Serge Aurier

Dele drives Spurs past Norwich City

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A win is a win, even if Tottenham Hotspur’s 2-1 home defeat of Norwich City was anything but convincing in London.

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Dele Alli and Heung-Min Son scored as Spurs climbed sixth in the table with 34 points.

Teemu Pukki scored for the spot for the Canaries, who remain dead last and six points off the safe spaces.


Three things we learned

1. Spurs can score in 2020: The Premier League had not been kind to Jose Mourinho’s men since a they twice came back in a 2-2 draw with these same Canaries at Carrow Road. In fact, Spurs went 315 Premier League minutes without a goal before Dele got his first half marker on Wednesday. Losses to Saints and Liverpool were joined by a weekend draw at Watford, so this win was vital (Spurs thrice scored over two FA Cup matches versus Middlesbrough).

2. Bounces go the way of Spurs: Norwich can forgive itself for feeling a bit snakebit considering how poor Spurs looked for most of the day. Dele’s shot or cross was deflected high toward the back post, where Heung-min Son was able to nod it over the line from extreme close-up range.

3. Serge Aurier shines: Bad Serge Aurier shows up quite a bit, but the full back had a great day on Wednesday. Aurier had an assist to go with two interceptions and three tackles. He was a menace and stuck into 50-50 battles, earning plaudits on the day.


Erik Lamela was lively early for Spurs, seeing a free kick deflected out for a corner and another chance saved by Tim Krul.

Dele put Spurs ahead when he lunged past Christoph Zimmermann to poke a Serge Aurier cross past Krul. Heung-min Son set up the play with a lay-off to the Ivorian.

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VAR was kind to Todd Cantwell early in the second half, as the sliding midfielder put his studs into Lamela and it was worth only a yellow card.

Spurs youngster Ryan Sessegnon fouled Max Aarons in the 68th to give Norwich a chance from the spot, and a long review did not lead to a reprieve. Pukki beat Lloris low and to the right for 1-1.

But Dele’s cross floated to Son for a back post winner and blushes were spared for Mourinho.

Liverpool makes history versus wasteful Spurs

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Liverpool scored an early and withstood a furious Tottenham Hotspur charge to pick up a 1-0 win in North London on Saturday.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]

Roberto Firmino was the goal scorer as Liverpool improved to 20W-1D, becoming the first club in Europe’s Top Five leagues to take 61 of 63 points to start a season.

Tottenham is now nine points back of the Top Four.


Key numbers

14: Spurs out-attempted Liverpool 14-13.

68: Liverpool carried nearly 70 percent of the ball.

39: Spurs hoofed almost 40 clearances compared to Liverpool’s nine.

1: Japhet Tanganga made his first Premier League start for the Spurs.

Man of the Match: Firmino.


Premier League debutant Japhet Tanganga was baptized by fire, blocking a would-be Roberto Firmino goal in the second minute.

Lucas Moura worked past Joe Gomez to drill a shot wide of the near post in the fifth. Heung-Min Son drove 50 yards to miss with an 8th minute effort.

Dele Alli saw a lash deflected over the bar in the 13th minute as Spurs countered well again.

[ MORE: Premier League stats ] 

Christian Eriksen rolled a tame shot to Alisson Becker in the 22nd.

Liverpool found danger through Salah a minute later, the Egyptian chipping to the back post where Virgil Van Dijk was denied by Paulo Gazzaniga.

The Reds went in front through Firmino, who turned past Tanganga and fired past the outstretched arms of Gazzaniga.

Virgil van Dijk slid to block a Dele Alli shot, and Serge Aurier ripped the chance into the arms of Alisson Becker. At the other end, Firmino stung Gazzaniga’s palms.

Heung-min Son saw deflected shot earn Spurs a corner in the 60th, but it came to nothing.

Gazzaniga then made a tight reaction save on Mane to keep it 1-0.

Spurs then took hold of the match, though they coudn’t find an equalizer. Serge Aurier picked out Giovani Lo Celso at the back for a sliding effort that somehow missed the frame.

Erik Lamela bounded a shot to Alisson in the 89th as Spurs kept pushing for an equalizer.

Top 10 players to watch in January window

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January is here and the transfer window is open again with plenty of big moves rumored as Premier League clubs aim to kick on in the second half of the season.

[ MORE: Premier League schedule ]  

With that in mind, here’s a look at 10 players you should keep an eye on during this month as they could be moving to or leaving the PL.

We will keep you updated with all the latest goings on throughout this month with analysis and reaction right here at Pro Soccer Talk.


Olivier Giroud (Chelsea)
The 33-year-old isn’t getting much game time at Chelsea and reports suggest he is being offered to plenty of clubs, including Lyon, as Chelsea want to bring in Moussa Dembele. Giroud’s ability to hold the ball up and score goals mean plenty of PL clubs will be looking at a January move, maybe on loan, as the French international is out of contract this summer. He will be desperate for minutes in the second half of the season as he pushes to start for France at EURO 2020 this summer.


Nathan Ake (Bournemouth)
Currently out injured, Ake has been a rock for Bournemouth since he arrived on loan then permanently from Chelsea. It is said the Blues have a $50 million buyback clause and given their defensive problems this season, that would be a smart buy for Frank Lampard‘s side. The Dutch international has also been interesting Man City and Arsenal and if he doesn’t leave Bournemouth this January, he will be a man in demand this summer.


Jarrod Bowen (Hull City)
Teams in the bottom half of the table usually take a punt on a player doing really well in the Championship. Bowen, 23, fits the bill as he’s scored 17 goals for Hull City so far this season and bagged 22 last season. A real poacher in and around the box, Bowen has been linked with a move to Leicester, Aston Villa, Crystal Palace and Newcastle among others. He has come up through the ranks in non-league and seems capable of making the next step up.


Edinson Cavani (Paris Saint-Germain)
A veteran striker with undoubted quality, both Arsenal and Man United have been linked with El Matador. So too have Atletico Madrid and Inter Miami, but Cavani, 32, playing in the Premier League would be very interesting. He is more physical than Gonzalo Higuain but injuries have hit him hard in recent months. Would he would be worth a gamble for a team pushing to get into the top four?


Moussa Dembele (Lyon)
The former Fulham and Celtic forward is a man in demand after another fine season in Ligue 1 for Lyon. Chelsea and Man United are said to be interested in signing him this month even though Lyon have said they don’t want to sell until summer, if they’re going to at all. Dembele, 23, is a clinical finisher who hovers around the box and he also has the ability to make clever runs behind opposition defenders. Would cost way over $70 million.


Christian Eriksen (Tottenham)
Available on a free this summer, Eriksen could well stay at Spurs and see out his contract but chairman Daniel Levy loves a good deal and if they can get a transfer fee for Eriksen now perhaps he will leave. Eriksen has been indifferent throughout this season as he’s been linked to Man United, Bayern Munich, Inter Milan and other giant clubs across Europe. He has all of the ability to excel wherever he ends up and maybe it would be best for everyone if he moved on this month.


Wilfried Zaha (Crystal Palace)
Perhaps the man most coveted in this window, Zaha wanted to leave in the summer but Arsenal and Everton didn’t match Palace’s valuation. After a fine few months leading up to January he will probably go for close to $110 million and Chelsea are the frontrunners to sign him. Zaha’s pace and trickery are his main strengths and he is desperate to return to a team challenging for trophies and playing in the Champions League. At 27 years old, now seems like the perfect time for Zaha to make the step up.


Thomas Lemar (Atletico Madrid)
The French winger has reportedly been offered to Liverpool, Chelsea, Spurs and other Premier League clubs as Atletico try and move on the man they paid Monaco $66.5 million in the summer of 2018. Lemar, 24, has got regular minutes for Atletico but has only scored three times in 49 La Liga appearances. Surely, Spurs and maybe even Chelsea will see this as a cheaper, and very decent, alternative to buying someone like Sancho or Zaha.


Kyle Walker-Peters (Tottenham)
Crystal Palace, Southampton and others have been linked with a loan move for Spurs’ young right back who hasn’t been able to jump ahead of Serge Aurier. Walker-Peters needs game time to keep his development going and it is unlikely he will leave permanently. A no-brainer for PL clubs further down the table who want some extra help in defense.


Michy Batshuayi (Chelsea)
Another January, another loan move on the cards for Batshuayi. The Belgian international has joined Borussia Dortmund, Valencia and Palace in recent windows and the likes of Palace and Aston Villa have been linked with a loan move for him this time around. Batshuayi is second-choice behind Tammy Abraham and Chelsea will not be willing to let him go if they fail to bring in Dembele, or someone else, in attack.

Mane named CAF Player of the Year

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Sadio Mane has bragging rights for at least the year over his club teammate, and fellow African, Mohamed Salah.

On Tuesday, the Confederation of African Football voted Mane as the African Player of the Year for 2019, his first continental individual award. Mane beat out Salah (Egypt), who had won the previous two seasons and Algerian and Manchester City midfielder Riyad Mahrez. Interestingly, it’s the first win for a Senegalese player since El Hadji Diouf won it in 2002, shortly after joining Liverpool, Mane’s current club.

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“I’m very happy and proud to win this award,” Mane said, per the CAF. “I thank my teammates at the Senegal national team and also my club, Liverpool for their support.”

Mane’s had a heck of a last 18 months or so. He finished tied for the Premier League Golden Boot with 22 goals and also won the UEFA Champions League and the Golden Boot for that competition in 2019. Then he followed that up by leading Senegal to the African Cup of Nations final, and so far this year, he’s got 11 goals in 18 Premier League matches as the Reds are way ahead in the race for the league title.
In addition to Mane, Salah, and Mahrez, Liverpool’s Joel Matip, Tottenham’s Serge Aurier, and Arsenal’s Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang were all named to the CAF Best XI for 2019. Former Everton midfielder Idrissa Gueye was also named to the list.

Chelsea skates through in FA Cup; Spurs held; Palace upset

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Premier League sides didn’t have a particularly elementary journey through Saturday’s FA Cup schedule, and it didn’t look any easier on Sunday as all four teams in play through the early slate had difficulties.

Chelsea got by a pesky Nottingham Forest side 2-0, but Tottenham Hotspur was held to a 1-1 draw, Crystal Palace was dumped out by Derby County, and Sheffield United had a nervy finish against a far inferior opponent.

[ FA CUP: Roundup of Saturday’s action ]

The Blues got going in a hurry as Callum Hudson-Odoi put the Blues 1-0 up just seven minutes in on a beautiful set of one-touch passing that ended with the 19-year-old cutting in on his left and slicing a low shot into the bottom corner. Pedro had a chance on the break to double the lead, but was unable to get by his defender despite the two-on-one advantage. That nearly proved costly as Forest earned a 23rd minute penalty, but VAR wiped it off for offside.

Chelsea remained the better attacking side, and they profited past the half-hour mark with Ross Barkley turning in a rebounded Hudson-Odoi shot. The initial effort was parried by Nottingham Forest goalkeeper Jordan Smith who pushed it the other way, but right to the feet of Barkley who barely had time to react on the doorstep, just barely keeping his feet to turn the ball into the net. Ryan Yates headed in for Nottingham Forest in the 67th minute but it was ruled out as the flag went up.

Tottenham dominated the match against Middlesbrough but failed to create much throughout the first half, with a cross to the far post for Ryan Sessegnon the best chance, although the former Fulham youth product failed to get a touch to Serge Aurier‘s delivery. Spurs’ lack of creativity would come back to haunt them as Middlesbrough came out of halftime firing, and former Manchester United youth product Ashley Fletcher found the back of the net to put the hosts 1-0 up at Riverside Stadium. It didn’t last long, though, as Jose Mourinho rang the changes, bringing on Giovani Lo Celso and Erik Lamela, and it paid instant dividends. Lucas Moura headed in from a deep Aurier cross that the Middlesborough defense misread.

Spurs had chances to win the game, none better than Aurier’s slash with two minutes to go. The shot was from a tight angle, but with acres of space to shoot, he rifled the ball miles over the bar instead of testing Middlesbrough keeper Tomas Mejias. They instead will return to Tottenham Hotspur Stadium for a replay after the scoreline finished level.

10-man Crystal Palace was upset at Selhurst Park by Derby County, falling 1-0 on a goal by Chris Martin just past the half-hour mark. The task was tougher after Luka Milivojevic was sent off in the second half a nasty kick out at Tom Huddlestone, spotted by VAR.

Sheffield United got more fight than expected from non-league side AFC Fylde, but snuck through by a 2-1 final with Callum Robinson and Leon Clarke on the scoresheet. Robinson’s strike came just eight minutes in and came benefit of a deflection off his mark Neill Byrne. Fylde marked the day with a goal in the 78th minute, but couldn’t find what would have been a shocking equalizer.

Jordan Hugill scored a brace as Queens Park Rangers hammered Swansea City 5-1. Bright Samuel, Lee Wallace, and Josh Scowen tacked on the additional scores, while George Byers picked up a consolation for the visitors.

Kenneth Zohore‘s 32nd minute strike gave West Brom a 1-0 victory at Charlton Athletic. Zohore played a fabulous one-two with Kyle Edwards, receiving the ball back at the near post and poking it through the legs of a charging Dillon Phillips.

Conor Chaplin gave Barnsley a 3-1 road victory over Crewe Alexandra with a 75th minute header that wrong-footed goalkeeper William Jaaskelainen.

Barnsley and Coventry City will require a replay after a 2-2 draw. A 52nd minute own goal saw Coventry City draw level shortly after the second-half restart, and neither side could find a winner.

League Two side Northampton Town advanced after putting four past Burton Albion in a 4-2 victory. They held a 3-1 lead at halftime and cruised from there, advancing past their League One opposition.