Davinson Sanchez

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Mourinho apologizes for training session with Ndombele

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Tottenham Hotspur manager Jose Mourinho has been forced to apologize after he was pictured conducting a training session with Spurs midfielder Tanguy Ndombele on Hadley Common in London, against government regulations during the coronavirus lockdown.

The British government’s orders specify that outdoor exercising is forbidden with anyone other than oneself or members of one’s immediate household.

“I accept that my actions were not in line with government protocol and we must only have contact with members of our own household,” Mourinho said in a statement released through the club. “It is vital we all play our part and follow government advice in order to support our heroes in the NHS and save lives.”

In addition to Mourinho and Ndombele, Ryan Sessegnon and Davinson Sanchez were also pictured running together in another area of the Hadley Common at the same time, failing to respect the government order or the required social distancing guidelines. Serge Aurier also posted a picture of himself to social media running with another unidentified individual.

“All of our players have been reminded to respect social distancing when exercising outdoors,” a Tottenham spokesperson added to Mourinho’s statement. “We shall continue to reinforce this message.”

“My concern is people, particularly children, who might support Spurs or follow football, may see these images, pick up a paper, watch the internet and think ‘well if it’s ok for them, why isn’t it ok for me?’” said London mayor Sadiq Khan to the BBC Wednesday morning. “I don’t think it is necessary to be training in close proximity with another player who may be carrying the virus. And what you’re doing is inadvertently, unintentionally, potentially spreading the virus – you shouldn’t be doing that.”

Mourinho’s workout with Ndombele is especially notable as Mourinho has harshly criticized Ndombele’s performances in the recent past, most notably after substituting the midfielder off at halftime of Tottenham’s 1-1 draw against Burnley in early March, just before the coronavirus shutdown.

Mourinho in hot water after park training session with Ndombele

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Tottenham Hotspur is said to be “very unimpressed” after Jose Mourinho led a training session for at least one player on Tuesday.

England is currently in lock down with “government-enforced measures meaning people can only go outside for food, health reasons or work if you cannot do it from home.”

Several reports say Mourinho ran Tanguy Ndombele through individual paces while Ryan Sessegnon and Davinson Sanchez jogged separately at Hadley Common in North London.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights ] 

“All of our players have been reminded to respect social distancing when exercising outdoors. We shall continue to reinforce this message,” said a Spurs spokesman in the report.

It’s irresponsible at best from Mourinho. Even if he felt he could skirt the government’s rules in a pandemic —  not a good idea at all — he has to have the presence of mind to recognize that he’s one of the most recognizable soccer faces in a soccer-mad country.

 

Son scores again as Spurs beat Foxes (video)

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  • Spurs third team this season to reach 60 points
  • Foxes play well, but finish six points off seventh
  • Son scores again, Eriksen bags beauty

Heung-Min Son‘s 11th goal of the season put a cap on Tottenham Hotspur’s action-packed 3-1 defeat of Leicester City at Wembley Stadium on Sunday.

Davinson Sanchez and Christian Eriksen also scored for Spurs — Eriksen’s a true spectacle (above) — who sit five points back of leaders Liverpool and meet the Reds on March 31.

Son’s 11 goals have come in his last 13 league matches dating back to Nov. 24. Crucially, he’s been red-hot in the absence of Harry Kane and Dele Alli.

Jamie Vardy scored his 100th senior goal after missing a penalty with his first touch of the game for Leicester City, who remains 12th on the table.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]

Harry Maguire nodded a long free kick on frame, and Hugo Lloris had to slap it over the bar in the name of safety. The ensuing ninth minutes corner was popped over the frame, and Spurs were off the hook.

Harvey Barnes pulled a Leicester shot wide of the far post off a James Maddison feed moments later.

The other side saw a penalty shout become a yellow card to Heung-min Son for simulation after Maguire got a piece of his ankle in the box and Son hit the deck. If it would’ve been awarded, you’d say Son embellished but the contact was sloppy. Shoulder shrug emoji.

Danny Rose continued a fine run of form in the early stages, and had an 18th minute run and shot foiled by Kasper Schmeichel‘s right arm.

A designed set piece allowed Spurs to break through in the 34th, as Christian Eriksen spotted a just onside Sanchez for a 33rd minute header. The goal was the Colombian’s first for Spurs.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights ]

[ MORE: Premier League stats ]

Leicester’s second half was much improved, with Ben Chilwell getting a left-footed shot on target.

That’s when Jamie Vardy got his final instructions, but he wasn’t introduced until after James Maddison won the Foxes their penalty after coming together with Jan Vertonghen.

Vardy came on for Gray, and Maddison gave him the ball. His first touch of the game came from the spot, and Lloris saved the effort!

Three minutes later, Ricardo Pereira‘s clearance skills doomed Leicester for a second-straight week. His effort his Oliver Skipp and wound up on the boot of Eriksen, who ripped a classy long strike past Schmeichel.

Here’s a stat!

Lloris then stopped a hard Barnes drive at the other end, as the Foxes did not quit.

And Vardy got his goal anyway, sliding in front of Toby Alderweireld to get onto the end of a Pereira cross from the right.

Just as Leicester seemed prepared for stoppage time heroics, Son dribbled the better part of 60 yards after meeting a Moussa Sissoko clearance. He beat Schmeichel 1v1 from outside the 18 to close out the win.

Pochettino insists Alderweireld not playing due to form of starting defenders

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Mauricio Pochettino has insisted that Toby Alderweireld‘s absence from the Tottenham squad of late is down to player selection, not any personal reasons and not contract related.

The towering Belgian defender has been a rock at the back for Spurs since signing from Atletico Madrid in 2015, but this season he has hardly featured. Most of that is down to a serious hamstring suffered in October, but he has fully recovered from the tear, and yet has not played since returning to fitness.

Many have speculated as to why Alderweireld has been left out of the squad, and those with more mischievous thoughts have postulated that his contract situation may have something to do with it. While injured, talks of a contract extension reportedly broke down, and with his current deal expiring in the summer of 2019, questions have been asked of Pochettino, which he has deflected.

“My decision is always about football,” Pochettino said. “It is not personal and not because of a contract problem. I don’t care about that. Always my decision is about what is best for the team and the best for the club.”

Instead, the Spurs manager insisted, it is because those who have played in his place are in good form. “I am so sorry because Toby was an important player for us in the last two seasons. Then he got the injury and players like Davinson [Sanchez] and [Jan] Vertonghen stepped up — and you have got to deserve to play.”

Pochettino then gave Alderweireld an ultimatum, saying he will play when he deserves to. “If we are happy with the players who are playing, you need to wait. That does not mean he is not going to play again. But now he needs to keep pushing and try to show me he can play better than the others.”

Unfortunately, while a coach can challenge a player publicly, if that’s Pochettino’s true feeling then it’s unlikely Alderweireld will make it back into the team unless a player in the lineup is either injured or dips in form. Tottenham has conceded 26 goals this season, third-fewest in the Premier League behind the two Manchester clubs sitting in first and second place in the table, so with the way things stand, it’s hard to argue with Pochettino’s reasoning even if deep down fans don’t believe him.

Who’ve been the most impactful Premier League summer buys?

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It’s been a heck of a season for Premier League transfer buys, and that includes a bevy of intra-league purchases.

So who’ve been the best imports? Probably a safe bet to set some parameters.

[ MORE: Alonso, Pedro have Morata’s back ]

We won’t count players like Aaron Mooy, who’s Huddersfield Town purchase was formalized after a loan, or those who returned from loan like Chelsea’s Andreas Christensen or Arsenal’s Jack Wilshere.

We’ll also opt against a couple Chelsea loanees signings, if just to whittle our list. Ruben Loftus-Cheek was magnificent before a long-term injury at Palace, and Kurt Zouma probably just sits beyond the Top Ten.

Mainz loanee Jonas Lossl of Huddersfield Town fits the bill, too. And for injuries: Who knows how high  Benjamin Mendy would’ve surged up this list?

Stats culled from WhoScored and Squawka.

Honorable mention – Antonio Rudiger, Mario Lemina, Richarlison, Alexandre Lacazette, Mat Ryan, Bernardo Silva, Steve MounieKyle Walker, Alvaro Morata, Florian Lejeune.

10. Jordan Pickford, Everton — Under siege at Sunderland for most of last season, Pickford probably expected smoother sailing than this: the Everton backstop has been forced into making the most saves in the Premier League (95). Fifty-four of those required him to dive. Only four teams have allowed more goals than Everton, which explains why some of you might be scratching your head at his inclusion.

9. James Tomkins, Crystal Palace — I thought the signing was silly, but Tomkins is nearly unrivaled in terms of interceptions per game in league play. Palace hasn’t been a defensive powerhouse, but his former club West Ham looks terrible since he moved across London.

8. Davinson Sanchez, Tottenham Hotspur – There have been bumps along the way — Sanchez is 21 — but he’s blessed with the speed to make up for his and others mistakes. A fine passer, Mauricio Pochettino should only further benefit from his career progression.

7. Ahmed Hegazi, West Bromwich Albion — Hegazi’s 2757 minutes played are the most amongst field players in the Premier League (though Alfie Mawson, Harry Maguire, Jack Cork, and Lewis Dunk could pass him by playing more than an hour in their match-in-hand).

6. Harry Maguire, Leicester City — The Foxes badly needed to lower the age of their center back corps, and can count their purchase of Maguire from Hull City as a coup. Perhaps no player other than Wilfred Ndidi has been as influential for Claude Puel‘s bunch.

5. Romelu Lukaku, Manchester United — Lukaku started dispelling myths about his production versus big teams when he was one of the lone stars in United’s Super Cup loss to Real Madrid. While he’s been up-and-down in terms of goals in said contests, his hold-up play and work ethic have been better than expected. His 21 key moments (14 goals, seven assists) are even with Roberto Firmino and trail only Mohamed Salah, Kevin De Bruyne, Raheem Sterling, Harry Kane, Sergio Aguero, and Leroy Sane. Anthony Martial is the closest United comparison, and he has 14. Paul Pogba and Jesse Lingard have 12.

4. Pascal Gross, Brighton and Hove Albion — The Ingolstadt transfer’s promise was quickly realized, and he’s posted five goals and eight assists. On a team with the fourth-lowest goal total in the league, that’s impressive. The only players with more PL assists: De Bruyne, Sane, Dele, David Silva, Salah, Pogba. Gross also ranks third in the league in crosses per game.

3. Nemanja Matic, Manchester United — It’s hard to fin the numbers to meet the eye test, but Matic flat out makes his team better. Maybe it’s organization, maybe it’s toughness, but there’s little doubt United is better in the middle of the park while former club Chelsea has struggled to find the same form since he skipped town. Advantage: Mou.

2. Ederson, Manchester City — Look only to last season’s status of City net minders to know how important the sweeper-style passing keeper is to Pep Guardiola‘s side. The Brazilian has pushed himself into competition for the starting gig at one of the World Cup favorites.

1. Mohamed Salah, Liverpool —  There is no other answer here, and Harry Kane’s injury essentially gift wraps the Golden Boot to the Egyptian. There was a question as to whether he’d bring his Serie A flourish over to England, and that seems absurd now.