Moussa Sissoko

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.

Four things learned: Man City v. Spurs

1 Comment

Manchester City and Tottenham played out a dramatic 2-2 draw at the Etihad Stadium on Saturday, as Kevin De Bruyne impressed but Spurs pegged the reigning champions back and late VAR drama stole the show as Gabriel Jesus‘ strike was ruled out.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights

Just like their clashes in the Premier League and UEFA Champions League last season, this was appointment viewing as Sergio Aguero and Pep Guardiola went at it on the sidelines and Spurs rode their luck with Jesus’ goal in stoppage time ruled out for handball.

Here’s what we learned from a heavyweight battle between two title contenders.


JUST LIKE UCL CLASH, VAR DECISION BURNS CITY

Gabriel Jesus thought he had won it in stoppage time as he curled home a beauty to make it 3-2, but VAR was used correctly and it was another dagger deep into the heart of Guardiola and City.

Aymeric Laporte flicked the ball off his arm towards Jesus and VAR quickly cleared up that it was a handball in the box. Incredible drama for the second time in three games for Spurs at Man City, and Guardiola, one of the biggest advocates for VAR, has been burned by it twice in damaging fashion.

Man City fans will point to Fernando Llorente’s handball in their UCL quarterfinal victory last season and why that wasn’t ruled out and that is a valid point. But under the PL’s laws with handballs in the box, Laporte handling the ball pushed it into the path of Jesus and without that knock off his arm, City don’t score. It is as simple as that.


CITY’S SHAKY DEFENSE WILL HOLD THEM BACK

There is a Vincent Kompany sized hole at the heart of Man City’s defense and Spurs made the most of it. Tottenham had two shots on target and scored with both, as Man City looked shaky with both Otamendi and Zinchenko caught out of position. Fernandinho‘s absence was also felt as Ilkay Gundogan and Rodri failed to stop Spurs’ counter attacks, especially in the second half.

City tried to sign Harry Maguire this summer and Virgil Van Dijk in the past and it is clear that Guardiola isn’t happy with John Stones, Otamendi and Laporte as his three first-choice center backs. City made live to regret not paying a little extra for Maguire this summer. It was an area they clearly needed to upgrade and they didn’t.


KEVIN DE BRUYNE RAN THE SHOW

Kevin de Bruyne’s return to full fitness is a massive boost for Man City this season. He grabbed two assists in the first half and absolutely ran the show with two moments of real quality.

The Belgian wizard had last season interrupted with two serious knee injuries, but he’s eager to make up for lost time after grabbing two assists last weekend and another two in Matchweek 2. De Bruyne’s pass to Sterling for the opener was brilliant but his cross for Aguero to double the lead was a thing of beauty.

De Bruyne’s precision was spot on, as usual, and he is coolness personified. The way he strokes the ball around is majestic.

It is absurd that Man City won three domestic trophies and racked up 98 points last season with De Bruyne only playing 19 PL games. Imagine what they can do, alongside David Silva, Bernando Silva, Raheem Sterling and Aguero, if he’s fit for the entire campaign.


SPURS FAIL TO FEED Harry Kane, AS AGUERO, GUARDIOLA FALL OUT

Christian Eriksen, Tanguy Ndombele and Erik Lamela failed to feed Harry Kane and their entire attacking unit faltered because in central midfield they were completely overrun. Harry Winks did his best to put out fires, but not having a true holding midfielder in the engine room hurts Spurs badly. Victor Wanyama, Eric Dier and even Moussa Sissoko aren’t the flashiest of players, but the balance of Spurs’ midfield was off and Kane was isolated for most of the game.

As for Man City’s top goalscorer and star striker, he may not be around for much longer. Aguero clashed with Guardiola as he was subbed off in the second half and there was a heated exchange between the two as they had to be separated.

You love to see the passion from both the manager and star striker, but with tension bubbling under the surface for years over Aguero’s playing style in a Pep side, this looked a lot more personal. In the coming weeks we will find out just how damaging this public spat will be for both Guardiola and Aguero.

Spurs turn it up late to beat cagey Aston Villa

Leave a comment

Harry Kane‘s here for August again

A notorious slow starter earlier in his career, Spurs’ superstar scored an 86th minute match-winning goal and an 89th minute insurance marker as Tottenham Hotspur came back to beat Aston Villa 3-1 at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium on Saturday.

[ MORE: Kane reacts | 3 things ]

Tanguy Ndombele‘s gorgeous welcome to the Premier League gave Spurs its second half equalizer after John McGinn had put Aston Villa ahead early, and Dean Smith’s Villans were content to pack the back against the heavily-favored Spurs.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]


Four things we learned

1. Harry Kane had been known to struggle in August in terms of putting goals on the board before a last season, being blanked in August from 2013-17 before scoring twice last season. A pair of wayward chances by the hour mark had many thinking the demons may have returned to North London. A player of his quality, however, is always going to be near the score sheet, and he found his deserved winner late before lashing an insurance strike past Tom Heaton.

2. Tanguy Ndombele can strike a soccer ball really, really, really hard.

3. Christian Eriksen is still plenty valuable and changed this game off the bench. Giovani Lo Celso has a hard act to follow once he’s ready for his Spurs debut.

4. Aston Villa is going to be a problem for clubs hoping to pick up points against the promoted new boys, and goalkeeper Tom Heaton is the right man for their job.

Man of the Match


Lucas Moura was denied by Tom Heaton in an early bid to take the lead, and Erik Lamela presided over a dangerous eighth minute free kick that zipped over the goal.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights ]

That’s when things went sideways for Spurs, with McGinn racing behind the back line and cooking Danny Rose before slotting past Hugo Lloris for a 1-0 advantage.

Trezeguet then had a good chance to make it 2-0, cutting past a defender but seeing his left-footed shot sent away from Toby Alderweireld.

Villa then set up in a squished Christmas tree at the back, 4-5-1, and Spurs all had sorts of problems finding a way to the back. Harry Kane headed over just before halftime, then missed a breakaway shot toward the far post.

Villa lost track of Moussa Sissoko inside of five first-half minutes, and the French midfielder comically missed the frame.

Kane had a 55th minute lash blocked out for a corner, and Spurs looked ready to fire home an equalizer. Ndombele lashed a wild shot wide in the 58th.

Ndombele was the man to get the job done, taking a lay-off from about eight yards outside the 18 and lashing it past a flying Heaton. An incredible hit.

Heaton then made an incredible save on a Christian Eriksen free kick, as the Danish sub’s presence changed the game.

VAR took a look at a handball with 10 minutes to play but controversially did not award a penalty to Spurs.

That’s when Kane made it work for the hosts, emerging from traffic to beat Heaton 1v1 and cause a collective exhale in the lilywhite part of North London.

Kane then tore into a shot on the edge of stoppage time to complete his brace.

Will big-spending Spurs be Premier League title contenders?

2 Comments

Tottenham Hotspur’s 2018-19 season was quite the “glass half-full” occasion.

Spurs won 23 matches, only Liverpool and Man City claiming three points on more occasions. The North London outfit also lost 13, the biggest number in the Top Six and the same as Wolves.

[ MORE: Spurs agree Dybala fee ]

With a plus-28 goal differential, also third-best in the PL, Spurs finished 15 points back of second and 16 behind victorious Man City. That felt okay because Mauricio Pochettino‘s men, of course, also made it to the UEFA Champions League Final, losing to Liverpool on a questionable handball call.

Now two seasons removed from a second-place finish in the league, Spurs have broken their transfer record to bring in Tanguy Ndombele and may be spending bigger, linked Tuesday with both Paulo Dybala and Philippe Coutinho. Playmaker Giovani Los Celso has been in their orbit, too, all summer.

Perhaps no team has more questions in the air over the final 48 hours of the transfer window than Spurs, with Christian Eriksen still whispered as a possible departure, to boot.

Only Manchester United suffered more injuries than Spurs last season, with Harry Kane, Dele Alli, Moussa Sissoko, and Hugo Lloris missing time (Spurs went 2W-3L in league play without the latter). And Heung-Min Son was gone through national team duty, too.

This is a club who stopped Man City from its most-sought jewel, the Champions League, and it’s no coincidence that Spurs’ Premier League freefall came once the group stage arrived at Wembley in mid-February.

Spurs were five points back of the first and second at that point, with a match-in-hand on leaders City but not Liverpool. The chasers — Arsenal, Manchester United, and Chelsea — were between 9-10 points back of Spurs.

They had won all but six of their matches at that point, falling to Watford, Liverpool, Man City, Arsenal, Wolves, and Manchester United. The losses to the leaders were both at home and by a single goal (as they would be later in the season, away from London).

They have a lot going for themselves, even a bit of momentum from the Audi Cup. Their festive season slate is very forgiving, as is their season run-in.

Spurs’ three toughest fixtures of the opening 10 come away to Man City, Arsenal, and Liverpool. Draws can, of course, do the trick there as Pochettino’s men look to build a path to the top (Liverpool’s start is more difficult, while Man City’s early visit from Spurs is its only top challenge of the first two months, all respect due to Wolves).

The biggest argument against Tottenham comes at right back, where Kieran Trippier has left, Juan Foyth is injured, and Serge Aurier is still returning to fitness. The easy option is for Pochettino to find an answer in the next 48 hours, but the little things matter when you’re talking about a title; Spurs may have to face down City in Week 2 with either a brand new piece or a revived Aurier.

That’s digging a bit too far into the weeds, though; When assessing whether Spurs can make up distance to Liverpool and Man City, it’s not really about the big gap at the end of last season. Look at where Spurs were before the Champions League knockout round stage. Ask yourselves whether you see them shallow enough to finish 3W-2D-7L regardless of UCL status.

We’d argue the opposite. With Dybala or Coutinho, this team can make it a bonafide three-team race almost regardless of what Chelsea, Arsenal, and Manchester United manage by Thursday evening.

Top 10 Premier League players at each position

3 Comments

There are 25 players in each Premier League squad, but who will not only star for their respective clubs but also elevate themselves to the upper echelons of the league this season? With the Premier League campaign officially set to begin this week, we continue our look ahead to the upcoming campaign with an overview of the top players at each position across the league.

[ STREAM: Every PL match live

Sure to incite debate, these rankings are based on player performance over the past few years for both club and country, with numerical production combined with the eye test.

Below is a look at our complete list of the top 10 players in each position coming into the 2019-20 Premier League season.


Goalkeeper

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

Joel Matip partnered brilliantly with Virgil Van Dijk for much of last season to lead Liverpool at the back (Photo by Charlotte Wilson/Offside/Getty Images).

Center-back

  1. Virgil van Dijk
  2. Aymeric Laporte
  3. Toby Alderweireld
  4. Jan Vertonghen
  5. Harry Maguire
  6. Joe Gomez
  7. Antonio Rudiger
  8. Joel Matip
  9. Conor Coady
  10. Nathan Ake

Right-back

  1. Trent Alexander-Arnold
  2. Kyle Walker
  3. Aaron Wan-Bissaka
  4. Ricardo Pereira
  5. Matt Doherty
  6. Cesar Azpilicueta
  7. Serge Aurier
  8. Kiko Femenia
  9. Max Aarons
  10. Seamus Coleman

Left-back

  1. Andrew Robertson
  2. Lucas Digne
  3. Ben Chilwell
  4. Nacho Monreal
  5. Luke Shaw
  6. Matt Ritchie
  7. Jonny Otto
  8. Patrick Van Aanholt
  9. Benjamin Mendy
  10. Marcos Alonso

It remains to be seen what N’Golo Kante’s role will be under Frank Lampard, but at his best he’s near the top of the game (Photo by Laurens Lindhout/Soccrates/Getty Images).

Central midfield

  1. Fernandinho
  2. Jordan Henderson
  3. N’Golo Kante
  4. Etienne Capoue
  5. Moussa Sissoko
  6. Luka Milivojevic
  7. Rodri
  8. Ruben Neves
  9. Paul Pogba
  10. Abdoulaye Doucoure

Attacking midfield

  1. Kevin De Bruyne
  2. Christian Eriksen
  3. David Silva
  4. Gylfi Sigurdsson
  5. Diogo Jota
  6. Mesut Ozil
  7. Gerard Deulofeu
  8. James Maddison
  9. Dele Alli
  10. David Brooks

Raheem Sterling and Bernardo Silva provide a deadly one-two punch on the flanks for Manchester City (Photo by Rob Newell – CameraSport via Getty Images).

Winger

  1. Mohamed Salah
  2. Raheem Sterling
  3. Bernardo Silva
  4. Sadio Mane
  5. Heung-Min Son
  6. Wilfried Zaha
  7. Nicolas Pepe
  8. Jesse Lingard
  9. Richarlison
  10. Christian Pulisic

Striker

  1. Sergio Aguero
  2. Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang
  3. Roberto Firmino
  4. Harry Kane
  5. Raul Jimenez
  6. Jamie Vardy
  7. Alexandre Lacazette
  8. Marcus Rashford
  9. Moise Kean
  10. Sebastian Haller