Jan Vertonghen

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Ranking top 10 Premier League players at each position

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There are 25 players in each Premier League squad, but who not only starred for their respective clubs but also elevated themselves to the upper echelons of the league this season?

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights

We pondered that as we analyzed those who rose to the challenge best over the past nine months.

Below is a look at our complete list of the top 10 players in each position based on their play during the 2018-19 campaign.


Goalkeepers
1. Ederson
2. Alisson
3. David De Gea
4. Kepa
5. Ben Foster
6. Lukasz Fabianski
7. Hugo Lloris
8. Jordan Pickford
9. Rui Patricio
10. Martin Dubravka


Right backs
1. Trent Alexander-Arnold
2. Matt Doherty
3. Aaron Wan-Bissaka
4. Cesar Azpilicueta
5. Ricardo Perreira
6. Kyle Walker
7. Seamus Coleman
8. Kiko Femenia
9. Pablo Zabaleta
10. Yan Valery


Left backs
1. Andrew Robertson
2. Lucas Digne
3. Ben Chilwell
4. Luke Shaw
5. Jonny Otto
6. Patrick Van Aanholt
7. Ben Davies
8. Nacho Monreal
9. Jose Holebas
10. Emerson Palmeri


Center backs
1. Virgil Van Dijk
2. Aymeric Laporte
3. Toby Alderweireld
4. Jan Vertonghen
5. Vincent Kompany
6. Sokratis
7. Antonio Rudiger
8. Conor Coady
9. Michael Keane
10. Issa Diop


Central midfielders
1. Fernandinho
2. Joao Moutinho
3. Moussa Sissoko
4. David Silva
5. Jordan Henderson
6. Andre Gomes
7. Abdoulaye Doucoure
8. Fabinho
9. N'Golo Kante
10. Youri Tielemans


Attacking midfielders
1. Eden Hazard
2. Bernardo Silva
3. Kevin De Bruyne
4. Christian Eriksen
5. Gerard Deulofeu
6. Dele Alli
7. James Maddison
8. Gylfi Sigurdsson
9. Paul Pogba
10. Diogo Jota


Wingers
1. Raheem Sterling
2. Bernardo Silva
3. Sadio Mane
4. Mohamed Salah
5. Wilfried Zaha
6. Ryan Fraser
7. Pedro
8. Ryan Babel
9. David Brooks
10. Nathan Redmond


Strikers
1. Sergio Aguero
2. Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang
3. Harry Kane
4. Roberto Firmino
5. Alexandre Lacazette
6. Raul Jimenez
7. Heung-Min Son
8. Jamie Vardy
9. Marcus Rashford
10. Salomon Rondon


Spurs overturn 3-0 deficit to reach UCL final (video)

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Another day, another unbelievable, three-goal comeback in the second leg of the UEFA Champions League semifinals.

Tottenham Hotspur went from 1-0 down after the first leg against Ajax, to 3-0 down at halftime of the second leg, to level at 3-3 and through to the the final on June 1 in Madrid on away goals. Lucas Moura scored all three of Tottenham’s goals, including the tie-winner as the literal final second on the clock ticked away to read 95:00.

Mauricio Pochettino‘s side will face the Liverpool side that overturned a 3-0 deficit to Barcelona at Anfield on Tuesday.

It’s the first time Tottenham Hotspur have ever reached the final of Europe’s premier competition.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights ]

Ajax began the second leg exactly as they started — and finished — the first leg: on the front foot and causing Tottenham problems. Dusan Tadic forced Hugo Lloris into a stellar, full-stretch save in the 4th minute. It was the ensuing corner kick, however, that broke Spurs’ back. Matthijs de Ligt was lost in the shuffle of Spurs’ marking assignments and flicked a perfectly placed header inside Lloris’ right-hand post to make it 1-0 on the day and 2-0 on aggregate.

Spurs went close to pulling a goal back with two chances in the 23rd minute. First, Dele Alli slipped a pass past three defenders to send Son Heung-min through on goal, but Spurs’ star man couldn’t get the ball out of his feet to produce a stronger, better placed effort. Seconds later, Spurs connected a series of passes and got the ball into the box, where it fell to Christian Eriksen at the edge of the box. His left-footed shot had more behind it, but was hit into the waiting arms of Andre Onana.

Ajax’s second goal came in the 35th minute, they won the ball near midfield and broke out in a three-on-three counter-attack. Hakim Ziyech began left of Tadic, and that’s the option he chose. Tadic ran at Toby Aldeweireld until he hit the ground near the six-yard box, and Ziyech unleashed a missile into the side netting that Lloris had no chance of saving.

[ MORE: Where does Liverpool’s amazing UCL comeback rank all-time? ]

Ajax welcomed Spurs to take the initiative and enjoy plenty of possession in the second half. That’s when things got really interesting, and Spurs’ Lucas Moura’s desperate comeback began.

Alli slipped another one of those through balls in behind to make an even better one-on-one chance for Moura in the 55th minute. The Brazilian finished with a cool head for 3-1. Four minutes later, Fernando Llorente couldn’t convert from point-blank range, but fortunately for him, Moura wasn’t far away and ready to curl the ball home… after a bit of chaos and close-control dribbling.

Ziyech had Ajax’s best chance to restore the two-goal lead they so desperately needed in the 79th minute, but his left-footed strike from the edge of the box crashed off the front side of Lloris’ left-hand post.

Eight minutes later, two more chance(s) came for Spurs… and went in heartbreaking, soul-crushing fashion. Jan Vertonghen, completely unmarked at the top of the six, put his head on the ball and had Onana beaten, if only his header was a couple inches lower. Crossbar. The rebound fell to Vertonghen, though, with Onana scrambling. His follow-up effort was kept out by a sea of bodies on the goal line.

With 94:54 on the clock, Moussa Sissoko booted the ball forward from midfield. With 94:58 on the clock, the ball fell to Dele Alli atop the box, courtesy of Llorente. As the clock struck 95:00, Moura latched onto a pass from Alli and placed it ever so precisely in the corner to break more than 50,000 hearts inside the Amsterdam Arena.

Pochettino: ‘We have two finals’

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Mauricio Pochettino spoke defiantly after his nine-man Tottenham side lost 1-0 at Bournemouth on Saturday to set up a nervous finish to the season.

Heung-Min Son and Juan Foyth were both shown straight red cards in the space of five minutes and Spurs had to play close to 45 minutes with just nine men.

Despite their unbelievable lack of discipline Tottenham almost held on for a crucial point in their top four battle, but Nathan Ake‘s 91st minute header sealed their sixth-straight PL away defeat.

“It is painful to play without two players. We need to move on. We cannot change the decisions. We have ahead two finals. It is in our hands,” Pochettino told the BBC. “If it does not happen we will be proud because nobody expected Tottenham to be in the position they are today.”

That “not one believed in us” theme continued in Pochettino’s post-game comments, as he must now pick up his players for a huge UEFA Champions League semifinal second leg at Ajax on Wednesday.

Spurs head to Amsterdam trailing 1-0 from the first leg, and with injuries piling up and Tottenham winning just four of their last 15 games in all competitions, yet another fine season is threatening to end on a sour note.

“No one believed in Tottenham to be in this position in the last week of the competition. What happens will happen and I will feel proud,” Pochettino said. “We are fighting six teams, it is impossible for all six to get the top four, whatever happens I will feel proud and whatever happens in the semifinal I will be proud.”

Pochettino is probably right, but it wouldn’t make it hurt any less if Spurs somehow finished outside of the top four and lost to Ajax in the UCL semifinal on Wednesday.

In the PL they are four points ahead of fifth-place Arsenal, with the Gunners having a game in hand. If they win that against Brighton on Sunday, they will be one point behind Spurs going into the final game and Arsenal have to travel to Burnley. Man United aren’t out of the equation now too, as two wins in their final two games and a Spurs defeat would see them finish above Tottenham.

All of a sudden the tension levels at Spurs have been cranked up a few notches.

Pochettino is right. They have two finals. But the main problem is, they will be without Harry Kane and Harry Winks for both of those games, while Son can’t play in the PL season finale against Everton and the status of Jan Vertonghen is unknown.

This poor run of form to finish the season points to one thing: Tottenham’s squad is not big enough and their key players have run out of steam.

Christian Eriksen, Dele Alli and Lucas Moura looked shattered in the final moments of their defeat at Bournemouth and the last thing they needed was to play close to a half down two men.

But the equation is clear for Spurs. Beat in-form Everton at home on the final day and they will finish in the top four and qualify for the Champions League. After no new signings, their stadium delay and injuries to Kane and others throughout this campaign, making the top four would be a huge achievement, whatever happens at Ajax next week.

Premier League Preview: Bournemouth v. Tottenham

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  • Spurs (still) lead the top-three race, somehow
  • Cherries sit 14th, safe from relegation
  • Spurs won 5-0 at Wembley back in December

Tottenham Hotspur continue to lead the top-three and -four race that seemingly no one — not even them — wants to win. Yet, Mauricio Pochettino‘s side has two more chances to secure Champions League qualification by a very straightforward formula: they need just three points, beginning when they visit 14th-place Bournemouth on Saturday (Watch live, 7:30 a.m. ET, on NBCSN and NBCSports.com).

With Chelsea (68 points) just two points back in fourth and Arsenal (66) trailing by four, it’s Tottenham’s place to lose. To be certain, they have tried to do so again and again, only to see their London rivals falter immediately thereafter. Take, for instance, last weekend: Spurs lost to West Ham, but Chelsea drew Manchester United and Arsenal were hammered 3-0 by Leicester City. It’s been that kind of month for top-six sides not named Manchester City or Liverpool.

WATCH LIVE, ONLINE, HERE

As for the Cherries, they’re long since clear of the relegation zone and have very little left to play for, and it’s looked that way in recent outings. Eddie Howe‘s men have picked up just nine points from their last 12 games (2W-3D-7L), though they are on something of an upswing with four of the nine points coming in their last three games.

Injuries

Bournemouth OUT: Lewis Cook (knee), Junior Stanislas (hamstring), Simon Francis (knee), Charlie Daniels (knee), Andrew Surman (calf), Diego Rico (ankle) | Spurs — OUT: Harry Kane (ankle), Harry Winks (groin), Erik Lamela (hamstring); QUESTIONABLE: Jan Vertonghen (head)

What they’re saying

Howe, on Bournemouth’s need for continued progression: “People will use ‘established.’ I don’t know if we have ever used that word. For us, it’s not a useful thing to look at, you can then get complacent and lazy,” he said at a press conference. “For us it is about having to prove we deserve to be here first and foremost every season, so that means starting the campaign with a really good mentality to go to achieve and progress.”

Pochettino, on Spurs’ performance this season: “I always remember the first meeting that we had all together, when the World Cup players arrived, and we said, ‘We all start from zero. It’s going to be a difficult season and we need to be open to improve and to fight.’ We’ve always built some spirit inside the dressing room to fight against the reality. It was tough but in the end we are in a very good position. We feel very proud.”

Prediction

Spurs have fared remarkably well against Bournemouth (6W-1D-0L since the Cherries were promoted in 2015), as has Son Heung-min on an individual level (four goals in the last two meetings). It’s all setting up for Spurs to secure a top-four place on Saturday and free their minds for Wednesday’s trip to Amsterdam for the second leg of the Champions League semifinals.

Fans who want to try their hand at predicting PL games can down the NBC Sports Predictor app, with a chance to win up to $50,000 each week. Download it on iOS or Google Play.

Ajax takes 1st leg lead at Spurs

AP Photo/Kirsty Wigglesworth
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  • Just 3 combined shots on target
  • Van de Beek nets lone marker
  • Spurs with 51 percent possession

Spurs couldn’t find the goal in a 1-0 loss to Ajax in the first leg of their UEFA Champions League semifinal at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium on Tuesday.

Donny van de Beek scored a 15th minute goal to give Ajax its win, with the second leg set for May 8 at Amsterdam Arena.

[ MORE: Full lineups, stats, box score ]

Van de Beek’s goal was a pretty bit of play, aided by Danny Rose‘s jump out of position.

The 22-year-old, who also scored against Juventus in the second leg of the quarterfinals, zipped through the box to meet a terrific pass from Hakim Ziyech.

Van de Beek faked a right-footed shot before using his actual effort to beat Hugo Lloris for 1-0.

Spurs were seemingly set to suffer a heavy loss when Jan Vertonghen was bloodied and dazed, but he was allowed to return to the match.

There were moments for Spurs, with Dele Alli perhaps the liveliest of the attackers.

The second best chance of the game was also Ajax’s, as David Neres chipped a shot off the far post which would’ve put Tottenham in a world of hurt.

A late set piece for Spurs saw Toby Alderweireld‘s header of a Christian Eriksen free kick pop over the bar.