Ward-Prowse called up by England

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James Ward-Prowse has got the England call-up his stunning form deserved.

Ward-Prowse, 24, has scored six goals in his last nine Premier League games for Southampton and Gareth Southgate called him up the Three Lions squad on Monday after a trio of players had to pull out through injury.

The Southampton midfielder has only been called up by England on one previous occasion, as he won his one and only cap in a friendly against Germany in March 2017.

Fabian Delph, Ruben Loftus-Cheek and John Stones have all pulled out of the squad due to injury. England play against the Czech Republic at Wembley Stadium on Friday and at Montenegro on Monday.

Ward-Prowse is a favorite of England boss Southgate, as he was his captain for many years for the England U21 side. The central midfielder has been rejuvenated by new Southampton manager Ralph Hasenhuttl, as JWP has added an extra bite and aggression to his game. Playing him in central midfield rather than out on the wing has also been a shrewd move by Hasenhuttl and has coincided in a big upturn in results for Saints.

The Saints academy product is one of the best set-piece takers, if not the best, in the Premier League and his two stunning free kick goals against Manchester United and Tottenham in back-to-back games before the international break showcased his ability.

Getting into the England team ahead of the likes of Dele Alli, Raheem Sterling and Jadon Sancho in the attacking midfielder areas will be tough, but Ward-Prowse and Declan Rice will certainly push the likes of Jordan Henderson, Eric Dier and Ross Barkley for starting spots in the slightly deeper central midfield roles.

This is a deserved call up for Ward-Prowse, who is in the best form of his career.

Premier League Club Power Rankings: Week 30

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Little has changed at the top, or the bottom, of the Premier League, but the middle of the table — and power rankings — is as tight as could be…

[ MORE: Pep Guardiola loving life as “bold” Man City advances in UCL ]

20. Huddersfield Town — This is a side that is only still a PL club on a procedural technicality. Just give it time.
Last week: 19
Season high: 16
Season low: 20

19. Fulham — See above: Town, Huddersfield.
Last week: 20
Season high: 11
Season low: 20

18. Burnley — Now the eight-game unbeaten run (five wins) is over, it’s been three straight defeats. The Clarets are now just two points clear of the relegation zone (again).
Last week: 17
Season high: 13
Season low: 20

17. Cardiff City — The third side currently occupying a relegation place. The Bluebirds won last weekend, so they get a slight bump in power rankings. It wasn’t, however, enough to move them up in the real-life table.
Last week: 18
Season high: 13
Season low: 20

16. Southampton — Maintained a gap — two points — between themselves and Cardiff by coming back to beating third-place Tottenham.
Last week: 16
Season high: 13
Season low: 20

15. Crystal Palace — Recent form has been decent enough, but a loss to Brighton means they must sit at least one place below the Seagulls in this week’s power rankings.
Last week: 11
Season high: 6
Season low: 17

14. Brighton and Hove Albion — Indeed, Brighton sit one place above Palace. Following back-to-back wins, Chris Hughton‘s side is now five points clear of the drop zone.
Last week: 15
Season high: 9
Season low: 19

13. Bournemouth — Took the free space on their bingo card by beating Huddersfield, snapping a five-game unbeaten run (four losses) in the process.
Last week: 12
Season high: 6
Season low: 14

12. Everton — Just one win in their last six league games (four losses), and the Toffees are teetering on the brink of a freefall (down the power rankings, at least).
Last week: 10
Season high: 5
Season low: 15

11. Newcastle United — Returned to winning ways by knocking off Everton and have won three of four. Remember when we were talking about the Magpies and relegation in the same breath? Well, not us, but everyone else?
Last week: 14
Season high: 11
Season low: 19

10. Leicester City — 10th in the real-life table, 10th in the power rankings. Similarly to Bournemouth, beating Fulham isn’t anything to write home about.
Last week: 13
Season high: 7
Season low: 13

9. West Ham United — With the two sides directly in front of them in the table dropping points last week, the Hammers could have gained ground on 8th and 7th. Instead, they lost 2-0 to a relegation battler.
Last week: 8
Season high: 6
Season low: 20

8. Wolves — Results have turned poor(er) in recent weeks — just one win from their last five games — but maintaining early- and mid-season form for an entire campaign was never that likely to begin with.
Last week: 9
Season high: 5
Season low: 13

7. Watford — Hard to punish anyone for losing away to Man City in their current form, and it required some… uh… extenuating circumstances at that.
Last week: 7
Season high: 4
Season low: 14

6. Spurs — Panic-button time at White Hart Lane Wembley Stadium the soon-to-be new White Hart Lane. Zero wins from their last four (three losses), and their 10-point lead on Arsenal and Manchester United is now just one and three points, respectively. As it turns out, signing no new players and proceeding to run the current players into the ground all season is a bad strategy.
Last week: 5
Season high: 2
Season low: 8

5. Chelsea — Things have stabilized a bit since the embarrassing defeat to Man City, but the Blues still sit sixth in the real-life table, three points out of the Champions League places.
Last week: 4
Season high: 1
Season low: 7

4. Manchester United — The defeat to Arsenal was the first PL setback under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, but it was a big one.
Last week: 3
Season high: 3
Season low: 14

3. Arsenal — Have the Gunners turned the corner under Unai Emery? They don’t have a single top-six side between now and the end of the season.
Last week: 5
Season high: 2
Season low: 9

2. Liverpool — Back to winning ways against Burnley, but the one point by which they trail Man City looms large.
Last week: 1
Season high: 1
Season low: 4

1. Manchester City — Six straight victories. Just one defeat in their last 11 league games. This is the record-setting, title-winning side of a year ago. They’ve clearly left themselves a thin margin for error, but make no mistake: they are the favorites once again.
Last week: 2
Season high: 1
Season low: 3

What did we learn on a wild Premier League Saturday? (video)

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The seven Premier League games on Saturday delivered so many incredible moments, as we had comeback wins, top teams falling, controversy and plenty of strugglers bagging big wins.

Days like today are exactly why we love the Premier League.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays

Here is a look at what we learned.


SPURS IN TOP FOUR TROUBLE

Tottenham suffered a shock 2-1 defeat at Southampton as they’ve now lost three of their last four games and are without a Premier League win since beating Leicester City on Feb. 10. Mauricio Pochetttino, watching on from the stands due to his current touchline ban, lambasted his players for failing to respect Saints. Spurs were superb in the first half and should have been at least 3-0 up with Harry Kane and Dele Alli ripping Saints apart. Instead they were only 1-0 up and were then totally outfought in the second half and paid the price.

With sixth-place Chelsea now just five points behind third-place Spurs, they are losing serious ground in their top four battle and still have to play at Liverpool and Man City. From the cusp of being in the title race, Spurs have crumbled and are now in real danger of not being in the UEFA Champions League next season.

“It is good because a lot of people now are going to realize our real level,” Pochettino said, before adding. “We are fighting against big sides (for the top four). We had a big gap, that maybe wasn’t real, now welcome to the reality. We are under going to be under pressure to win games. It is a massive challenge for us to keep our position.”


STERLING LEADS CITY, BUT NOT WITHOUT CONTROVERSY

Raheem Sterling‘s hat trick extended Man City’s lead atop the Premier League table to four points, but the 3-1 win against Watford didn’t come without controversy. The crucial first goal arrived less than 45 seconds into the second half but it was originally ruled out for offside, then it was allowed due to a strange perception of the offside rule. That could be a huge moment in the season, as City were struggling to break Watford down. Pep Guardiola‘s side were not at their best and that is expected as they are without Fernandinho, John Stones and Kevin De Bruyne, three players who are key to how they operate.

City took care of business, with a little help from the officials, and now it is over to Liverpool who host Burnley at Anfield on Sunday. Jurgen Klopp‘s men now know that any slip up will hand Man City an even greater advantage in the title race. The pressure is on.


COMEBACKS, GLORIOUS COMEBACKS

Southampton’s comeback win against Tottenham stole the headlines, but Newcastle also launched a marvellous comeback as they beat Everton at St James’ Park 3-2. Rafael Benitez’s side dug deep to fight back from 2-0 down as they also had a penalty kick saved in the first half moments before going 2-0 down.

The belief Newcastle showed to drag themselves back into the game was sublime and, just like Saints, the kind of momentum they will gain from this comeback win will be vital as so many teams battle to stay in the Premier League. At this point of the season sealing a comeback win can be even more important than grabbing three points. The resilience teams are showing at the bottom of the table is incredible, with the likes of Saints, Newcastle and Brighton standing tall. Add in Burnley and Cardiff scrapping away and there are still so many twists and turns remaining in the battle against the drop.


RELEGATION BATTLERS STAND TALL

It is not often Brighton, Saints, Newcastle and Cardiff have won games this season. So it was extremely surprising they all grabbed wins on the same day. Brighton dug deep and delivered a massive away win in the M23 at derby, with Anthony Knockaert‘s stunning goal worthy of winning any game. Glenn Murray had given the Seagulls the lead and Crystal Palace were never at the races. Saints’ win was incredibly unexpected, while Newcastle and Cardiff took care of business at home. All in all, the relegation battle is more muddled than it was before the day kicked off.

Just six points separates Cardiff in 18th and Palace in 14th, and the likes of Cardiff, Brighton and Palace have tough run ins compared to others at the bottom. Fulham and Huddersfield are basically down, while six teams are fighting to stay out of the final relegation spot. Pick one from: Cardiff, Burnley, Southampton, Brighton, Palace and Newcastle.


WILSON, TIELEMANS, RONDON ARE BALLERS

There are some players who are on teams outside of the top six who sometimes do not get the respect they deserve. A few of them stole the show on Saturday. Wilfried Zaha usually falls into this category but he struggled for Palace against Brighton, but Bournemouth’s Callum Wilson was brilliant on his return from injury. Wilson hasn’t played since mid-January for Bournemouth, but he returned with a goal and an assist in their win at Huddersfield and was a constant menace. You can bet that Wilson will be called into the England squad for the upcoming internationals and the PL’s big boys will be sniffing around him this summer.

As for Youri Tielemans, he continues to go from strength to strength in the Premier League. The Belgian midfielder is only on loan from Monaco and Leicester will want to sort that out sharpish as he scored the first and oozed class throughout their 3-1 win against Fulham. Brendan Rodgers loves to have a ball-playing central midfielder who makes things happen and Tielemans fits the bill. And then there is Salomon Rondon at Newcastle. The Venezuelan striker rarely gets the headlines, but he has quietly scored eight goals this season for the Magpies and their entire attacking unit is better when he is fit and playing. Rondon won Newcastle a penalty kick, scored the goal which sparked their amazing comeback and bullied Everton’s defense. For the likes of Miguel Almiron, Jonjo Shelvey and Ayoze Perez to flourish, Rondon has to be the focal point.

Pochettino slams Tottenham after defeat at Saints

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Mauricio Pochettino was not a happy man as he saw his Tottenham side throw away a lead to lose at Southampton on Saturday and seriously dent their chances of finishing in the top four this season.

Pochettino was sat up in the stands at St Mary’s as he served the first match of his two-game touchline ban. In the first half it was all going to plan as Harry Kane scored and Spurs were superb.

Somehow they only went in 1-0 up at half time and then all hell broke loose in the second half as Southampton fought back to win 2-1 with goals from Yan Valery and James Ward-Prowse.

Speaking to reporters after the game, Pochettino didn’t hold back from hammering his players for a tepid second half display.

“We didn’t take the second half seriously,” Pochettino said. “I don’t want to be too critical because overall I think we were better. But when you lose a game that after 45 minutes was under control, creating so many chances, and you lose the game 2-1 it is so difficult to accept.”

Pochettino added that it was “like the game was over before it had finished” and his players took too many unnecessary risks.

“It is difficult to understand the second half. We stopped to fight, to be aggressive, and gave belief to the opponent. In the second half, it is difficult to understand why we changed a lot,” Pochettino said. “In the way we started to play in the second half, it was like we didn’t expect too much from the opponent. In football you must respect the opponent.”

Consider that the nail hit firmly on the head.

Spurs thought they had won the game at half time. They battered Southampton in the first half and hit the woodwork twice as well as Harry Kane scoring. But they lost, and now, with trips to Liverpool and Man City to come in their final eight games of the season, they are up against it to finish in the top four.

Pochettino knows it, as his side have now lost three of their last four games and sit in third place, just five points above sixth-place Chelsea who have two games in hand.

“It is good because a lot of people now are going to realize our real level,” Pochettino said, before adding. “We are fighting against big sides (for the top four). We had a big gap, that maybe wasn’t real, now welcome to the reality. We are under going to be under pressure to win games. It is a massive challenge for us to keep our position.”

Spurs now have three weeks off to mull over this result, as their next game is at Liverpool on Mar. 31.

With Dele Alli back fit, a place in the Champions League last eight and their new stadium finally having an opening date, there was a lot of positivity around Tottenham going into this clash. Not anymore. And now Pochettino, once again from the stands, must make sure his team can focus for 90 minutes when they play Liverpool at Anfield at the end of March.

They are now without a win in their last four Premier League games, so is this a reality check for Spurs?

“Maybe that is our reality? People talk about perception but maybe we need to realize that in the Premier League, if we do not fight with the same intensity to the Champions League, you can struggle. That is a good point,” Pochettino said. “The reality is you can’t only fight for 45 minutes and you think it is going to be easy because we are a team in the Champions League quarterfinals. That is so dangerous.”

Saints overwhelm Spurs in comeback win (video)

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  • Spurs dominate 1st half, get Kane opener
  • Saints flip script in second with Valery equalizer
  • Ward-Prowse with beauty free kick to win

Yan Valery and James Ward-Prowse scored second half goals as Southampton’s splendid second half was enough to beat Tottenham Hotspur 2-1 at St. Mary’s on Saturday.

Harry Kane gave Spurs a halftime lead, but Europe-weary Spurs had little offer in the second half.

Saints move to 30 points, good for 16th, while Tottenham remain third with 61 points.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]

Harry Kane was very much the story of the first half, nearly scoring early and then seeing a would-be assist to Lucas Moura slid off the Saints post by a desperate defender.

Christian Eriksen then beat the wall and keeper but stuck the bar with a 23rd minute free kick.

It was Kane who’d deservedly put Spurs ahead, though, with Dele Alli supplying fantastic service on the opener.

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Jan Vertonghen missed with a side volley attempt after Kane won a corner in the 52nd minute.

Saints hadn’t quit, though, and substitute Shane Long picked out Nathan Redmond for a shot screwed wide of the post in the 56th.

Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg was busy in the next phase of the match, including a left-footer over the bar.

Redmond missed another in-tight shot moments later, but Saints’ wait for an equalizer arrived via Valery in the 77th minute after Danny Rose let a loose ball go through his legs for the youngster to run onto and finish.

And Stuart Armstrong could’ve put Saints ahead moments later when taken down by Kyle Walker-Peters, but only a free kick was given by referee Kevin Friend.

Then James Ward-Prowse did what he often does from a dead ball situation, swirling a free kick past a flying Hugo Lloris and into the goal.

[ MORE: Premier League stats ]