Christian Eriksen

Spurs wind up fourth after last-day draw with Everton (video)

Leave a comment
  • Dier smashes home from a CK (3′)
  • Walcott & Sigurdsson hit back (69′ & 72′)
  • Eriksen’s FK makes it 2-2 (75′)
  • Spurs finish with 71 points
  • Everton come 8th, with 54 points

In the end, Tottenham Hotspur got themselves over the finish line — even if just barely — to finish fourth in the Premier League and secure their place in next season’s Champions League, regardless of what happens in this season’s final three weeks from yesterday.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]

Mauricio Pochettino‘s blew an early lead them came back to draw Everton at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium on Sunday, securing their place as the fourth-best side in the PL. With Chelsea drawing Leicester City on the final day, a win would have put Spurs third and seen them finish top of the PL’s seven London clubs.

Tottenham needed just three minutes to find the net after being held scoreless in each of their last two PL games. Erik Lamela‘s corner kick wasn’t clear at the first time of asking and the ball fell to the feet of an unsuspecting Eric Dier, who hadn’t scored a goal all season after missing half of the season through various injuries. Dier made no mistake with his rare sight of goal and smashed it home for 1-0.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights ]

Everton drew level with Spurs, through a former Arsenal man assisted by a former Spurs man, in the 69th minute. Gylfi Sigurdsson found Theo Walcott near the edge of the box, where he cut inside and drilled a left-footed shot low and just inside the far post.

Spurs fell behind just three minutes later, when Cenk Tosun bundled the ball over the line. No one in a white shirt could put a foot through the ball from a corner kick — much like Dier’s opener — and the Turkish international did just enough to put it an inch or two over the line.

[ MORE: Premier League schedule ]

Everton led for all of three minutes, thanks to a stunning free kick from Christian Eriksen. The Danish midfielder set up 22 yards out, on the left side of the goal, and hit it ever so perfectly around the wall and just inside the far post. With the ball bouncing just in front of Jordan Pickford, England’s no. 1 could do nothing to keep it out.

Tearful Pochettino hails Spurs ‘heroes’ after another UCL comeback

Photo by Dan Mullan/Getty Images
Leave a comment

By any conservative estimation, Tottenham Hotspur have been “almost out” of this season’s UEFA Champions League on three occasions… if not more.

[ MORE: Spurs pull off second amazing UCL comeback in two days ]

There was the disastrous start to the group stage which saw them take just one point from their first three games; they needed a result away to Barcelona and for Inter Milan to slip up against PSV Eindhoven on the final day of the group stage just to reach the knockout rounds. They cruised past Borussia Dortmund in the round of 16. They came from behind twice and dodged a stoppage-time bullet to beat Manchester City in the quarterfinals.

Then, on Wednesday, down 3-0 with 45 minutes left to play in Amsterdam, Mauricio Pochettino’s “heroes” did it again.

By the time he reached the first of his players to celebrate after sound of the final whistle rang out, Pochettino was already in tears. He would remain that way, off and on, for at least the next 20 minutes, including when he began the gauntlet of post-game interviews.

Pochettino searched for the right words to convey his joy, his shock and his appreciation for everyone and everything tangentially connected to Tottenham’s improbable run to the June 1 final in Madrid. (WATCH HERE)

“It’s still difficult to talk. The emotion is amazing, thank you to football. My players are heroes — in the last year I was telling everyone this group are heroes. The second half, they were amazing. Thank you, football — this type of emotion without football is not possible. Thank you to everyone who has believed in us. To describe this in words is difficult.

“We were talking before the game that when you work and when you feel the love, it’s not stress, it’s passion of the team. We showed we love the sport and football. Today was amazing. It was a joy to watch this kind of game.

“It’s difficult to compete at this level. I am so grateful to be a coach. To be in football and to live this type of football.

“They are all heroes, but [Lucas Moura] was a superhero. From the first to last one — the tough moment to live in [the last five years of his career].”

(Photo by Dan Mullan/Getty Images )

As for Moura, who scored the heroic second-half hat trick to send Spurs through to the first European final in club history, Christian Eriksen has an idea.

“Today it was non-tactical, more of a fight and a heart performance. Lucas Moura, he’s how we won the game, he deserves it, rollercoaster of a season. For him to get us in the final, I hope he gets a statue in England after this, we are blown away, no real words for it, I feel sorry for Ajax.”

“It was a ridiculous game, we were really far down, we tried to fight back, we were just lucky. I feel sorry for Ajax, they played a very good game against us. Today we mostly created more chances; football, they played better. It is relief, we have been fighting for this, it is a dream to be in the final.

“We felt like we weren’t able to look ourselves in the mirror if we were to go down three or four nil. We had to fight, we scored early to get some momentum, put them under pressure. We are lucky the ball falls in the right direction, Lucas had a wonderful game. We are relieved.”

Eriksen: Spurs’ Champions League hole down to slow start

AP Photo/Frank Augstein
2 Comments

Injury- and suspension-hit Tottenham Hotspur was playing in its first UEFA Champions League semifinal, and it showed all over the pitch early Tuesday at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium.

[ RECAP: Spurs 0-1 Ajax ]

Slow out of the gates, Tottenham allowed an early goal from Ajax’s Donny van de Beek and never found their footing on attack without Harry Kane and Heung-Min Son in a 1-0 loss.

“In the first 20 minutes, we were ball-watchers,” said Christian Eriksen.

He’s right; Ajax looked like the Barcelona teams of Messi, Iniesta, and Xavi at times in the first half-hour. From the BBC:

“No one wanted to play the first half we did. Everyone knew we didn’t compete. We still lost, but we were better in the second half. … We can’t keep talking about injured players. In a semi-final it doesn’t matter who plays, we have to step up. We’re lucky they hit the post and hopefully we can turns things around in Amsterdam.”

Only three shots found the target on Tuesday, two belonging to the visitors. Spurs will need much better come May 8 in Amsterdam.

Champions League Tuesday Preview: Tottenham v. Ajax

1 Comment

Tottenham fans couldn’t be blamed for thinking it was a favorite to advance to the UEFA Champions League final in the minutes after their away goals rule win in a 4-4 aggregate draw with Manchester City.

Two weeks later, it’s a different story.

Fatigue and injuries have left Tottenham with a shell of a team, with just one win, scraping past Brighton and Hove Albion, and little momentum heading into a monumental matchup with an Ajax team high on confidence. Tottenham have no Harry Kane, Heung-Min Son, Harry Winks or Erik Lamela, and even Jan Vertonghen and Moussa Sissoko are injury doubts.

[READ: Man United announces Bailly out for season]

But that doesn’t take into account what Tottenham do have. By not making any signings, this is as tight-knit a group as the Premier League has seen in many, many years. Plus, in manager Mauricio Pochettino, there’s a unique tactician who combines great x’s and o’s with excellent man management, always getting the best out of his players in the key moments of the match.

Even without some stars and coming off a rough 1-0 loss to West Ham at home, Tottenham’s players will be confident facing Ajax, only because they are always a confident bunch. It will be a reminder of where he came from for Davinson Sanchez, who spent one successful season at Ajax, helping them to the Europa League final before heading to England, and Christian Eriksen, another Ajax alum (along with Toby Alderweireld and Vertonghen) will have a big task ahead of him with Frenkie de Jong running the show for Ajax.

Tottenham’s mission is simple, but it’s one that flummoxed Real Madrid and Juventus so far: How to neutralize Dusan Tadic up the middle and then negate de Jong and Matthijs de Ligt. Whoever of Fernando Llorente or Dele Alli will have to not only occupy de Ligt, but also pull him out of position, opening spaces for Tottenham’s wing backs to exploit on late runs.

Meanwhile, Eriksen or Alli are going to have a busy day keeping tabs on de John, trying to limit his touches, while Alderweireld and Sanchez will have to be quick to pick up Tadic when he drops into space.

Tottenham will have to do all of this on shorter rest, with a shorter bench and less recent confidence than Ajax. But maybe that’s exactly where Pochettino wants his opponents.

“It’s going to be a magical night because to play the semifinals in our new stadium is something that no one could believe or think a few months ago,” Pochettino said in his pre-match press conference Monday. “It’s a game that is impossible to be tired for, not to be excited to play. It’s all mental.

“The energy is going to be there. It’s two legs – tomorrow we are going to play the first half of the game and the second is going to be at Ajax. It’s so important how we approach the game and how we handle the game during 90 minutes.”

Spurs players ready for ‘people upstairs’ to invest, starting with Eriksen

Photo by Mike Hewitt/Getty Images
1 Comment

Tottenham Hotspur players see the writing on the wall: their massive, and continued, overachievement is at risk of being undone by the club’s decision makers if they don’t get on board and back the first team this summer.

[ MORE: Top Premier League storylines for Week 36 ]

Danny Rose has called upon the hierarchy, with Daniel Levy chief among them, to start moving in that direction by re-signing Christian Eriksen to a new contract this summer. Eriksen, whose contract is set to expire next summer, is reportedly one of the first names on Real Madrid’s shopping list. Rose is adamant that losing the Danish playmaker would be a crippling blow for the team, as tends to be the case when he’s not playing — quotes from the Guardian:

“It’s obviously vital [that Eriksen re-signs]. If you look over the five years that the manager’s been here, Christian has played the most games and that says a lot. When Christian doesn’t play, there are questions that we don’t look the same. He links everything up for us. The lads in the changing room trust the people upstairs to hopefully get him to sign.”

Mauricio Pochettino has clearly been brilliant in leading a young squad to the brink of a fourth straight top-four finish while also guiding Tottenham to the Champions League semifinal next week, when they’ll face Ajax for a chance to compete in club soccer’s premier fixture. Yet, it all feels so tenuous after the club’s hierarchy elected to make not a single signing last summer or in January.

[ KLOPP: Whatever happens in title run-in, Liverpool will have “no regrets” ]

Injuries have ravished a thin squad, which was only exacerbated by post-World Cup fatigue for so many players, but Pochettino has found a way to make it work. Moussa Sissoko and Harry Winks became a formidable midfield duo against all odds, while Son Heung-min has ascended to superstardom. These are bold rolls of the dice which came up Spurs. That’s no way to operate a club at the highest level, though, and Rose knows it.

“We have every possible foundation at the club — the training ground, the stadium now, the fanbase, the players. But it’s not just the foundations that attract players and make players want to stay. It’s out of the players’ control. We just have to trust that the people upstairs are going to do whatever they see fit to help us make that next step. We know that our manager is a winner. He demands the best from us and he wants to win something, as well. So while everybody is on the same page, we can just look forward to next season and see what it brings.”

Then again, this time last year had most bystanders, this writer included, thinking the exact same thing — “They have to bring in reinforcements, because there’s no way Pochettino can string this thing together with bubble gum and shoelaces for another year” — and here we are, with Spurs 180 minutes from the Champions League final and and four points clear of fifth-place Arsenal with three games left to play.

It’s a different story altogether, though, when an influential member of the team like Rose comes out and says so plainly what everyone else is thinking. Because if he’s thinking it and saying it publicly, everyone else in the locker room is thinking it, too.