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Spurs star Kane to return early from injury

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According to Tottenham Hotspur manager Mauricio Pochettino, Spurs striker Harry Kane is preparing to return from his ankle injury earlier than anticipated.

Kane has been out of action since damaging ankle ligaments against Manchester United in mid-January, and the club ruled him out until March in the initial injury release. Since, however, news has matriculated that Kane’s recovery has been quicker than anticipated, with Kane even saying he “feels great” last weekend.

Now, it’s possible that Kane returns before the end of February, with the Premier League match against Burnley on February 23 as a target. That would be an enormous boost for Tottenham, with league matches against Chelsea and Arsenal to follow plus the second leg of their Champions League Round of 16 matchup with Borussia Dortmund after that.

“He’s doing well. He’s doing fantastic,” Pochettino said in his pre-match press conference ahead of Tottenham’s match against Leicester City on Saturday. “We have to stop him every day, because he wants to be ahead of his recovery and he’s very optimistic and his determination to play as soon as possible is unbelievable.”

Tottenham has dealt with an injury-riddled roster over the last month or so, with Heung-Min Son only recently back from international duty and Dele Alli still out with a hamstring problem. Fernando Llorente has struggled in his understudy role up front, and Lucas Moura was ultimately forced into striker duty in Kane’s absence. Still, with Son back, at least Spurs has a solid backup striker able to take the lead at the head of the attack, and can bide time until Kane returns.

“If you see him [Kane], he’s nearly ready to play, but we need to be realistic too,” Pochettino said. “I think he’s so close to come back again, not for Sunday and not for Wednesday, but we’ll see after.”

Tottenham sits third in the Premier League table, a significant achievement to be in that position after grinding out three one-goal league victories despite the riddled roster. They were knocked out of both domestic cup competitions during that time, but those exits could prove no more than a bump in the road if Spurs can bridge the shortening gap to when Kane and Alli return and the club is nearer to full strength.

Watch Live: Tottenham v. Newcastle

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Tottenham Hotspur host Newcastle United at Wembley on Saturday (Watch live, 7:30 a.m. ET on NBCSN and online via NBCSports.com) as Mauricio Pochettino‘s men aim to stay in the Premier League title race.

WATCH LIVE ONLINE

Rafael Benitez’s side will prove stubborn opponents to third-place Spurs and they’ll be buoyed by their massive win against Manchester City a few days ago.

In team news Tottenham rejig their side and start with Lucas Moura and Heung-Min Son in attack, while Jan Vertonghen is playing at left back. Harry Kane and Dele Alli remain out injured.

Newcastle are unchanged from the team which beat Man City in midweek.


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Premier League Club Power Rankings: Week 24 + Deadline Day

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ProSoccerTalk’s Club Power Rankings are meant to reflect both a club’s status in the table but also their form in relation to what lies ahead.

[ ARCHIVE: Premier League club power rankings ]

So it stands to reasons we should see some shake-ups following Week 24, which was followed by the end of the January transfer window on Thursday.


20. Huddersfield Town — Basically as hopeless as it gets. Jan Siewert is building to lead this team back to the Premier League, not keep them in it.
Last week: 20
Season high: 16
Season low: 20

19. Cardiff City — It seems cruel to slight a side given their record signing Emiliano Sala’s flight disappearing at sea late in the transfer window, but the Bluebirds will only be a sentimental man’s hopeful in the fight for avoid relegation.
Last week: 18
Season high: 13
Season low: 20

18. Fulham — Havard Nordtveit will help the back line, but they needed much more aid in defense. Ryan Babel looks lively enough to give some hope to the team and freedom to Aleksandar Mitrovic. Can Lazar Markovic quickly find form after not making meaningful minutes since May at Anderlecht?
Last week: 19
Season high: 11
Season low: 20

17. Burnley — The performances have improved and the Peter Crouch for Sam Vokes swap makes sense — Vokes wanted regular time, Crouch a return to the PL — but the Clarets added nothing else. That’s playing with fire.
Last week: 16
Season high: 13
Season low: 20

16. Southampton — Ralph Hasenhuttl has proven himself adept at managing Saints’ talent, but the lack of January additions accompanying a number of veteran departures may hurt “Ralphampton.”
Last week: 14
Season high: 13
Season low: 20

15. Newcastle United — Beating Man City and signing both Miguel Almiron and a potential upgrade on Paul Dummett was enough to pull the Magpies even higher, but then Everton held onto Idrissa Gana Gueye and Palace landed Michy Batshuayi on loan. Now what’s fair to expect from Almiron?
Last week: 17
Season high: 13
Season low: 19

14. Everton — Holding onto Gana keeps Marco Silva‘s men just ahead of a slide down our rankings. In fact, they move up a spot thanks to Saints’ disappointment in the market and versus Palace.
Last week: 15
Season high: 5
Season low: 15

13. Brighton and Hove Albion — The loss at Fulham was bad, and the Seagulls failed to show January ambition to meet their Top Seven potential. Maybe that’s a reflection of the true expectations on the roster, but Chris Hughton probably wanted a bit more. That said, a return to health for Alireza Jahanbakhsh could be the elixir needed if he finds his attacking form and some Premier League comfort.
Last week: 12
Season high: 9
Season low: 19

12. Crystal Palace — How impactful might the addition of Michy Batshuayi be to the Palace strike corps? It will allow Roy Hodgson to both use him in isolation but also running off of Christian Benteke if the fellow Belgian finds his form. Even if Batshuayi doesn’t discover the form he had on loan at Borussia Dortmund last season, he should rejuvenated at home in London (and his wingers are a bit more like the BVB fellas than the ones Valencia proffered him).
Last week: 13
Season high: 6
Season low: 17

11. West Ham United — Can Marko Arnautovic re-earn his teammates’ trust now that he’s staying at the London Stadium? Because the club’s performance against Wolves was… not good.
Last week: 9
Season high: 6
Season low: 20

10. Leicester City — A well-earned point against Liverpool, even if the Foxes should’ve probably been done one via penalty. Youri Tielemans is the right kind of risk, on loan no less, for the window and Leicester’s needs. Claude Puel might just hand Tielemans his mojo back.
Last week: 10
Season high: 7
Season low: 13

9. Bournemouth — Beating Hammering Chelsea to end a transfer window which included adding Nathaniel Clyne from Liverpool — again, why, Jurgen? — and holding onto Callum Wilson is reason enough to celebrate: The Cherries have finally beaten one of the big boys this season.
Last week: 10
Season high: 6
Season low: 14

8. Watford — Falling apart late at Spurs wasn’t ideal, especially given Tottenham’s injuries. Keeping Abdoulaye Doucoure is very much ideal.
Last week: 8
Season high: 4
Season low: 14

7. Wolves — Probably not chasing down Manchester United, Chelsea, or Arsenal, but in clear pole position to finish seventh and dance from the Championship into the Europa League.
Last week: 7
Season high: 5
Season low: 13

6. Chelsea — Put us in the camp backing Maurizio Sarri over his crew of three-manager quitters, but that won’t drag him back into his players’ good graces. Look for Gonzalo Higuain to pay dividends soon.
Last week: 6
Season high: 1
Season low: 6

5. Arsenal — Denis Suarez was a nice get, especially if Unai Emery can re-inspire the Spaniard back to his Sevilla and Villarreal best. That said, the defense is playing with fire.
Last week: 5
Season high: 2
Season low: 9

4. Manchester United — The fightback to draw Burnley was nice, but we knew United had that in them. It will be very intriguing to see if the Red Devils have a Champions League run in them with Neymar missing for PSG, but are you expecting them to handle Kylian Mbappe and Edinson Cavani at the same time? Anthony Martial re-signing was a solid move on the final day of the window, but do they have enough cover at center back?
Last week: 5
Season high: 4
Season low: 14

3. Man City — We still expect City to rise above Spurs and keep second place on lock, but the loss to Newcastle was their fourth in nine PL outings. And adding a center midfielder in addition to Fernandinho would’ve given them depth and a jumpstart on next season’s title run.
Last week: 2
Season high: 1
Season low: 3

2. Tottenham Hotspur — Would’ve been nice to see another Lucas Moura-like signing this month. Breaking down Watford for a comeback win amongst a forgiving run of fixtures gives hope to a Top Three finish.
Last week: 3
Season high: 2
Season low: 8

1. Liverpool — The Reds will have to choke even worse than their last title effort to lose the title given their fixture list, but Jurgen Klopp did his side no favors in loaning Nathaniel Clyne (and not starting Fabinho against Leicester City. How does he remain unconvinced by the ex-Monaco man?).
Last week: 1
Season high: 1
Season low: 4

Top Premier League storylines for midweek games

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We all love midweek Premier League action, and the games over the next 48 hours will be pivotal in deciding which direction the title race, top four battle and relegation scrap move in.

Buckle up, folks.

[ STREAM: Every PL match live

Below we take a look at the top storylines ahead of the games on Tuesday and Wednesday.


Wounded Leicester a familiar threat for Liverpool (Wednesday, 3 p.m. ET: Liverpool v. Leicester City ET – NBC Sports Gold [STREAM]) 

Beware of the wounded animal. Especially a fox with a pedigree of upsetting the odds. Leicester City have lost four games on the spin and Claude Puel is under pressure. But Leicester stunned Chelsea and Man City last month and defying the odds defines the vast majority of players in their squad. Heading to Premier League leaders Liverpool, this is a free hit for Leicester. They will sit back, soak up pressure and use the pace of Jamie Vardy and James Maddison on the counter which suits them best. Liverpool’s defensive injuries have stretched them to the limits in recent weeks, and their 4-3 win against Crystal Palace (another counter-attacking team) proved they can be undone a la last season. Leicester play better when they’re on the counter and playing against the top six. Jurgen Klopp will be wary of their threat, but he is unlikely to name a cautious midfield lineup like he did at Man City in their defeat at the start of this month.


Top four battle reaching climax

The race for a top four finish is heating up and it is magnificent. Arsenal and Manchester United sit three points behind fourth-place Chelsea and the latter look like they’re running through treacle right now. Gonzalo Higuain’s arrival should boost their potency in front of goal (he is in line to make his PL debut at Bournemouth) but United and Arsenal have momentum in the race for UEFA Champions League qualification. On paper, United and Arsenal should seal easy home wins against Burnley and Cardiff respectively. As for Chelsea, their trip to Bournemouth looks dangerous as the Cherries have matched up very well with them this season. Get ready for plenty of highs and lows for all three teams in the top four battle in the coming months, while Tottenham look like being dragged back in to the battle too given their bad luck with injuries and poor form.

  • Tuesday, 2:45 p.m. ET: Arsenal v. Cardiff City – NBC Sports Gold [STREAM]
  • Tuesday, 3 p.m. ET: Man United v. Burnley – NBCSN [STREAM]
  • Wednesday, 2:45 p.m. ET: Bournemouth v. Chelsea – NBCSN [STREAM]

Son to cure Tottenham’s blues? (Wednesday, 3 p.m. ET: Tottenham v. Watford – NBC Sports Gold [STREAM]) 

The past few weeks have been pretty terrible for Tottenham Hotspur. After being knocked out of the FA Cup and League Cup, seeing Harry Kane and Dele Alli injured, losing to Man United and seeing everyone around them win, Mauricio Pochettino needs a boost. Enter: Heung-Min Son. South Korea’s shock defeat to Qatar in the quarterfinals of the Asian Cup mean that Son is back a few weeks earlier than expected, and he will almost certainly line up as a center forward against Watford to add much-needed dynamism to Tottenham’s attack. Fernando Llorente has failed to impress in place of Kane, while the likes of Lucas Moura and Erik Lamela just haven’t added the quality needed in the final third with Spurs’ stars out. Watford beat Tottenham 2-1 earlier this season and Javi Gracia‘s side will fancy their chances of solidifying seventh place with a win. This game could really determine how Spurs’ season goes from here on out.

Son will return to Spurs after South Korea eliminated from Asian Cup

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Amid a torrid of injuries to the attacking ranks, Tottenham will see a frontline player return than expected, a welcome sight for Spurs fans even if it comes with a twinge of guilt.

South Korea was eliminated from the 2019 Asian Cup in the quarterfinals after a surprising 1-0 loss to Qatar, releasing Heung-Min Son for a return to Premier League play.

[ MORE: Asian Cup quarterfinals recap, video ]

Despite the bittersweet return for Son, it’s a sight for sore Spurs fan eyes. Prolific striker Harry Kane is out until March with ankle ligament damage, while replacement striker Fernando Llorente has been terrible in his place, poking in an own-goal against Fulham in Premier League play and struggling against Chelsea in the League Cup loss. There was talk of deputizing Lucas Moura up front against the Blues after Llorente’s poor showing against Fulham, but that to this point has not materialized.

Midfielder Dele Alli is also out for significant time with a hamstring injury, while Moussa Sissoko has missed time of late with a knee injury, although the latter could be on his way back soon. Danny Rose and Serge Aurier also have struggled with injuries in recent games, with both coming off injured against Chelsea after Spurs had already used all its substitutes.

“I know many people expected big things of us. I’m so upset that I haven’t been able to produce my best,” said Son after the loss to Qatar. “It’s a reminder to us that there are no teams in Asia we can take lightly.”

Son’s return may not be in time for Saturday’s match against Crystal Palace in FA Cup play, and even if he were to return in time, Mauricio Pochettino may not want to use him after tournament play and lengthy travel, even with all the holes in the squad.