VIDEO PREVIEW: The Premier League’s battle to be runner-up

Nicholas Carroll returns to preview the weekend’s biggest Premier League and La Liga fantasy fixtures while joining the world football community in the mourning of Davide Astori.

In England’s north, Liverpool have the opportunity to leapfrog Manchester United into second place in Saturday’s early fixture before Arsenal search for some pride at home to Watford.

Meanwhile in Spain, two in-form clubs will clash when 5th-placed Sevilla hosts 4th-placed Valencia. Continue reading

Arsenal and Spurs strikers on target at the Olympics

arsene wenger

The first round of group stage matches of the Men’s Olympics Football tournament have now been completed, with the eight games played producing 31 goals.

Three of those goals were scored by attackers who play for the North London rivals, Arsenal and Tottenham, whilst another three other English Premier League based players featured in the competition’s opening set of fixtures.

Arsenal winger Serge Gnabry scored for Germany in their 2-2 draw against Mexico after coming on as a first half substitute, whilst the 21-year-old’s club mate Takumo Asano found the net for Japan, as they lost 5-4 to Nigeria, who were captained by Chelsea’s Jon Obi Mikel.

Aside from Japan against Nigeria, the game in which the most goals were scored was Fiji’s encounter with South Korea. Despite only leading 1-0 at half time, the South Koreans ran out 8-0 winners, as Tottenham’s Son Heung Min confidently scored a penalty kick.

Whereas the former Hamburg and Bayer Leverkusen striker successfully opened his goal scoring account for the tournament, Manchester City’s new Brazilian forward Gabriel Jesus, who the club have just signed from Palmeiras for a fee in the region of £27m, was unable to as the hosts drew their first game 0-0 against South Africa.

Despite creating an abundance of chances, Brazil were frustrated in their efforts to score, with Jesus guilty of a glaring miss from just two yards. The 19-year-old has been loaned back to Palmeiras until January, which will create a great deal of anticipation among Manchester City’s supporters about his first appearance for the club.

Whilst Jesus endured a disappointing Olympic debut, Liverpool’s Tiago Llori did not, as the 23-year-old central defender made a substitute appearance in Portugal’s 2-0 win over Argentina.

Although Llori has now been with Liverpool since September 2013 and spent last season on loan at Aston Villa, the former Sporting Lisbon player is yet to make his Premier League debut.

Nevertheless he will enhance his prospects of doing so by showcasing his strong defensive talent in the Olympic Football tournament, which will continue on Sunday – 7 August – when the second set of group stage matches are to take place.

The highest profile of those is to be Germany’s game against South Korea, whilst Gabriel Jesus will look to produce an improved performance for Brazil to help them secure their first win of the competition against Iraq.

Ultimately the Olympics Football Tournament represents a wonderful environment within which some of the world’s most promising young players can display their skills, with many having done so during a highly entertaining first round of group stage matches

What Tottenham can expect from new-boy Son Heung-min this season

Premier League side Tottenham Hotspur recently confirmed the signing of Bayer Leverkusen forward Son Heung-min for around £22M this summer to provide competition in the attack. Manager Mauricio Pochettino has been keen to strengthen his frontline following the sale of Roberto Soldado and the impending exit of Emmanuel Adebayor, and Son has certainly impressed in his domestic league prior to his White Hart Lane switch.

“I’m looking forward to going there and performing for the Spurs fans as soon as possible. Bold and daring – this is how I like to try to play. I learned the game under my father who was a football coach in my school. I’ve trained with both feet so I can use them freely,” he said upon his arrival.

The 23-year-old has hit double figures for goals in the German Bundesliga in each of his last three seasons, while making more than 40 caps for South Korea, scoring 11 times. It’s easy to forget how young he is given his vast experience for club and country, and Tottenham will be hoping it leads to Son to pick up where he left off for his former side.

Regarded as an industrious, versatile forward, the former Hamburg star is a pacey striker, and adept at using both feet. 49% of his goals scored in the last four years have been with his left foot, 51% with his right. Son is 6 foot 1, but doesn’t provide an aerial threat like Tottenham striker Harry Kane. He relies more on his excessive pace and industrious style, but more importantly is a composed player in front of goal.

As highlighted by Pochettino, Tottenham’s biggest problem has been cutting our their defensive errors, but having another goal threat in the side could be key too. Kane was outstanding for the Londoners last season, but needs competition and a potential strike-partner. It’s led to bids being made for West Bromwich Albion striker Saido Berahino this summer, but the clubs haven’t managed to agree a fee.

Tottenham have let themselves down in the Premier League for a number of years, and Kane’s rise to prominence last season masked what could have been a very disappointing campaign. They have spent a lot of money on attacking players, but consistency has been a problem. Son could offer a new dimension in the Tottenham side in 2015/16, and his impressive scoring record over the last few years could see him shine in his debut season.