmino are carrying Liverpool’s main offensive threat right now but the good news for Klopp is that Salah is just getting warmed up.

Double injury blow for Tottenham as Dele, Lloris ruled out

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Tottenham Hotspur will be without two of their star players for their massive clash against Liverpool at Wembley this Saturday (Watch live, 7:30 a.m. ET on NBCSN and online via NBCSports.com).

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Captain and star goalkeeper Hugo Lloris will be missing for “several weeks” with a thigh injury, while Dele Alli‘s hamstring issue hasn’t cleared up after he was injured while playing for England against Spain during the international break.

Ahead of the battle with title rivals Liverpool, Mauricio Pochettino spoke about being without two of his key players.

“He [Dele Alli] suffered a small injury after 20 minutes of the game against Spain at Wembley. I am disappointed because we are maybe going to miss him for this game and maybe the Champions League game against Inter Milan,” Pochettino said.

He also confirmed Lloris “will have another scan” on his thigh problem, and they “hope everything is going well” and he will be available after the UCL game against Inter Milan on Sept. 18. Pochettino also confirmed that Lloris would remain Spurs captain after his driving ban and hefty fine for a DUI last month. 

Spurs face Liverpool this weekend, Inter Milan in the UCL, Brighton in the PL and then Watford in the League Cup in their next four games.

Michel Vorm will likely deputize for Lloris, while Dele Alli’s absence could mean the likes of Harry Winks and Erik Lamela will be thrown into the starting lineup. Heung-Min Son is another option, but the forward may only be available off the bench this weekend after spending an extended period of time away on international duty playing in the Asian Cup and friendly games for South Korea.

 

Premier League Preview: Tottenham vs. Fulham

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  • Spurs have beaten Fulham in 8 of last 9 PL meetings
  • Fulham have played at Wembley just twice before, including Playoff Final last season
  • Harry Kane is still without an August PL goal in his career

There’s been plenty of off-the-field turmoil, but Spurs remain poised on the pitch, and take on a banged up Fulham squad in serious transition at Wembley Stadium on Saturday at 10:00 a.m. ET live on NBCSN.

After becoming the first Premier League team in history to log a summer transfer window without signing a single player, Spurs has seen its plans for moving into the new stadium backlogged by construction delays, throwing the team into a period of slight uncertainty. Still, that pales in comparison to the on-field uncertainty their opponents Fulham currently face.

[ WATCH LIVE: Tottenham vs. Fulham live on NBCSN ]

The Whites became the first newly promoted Premier League team to spend over $100 million in a transfer window, but the squad is still working itself out after so many changes. Top signing Jean-Michael Seri looked fantastic in last week’s season-opening loss to Crystal Palace, but defensive midfielder Andre Zambo Anguissa has yet to make his team debut after signing on Deadline Day. In addition, center-backs Tim Ream and newly acquired Alfie Mawson are both injured and yet to return, leaving Calum Chambers and Maxim Le Marchand the only ones fit to start.

The Fulham goalkeeping situation is seriously in flux as well. Last year’s starter Marcus Bettinelli saw himself third-string in the season-opener, left out of the squad completely. Many speculated he was injured, but he earned the ire of manager Slavisa Jokanovic by publicly declaring himself fit. Starter Fabri, another new acquisition from Besiktas, was miserable on his debut, and it’s possible Sevilla loanee Sergio Rico could get his chance in net.

With Spurs spending nary a penny this summer, one thing in their favor is cohesion. They are missing Erik Lamela and Harry Winks with injury, while Heung-Min Son plays internationally with South Korea, but otherwise the main men are ready to go after their season-opening win over Newcastle last weekend. The only lineup changes from that match would be tactical, with Lucas Moura likely to retain his place in Son’s absence, while Kyle Walker-Peters could get a shot at right-back after Serge Aurier‘s so-so performance.

What they’re saying

Fulham manager Slavisa Jokanovic on his goalkeepers: “I have three goalkeepers and I will choose only one – one of them will be in the stand, one will be on the bench and one will be in the goal. It’s the same situation, we created the competition and it’s the same situation for Bettinelli and other keepers as it is for other parts of the squad. When you ask me why Bettinelli is not in the goal, I am talking about we make some investment for another player, and this is a player who has experience in higher level and has some experience in the Champions League and Europa League. For another side, the [injury] situation with Marcus Bettinelli during the pre-season forced us to bring in another keeper too, and this other keeper is a quality keeper who has similar experience to be a Champions League keeper and has won some European trophies. This is a fantastic situation for a head coach like me, the three keepers are in the same situation and they must fight for the position and in my hands is the decision what I believe is best for my team.”

Tottenham manager Mauricio Pochettino on stadium delay: “Three stadiums in one season would be too much, we might have to find a way to play at Wembley, if that’s the day after the NFL, maybe the pitch is not in the best condition but we have to find a way. We need to be all together. Our fans understand it’s a massive, huge project that will be forever for them and for the club and it’s not possible for different things that happen, it’s not in our hands. The most import thing is to be positive. I understand the problems with tickets and money and I feel sorry for them. I want to say sorry, but we will try to reward them by winning games.”

Prediction

Fulham has a fantastic squad after an exciting summer, but with injuries and new signings not fully fit, the squad is severely weakened. In addition, the Fulham style under Jokanovic does not suit itself to a match against a pressing team such as Tottenham. This match could swing quickly towards the home side with an early goal, and a rout would be understandable in this situation despite the optimism surrounding Fulham’s overall prospects this coming season. Spurs will win 3-0, maybe even deserving of a more flattering scoreline.

Premier League Preview: West Brom v. Tottenham Hotspur

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  • West Brom has just one win in last 16 against Spurs
  • Tottenham has scored at least once in last 23 league matches
  • Baggies winless in previous six home games (2D, 4L)

West Bromwich Albion hosts Tottenham Hotspur on Saturday (Watch live at 10 a.m. ET on NBCSN and online via NBCSports.com) as the Baggies aim to stay afloat in the Premier League.

Anything outside of a victory in their final two matches will see West Brom drop to the Championship, as the Baggies sit on 28 points — five out of 17th place.

WATCH LIVE, ONLINE, HERE

The Baggies are unbeaten in their last four matches, which gives the club genuine hope heading into their last two fixtures, however, only one game has resulted in three points.

Key injuries for both sides could leave them in a bit of a pickle, as Gareth Barry and James Morrison remain sidelined for the Baggies, while Moussa Dembele, Danny Rose and Harry Winks won’t feature for Spurs.

What they’re saying

West Brom boss Darren Moore named Manager of the Month: “It’s great to be nominated with those calibre of managers, it really, really is – I am honoured. But I will share that nomination with everybody here at West Brom. The reason I can sit up here and talk about it is because of the tremendous work everybody has done behind the scenes.”

Spurs manager Mauricio Pochettino on West Brom’s recent form: “West Brom are showing great character in their last few games – the capacity to beat Manchester United at Old Trafford and draw with Liverpool. They are doing fantastic in the last few months and of course they have the belief still [that they can stay up]. We are playing to be in the top four and try to play Champions League next season. I think it will be a massive battle for them, but also for us.”

Prediction

The task is anything but simple for the Baggies, particularly against a Spurs side with so much quality. Darren Moore’s side has performed admirably over the last month, but the team needed at least another victory during that span to have a legitimate shot at safety. Even with two wins down the stretch, which isn’t likely, survival isn’t a certainty for the West Midlands side. West Brom 1-3 Tottenham