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Premier League Preview: Tottenham Hotspur v. Liverpool

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Tottenham Hotspur would love to be the club to end Liverpool’s unbeaten Premier League season when the two sides meet in North London on Saturday (Watch Live at 12:30 p.m. ET on NBC and online via NBCSports.com).

Jose Mourinho insists his club believes it can a result despite the dour mood accompanying Harry Kane’s injury.

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Liverpool is facing injuries, too, but its trident remains healthy and led by Player of the Season candidate Sadio Mane.

The Reds hold a 13-point lead on the Premier League field and have a match-in-hand on everyone except West Ham United.

Spurs are still very much a part of the race for the Top Four should they be able to again navigate a long Kane absence. Tottenham is six points back of fourth place Chelsea.


Injuries/suspensions

Spurs: OUT —  Harry Kane, Hugo Lloris, Ben Davies, Tanguy Ndombele, Moussa Sissoko. QUESTIONABLE — Danny Rose.

Liverpool: OUT — Dejan Lovren, Joel Matip, Fabinho, James Milner, Naby Keita, Nathaniel Clyne. QUESTIONABLE — Xherdan Shaqiri.


Probable lineups

Spurs: Gazzaniga; Vertonghen, Sanchez, Alderweireld, Sessegnon, Dier, Lo Celso, Dele, Aurier; Lucas, Son.

Liverpool: Alisson, Robertson, Van Dijk, Gomez, Alexander-Arnold, Henderson, Wijnaldum, Lallana, Mane, Firmino, Salah.


What they’re saying

Spurs boss Jose Mourinho on facing Liverpool: “It’s the best team in our competition, just to say that – I could say more than that. We would prefer to play against them with everybody available. … But again that’s the way it is and we worked hard in the week, and the boys that are available, of course they are happy to play and when somebody doesn’t play you open the opportunity for somebody else, and we know the situation. We know how good they are, we can imagine that in this room only two persons think that we can win. Maybe only two, but we believe (puts his arm around Spurs’ press officer). We have to believe. If you don’t believe, get out man.”

Jurgen Klopp on Jose Mourinho: “A world-class manager with a specific mindset. He wants to win. I respect that a lot. Each situation his team is in he tries to use. That is how managers work. The good news is, we don’t play. We send out two teams and we have to make sure it works out. I don’t think anyone wants to play us right now. Spurs are never easy but they are now so let’s see.”


Prediction

Liverpool’s biggest question mark is in the midfield, but Tottenham’s hit there, too. We imagine this one will be a bit cagier than usual, perhaps even a surprise 1-1.

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.

Tottenham peg back Norwich amid VAR drama

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Norwich City and Tottenham Hotspur played out a wild 2-2 draw at Carrow Road on Saturday, as VAR drama, own goals, penalty kicks and general madness took center stage.

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Mario Vranic gave Norwich the lead before VAR drama denied Teemu Pukki a second and then Christian Eriksen made it 1-1. Serge Aurier‘s own goal put Norwich back in front but Harry Kane‘s late penalty set up a wild finish, but Spurs couldn’t complete the comeback.

With the point, Norwich sit bottom on 13 points and Tottenham are in fifth on 30 points, two points off the top four.


3 things we learned

1. Norwich unluckiest team in PL: Yep, it’s official, Norwich are the unluckiest team in the Premier League. Week after week Daniel Farke‘s side pour their heart out and VAR calls go against them, they cough up leads, deflections don’t go their way and they are generally unlucky. They sit bottom of the table with the smallest budget in the league, so perhaps no surprise there, but Norwich deserve to be further up the the table.

2. 3-5-2 not the way forward for Spurs: Mourinho changed it up at half time as Spurs were struggling to keep the ball and couldn’t get out of their own half in a 3-5-2 formation. Tottenham aren’t great defensively and they’ve conceded 12 goals in Mourinho’s first eight PL games in charge, so they might as well play a 4-2-3-1 formation and be an attack-minded team.

3. Kane’s quality shines through: He won the penalty kick and drove Spurs on, and without Kane Spurs would be nowhere near the top four. Kane has scored four goals in his last five games but aside from that his leadership has dragged Spurs back into the top four hunt.

Man of the Match: Teemu Pukki – Didn’t stop running, had a goal chalked off and bullied the Spurs defense into conceding a second goal. Pukki didn’t score, but he is the main reason Norwich got something out of this game.


Norwich started well as Stiepermann forced Paulo Gazzaniga into a fine stop down low.

At the other end Spurs were dangerous on the break as Kane set up Alli but he blazed over the bar and then Kane himself was clean through but Tim Krul saved well as he stood tall.

Ryan Sessegnon had a shot blocked well but then Norwich hit Tottenham with a sucker-punch.

Vrancic surged into the box and slotted home after a superb tackle Emiliano Buendia, as Norwich took a shock lead.

It looked as though the Canaries had doubled their lead as Pukki raced and clear and sent a trademark finish into the far corner, but VAR intervened and the Finnish striker was judged to be offside by half a shoulder as it remained 1-0.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights

At half time Mourinho brought on Davinson Sanchez and Lucas Moura for Jan Vertonghen and Juan Foyth as Spurs went to a back four and ditched their 3-5-2 system.

A moment of huge controversy arrived early in the second half as Jamal Lewis was adjudged to have handled as the last man right on the edge of the box and only a yellow card was given.

But from the resulting free kick Eriksen’s deflected free kick flew in to make it 1-1 as Spurs were rampant in the second half.

Alli then hooked home from a tight angle but he was clearly offside and just when it looked like Spurs would surge towards victory, Serge gave Norwich the lead…

With Pukki in on goal, Toby Alderweireld cleared and the ball hit Aurier and went into his own net to make it 2-1 as Tottenham’s players, coaching staff and fans held their heads in disbelief.

Spurs did draw level though, as Kane was set free on the break and he won a penalty kick by cutting inside as Christoph Zimmermann brought him down. Kane slotted home the penalty kick to make it 2-2 and then sub Erik Lamela tested Krul from distance with a powerful effort.

In the end Spurs couldn’t break through as Norwich held on for a point in their battle against the drop.

Tottenham fight back to beat Brighton

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Tottenham Hotspur beat Brighton and Hove Albion 2-1 on Boxing Day as Harry Kane and Dele Alli scored second half goals to lead Spurs to victory.

[ MORE: Premier League schedule ]

Adam Webster had given Brighton a first half lead but Spurs hung in there and Kane and Alli struck in the final 30 minutes to lead Jose Mourinho’s men to an important win as they bounced back from their defeat against Chelsea.

With the victory Spurs momentarily closed the gap to the top four back to three points, while Brighton lost a second-straight game as they continue to sink towards the relegation zone.


3 things we learned

1. Quality of Kane, Alli rescues Spurs: If in doubt, Kane and Alli will bail Spurs out. The England internationals scored a goal each in the second half as they turned things around for Spurs. It wasn’t pretty but Kane and Alli set the tone for high-pressing and they had the quality to finish off chances and link up in attack. Tottenham have plenty of defensive issues to sort out but going forward they are in good shape with Kane and Alli leading the line.

2. Brighton run out of steam: The Seagulls took the game to Spurs in the first half but totally ran out of steam in the second as they hardly had a chance going forward. Graham Potter‘s side are lovely to watch at times but you worry about their lack of cutting edge in the final third as they continue to sink towards the relegation scrap. Had Aaron Connolly finished a great chance at the start of the second half, we’d be talking about a big away win for the Seagulls. So far this season they’ve just run out of steam at key moments. 

3. Midfield balance not right: Harry Winks came in for Eric Dier on Boxing Day but the balance just wasn’t right in central midfield once again. Moussa Sissoko played okay but there doesn’t seem to be enough defensive cover in front of the back four and that is something Mourinho always wants. Get ready for Mourinho’s first signing at Spurs to be a holding midfielder.

Man of the Match: Harry Kane – Didn’t stop running the entire game, scored one and had another disallowed for a tight offside and drove Tottenham on to victory. Kane is now in double figures for the PL season and the Englishman is standing tall as they continue their battle to finish in the top four.


The first big chance of the game arrived for Spurs as Toby Alderweireld‘s long ball found Sessegnon and on his first Premier League start for Spurs the youngster hit the post.

Steven Alzate then drilled a low shot on goal which Paulo Gazzaniga could only push away as Brighton grew as a threat on the break.

Aaron Mooy‘s effort was then deflected wide as Brighton caused Spurs problems, but it then looked like Kane had given Tottenham the lead. Harry Winks’ ball found the English striker and he finished calmly, but VAR intervened and decided Kane was offside by an armpit as the goal was chalked off.

Brighton made the most of that as moments after Moussa Sissoko had missed a glorious chance at one end, Brighton broke and won a free kick. Webster headed home from that set piece as he was left totally unmarked to give the Seagulls the lead.

Dele Alli almost flicked home at the near post before the break but Spurs had it all to do in the second half.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights ]

At the start of the second half Aaron Connolly almost doubled Brighton’s leader with a header and that seemed to finally wake Spurs up.

Kane continued his amazing streak of scoring on Boxing Day as he made it eight goals in five games on Dec. 26, as he finished emphatically at the second attempt to draw Tottenham level and set up a frantic final third of the game.

Spurs pushed hard for the winner late on but Pascal Gross was denied by Gazzaniga as his free kick arrowed towards the top corner.

But a moment of pure class won the game for Tottenham as a flowing move saw Christian Eriksen find Serge Aurier at the back post and his touch set up Dele Alli who lobbed home a sumptuous effort into the far top corner.

Kane, Alli and Eriksen all went close late on to adding a third but in the end Spurs eased to victory after a rousing second half comeback.

Watch Live: Tottenham v. Brighton

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Tottenham Hotspur host Brighton and Hove Albion to kick off the Boxing Day festivities (Watch live, 7:30 a.m. ET on NBCSN and online via NBCSports.com) in the Premier League.

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Jose Mourinho will be looking for a reaction from his team after they were dominated by bitter rivals Chelsea last time out and lost 2-0 at home as Heung-Min Son was also sent off in a miserable outing.

As for Brighton, they’ve been struggling and are hovering just above the relegation zone although Graham Potter’s side continue to play attractive, attacking soccer.

In team news Spurs bring in Ryan Sessegnon to start in place of the suspended Son, as the summer signing from Fulham makes his first PL start for Spurs. Harry Winks comes in for Eric Dier.

Brighton Make five changes after then defeat to Sheffield United with Shane Duffy, Ezequiel Schelotto, Bernardo, Aaron Connolly and Steven Alzate replacing Lewis Dunk, Martin Montoya, Leandro Trossard, Dale Stephens and Neal Maupay.

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