Manchester United pair Paul Pogba and Anthony Martial will be spending the international break back in Manchester, after being released from the France National Team squad.
Les Bleus announced that due to Pogba’s thigh injury and an adductor muscle injury to Martial, the pair were dropped from the team set to face the Netherlands in the UEFA Nations League and Uruguay in a friendly match. In their place, Arsenal’s Alexandre Lacazette and Tottenham’s Moussa Sissoko have been called in.
Pogba, who was terrific in the 2018 World Cup semifinal and final for France, was unavailable for Man United in it’s 3-1 defeat to Manchester City on Sunday. Pogba suffered the thigh injury at Juventus. Martial meanwhile has been in terrific form, with goals in three of his last four games and six goals in his last seven games.
Martial missed out on the World Cup and had only received his first call-up since last March. It’s a big blow to Martial to miss out on a chance to impress manager Didier Deschamps, and he’ll now have to wait until March for his next chance to be called-up.
Palace are in a need of a positive result before the international break after six games without a win, while Tottenham will aim to stay in the top four as Mauricio Pochettino‘s men battle through injuries.
Mauricio Pochettino is four months into perhaps his greatest miracle (thus far) as Tottenham Hotspur manager — keeping the club in the thick of the Premier League’s top-four race despite a series of debilitating challenges from outset. Has it been a complete departure from the last two or three seasons when Tottenham played some of the most attractive, entertaining attacking soccer in the world? It absolutely has, and perhaps that’s why they’ve been criticized for perceived regression. That’s without even mentioning the ongoing stadium situation.
Due in large part to injuries — coupled with serious fitness struggles following the World Cup — and the fact they failed to sign a single player during the summer transfer window, it becomes quite clear, quite quickly, how any start to the season would be seen as unimpressive should a single aspect of recent successes change. But — and here’s the important part — they just keep finding ways to win. Saturday’s trip to Selhurst Park (Watch live, 12:30 p.m. ET, on NBC and NBCSports.com) — even to take on a struggling Crystal Palace side — will likely require a similar grind-it-out approach, given injuries to Jan Vertonghen (hamstring), Mousa Dembele (ankle), Eric Dier (thigh), Danny Rose (groin) and Victor Wanyama (knee), to those of recent weeks.
Palace, on the other hand, are winless in their last six league games (two draws) and have slipped to within two points of the relegation zone. Admittedly, a run of fixtures against Arsenal, Chelsea, now Spurs, then Manchester United is going to be a tough period for any non-top-six side. The Eagles haven’t topped Spurs in a PL fixture in six tries, suffering defeat all six times — five of which came via a 1-0 scoreline.
What they’re saying
Pochettino, on unfounded criticisms of Harry Kane: “He is so obsessed with scoring that sometimes, when it is against him, he needs more freedom — not to be obsessed. But he is going to learn and he is starting to be really mature. Kane is English and sometimes you push him to the sky and paradise and then you put him on the outside. If Harry was Italian and playing for the Italian side, he would be a bit more protected because the Italian people are more protective of their players. It’s difficult to push them but when they are there, they try to keep them up there. It’s similar in Spain. Here, it is more up and down.”
Palace manage Roy Hodgson, on struggling to score goals: “I can’t in any way criticize or complain about what the players are trying to do either in training or in matches, and I’m sure that (the goals) will come when the ball goes in for us. But, as I say, we’ve scored three in the last games. “The only thing we can do is keep trying to give those performances, and hope that if there is any luck going, it goes our way”
It’ll be something of a slog — perhaps with multiple goals for each side, given the lack of midfield options for Spurs — but they’re battle-tested and have given a fantastic account of themselves in recent weeks. At some point, the fatigue and grind will catch up to them, but not on Saturday.
And we’ve got a new bottom team on our rankings with few signs of improvement at Craven Cottage. How long will Fulham stay 20th?
20. Fulham *New season low*— The Cottagers held the opposition to less than two goals for the first time since Sept. 22, but that’s not achievement against the anemic attack of Huddersfield Town. Losing 1-0 is comparable to its 4-2 loss to Cardiff City. Bad, bad games to lose. Last week: 18 Season high: 11 Season low: 20
19. Huddersfield Town — Monday’s win was very nice, but we’re not going to break out the party horns and streamers because a goal was scored against Fulham. A result against visiting West Ham would have us at least Googling where to find said celebratory items. Last week: 20 Season high: 18 Season low: 20
18. Cardiff City — Kudos to the Bluebirds for their classy handling of a difficult occasion in Leicester City’s visit following the death of Foxes owner Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha. A visit from Brighton is a different sort of test. Last week: 16 Season high: 16 Season low: 20
17. Southampton — Had its moments in a 6-1 loss to Man City, really, but has to take advantage when inconsistent Watford comes to town. Last week: 15 Season high: 13 Season low: 17
16. Newcastle United — And exhale (but only for a moment). Newcastle finally gets its first win of the season. The Magpies are better than their record suggests, but not by much. Getting a result from high-flying Bournemouth at St. James’ Park this weekend would be a nice respite for supporters heading into an international break. Last week: 18 Season high: 13 Season low: 19
15. Burnley — Three-straight losses to very good attacks, and Leicester City can score, too. Can Burnley stop its four-match winless run? Last week: 17 Season high: 13 Season low: 20
14. Crystal Palace — Losers of five of six in all competitions, with the sixth being a 2-2 draw at Arsenal. These Power Rankings’ patience with the Eagles is tooth floss thin. Last week: 14 Season high: 6 Season low: 15
13. Wolves — Have lost to Spurs, Brighton, and Watford since beating a Palace team we’ve already described as not quite there. Last week: 12 Season high: 5 Season low: 13
12. Watford — Javi Gracia‘s men have a maddening way of disappearing, and they really should’ve found a way to a win at Newcastle. Those are the breaks when you’re on a losing run and, either way, when you give a team its first win of the season, you’re going to drop down our table. Last week: 8 Season high: 4 Season low: 14
11. West Ham — Manuel Pellegrini can start to aim higher on the table with a win at Huddersfield Town this weekend. Last week: 13
Season high: 9
Season low: 20
10. Brighton and Hove Albion — Chris Hughton‘s men will hope the Everton loss was a blip on the radar of a well-run vessel. A visit to Cardiff City should help right the ship. Last week: 10 Season high: 9 Season low: 19
9. Leicester City — Finding a winner on such a wildly-emotional day at Cardiff City is wonderful, but how will the Foxes be able to perform in their return home from Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha’s funeral in Thailand? All our best to the LCFC family. Last week: 11 Season high: 7 Season low: 13
8. Bournemouth — Losing to the cardiac kids of Manchester United is no shame, but a bounce back is necessary. Last week: 7 Season high: 6 Season low: 12
7. Everton — That’s a fine win over Brighton, and the Toffees are finally where we expected them to be this season. Now can Marco Silva and Co. claim a result at Chelsea? Last week: 9 Season high: 5 Season low: 13
6. Manchester United — It’s not sexy, but it’s working for Jose Mourinho. This first derby of the season is a big, big one for this Red Devils side. Last week: 6 Season high: 4 Season low: 14
5. Arsenal — No shame in drawing Liverpool. Last week: 4 Season high: 2 Season low: 9
4. Spurs — For as unimpressive as Mauricio Pochettino‘s men have been from time-to-time, Spurs are three points off second place Chelsea and third place Liverpool. If they can get through the Champions League group stage without dipping too far off the Top Four, anything short of the title is possible. Last week: 5 Season high: 3 Season low: 8
3. Liverpool — For all the Reds’ struggles with mojo, Mohamed Salah finding his finishing boots is really all they need to challenge for the title. The Egyptian is finding loads of chances but just not putting them away. Last week: 2 Season high: 1 Season low: 4
2. Chelsea — They just kinda go about their business, don’t they? Won in Belarus on Thursday despite leaving much of the club at home. Last week: 3 Season high: 1 Season low: 5
1. Man City — Look out: For as good as City has been, a loss in the derby could easily see them third on the table. Last week: 1 Season high: 1 Season low: 2