Moussa Sissoko

Getty Images

Sissoko close to Tottenham return

Leave a comment

Moussa Sissoko is closing in on a return for Tottenham and my how Jose Mourinho has missed the Frenchman.

Sissoko, 30, went down with a knee injury in the defeat at Southampton on New Year’s Day and has since had surgery but is going to return quicker than expected.

Speaking to Tottenham’s website, Moussa Sissoko gave the following update on his recovery.

“I’m fine, my knee’s okay. I’ve been training with the team for nearly two weeks now and everything is okay. I’m trying to build up my fitness and trying to be ready for when we’re allowed to play again,” Sissoko said.

Tottenham are one of the teams who look set to benefit most from the current suspension of the Premier League season until at least April 30. Harry Kane, Heung-Min Son, Steven Bergwijn and Sissoko have all suffered serious injuries in recent months but Mourinho could have them fit and available for their final nine games of the season as they focus solely on the final nine games of the Premier League season.

Having Sissoko back would be a huge help to Mourinho as Tottenham have often been overpowered in central midfield with Harry Winks out of form and Eric Dier preferred at center back in recent weeks. Sissoko’s ability to run with the ball, win it back and link midfield and attack has been badly missed.

Sissoko, born in France, has also issued a message to everyone amid the coronavirus pandemic as he is in constant contact with his family in France.

“It’s a very sad situation, all the world is affected,” Moussa Sissoko added. “We need to be sensible and try to follow protocols. Hopefully in a few weeks or a few months everything will be okay and everyone can go back to normal life and try to enjoy life. Everyone needs to be careful and like I said, follow the protocols, stay at home and try to be safe, take care of your family. At the same time, it’s a good opportunity to spend time with your family and have some love together because as I said, at the moment the world is sad and we don’t like to see this kind of thing, but we need to stick together and hopefully, in a few weeks or few months, we’ll have a better world.”

Mourinho: Injury-hit Spurs need to be ‘very strong to cope with limitations’

Jose Mourinho
Photo by JOHN MACDOUGALL/AFP via Getty Images
Leave a comment

Jose Mourinho is taking the simplest approach to Tottenham Hotspur’s Champions League exit.

Spurs were rolled over by RB Leipzig in the second leg of their Round of 16 tie on Tuesday, falling 3-0 on the day and 4-0 on aggregate without Harry Kane, Heung-Min Son, and Steven Bergwijn.

[ MORE: Dele Alli reaction ]

Mourinho said things were going to have go nearly perfect for Spurs to overcome the 1-0 first leg deficit without those key pieces.

Spurs were not close to their best, and they were punished.

“There is nobody to blame when it looks like in every match we have a traumatic injury that ends with months and months,” he said on television after the match. “That’s the history of this season. It started with problems and you look at when I arrived our position at the table. The negative history starts with the first injury and look to our bench and look to our pitch with Tanganga with his first (Champions League) match and Sessegnon his second match. It’s very, very hard.”

[ MORE: Premier League schedule ]

Mourinho said he’s confident his team will be much better when healthy next season, adding Kane, Son, Bergwijn and Moussa Sissoko to the fold.

That doesn’t help much ahead of a huge weekend tilt with Manchester United. Spurs will have two more days rest than the Red Devils, but can fall seven points back of the top five with a loss on Sunday at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium.

“With the squad we have it’s going to be very difficult if we have the same squad we had today tomorrow,” he said in his post-match press conference, via Football.London. “We have games ahead and we have to fight. We are going to fight and the players need to be very strong to cope with the limitations we have. We are not going to recover any players before Sunday.”

That’s an awful lot of foreshadowing from Mourinho, who would do well to strike a more positive pose for his players and fans ahead of a reunion with old pals Manchester United.

Premier League Preview: Burnley v. Tottenham Hotspur

Burnley v. Tottenham preview
Photo by Ivan Yordanov/MI News/NurPhoto via Getty Images
Leave a comment

Tottenham Hotspur looks to steady its wobbly top four hopes against surging Burnley at Turf Moor on Saturday (Watch Live at 12:30 p.m. ET on NBCSN and online via NBCSports.com).

Spurs sit seventh with 40 points and have lost four-straight matches across three competitions.

[ MORE: Premier League schedule ] 

Burnley, meanwhile, has a six-match unbeaten run including four wins and two draws. The Clarets are two points back of Spurs.

Spurs beat Burnley 5-0 in the reverse fixture but four of the five goals were scored by players who will miss Saturday’s encounter.

WATCH LIVE, ONLINE, HERE


Injuries/suspensions

Burnley: OUT — Johann Berg Gudmundsson, Matthew Lowton, Ashley Barnes, Ben Gibson. QUESTIONABLE — None.

Tottenham Hotspur: OUT — Harry Kane, Moussa Sissoko, Heung-Min Son. QUESTIONABLE — Ryan Sessegnon


Probable lineups

Burnley: Pope, Taylor, Mee, Tarkowski, Bardsley, Westwood, Cork, McNeil, Hendrick, Rodriguez, Wood.

Tottenham Hotspur: Lloris, Davies, Alderweireld, Vertonghen, Tanganga, Winks, Ndombele, Gedson, Lamela, Lo Celso, Bergwijn


What they’re saying

Ben Mee on Burnley’s team commitment: “I think you can work together on the pitch even if you’re not that close off it, but I think as a group as a whole we chat a lot and we are a close-knit group. There’s a British and Irish core to it and we all have the same mentality. Even the boys that have come in from other places feel really at home with the warmth of the group and the welcome they get. It’s credit to the coaching staff and the environment they create and the culture.”

Jose Mourinho on the squad’s injury problems: “Imagine my team playing – Lucas, Kane and Son. And Lucas and Son, minute 70 they are tired. Let’s go. Lamela and Bergwijn. We have the squad for that. Midfield players – you are feeling the team is going a little bit down. You feel the players are a little bit in trouble – change one and get another one. We have a squad for that. It’s not like I’m saying our squad is not good. The squad is good. In this moment we are in trouble. It’s so simple as that.”


Prediction

It seems just as unlikely that Spurs’ struggles would continue as Burnley defy the statistical odds and stretch its unbeaten run, but Tottenham will have an eye on RB Leipzig. Call it 2-1 to Spurs.

Premier League Preview: Chelsea v. Tottenham Hotspur

Photo by Tottenham Hotspur FC/Tottenham Hotspur FC via Getty Images
Leave a comment
  • Chelsea (41 points) sit 4th in PL table
  • Spurs (40) chasing, up to 5th
  • Last meeting: Spurs 0-2 Chelsea

Jose Mourinho is set to make his latest triumphant return to Stamford Bridge, this time for the first time as the manager of Tottenham Hotspur, one of Chelsea’s bitter London rivals, in the first fixture of the Premier League weekend on Saturday (Watch live, 7:30 a.m. ET on NBCSN and NBCSports.com).

Not only does the Mourinho storyline carry significant weight ahead of Saturday’s showdown at the Bridge, so too does the two sides’ increasingly tight battle for a top-four finish. As recently as Jan. 17, Chelsea enjoyed a nine-point lead on Tottenham, but the Blues’ current run of just one win from their last six PL games has seen that advantage shrink to a single point with the very real possibility of flipping two points in the opposite direction once the full-time whistle blows. On the other hand, Spurs would already be miles clear if not for dropping a combined seven points from three games against the current 12th-, 19th- and 20th-place sides in recent weeks.

[ STREAM: Every PL match live

Both Chelsea and Spurs are currently enduring injury crises which have just about crippled their respective attacking units. Frank Lampard‘s side has been without Christian Pulisic since New Year’s Day, while both Callum Hudson-Odoi (hamstring) Tammy Abraham (ankle) also missed this week’s defeat to Manchester United. As for Mourinho’s selection issues, Harry Kane (hamstring) has been out since Jan. 1 and will continue to be sideline for at least two more months, and now Son Heung-min could miss the rest of the season after breaking his arm during his two-goal outing in the dramatic victory over Aston Villa last weekend. Son had scored at least one goal in each of his last five appearances (all competitions).

Spurs have scored 43 PL goals this season; Kane and Son combined for 20 between the two of them. Dele Alli, who sits just behind them with seven, has scored just once in his last seven league games and 12 games across all competitions — coincidentally, Alli’s drought began one game before Kane tore his hamstring — after enjoying a red-hot resurgence (four goals in three games) on the back of Mourinho’s appointment. To compound matters, Spurs have had 48 fewer hours to recover and prepare for Saturday’s early kickoff, with Chelsea playing Man United in league play on Monday and the north London side suffering a narrow defeat to RB Leipzig in the Champions League on Wednesday.

Injuries/suspensions

Chelsea: OUT – Christian Pulisic (groin), Callum Hudson-Odoi (hamstring), N’Golo Kante (leg), Ruben Loftus-Cheek (fitness); QUESTIONABLE: Tammy Abraham (ankle), Andreas Christensen (face)

Spurs: OUT – Harry Kane (hamstring), Son Heung-min (arm), Moussa Sissoko (knee), Juan Foyth (groin)


Projected lineups

Chelsea: Caballero — James, Zouma, Rudiger, Azpilicueta — Jorginho, Mount, Kovacic — Willian, Pedro, Abraham

Spurs: Lloris — Aurier, Sanchez, Aldeweireld, Davies — Winks, Ndombele — Lo Celso, Alli, Bergwijn — Moura


What they’re saying

Lampard, on various injured players: “Christian Pulisic is still not fit. I can’t give you an exact date. It’s a difficult injury and we’re working on that. … Tammy has trained the last two days probably at about 70 percent having not trained much recently. He’s in the squad but I’ll have to make a decision on whether he’s fit. … N’Golo is not fit. It’s a muscle injury, similar to the one he came off with against Arsenal recently. Hopefully three weeks, something around that.”

Mourinho, on returning to Stamford Bridge: “To go back to play against Chelsea is the same as to play against West Ham or Crystal Palace. It’s the same for me, exactly the same. The situation is clear, I’m here for about three months, in three months I don’t think about myself, I think about the club, I think about the players and I think about the effort that the players made to be in this position now. We were 12 points behind fourth place. I remember in my first week speaking with the players about not having targets, let’s go match after match and get as many points as possible, because if we were thinking about being 12 points behind, we would lose immediately the motivation that we needed to try to climb such a difficult mountain.”


Prediction

Throw out the injuries to some of this game’s brightest attacking stars along with the fitness and fatigue concerns, because Chelsea v. Spurs almost always delivers a thrilling, goal-filled game. There will be at least three goals, including a late winner to Chelsea.

Players ‘absolutely dead’: Mourinho finds no faults in Spurs’ performance

Photo by Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images
1 Comment

Jose Mourinho can find few, if any, faults in Tottenham Hotspur’s 1-0 defeat to RB Leipzig in the UEFA Champions League round of 16 on Wednesday, as he is simply making do with the very limited and exhausted tools presently at his disposal.

[ MORE: Spurs fall under nonstop pressure from RB Leipzig (video) ]

“[Lucas] Moura was absolutely dead, [Steven] Bergwijn was absolutely dead, [Giovani] Lo Celso was absolutely dead,” Mourinho said as he ran through the list of players forced to play all 90 minutes despite desperately needing a reprieve.

Given his side’s current injury list — Harry Kane, Son-Heung Min, Moussa Sissoko and Juan Foyth are all out, while Lo Celso, Erik Lamela and Ben Davies have only just returned to the team in recent days — Mourinho was emphatic in stating his players “did everything they could do” — quotes from the BBC:

“What do you mean by ‘the real Spurs?’ Come on, let’s be loyal to the boys and tell them they did everything they could do.

“Lamela — you know how many training sessions with the team? Zero. Direct from injury to recovery with physios and then direct to 20 minutes in the Champions League.

“There are two perspectives — an amazing group and amazing guys, but another side you see how we are at the moment. It’s a situation like going to fight with a gun without bullets.

“You can say we had luck in some moments, but a great goalkeeper made two magnificent saves. I’m not worried with the 1-0. We can go there and win. What worries me is that these are our players for the next however many matches.

“Moura was absolutely dead, Bergwijn was absolutely dead, Lo Celso was absolutely dead. We are really in trouble. If it was just this game I’d say no problem but we have FA Cup and Premier League games.

“I know Lamela could only give us 20 minutes and I knew Ndombele could not play for 90 minutes. I tried to manage the pieces I had. Don’t tell me Lamela and Ndombele could have started the game, they couldn’t have started the game.

“Here we go, Chelsea [Spurs’ opponent at 7:30 a.m. ET on Saturday], drinking sparkling water with lemon. Saturday morning [looking at the interviewer — the game was moved for television coverage] — thank you very much for the choice.”

Tottenham’s recent “winter break” was reduce from 14 to 10 days when they were forced to face Southampton in a fourth-round FA Cup replay two weeks ago today.