Mauricio Pochettino

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Apologetic Son happy to show ‘right response’ after Gomes injury

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Heung-Min Son‘s difficult week turned a corner on Wednesday with a two-goal day against Red Star Belgrade in the UEFA Champions League.

The brace and 4-1 win came three days after Son was sent off against Everton for a reckless tackle of Andre Gomes, one that broke the Portuguese midfielder’s ankle.

[ MORE: Ex-Spurs man Walker goes in goal ]

Son was inconsolable as he left the field, and teammates said he remained so into the locker room.

There were smiles again on Wednesday, even if his goal celebrations were understated at best; The first one a hands folded prayer presumably aimed at Gomes.

“Of course it has been a really tough few days but I have realized how lucky I am with all the support I have had from the fans and my teammates. I can say I’m really sorry for the accident and the situation but I had to focus for the team and I had to keep going and it was the right response to all the people who have supported me.”

Son’s red card was overturned on Wednesday.

Spurs boss Mauricio Pochettino said the team was on Son’s side after the incident, which shook all participants at Goodison Park. From Football.London:

“It was a problem for everyone, not only for Sonny, for everyone on the pitch,” Pochettino said. “We feel very sorry about what happened to Andre, but he moved on quickly. We helped him to move on. It was a mix of everything, not only the injury, the red card, how we missed the three points.”

Pochettino praised his side’s performance on Wednesday, and he’ll have to keep his men in the right mindset ahead of Saturday’s Premier League visit from Sheffield United.

As for the UCL, Spurs are back in good position to qualify for a third-straight Round of 16.

The 2019 UCL finalists are five points behind already-qualified Bayern Munich, and can clinch second by beating Olympiacos on the next match day. Failing that, the North Londoners will still have a chance on the final match day at Bayern.

Everton provides update on Gomes injury, players in shock

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Everton has provided an update on the Andre Gomes horror injury that left Goodison Park in shock on Sunday, saying the midfielder was scheduled for surgery today to repair a broken and dislocated ankle suffered while falling to the ground after being brought down by Tottenham’s Heung-Min Son.

Gomes was left with a gruesome injury that saw players from both teams stunned and emotional as the Portuguese midfielder screamed in pain. Son himself was utterly inconsolable on the field, and when he was eventually sent off – a decision Mauricio Pochettino slammed after the game – he walked straight down the tunnel head in hands.

The club issued a further update, saying that Gomes’ surgery went “extremely well” and that he is “expected to make a full recovery.”

The moment brought both teams to an emotional threshold, and while they finished the rest of the game as Everton rescued a 1-1 draw at the death, the aftermath was a time for both teams to come together as the players coped with what transpired on the field.

According to a report by Greg O’Keeffe and Charlie Eccleshare of The Athletic, who detailed the incident and its aftermath at Goodison Park, the moment haunted players from both sides and Everton players especially were collectively struggling to deal with the emotions. A backroom staff member reportedly emerged from the locker room back onto the empty pitch and proclaimed, “There are grown men crying in there.” The report states Son was still visibly distressed as much as 25 minutes after the match had ended.

To help Son pull himself together, Everton captain Seamus Coleman entered the Spurs dressing room and helped console the South Korean. This was a particularly poignent gesture given that Coleman himself suffered through a devastating leg break back in 2017 that has left him with more than just physical wounds. Coleman’s words, according to The Athletic report, “temporarily seemed to soothe Son’s devastation.” It didn’t last long, however, as the report details how Son walked through the mix zone with his head in his hands, not even speaking to the Korean journalists waiting for him.

The gesture was not lost on Pochettino, who made sure to share his gratitude with the media during his post-match press conference. “The players from Everton were fantastic,” he said. “The captain came to the dressing room to console Son. I want to say thank you to the players and Coleman, who came in on behalf of the squad of Everton.”

Son was far from the only person on the field to be scarred by the moment. Spurs defender Serge Aurier was also deeply affected by the incident. Aurier was also involved in the challenge and may have felt some responsibility, seen praying on the field in the immediate aftermath while Gomes received treatment. Everton striker Cenk Tosun, who immediately attempted to console Gomes as everyone realized the seriousness of the injury and medics rushed onto the field, spoke about how he is struggling to erase the look of horror on his injured teammate’s face from his own memory. The Premier League is even reportedly ensuring a sports psychologist will be made available to referee Martin Atkinson in the aftermath of the incident.

Current and former Everton players took to social media looking to wish Gomes well in his recovery. The most poignant of which came from former Everton and current Copenhagen defender Bryan Ovideo, who himself suffered a gruesome leg break in an FA Cup game against Stevenage.

Gomes has a long recovery ahead of him and is almost surely done for at least the rest of the season, but he is far from the only one affected by the distressing scenes at Goodison Park on Sunday.

PL Sunday Preview: Palace host Leicester; Tottenham travel to Everton

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With eight Premier League fixtures on Saturday, two more remain in Matchweek 11.

Crystal Palace v. Leicester City  — 9 a.m. ET, on NBCSN and NBCSports.com

Leicester City has plenty of things going for itself: a super reliable Jamie Vardy, an impenetrable backline, and a recent 9-0 win against Southampton, to name a few. In other words, what was supposed to be a year filled with trials and tribulations following Harry Maguire‘s record departure and Brendan Rodger’s first, full season at the helm, has been a close replica of the Foxes’ historic 2015-2016 season. Whether it will have a similar Cinderella ending is a different discussion, but there are certainly parallels.

How will this surprising Leicester hold up at Selhurst Park, though? If Rodgers has ever struggled at a venue, it’s Palace’s.

“As long as there’s green grass and posts, it doesn’t matter where the game is,” Rodgers said prior to Sunday’s game. “We go there to win. They [Palace] have got an outstanding manager who I’ve got a huge amount of respect for. The team is coached extremely well and they have some outstanding players.”

Palace, who’ve climbed as high as fifth in the table this season, are in the midst of a challenging stretch of games. A loss to Manchester City and a recent draw to Arsenal have slowed down the Eagles, who have top-three sides Chelsea and Liverpool lined up following Sunday’s bout. That wasn’t the topic of discussion in at Selhurst, however. Roy Hodgson, who is three seasons into his tenure, confirmed that there are contract extension talks being held with Palace.

“I just read today or heard today that Donald Trump, who is a little bit older than I am [by one year], is planning to stay on as President of the United States for the next five years,” Hodgson said. “With respect, this is an important job I have here but not as important as being the leader of the free world.”

“I must say I don’t wake up every morning thinking how old I am,” he said. “I don’t feel 72, no-one is going make me feel 72 or make me feel like I am too old. The day may come when I feel that way and it certainly hasn’t happened yet.”

INJURIES: Crystal Palace —  OUT: Mamadou Sakho (match fitness), Connor Wickham (match fitness); QUESTIONABLE: Vicente Guaita (groin) | Leicester City — OUT: Matty James (calf)


Everton v. Tottenham — 11:30 a.m. ET, on NBCSN and NBCSports.com

Surely, the season has more turns to give, but as it stands, Tottenham and Everton are far from meeting expectations. Only two points separate the two sides, who stand 13th and 17th in the table, respectively.

Tottenham are winless in their last three and have only picked up one win in their last five games. Their latest showing, a 2-1 defeat to Liverpool, showcased glimpses of the formidable Spurs that made headlines last season. With Everton a lopsided loss away from hitting rock-bottom, Mauricio Pochettino and company have a slim psychological edge, if anything.

Maybe they’re unaware of their mental superiority, but the Argentine manager made sure to shine some light on the topic.

“We need to be positive, feeling that positivity makes us believe we can beat any team,” Pochettino said. “At the moment we struggle a little bit in our confidence.”

“The most important is how we are going to finish, it’s not nice to see you in the middle of the table but that is a reality we need to accept,” he added. “If you don’t accept the reality you are going to struggle. In our mind we know very well that we need time, to be strong, be solid and start to win because that is going to be the best thing for us.”

As for Everton, the team’s situation has distanced itself from the messages of hopeful. Only two points out of relegation, there’s a deep sense of urgency and panic at Goodison Park. It’s a now-or-never aura that surrounds the team, specifically boss Marco Silva.

“We have not achieved the results we want [this season] and taken what we deserve,” Silva confessed heading into Sunday’s bout. “The last game is clear of that but football is about results.”

“We need to change it as you can’t have two faces – one when you play at home and one completely different away,” he added.

Game on.

INJURIES: Everton —  OUT: Jean-Philippe Gbamin (thigh), Bernard (knee); QUESTIONABLE: Yerry Mina (knee) | Spurs  — OUT: Erik Lamela (thigh), Hugo Lloris (elbow); QUESTIONABLE: Jan Vertonghen (hamstring)

Pochettino calls on Spurs fans to support Alli

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Dele Alli is one of many Tottenham players who has seen his form come crashing down this season, but his manager isn’t ready to crucify his midfielder for poor performances just yet. In fact, he’s called on the fans to lift the England international up.

Spurs boss Mauricio Pochettino made a point to remind everyone of Alli’s age at his pre-match press conference on Friday ahead of the team’s game at Goodison Park on Saturday, backing his player who has lost not only his place in the Spurs side but also the England squad as well.

“We need to remember that he’s so young and the pressure is massive,” Pochettino said. “He’s English and everybody expects big things from him but he’s still 23 years old. He was fantastic then he dropped a bit in his performance but we must back him. We have to pay attention, to focus and try to improve in the way that everyone expects.”

Considering how good they were at times last season during the club’s run to the Champions League final and a top four Premier League finish, Spurs have been comparatively awful this season, sitting in 11th with just three wins in 10 league games thus far. The defense has been especially poor, with their 15 goals conceded more than all but one team above them in the table. Alli himself has regressed mightily in both aspects of his midfield game, offering no cover to the back line behind him while simultaneously becoming sloppy in possession and toothless up front.

Alli scored a critical goal against Watford to secure a late 1-1 draw, but again proved invisible up front in the 2-1 defeat to Liverpool, just his third league match thanks to the poor form and a host of injuries that have cropped up of late. Now against Everton, Pochettino hopes his team can produce a win that could jumpstart the season.

“It’s important to create the atmosphere that is going to help achieve all that you want,” Pochettino said, charging his players with the responsibility of turning the season around. “It is a situation that only we can fix by winning games. It’s our responsibility to deliver a very good performance on Sunday against a good team like Everton. Trying to win is going to be the best medicine to fix all.”

Pochettino adamant that Spurs problems weren’t off the pitch

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Mauricio Pochettino doesn’t think one big win makes everything okay at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, but he also thinks it wasn’t that bad anyway.

“The problem was on the pitch and that is all,” Pochettino said after Spurs thumped Red Star Belgrade 5-0 in UEFA Champions League action on Tuesday. “It’s normal to see problems on the pitch, and you try to find a way to spark the team. But things happen in football you can’t explain. It is so difficult and complex to explain.”

[ MORE: Match recap ]

Spurs got braces from Harry Kane and Heung-Min Son and two-assist days for Tanguy Ndombele and Erik Lamela.

Lamela also scored as Spurs built some positivity ahead of a big Premier League test from Liverpool at Anfield on Sunday.

“The most important thing is to be together and be calm and know that this type of thing can happen in any team,” he said. “It is most import to show togetherness. If you do not win, the reason is because you are not performing on the pitch, not something that happens outside of the pitch.”

Despite their relative struggles, Spurs are five points off the Top Four in the Premier League and on pace to qualify for the knockout rounds of the Champions League.

“It’s great for the confidence and tomorrow a day off because we scored five goals.”