Jan Vertonghen

Leicester stun Tottenham, seal dramatic comeback win

1 Comment

Leicester City beat Tottenham Hotspur 2-1 at the King Power Stadium on Saturday, as Harry Kane‘s moment of magic was cancelled out by Ricardo Pereira and James Maddison amid plenty of VAR drama.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]

Both teams had goals disallowed by video technology and Spurs’ Heung-Min Son was called off by a millimeter after Serge Aurier thought he had put them 2-0 up. Moments later the equalizer arrived as Leicester battled back well and Maddison delivered a fine late winner to hand Brendan Rodgers‘ men a magnificent win.

As for Spurs, Mauricio Pochettino‘s side are without an away win in the Premier League since January as they once again coughed up a lead.

With the win Leicester momentarily move up to second place in the table on 11 points from their opening six games of the Premier League season, while Spurs have eight points.


3 things we learned

1. Kane’s wizardy overshadowed: It was a goal worthy of winning any game, but it didn’t. And that’s a real shame. Harry Kane somehow scored from lying on the floor to put Tottenham 1-0 up. It was a thing of beauty, and Kane’s composure was supreme. He meant to do it. The way he knocked the ball into the ground was deliberate and although it may not be the most beautiful goal he has scored, it was surely the most impressive.

2. VAR momentum swings: Spurs had the stuffing knocked out of them when Aurier’s goal was ruled out by an extremely marginal offside decision. The momentum swings that VAR provides are brutal, and Leicester suffered from it in the first half. Spurs suffered from it badly in the second half, and maybe because Son was so close to being level it hit them harder. That second Spurs goal being disallowed gave Leicester a huge boost and my word did they make the most of it.

3. Tottenham fade, once again: Spurs haven’t won away in the PL since a last-gasp victory at Fulham in January. Let that sink in. Pochettino’s men have problems away from home, but they have issues wherever they play right now as they continue to cough up leads (see the NLD at Arsenal and the UCL draw at Olympiakos) and put in sloppy second half displays. They should have wrapped up the three points fairly easily in this one, but a sloppy defensive display let Leicester back in the game and they were beaten by a moment of magic. As Kane said in midweek, right now Spurs are making the same mistakes they did when Pochettino first took charge. They aren’t learning, and that is a real worry.

Man of the Match: James Maddison – The difference maker in attack for Leicester, as he created several chances and scored a stunning winning goal. The Englishman is coming of age this season and his decision making in the final third is improving all the time.


Spurs took control of the game early on but failed to carve out clear-cut chances, as Leicester were dangerous on the break as Vardy led the way.

Maddison then got going and curled one effort just wide after a wonderful run and moments later he again danced into the box but was denied. From the resulting corner Leicester thought they had taken the lead, as a shot from distance was spilled by Gazzaniga and Wilfried Ndidi eventually bundled the ball home.

However, VAR was used correctly as Ayoze Perez was in an offside position. A huge let-off for Spurs.

Moussa Sissoko was then booked after a lunging tackle on Maddison, while Spurs wanted a penalty kick as Danny Rose went down in the box but nothing was given.

Soon after Spurs went ahead in incredible fashion, as Heung-min Son played in Kane with a wonderful flick but then the Spurs captain somehow scored after being pushed in the box and falling flat on his face, as he improvized to chop the ball past Kasper Schmeichel.

An amazing moment of genius from Kane gave Tottenham the lead.

Gazzaniga beat away a deflected shot from Perez as Leicester pushed hard to try and go in level at the break, but Spurs had the advantage thanks to Kane’s wizardry.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights ]

In the second half Spurs sat back and were happy to possess the ball, while Leicester looked for Vardy as early and often as possible on the break.

Gazzaniga denied Vardy after the Leicester star raced free of Jan Vertonghen but the Spurs defender did enough to get a nick on the ball which allowed his goalkeeper to keep Vardy out. Son was then played in but dragged his shot wide of the target as the game opened up in the closing stages.

But just as Tottenham thought they had sealed the win as Aurier’s low drive hit the back of the net, VAR decided Son was offside by the finest of margins. Moments later Leicester were level as Vardy played the ball to the back post and Pereira arrived to slot home the equalizer.

Buoyed by that leveller, Leicester looked more likely to grab a winner as Vardy smashed just wide and then Maddison struck from outside the box to seal all three points for the Foxes to send them second in the table.

Spurs blow 2-goal lead in draw at Olympiacos

Getty Images
1 Comment

Tottenham Hotspur wasted a 2-0 lead on the road in Athens as another Premier League club came up short in its Champions League opener, drawing 2-2 with Olympiacos.

Harry Kane bagged a 26th minute penalty and Lucas Moura doubled the lead on the half-hour mark, but Daniel Podence and Mathieu Valbuena – by far the Greeks’ two most incisive players throughout the match – were on hand to erase the lead and rescue a point for the hosts.

Kane’s opening goal made him the third-fastest player to reach 15 Champions League goals, needing just 20 matches to reach the mark. He profited with a penalty blasted straight down the middle, sending a helpless Jose Sa the wrong way. Moura, last season’s Champions League hero, again came up big in European play with a right-footed rocket from just outside the top of the penalty area.

Unfortunately, it all broke down from there. Podence, who was an absolute menace down the right for Olympiacos, clawed one back just before halftime on a brilliant counter. Valbuena delivered a wonderful through-ball for a full-speed Podence and Portuguese winger’s exceptional first touch got him away from chasing defenders for a far-post finish.

Valbuena was also excellent on the ball, overloading the right flank often. He was on hand to deliver an equalizing penalty in the 54th minute after a foul by Jan Vertonghen. It is Valbuena’s first goal in Champions League play since he stunned Borussia Dortmund with an 87th minute winner that sent Lyon through to the knockout round. Questions will be asked of Olympiacos manager Pedro Martins who withdrew Valbuena with 20 minutes to go, which baffled many and left the hosts with little attacking mentality down the stretch.

Dele Alli had a chance to give Spurs the lead again past the hour mark, but his low shot from distance was fabulously saved by Sa who got big and stuck out his right boot to clip the effort wide. As Spurs poured on the pressure late, Erik Lamela forced another save by Sa with a tight-angled shot to the near post. After Chelsea and Liverpool both fell on the road in Champions League play on Tuesday, the draw felt like a defeat for the Londoners.

Pochettino sends strong message to Spurs’ want-away stars

Photo by Jose Breton/NurPhoto via Getty Images
Leave a comment

Mauricio Pochettino sounds like a manager increasingly tired of answering questions about players who wish to leave Tottenham Hotspur.

[ MORE: Report: LAFC hot in pursuit of Juventus, Croatia star Mario Mandzukic ]

Tottenham’s summer transfer window saw three first-team players arrive, yet a whole host of want-away stars stole the majority of the headlines and have made the opening weeks of the Premier League season plenty difficult for Pochettino. Christian Eriksen, Danny Rose, Serge Aurier and Victor Wanyama all reached varying level of “close to leaving the club,” while Toby Alderweireld and Jan Vertonghen quietly declined to extend their current contracts with fewer than 12 months remaining.

Eriksen didn’t start the first two games of the season as Pochettino didn’t think he was in the right frame of mind to do so; Vertonghen has played just once; Rose has played 358 of 360 minutes, but has performed to a subpar standard; and the same goes for Alderweireld.

[ MORE: Lionel Messi still out injured, makes cryptic comments about future ]

To put it simply, it’s been a mess; also, a minor miracle that Spurs have five points from four games, including two away to Manchester City and Arsenal already. The European transfer window mercifully, and finally, closed last week, therefore Pochettino can finally look at his squad and know what everyone who is currently at the club will remain there until January at least. As such, the Argentine has demanded focus from everyone at the club, or else — quotes from the Guardian:

“Always it’s difficult [to sell players] and then I think we are all agreed that Tottenham have more rumors than other clubs. In one month I think the rumors will start again because the situation of the squad is going to help those rumors appear. Now it’s a time to be positive.”

“Victor Wanyama is in my plans. Christian is in my plans. Before I understood that they were in a difficult situation and, of course, we tried to help them, to help the club, to do their business. When it’s one player, then OK. But then it’s a few players, who start to make it difficult to create a good dynamic, a positive dynamic … Now we need to start to win games. Be refocused, and who is not refocused is going to be out.”

Is Pochettino the type of manager who’ll drop an irreplaceable player week after week just to prove a point or maintain a certain level of control over the team? You bet he is, and he’ll gladly prove it should any of the aforementioned players not meet level of focus required.

Eriksen made no bones about his desire to leave during the international break, and while Pochettino sympathizes with a player trying to do the best thing for his own career, he also trusts Eriksen will fall in line and see out his contract in a professional manner.

“When you sign the contract, like Christian who signed for five or six years, you need to be committed from day one to the last day. He isn’t not going to show the commitment because there’s only one year left,. The difference is whether he wants to extend the contract or not. Different players have different goals.

“No one is going to say, ‘I want to leave the club’ and, if no one wants you, then you say, ‘No, I love the club.’ You kill yourself then. The reality is that managers, players, coaching staff — sometimes they have one year left and they are happy; others need a different challenge.”

Watch Live: Arsenal v. Spurs in season’s first North London Derby

Photo by Clive Rose/Getty Images
Leave a comment

Arsenal and Tottenham Hotspur look to take their early season frustrations out on each other as the Premier League hosts its first North London Derby of the season at the Emirates Stadium on Sunday (Watch live at 11:30 a.m. ET on NBCSN and online via NBCSports.com).

In other words, the tone and tenor of two major English clubs is about to reach the international break on very different terms.

WATCH LIVE, ONLINE, HERE

Christian Eriksen starts and Jan Vertonghen is back in the XI for Spurs, with both Toby Alderweireld, Davinson Sanchez, and Danny Rose staying for what will make for a powerful back line.

Nicolas Pepe, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, and Alexandre Lacazette all start for Arsenal, so we should be in for a beauty.

LINEUPS

Arsenal

Tottenham Hotspur

PL Sunday Preview: Everton hosts Wolves; Tottenham visit Arsenal

Getty Images
1 Comment

Saturday’s action was jam-packed, but two more fixtures are left to be settled in Matchweek 4 on Sunday.

[ MORE: Liverpool play ‘perfect’ game against Burnley | Highlights ]

Everton v. Wolverhampton Wanderers — 9 a.m. ET, on NBCSN and NBCSports.com

Having lost to Aston Villa 2-0 in their last Premier League bout, Everton went into their midweek League Cup match against Lincoln City with one objective in mind: to resuscitate a dead attack. They did so, winning 4-2 with a pair of goals from attacking players such as Alex Iwobi and Richarlison. No more than ever, the Toffees, who have only scored a goal in three matches despite registering 34 shots, will hope to implement the same levels of productiveness at Goodison Park.

Wolves, however, are hungrier than ever for their first taste of three points this season. Despite having drawn the first three bouts of the season, Nuno Espirito Santo‘s side proved to be too much for Torino in a two-leg series midweek, qualifying for the Europa League group stage for the first time in nearly 40 years. With the excitement that comes from a feat such as returning to European competition coupled with striker Raul Jimenez’s fine scoring form, there are zero doubts that Wolves have the upper hand on the majority of teams in the league when it comes to momentum. For now, that joy has yet to seep into Premier League play, but it could be just around the corner.

INJURIES: Everton —  OUT: Jean-Philippe Gbamin (thigh); QUESTIONABLE: None | Wolves  — OUT: None; QUESTIONABLE: None


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

After what was an abysmal loss to a lowly Newcastle, Spurs march into Emirates Stadium in this season’s first North London derby with their heads down. It was not anticipated for Mauricio Pochettino and Co. to be in a conundrum this early, but that’s reality for Tottenham. Only in their first match (against Aston Villa) did the North London side register more shots on target than their competition. If one digs deeper, the offensive woes are only surface problems for the side. Christian Eriksen and Jan Vertonghen are reportedly one foot out the door with moves lined up away from Tottenham. And if Spurs fail to find their groove on Sunday, a loss to rivals Arsenal will only make matters worse.

Arsenal come in with a fresh loss under their belts, too. A defeat at Anfield against a record-setting Liverpool, however, is a different story. In his second season at the helm, Unai Emery holds a better record after three games than during his first time around.

Conveniently, against Tottenham, in what is the fiercest match of a young season for Arsenal, Emery hopes to rely on Mesut Ozil for the first time this season.

“We need him,” Emery said ahead of Sunday’s North London Derby. “And [ we need] him first to be consistent in training, to be available in each match. For example last week he wasn’t ready to play 100% in Liverpool. This week he is getting better with each training [session] and I think physically he is now better. He is closer to helping us. We need him because he is a different player in our team. He can help us with his quality.”

INJURIES: Arsenal —  OUT: Hector Bellerin (knee), Rob Holding (knee), Konstantinos Mavropanos (groin), Kieran Tierney (groin); QUESTIONABLE: None | Tottenham  — OUT: Tanguy Ndombele (thigh), Kyle Walker-Peters (hamstring), Juan Foyth (ankle), Ryan Sessegnon (hamstring); QUESTIONABLE: Eric Dier (hip)