Serge Aurier

Getty Images

Jose Mourinho says no Spurs overhaul this summer

Leave a comment

Tottenham Hotspur manager Jose Mourinho rejected the idea that Spurs will overhaul the squad this summer.

The London side has been better since Mourinho took over in late November, but still results have been spotty with injuries decimating the attack. The sharp downturn since last year’s Champions League success has led many to speculate this summer will be met with wild swings of the axe, but Mourinho told reporters today that is not the case.

“No, not massive changes [in the immediate future],” Mourinho confirmed at his pre-match press conference ahead of the FA Cup game against Norwich City on Wednesday. “First of all, that’s not what we think we need. Second, because of the profile of our club and third because of what the market is. Year after year, it’s more difficult. I’m not thinking of an overhaul.”

Despite Mourinho’s defiance, a host of Spurs players remain in contract limbo that could force the club into changes. Jan Vertonghen has still not signed a new deal, with his current set to expire this summer, while the likes of Eric Dier, Japhen Tanganga, Victor Wanyama, and Oliver Skipp all see their contracts expire in the summer of 2021. Also notably, the summer of 2022 brings the expiration of Hugo Lloris, Serge Aurier, Eric Lamela, and Juan Foyth meaning they could see increased transfer activity this coming offseason.

Still, staying the course is a likely strategy as chairman Daniel Levy is not known as a wheeler and dealer. Last offseason saw the arrival of Tanguy Ndombele, Ryan Sessegnon, and Giovani Lo Celso plus the additions of Steven Bergwijn and Gedson Fernandes this winter. Such recent activity is another sign the coming summer could be quieter than usual.

Three things learned: Tottenham v. Wolves

Leave a comment

LONDON — Wolves beat Tottenham 3-2 in north London on Sunday as Nuno Espirito Santo‘s side continued their surge up the Premier League table as they outclassed Jose Mourinho’s injury-hit Spurs and deserved the win which boosts their chances of qualifying for the UEFA Champions League.

[ MORE: Mourinho reacts ]

An end-to-end encounter saw Spurs take the lead early on through Steven Bergwijn who slammed home after Serge Aurier teed up Dele Alli but his show was saved by Rui Patricio. That opener sparked Wolves into life and they grabbed a deserved equalizer when Ruben Vinagre crossed for Matt Doherty to finish.

Spurs retook the lead before half time as Aurier rifled home a shot with his left foot which flew into the top corner but Wolves almost levelled at the start of the second half as Diogo Jota flicked a header just over. Dele Alli then headed inches wide as he spurned a glorious chance and moments later Wolves were level again. Adama Traore, Raul Jimenez and Doherty combined to set up Jota to tap home on the line.

[ MORE: Premier League schedule

Jimenez then sealed the comeback and the win as he finished up a counter as Jota played him in and Mexico’s star striker finished with extreme composure to stun the home fans and secure a massive victory for Wolves as they move two points ahead of Spurs and are now just three points off the top four.

Here’s what we learned from a wild clash in north London on Sunday as Wolves and Tottenham put on a show.


WOLVES HAVE MOMENTUM IN TOP FOUR RACE

They have a small squad, played away in Spain in the Europa League on Thursday as they reached the last 16 and still they wouldn’t quit. Nuno Espirito Santo’s side were dogged at Tottenham as they twice pinned the hosts back and dug deep to secure a huge win. With hefty challenges, rapid counter attacks and total commitment they kept their Champions League dreams well and truly alive and this game summed up everything that is great about this Wolves side. Jimenez and Traore ran themselves into the ground, while the in-form Jota was a brilliant pest and even when they coughed up goals their belief never wavered. Wolves went to Tottenham and grabbed a statement win which took them above Spurs in the table and kept their momentum going. Wolves have lost once in their last seven games, that was a narrow defeat against Liverpool, and they now face only one team who sit above them in the table in their final 10 games of the season. That is fourth-place Chelsea at Stamford Bridge, on the final day of the season. Wolves are three points off the top four and Chelsea can feel Wolves breathing down their necks.


3-4-3 NOT THE WAY FOR SPURS TO GO

It wasn’t pretty and the 3-4-3 system doesn’t really suit Tottenham. Given the absence of Harry Kane and Heung-Min Son up top, Jose Mourinho keeps going back to it and although they had more of a cutting edge in attack they lacked defensive stability as strangely both Vertonghen and Alderweireld were left on the bench. Given their recent displays, what else could Mourinho do? Going forward Bergwijn, Lucas Moura, Goivani Lo Celso and Dele Alli can all operate centrally and combine in the final third, but it isn’t Kane, Alli, Eriksen and Son in their prime when former boss Mauricio Pochettino preferred 3-4-3 in their title pushing seasons a few years ago. Dele Alli missed glorious chances and there was just no direction in the final third and no belief without Son and Kane. Defensively there is so much work to do as Mourinho abandoned any kind of formation late on and he doesn’t appear to have a plan with this group of players. Tottenham have now lost three games in a row in all competitions and they are in freefall. The negativity Mourinho is spreading about injuries is in the psyche of his team. This is not good, at all. Spurs look very unlikely to make the Champions League next season and Mourinho will have some big questions to answer, injuries aside.


JIMENEZ BACK IN FORM

Wolves’ Raul Jimenez has now scored 13 goals in 28 Premier League games this season. That is the same amount he scored in 38 games last season. Mexico’s star striker is having an even better season this time around and after a run of four goals in 11 games (a rough patch, for him!), Jimenez was back to his menacing best against Spurs. Early on he had a few loose touches but he managed to work his way into the game and he set up countless counter attacks to set up another second half comeback fro Wolves. Jimenez is a hero in Wolverhampton and Mexico and if he leads this side to the Champions League he will be able to shine on the biggest stage of all, which he truly deserves. In the last two seasons he’s scored 39 goals in all competitions, assisted 18 times and has become the highest-scoring Wolves player in the Premier League. His 13 Premier League goals this season have been worth 16 points to Wolves, the joint-most won thanks to a player’s goals alongside Sadio Mane and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang. That is why Jimenez is well on the way to becoming a Wolves legend.

Spurs fall under nonstop pressure from RB Leipzig (video)

Photo by Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images
Leave a comment

Tottenham Hotspur’s quest to return to the UEFA Champions League final took a significant hit when Bundesliga title contenders RB Leipzig visited north London and left town with a 1-0 advantage in the round of 16 on Wednesday.

[ MORE: Man City CEO Ferran Soriano speaks out against FFP charges ]

Spurs began the game as poorly as a side can do without conceding a goal — or three — in the first 90 seconds of the game, and it didn’t get much better at any point after that. If not for Hugo Lloris making a pair of saves — with a massive assist from the post — inside the game’s first minute and a half, Jose Mourinho’s side would have found itself behind before they had a forward touch of the ball.

After surviving Leipzig’s opening onslaught and finding their footing, Spurs went close through Steven Bergwijn in the 8th minute. Giovani Lo Celso slipped the Dutchman into acres of space and Bergwijn cut back inside onto his right foot before uncorking a curling effort toward the far post. Peter Gulacsi went full-stretch and got a strong hand to the ball and pushed it around the post.

Lloris came up big again not long before halftime, in the 36th minute. Konrad Laimer was allowed to turn atop the penalty area and slide the ball wide left to Timo Werner for a right footed shot from the corner of the six-yard box.

[ MORE: Solskjaer admits Rashford’s season may be over, Euros in jeopardy ]

Spurs began the second half far better than they did the first. Two minutes into the period, Serge Aurier sent a low, bouncing ball into the box and forced Gulacsi to scramble to keep it out after Lucas Moura let it run on. The rebound fell to Bergwijn, who kept his follow-up effort low but pulled it well wide of target.

The breakthrough finall came in the 58th minute, after Ben Davies gave away a penalty kick with a wildly irresponsible challenge inside the box. Werner stepped up to the spot for Leipzig and beat the outstretched hand of Lloris.

Leipzig will host the second leg at Red Bull Arena on March 10.

Champions League squads changes for four PL teams

Getty Images
Leave a comment

Monday was the deadline for all clubs to submit their final 25-man squads to UEFA for the knockout phase of the Champions League. With all four qualified Premier League teams still in the mix, it’s time to run through each club’s squad and see who made the cut and who was left at home.

[ MORE: Premier League schedule ]

Tottenham sees goalkeeper Hugo Lloris back in the fold after a serious elbow injury forced him to withdraw from the Champions League squad in October.

One significant note, thanks to new UEFA rules instituted during last year’s competition, no players are cup-tied for the knockout phase regardless of what competition they played for in the group stage. This is particularly of note to Liverpool who was able to add winger Takumi Minamino to the list despite the former RB Salzburg player having been deployed for the German club in the group stage before his January move. Spurs also benefitted from the new rule as Steven Bergwijn and Gedson Fernandes both would have previously been cup-tied.

The most notable exclusion comes for Tottenham Hotspur who sees Victor Wanyama left off the squad, having made just one appearance for Spurs since September in a six-minute showing against Bayern Munich in the Champions League group stage finale. Liverpool also left off young defender Sepp van den Berg who was sacrificed for the inclusion of new boy Minamino.

For Manchester City, the injured Leroy Sane was left on the squad with nobody new arriving. The same occurred for Chelsea who saw Ruben Loftus-Cheek still in the group despite his recovery from an Achilles tear.

Liverpool

IN: Takumi Minamino (transfer, RB Salzburg)
OUT: Sepp van den Berg

Full squad: Alisson, Adrian, Andy Lonergan, Caoimhim Kelleher*; Virgil Van Dijk, Dejan Lovren, Joe Gomez, Joel Matip, Andy Robertson, Trent Alexander-Arnold, Adam Lewis*; Fabinho, Georginio Wijnaldum, James Milner, Naby Keita, Jordan Henderson, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Adam Lallana, Xherdan Shaqiri, Harvey Elliott, Curtis Jones*, Herbie Kane*, Neco Williams*, Yasser Larouci*; Roberto Firmino, Sadio Mane, Mohamed Salah, Takumi Minamino, Divock Origi, Rhian Brewster*.

Manchester City

IN: [none]
OUT: Angelino (loan, RB Leipzig), Ian Poveda (transfer, Leeds United)

Full squad: Ederson, Claudio Bravo Scott Carson; John Stones, Kyle Walker, Aymeric Laporte, Nicolas Otamendi, Benjamin Mendy, Oleksandr Zinchenko, Joao Cancelo, Eric Garcia*; Fernandinho, Ilkay Gundogan, Rodri, Leroy Sane, Kevin De Bruyne, Bernardo Silva, David Silva, Riyad Mahrez, Phil Foden*; Raheem Sterling, Gabriel Jesus, Sergio Aguero.

Chelsea

IN: [none]
OUT: Marc Guehi (loan, Swansea City), George McEachran (loan, Cambuur)

Full squad: Kepa Arrizabalaga, Willy Caballero, Jamie Cumming*, Nicholas Tie*; Antonio Rudiger, Marcos Alonso, Andreas Christensen, Kurt Zouma, Cesar Azpilicueta, Fikayo Tomori, Emerson, Reece James*; Jorginho, N’Golo Kante, Ross Barkley, Willian, Ruben Loftus-Cheek, Mateo Kovacic, Mason Mount*, Callum Hudson-Odoi*, Christian Pulisic, Billy Gilmour*, Tammy Abraham, Pedro, Olivier Giroud, Michy Batshuayi.

Tottenham Hotspur

IN: Steven Bergwijn (transfer, PSV), Hugo Lloris, Gedson Fernandes (loan, Benfica)
OUT: Christian Eriksen (transfer, Inter), Danny Rose (loan, Newcastle), Kyle Walker-Peters (loan, Southampton), Victor Wanyama, Troy Parrott

Full squad: Hugo Lloris, Michel Vorm, Paulo Gazzaniga, Alfie Whiteman*, Brandon Austin*; Toby Alderweireld, Jan Vergtonghen, Davinson Sanchez, Serge Aurier, Juan Foyth*, Ben Davies, Ryan Sessegnon, Japhet Tanganga*, Timothy Eyoma*; Eric Dier, Harry Winks, Erik Lamela, Moussa Sissoko, Giovani Lo Celso, Dele Alli, Tanguy Ndombele, Gedson Fernandes, Oliver Skipp*, Jamie Bowden*, Harvey White*; Harry Kane, Lucas Moura, Heung-Min Son, Steven Bergwijn.

*denotes a “List B” player, who must be born on, or after, 1 January 1995 and eligible to play for the club concerned for any uninterrupted period of two years since his 15th birthday. A club can list an unlimited number of List B players, whereas they may only list 25 List A players

Spurs have “eye on fourth” after big win

Leave a comment

Steven Bergwijn, take a bow.

Dominated Tottenham Hotspur saw their fortunes take a major turn after a second-half red card, as debutant Steven Bergwijn scored a thrilling goal en route to a 2-0 defeat of Man City on Sunday.

Spurs boss Jose Mourinho was very happy with his team, who climbed fifth in the table and is back within shouting distance of the top four.

[ MORE: Premier League schedule ]

And he loved his new playmaker’s goal.

“It’s the best way to come to a club,” Mourinho said. “We were not putting any kind of pressure on him but we signed him early in the week and he had the whole week to train, to speak, to learn the way we wanted him to play. Very intelligent kid, very open, very humble and of course it’s at home against the champions, scoring a winning goal. And on top of that, not a normal goal, a really classy goal. Couldn’t be happier for him.”

Mourinho said the win is “big” for the club, citing draws for Manchester United, Wolves, and Chelsea as clubs look to seize the final Champions League place.

“Big, especially with a few draws of people in the same area of the table where we are, it was very important to get points,” Mourinho said, via the BBC. “We’re in fifth, still with an eye on fourth.”

The intensity of the match was ever-present, and it wasn’t a surprise when Mourinho and his staff were livid following a tackle of Dele Alli by Raheem Sterling which could’ve easily been a red card.

Mike Dean didn’t think so, and the decision went to VAR overseer Kevin Friend.

“Only Mr. Kevin Friend can explain why it was not a red card. He’s in front of the screen and has a chance to watch and watch and watch again, which he did on the penalty. Of course that decision would change the game, probably would not be such an enjoyable game because one team would play more for an hour. I think it’s a clear red card.”

VAR wasn’t Spurs’ friend on the day, and Mourinho told Sky Sports it was “God’s will” that Lloris stopped Ilkay Gundogan‘s penalty following a controversial call against Serge Aurier.

Tottenham hosts Southampton on Wednesday in an FA Cup replay and then is off until a Feb. 16 visit to Aston Villa.

Then comes a run of three huge matches, as Spurs will host Leipzig in the first leg of the Champions League Round of 16 before league bouts with fourth-place Chelsea and eighth-place Wolves.