Tottenham reach their Mount Everest in stunning Champions League win over Manchester City

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Admit it, who really thought that Tottenham would see a way past Manchester City- a club who have poured hundreds of millions of English pounds into their team to win the Champions League- but that is what Tottenham did. The very same Tottenham who bought no players in either transfer window this season and then lost Harry Kane to injury.

This week which saw the fall of Juventus and their £100m Ronaldo gamble to the youth of Ajax and the grace and sheer class of Lionel Messi’s one man show for Barcelona against Manchester United, there was an even bigger story that will live on in the hearts of football fans everywhere.

Tottenham playing Manchester City was always going to be a big draw- indeed any two teams from the same country playing each other in the latter stage knock outs of the Champions League means the football world will pay attention. Unfortunately though there is an uncanny way for these games to play out with very few goals and a cagey nervous affair where each team cancels out each other- the 2003 Champions League final anyone? When Milan only seized victory over Juventus in a penalty shoot out after spending 120 minutes consoling over a 0-0 result.

In some ways this is how the first leg of this match did play out. City remained the favourites but it was Tottenham who got a 1-0 victory- their first European game at their new stadium no less, through a Son Heung-Min goal. Ever the darer and the saviour for Tottenham this season, the South Korean player has stepped up in the past 12 months. For City they played an unusual game, desperate for clear cut chances and perhaps some of the blame could have gone to coach Pep Guardiola with his tactics and starting choices. Those decisions looked like it would be made up for the 2nd leg, but let’s face it nobody was prepared for what would happen at the Etihad.

Going into the crucial next match, City knew that they had to score two goals or they would be out. It took them less than 250 seconds to get the first goal through the irreplaceable Raheem Sterling. And then something quite wonderful (if you’re not a City fan happened) because it was at the stage when ball left Son and hit the back of the net for Tottenham’s equaliser that Spurs, the team that play great football, but the pretenders to titles did not read the script.

When Son struck again to put the Londoners 2-1 up three minutes later all of a sudden all of the hard work behind the scenes, rooted in the tiresome work of Mauricio Pochettino and his coaching staff and the vision of club owner Daniel Levy came to the forefront, and we could embrace the fact that this club, Spurs, have stepped up to another level, one not seen in a generation.

That didn’t mean that Guardiola’s side were dead on their feet, no team at home that plays such beautiful attacking football was suddenly going to give up, with 80 minutes still to play City had time on their side. They needed to score 3 goals and one was pulled back 60 seconds after Son had roared away with a semi final and Ajax in his sights. Bernardo Silva was the man to give City hope and ten minutes after that Sterling struck again- this was madness. We had witnessed 5 goals in 21 barnstorming moments of English football, played mostly by wonderful continental footballers in a European Cup setting. There had been a goal every 4 mins and 20 seconds, and it felt too much even, you didn’t know what was going to happen next. And it got better.

The first half ended 3-2 to City who now only needed one more goal to go through. As the second half got underway it was apparent that the Goliath which is City was steadily taking the game away from the David which was Spurs. City were playing their game and most notably the Belgian Kevin De Bruyne so cruelly not picked by Guardiola to start in the first leg was playing one of his best matches this season, and when it mattered, underlining just how important he is to the side.

Just before the hour mark Tottenham’s dream inevitably caved in when Sergio Aguero (who else)? made it 4-2 to City, and now City were going through to only their second semi final. Tottenham had to score but it was City controlling the pace of the game. And yet as crazy as the match was playing out, you knew Tottenham would get their chance and 14 minutes later the ball fell to Fernando Llorente who with a hip, elbow? and force- got the ball in the net. If any doubts persisted on the legality of the goal then VAR crushed it and Tottenham got their goal. Now they were going through and City were going out.

City attacked, Spurs stayed firm and the minutes closed in- neutral football fans couldn’t breathe, to be a fan of either club defined a new term in squeaky bum syndrome and yet the drama was not over. City needed another goal and as the 90th minute came and went all looked lost until Sterling scored again- it was in, the goal sent Sterling, the fans and Guardiola into euphoria, until VAR flagged up an incident. Was Sergio Aguero offside when the ball was played back in? Hearts in mouths, and what drama, the time ticked by in the real world but stood still for the 53,000 fans inside the stadium. The verdict came back…. Goal denied- City were out of the Champions League and Tottenham had reached their first European Cup semi final in 57 years and their first ever Champions League one.

It was an incredible night of football- with the players as much as VAR in the end playing its role. City could feel hard done by- without VAR they would most probably have squeezed through, but with justice intended they didn’t. And one would have to criticise a team at this stage of the competition for conceding 4 goals over 2 games. Yes Tottenham did the same, but for City the Champions League was supposed to be the one endearing trophy that the club have been wanting to win.

As for Tottenham they have a new role, as the remaining last 4 team. They will play Ajax- unfortunate for them it is an Ajax who look back to their best, they have already knocked out Real Madrid and Juventus from this competition. If they get past that test it is Liverpool or Barcelona in the final.

As for this game it will be remembered as one of the most exciting Champions League matches and will be talked about for some time. And there will be no love lost between the clubs who in less than 72 hours will do this all over again in the Premier League in the same stadium, one can only imagine what will happen….

 

 

 

Predicted lineups for this weekend’s EPL games

EPL Logo

After all the midweek Champions League drama, it’s a return to English Premier League action this weekend with all 20 teams involved.

Here are our predicted lineups for those EPL fixtures so have a read in preparation for another EPL fantasy football round.

Manchester City v Spurs

Manchester City XI: Ederson, Walker, Kompany, Laporte, Mendy, De Bruyne, Fernandinho, D. Silva, B. Silva, Aguero, Sterling

Spurs XI: Lloris, Trippier, Alderweireld, Vertonghen, Davies, Winks, Wanyama, Alli, Eriksen, Moura, Son Continue reading

EPL: Premier League Predictions for Week 35

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The English Premier League only has a few weeks left and there is clearly a reason why football fans regard the league as the most exciting and competitive. That is because the league title is the closest of all the European major leagues and will most likely go down to the wire between Liverpool and Manchester City.

There are 2 Champions League places to take care of as Chelsea, Arsenal, Manchester United and Tottenham do battle to secure a top 4 place. And Cardiff have given themselves a chance by beating Brighton in midweek- all is to play for as we enter another weekend of Premier League football which should be enthralling and fascinating.

Manchester City v Tottenham

Just where do we start after the teams played out an incredible Champions League 2nd leg quarter final where City won 4-3 on the night but went out on the away goals rule. City need to win this game or that could be the title over too. They will be utterly determined to win this game at home now. Watch out for Raheem Sterling who was denied a hat trick because of VAR, a system not used in the Premier League yet. Manchester City to beat Tottenham

Bournemouth v Fulham

Fulham got a terrific victory over Everton last weekend even though they are down, but their away form is very poor. Eddie Howe’s side are safe and beat Brighton 5-0 in their last match. Callum Wilson could be the difference between the sides, but this should be a close game. Draw

Huddersfield v Watford

More than likely Watford’s mindset will be preparing for the FA Cup final even if it is still a month away. They will be without influential player Troy Deeney who was sent off in the defeat against Arsenal. Huddersfield are relegated and have little to play for, except for home pride and we could see a surprise result here. Huddersfield to beat Watford

West Ham v Leicester

West Ham have been in poor form but the players put in a great shift against Manchester United at Old Trafford and if they can take something from that game even though they lost they could do well here. Felipe Anderson played very well. Leicester have been strong under Brendan Rodgers but lost their last game at home to Newcastle where they didn’t turn up. West Ham to beat Leicester

Wolves v Brighton

Wolves have been excellent this season but they have just 1 win in their past four games. However at home against a poor form side like Brighton this should be 3 points and they could be back in the hunt for a 7th place finish. Brighton continue to be poor in 2019 and could now face a relegation dog fight. Wolves to beat Brighton

Newcastle v Southampton

The Magpies pulled off a great result last weekend going to Leicester and getting a 1-0 win and playing well. Southampton have just 1 win in their past four games and this is their furthest trip in league fixtures. We will opt for the home win here in a game where we could see plenty of goals. Newcastle to beat Southampton

Everton v Manchester United

Since the beginning of March Everton have found form and Marco Silva’s job has been saved. But they put in a toothless display against Fulham last weekend and lost. Back at home where they beat Arsenal and Chelsea recently they can give United a game. United have been in average form and were knocked out in the Champions League against Barcelona, but remain a danger as they hunt for a top 4 finish. Could Everton’s Richarlison be the difference? Draw

Arsenal v Crystal Palace

Arsenal should have few problems against Palace and get all three points. The Gunners have been one of the best teams in the league at home and have lost here just once back on the opening day of the season. Palace are safe and have little to play for. Pierre Emerick- Aubameyang is in great form and will relish this game. Arsenal to beat Crystal Palace

Cardiff v Liverpool

Cardiff got a massive victory over Brighton in midweek to give themselves a chance for survival. But they must keep winning. The problem is they are facing Liverpool and this will be a difficult match. Liverpool just keep on collecting the points, and whilst this will be  a difficult game for the Reds they should have enough quality up front to hurt the home team. Liverpool to beat Cardiff

Chelsea v Burnley

Chelsea still have a great chance to finish in the top four, the problem is that their direct rivals have 5 games to play while they have 4. That means that every game counts but winning at least at home is essential. Eden Hazard is looking the business as he possibly wraps up his career with the Blues. Burnley are in excellent form with 3 wins from their last 3 games but have lost 9 times on the road this season. Chelsea to beat Burnley

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Liverpool and Manchester City prepare for epic season finale

Virgil van Dijk and Raheem Sterling

Are you not entertained?

It’s going right to the end, isn’t it?

We haven’t had a title race this close since the 2013/14 when it went to the final day between… Liverpool and Manchester City.

There’s something different about this Liverpool team, though. While Brendan Rodgers’ attacking juggernaut was overflowing with creativity and lethal finishing, Klopp’s team displays a gladiator-like fighting spirit and a refusal to give in. Marrying just the right amount of technical ability with bucketloads full of courage, Klopp may just have got the mix right.

Continue reading

How Tottenham are fighting for Champions League glory & top 4 position even without a transfer policy

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This weeks club ownership focuses on Premier League side Tottenham Hotspur who have had quite a successful season when one thinks that the London club have brought in no new players.

When some clubs are spending staggering amounts of money in the summer window, somehow the days, weeks and months rolled on with Tottenham not dipping into the transfer market. Chairman Daniel Levy knew that the clubs new stadium was going to cost much more than anticipated and purse strings had to be tightened.

The predictions were already in for the season that Tottenham would do poorly in the Champions League and that they had no chance of winning the Premier League and that they wouldn’t even be able to challenge for a top 4 position.

What compounded everything for the club was the news that they would have to play their home games at Wembley Stadium with the redevelopment and in the end brand new stadium on the site of their old stadium. Delays were fraught with frustration and when it seemed that the club would be moving into their new stadium by the end of the year that was delayed once more.

But still the players like Harry Kane and Dele Alli and the terrific Son Heung-Min stepped up, the whole team did and in doing so have done manager Mauricio Pochettino proud. Tottenham may not win any trophies this season but they have done themselves proud.

At the time of writing the club have one foot in the semi-finals of the Champions League after beating Manchester City 1-0 in the 1st leg quarter final tie. The match is far from over but the club have given themselves a chance.

In the league Tottenham have been 3rd for most of the season and competitive at that. They have slipped up in recent weeks but despite injuries to Kane and Alli they continued to win games, and they have continued to upset teams who have spent much more than them.

Levy and Pochettino had a plan, true it was risky but they both realised that they had the squad to cope with this season. Of course having a no transfer budget plan is football suicide in the long run, but instead of spending £100m upwards this season the club have held back in order to go into a fresh season in their new stadium and have one would hope a good budget and deals for next season.

It should be an interesting summer at Tottenham and if the club can hold onto their best players and buy 3-4 ones that they really need then next season could be the one where Pochettino breaks his duck for the club. Of course let’s not forget that they are still in the Champions League and if they get past City they could face either Juventus or Ajax in the semi’s for a mind dazzling final. Now that would be something.

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EPL: Premier League Predictions for Week 34

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The top 4 teams all won in their last games and nobody can quite tell who has the advantage in for the Premier League title. Liverpool are 2 points clear of Manchester City and yet City have a game in hand, but that match is against rivals Manchester United away from home. Chelsea have made a splash back into the top 3, so again there is all to play for as the excitement reaches fever pitch.

Below we take a look at how the results could work out for this weekend and give our predictions.

Leicester v Newcastle

Leicester would be 3rd in the league based on recent form and the appointment of Brendan Rodgers has been an inspired choice, the Foxes have won their last 4 games in a row. Newcastle have been poor on the road with just 2 points won from their last 15. Leicester to beat Newcastle

Tottenham v Huddersfield

Tottenham have Manchester City and the Champions League 2nd leg on their mind but they must focus for this game. Back at home they should win comfortably. Harry Kane is out but Son will relish this moment and could score a few. Tottenham to beat Huddersfield

Brighton v Bournemouth

Both teams come into this match with the same form and Brighton are still not safe. However a win would be massive for the club and they are at home. Callum Wilson will be a danger for the home side though and Eddie Howe’s team could add more misery to Brighton’s season. Bournemouth to beat Brighton

Burnley v Cardiff

Burnley are almost safe but this win would more or less assure that. Sean Dyche’s team have won back to back games and have found form. Cardiff keep losing and have lost 4 games in their last 5. They need to win this game to have any chance of staying up, but it will be difficult for them. Burnley to beat Cardiff

Fulham v Everton

An interesting statistic for Everton is that they have won 3 games in  a row coming into this match and all 3 have been against London teams- they can make it 4 against Fulham who have already been relegated. Everton’s Richarlison may just relish the chance to play against Fulham’s defence which has conceded 76 goals this season. Everton to beat Fulham

Southampton v Wolves

This game has the potential of being very exciting and the way the two teams play there could well be a lot of goals. Wolves have been good this season but have no away wins in their last 4. This is set to be a very close game. Draw

Manchester United v West Ham

Manchester United had a bruising Champions League defeat to Barcelona and that may have fatigued some of the players. But they will be the favourites to beat West Ham, whose form and leaky defence has let them down in recent weeks. United should cruise to a win and Marcus Rashford could show no mercy. Manchester United to beat West Ham

Crystal Palace v Manchester City

Crystal Palace remain the only club to beat Manchester City at The Etihad this season- can they do the double over them? City should have the quality to win but will also be tired after their Champions League game v Tottenham. But it is difficult not to see a response from Pep Guardiola’s side and Sergio Aguero will want to make up for his dismal display in the Champions League in midweek. Manchester City to beat Crystal Palace

Liverpool v Chelsea

Liverpool just keep winning games, and this match looks to be the teams real final test in their quest for the league title-their first since 1990. Chelsea are in good form but have beaten teams below them. Eden Hazard is being called a great player- it is in these games he must prove it. Liverpool to beat Chelsea

Watford v Arsenal

Watford will be in great spirits coming into this match having reached the FA Cup final and Troy Deeney has emerged as a genuine hero for the club. Arsenal lost their last away game 1-0 to Everton and could struggle here if the home side get a positive start. Draw

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Tottenham Hotspur vs Manchester City – how Pep Guardiola got it wrong

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“I don’t feel we played badly, we created chances and we controlled the game,” said Pep Guardiola post Manchester City’s Champions League defeat to Tottenham Hotspur. Yes, perhaps the Premier League leaders did have 59% possession of the ball but with 10 shots at goal and just two on target, Tuesday night’s performance is just the latest that shows Manchester City aren’t just as clinical as they shown previously. Guardiola’s side have scored 23 fewer league goals this season and with just six Premier League games remaining, it’s unlikely they’ll beat last season’s EPL tally of 106. Continue reading

Liverpool and Tottenham take the advantage in the Champions League

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Liverpool and Tottenham won their respective Champions League knock out ties and look like being the favourites to get to the semi final stage.

Liverpool who were last year’s beaten finalists when they lost to Real Madrid 3-1 swept aside Porto at Anfield. The Reds were the favourites to win the game and they eased to victory over Porto with goals from Naby Keita and Roberto Firmino, indeed Keita scored within 5 minutes of the start of the game. Porto did squander a few chances but the brutal truth was laid out for all to see that Porto don’t really belong in a Champions League quarter final, even if they are deserving to be there after getting through the group stages and beating Roma in the last 16. The deep end of the Champions League has that ability to show up teams who are not prepared, and tonight that was Porto.

The 2nd leg in Portugal will be interesting and the tie isn’t a dead one for Porto, but if Liverpool were to open the scoring then Porto would need 4 goals, a neutral can only hope that it is Porto who score first in the 2nd leg otherwise that game will be put to bed rather early.

With all due respect to both Liverpool and Porto the game that everyone had their eyes on was the all-English tie between Tottenham and Manchester City. With no love lost between the two teams this was sure to be a spectacular night and it was Tottenham’s first European game at their brand new stadium- and it ended in a 1-0 victory.

Son grabbed the goal with his wonderful solo effort but City will be rueing Sergio Aguero’s penalty miss early on in the game which could have changed how it all played out. In the end Tottenham deserved their win and City actually looked rather toothless up front. Why did Pep Guardiola opt to bench Leroy Sane a player who has scored 19 goals this season? Or not start Kevin De Bruyne- he will have his reasons but City looked limp on the attack, which is what their game is all about.

Harry Kane went off injured and Tottenham will be hoping that it isn’t serious, though the England international looked in pain. The only good news for City is that the match is far from dead at 1-0, and City will still be the favourites to win the 2nd leg. However like Liverpool if Tottenham can score first the whole situation of the tie will change. It’s difficult to think though that City will be contained at home.

Liverpool should make it to the semi finals, but you’d have to be brave to pick out who will go through between Tottenham and City, although clearly it is the Londoners who have never made it to a semi final of the Champions League before who have the advantage.

Manchester City have a problem, they are not scoring enough goals

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Manchester City are still on course to win the quadruple and create history this season and whilst the club are winning games and staying competitive, they have one problem- they are not scoring enough goals.

Sure winning 1-0 or 7-0 is still 3 points and still a victory but at the same time champions-elect teams usually win bigger and better and that is not what we are seeing from Pep Guardiola’s team. This is a team which is basically Barcelona mark 2, and yet the goals are not always flowing. The other worry weirdly enough is that City are playing excellent football and dominating games and creating so many chances- if they play a poor team and miss some clear cut chances, they will get another chance? What happens if they are playing quality and they do it- it could be the difference between staying in a competition and going out.

When did City stop scoring goals? It started with the Carabao Cup final where in 120 minutes of football they couldn’t score a goal against a team in Chelsea that a few days before they had put 6 goals past. In the end what did it matter, they won on penalties and picked up their first trophy of the season.

Their next league game was at home to West Ham, and they were expected to thrash The Hammers- they had in the past- and whilst they dominated the game they only won 1-0. At such a slight score they obviously left themselves open to a shock equaliser which would have dented their league title chances. Where was that 2nd goal?

Another 1-0 win followed at Bournemouth. Should a multi millionaire team be putting their fans through so much heartache? A tasty 3-1 victory against Watford followed but all 3 goals came in the 2nd half. Back to the cup matches and they had no problems when they destroyed Schalke 7-0 in the Champions League making a mockery in the process of the lack of quality that can make the knock out stages. A lucky 3-2 win in the FA Cup over Swansea followed, But at least the goals had rolled back- 10 in their last 2 games. But again in the league those goals would be tuned down.

The clubs next two games were against two bottom three teams in Fulham and Cardiff, both wins so no complaints but 4 goals scored in those matches when it should have been 10. Last weekend City took a break from the league and made it to the FA Cup final when they beat Brighton 1-0 in a dour semi final that could have gone either way.

Again it seems harsh to criticise City because they are getting the wins and playing great football. But evidently they are not scoring as many goals as they should do. This may not bode well for the remaining games, the crunch ones, or perhaps the team will have the final trick on us and are just saving themselves. Whatever the deal it will be a fascinating end to the season for the club.

Can Manchester City win the quadruple?

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After victory over Cardiff City last night which took Manchester City back to the top of the Premier League, a question must be asked, can they win the quadruple?

City have of course already won the league cup in England, not only are they in 1st place in the league but they are also in the semi finals of the FA Cup. They have also qualified for the Champions League quarter final stage. Everything does look set up for Pep Guardiola’s men although there are some very important matches still to come and very tough weeks ahead.

Of course 20 years ago it was the other half of Manchester that was sweeping up trophies as Manchester United won the treble of the Champions League, The League title and the FA Cup. But their rivals City could go one better this season.

Guardiola has already won the quadruple with Barcelona in 2009, in fact he ended up winning six trophies that year as the team won the super cup and then went on to win the FIFA World Club Cup. But how realistic is it that City could win it?

In the league City are locked in a fierce battle with Liverpool to win it. Though City are a point ahead Liverpool could go back on top on Friday night. Although City hold the slight advantage as they have a game in hand, that extra game is away to Manchester United their biggest rivals, so 3 points are not certain. That fight looks like it will go down to the wire.

In the FA Cup City will face Brighton in the semi finals and they will be big favourites to get through to the final where they will either play Wolves or Watford. On paper you would say City will win, but let’s not forget how well Wolves and Watford have done in the league this season and they have become the best of the rest with some impressive results and remain a threat.

Finally in the Champions League City have got to the last eight where they will face Tottenham. This all English match should be a fantastic spectacle and even though City will be favourites to advance to the semi finals we must remember that Tottenham have been strong in this competition this season and have their brand new stadium to boot.

If City can get past Tottenham they would face either Ajax or Juventus in the semi finals, with the possibility of playing Liverpool or Barcelona in a final if form went the way it could. How ironic for Guardiola if he was to have the chance to win a quadruple to face his former side Barcelona in a final.

City may fall short but they have given themselves a fantastic chance to make some history this season.