Tottenham welcomed Huddersfield Town to their new Tottenham Hotspur Stadium at the weekend, and sent the home crowd home very happy indeed with a 4-0 win over the Premier League’s bottom side. The performance was as impressive as one may expect of a side with Spurs’ quality, though goalkeeper Hugo Lloris was barely troubled throughout the game. He was only called into action in the dying stages to keep a free-kick from Huddersfield’s Juninho Bacuna out of the net, but otherwise it was a great showing all round. The star, however, was easily Spurs midfielder Lucas Moura. Victor Wanyama opened the scoring on 24 minutes, but Moura scored just three minutes later when he was played in by Moussa Sissoko – and never looked back.
With just a few games left in the Premier League campaign, things are starting to take shape and will continue to do so with this weekend’s round of matches. There is no Friday night fixture this week, but instead we have a big card of games on Saturday with three coming on Sunday and one on Monday evening, with games every day next week except for Thursday as matches in hand are played. Man City taking on Tottenham in Saturday’s lunchtime kickoff looks to be the biggest game of the weekend, but there are plenty of games in store to keep us guessing. Bournemouth host relegated Fulham hoping to build on their impressive 5-0 win at Brighton last weekend, while Newcastle host Southampton in Saturday’s late game. Let’s go for a 4-3-3 here!
With the Premier League now very much entering the business end of the season, and with just a few matches remaining to decide the respective fates of several teams, there was a full schedule of games in England’s top-flight this past weekend. Once again, the spread of fixtures was great with Newcastle winning at Leicester on Friday night, six games taking place on Saturday, title challengers Man City and Liverpool winning their respective games on Sunday and Arsenal travelling to Watford on Monday. Results this weekend meant that both City and Liverpool are guaranteed to finish first and second in either combination. With that in mind, let’s take a look and see which players performed the best in their position, using a 4-3-3 formation.
This weekend’s Premier League will see the season continuing to take shape as, with just a few games to go, there is still a wide open title race and only one relegation spot left to fill. Liverpool leapfrogged Man City back into top spot last weekend, but the Citizens have a game in hand – just how much of a say will Chelsea and Crystal Palace have on Sunday against the top two? Palace host City while Chelsea travel to Liverpool and so there could well be more twists and turns in this title race yet. Towards the bottom of the table, already-relegated Huddersfield and Fulham both have tricky fixtures, with the Terriers at Tottenham while Fulham host Everton. Let’s take on a 4-3-3 here and see which players will fancy their chances.
Tottenham oh Tottenham where do we start? Utterly superb this season and pound for pound arguably the best team in the Premier League over the past 2 years, but they have imploded over the last month with only a burst in the Champions League adding the gloss over the cracks.
It was only at the end of February that Spurs were looking like a title contender, at one point just 5 points separated them from Manchester City and Liverpool. Injuries came and so did the Asia Cup which saw Son having to play for South Korea and Harry Kane and Dele Alli got injured at the same time. But still Tottenham looked sharp and Kane did return much earlier than expected.
But Tottenham have gone from champions elect to not even knowing if they will be able to finish in the top 4. Last night Arsenal swallowed up 3rd a position that Tottenham had held for most of the season and a position that is the final automatic one for Champions League qualification (4th means a play off round)
Arsenal the great rival that were supposed to be in transition under new coach Unai Emery have just gone 2 points clear of Tottenham and anyway you look at it that must hurt for fans.
But this is what happens when your form is as bad as Tottenham’s- how bad? Well the club have not won in the league since February 10th and from the last possible 15 points they have won 1. But for such a brilliant team this next part is terrifying- on form Tottenham would be in 19th place.
It’s true that Tottenham have had some tough fixtures, namely having to play their rivals Arsenal, Chelsea and Liverpool. But they have also played and lost to Burnley and Southampton in that time. Only their brilliant Champions League win has stopped the press getting the knives out as the team are now in the quarter finals, where they will play Manchester City in what should be a classic 2 legs.
But back to the league and the fact that Tottenham are in big trouble. They have not one but two teams after their 4th place in Manchester United and Chelsea. Let’s look at each clubs fixtures and determine who we think will not finish in the top 4.
We see Arsenal getting a further 16 points with a nice set of fixtures and that would make the Gunners finish on 79 points. Tottenham can get 16 also, and the club are really going to get a second wind playing at their brand new fantastic stadium, that would give them 77 points, and fall short of Arsenal.
Next is Manchester United and we can see the club getting 16 points also which would push them onto 77pts. And finally Chelsea we can see achieving 14 points which would give them a total of 74pts.
Looking at that it would come down to goal difference for United and Tottenham currently Tottenham have +24 to United’s +19. There really is all to play for as the heat has been turned up, but we see 4th place as more of a battle between Tottenham and United and both clubs not only have to win games but also have to score many goals.
While the Premier League title race between Liverpool and Manchester City has justifiably taken the lion’s share of fans’ focus in recent weeks, there is another thrilling story taking shape among the four teams below them.
Arsenal, Spurs, Manchester United and Chelsea are all battling it out for the remaining two Champions League places within the Premier League’s top four.
Just three points separate Arsenal in 3rd from Chelsea in 6th after The Gunners’ 2-0 win over Newcastle on Monday night.
Spurs must be wondering what has happened. The club was deemed to be an integral part of the title race just a couple of months ago. However, with one point from their last Continue reading
When a weekend of Premier League action sees some unusually uniform results, it can be difficult to choose a “Game of the Weekend” from the bunch, and depends largely on your criteria. Perhaps Southampton’s 1-0 win at Brighton stands out for you, if for no other reason than it was the only game with less than two goals. If you are a fan of Crystal Palace or Leicester then no doubt you would have been pleased to see your beloved side record a home win, or maybe Everton fans could be the happiest as they won away from home with a clean sheet at West Ham – the only side other than Man City to do so. Of course, if a game could have more of an impact on the progressing season, there can surely be little argument that Liverpool taking on Spurs tops the bill.
Was Gareth Bale’s fate sealed at Real Madrid when Zinedine Zidane made a stunning return back to the club a few weeks ago? Well that is open to debate but when we think of Bale and Zidane’s relationship we think of immediately what happened after the Champions League final last year.
Even though Madrid had just beaten Liverpool to win their 3rd straight Champions League title and their 4th in 5 years, Zidane was being coy and Bale was being irritable. It felt that change was imminent- and it was. Gone was Ronaldo to Juventus and Zidane quit the club, and Bale stayed.
In the following season it was painfully evident that Madrid had lost too much quality and Bale was not able to carry the club, even though he has scored 14 goals this season. The famously difficult Madrid fans have really vented their anger and frustration at Bale, easily one of their best players in the last decade and even Ronaldo would get booed at times.
But fan negativity has been hard on Bale who knows that his quality would be appreciated much differently at another club. Zidane has made it clear that he sees no problem with Bale, but given that there is still two months of the season to go this is what the Frenchman is going to say.
Madrid need change at the club that is evident and whilst Bale is good enough to play for many more years, the fact that he has already been at the Bernabeu for 6 seasons and is 29, he is sellable. Zidane will understand that money will be available for his side, but that selling Bale could bring in anything between 80-100m extra which is going to give the club’s spending that much more power.
It is not that Bale isn’t good enough, the real issue lies with the fact that Zidane who is ever trying to refresh his sides will simply want new blood, and if Bale is sold in the summer which does look expected he should leave a hero and one of the very best players to have played for Madrid in the last 10 years.
As far as which club would Bale join, the offers should be plenty and of course there will be a temptation for him to come back to the Premier League. A return to Tottenham should not be ruled out and it would be an emotional one for the Welshman- a new stadium for Tottenham together with Bale’s return would be magic.
Otherwise such is the quality of Bale that he could play in any major league and with his fitness at a great level he has at least four years at the very top.
Finally it has happened, Tottenham’s new ground has opened and it has been met by a sense of wonder and amazement.
The Tottenham youth side tested out at the ground at the weekend and a legends line up will face a legends line up of Inter Milan next weekend. These matches are needed in order for the stadium to be granted a safety certificate.
There is no doubt that a new era has begun for Tottenham and you could see the relief on manager Mauricio Pochettino’s face and also of course on Daniel Levy, the Tottenham owner. Here was a stadium that was supposed to be ready by the beginning of the season and delays have meant that the club have had to play games at Wembley Stadium. Whilst it is true that Tottenham responded well at their temporary home, there is no place quite like home.
And that is what makes this new stadium so special, forget what Arsenal did with the Emirates. This new stadium is on the same site as the very original which makes it extra special and will warm fans hearts. It looks spectacular and holds 62,000 fans, and it is of course state of the art. Comfort for fans is a priority and special refreshment bars mean that thousands of pints of beer can be dispensed within minutes, nothing has been left to chance!
But the real beauty in presenting the new stadium is a new era of hope for the club. Pochettino has shown the fans the potential of this current team and while they are yet to win a trophy under the Argentinian they have pulled off some terrific results and surely as a club are playing the best football Tottenham fans have seen in a generation.
The key for the club will be transfer budgets and keeping their best players. One believes that the likes of Harry Kane and Dele Alli will be going nowhere soon given the big move into the stadium and wanting to be a part of the new era. But the club who somehow went through the season buying no players will need to dip into the transfer market if they want to stay competitive and indeed move up to the next level.
Tottenham should take note that rivals Arsenal did struggle after moving into their new stadium at least in terms of finding cash to buy players. In the first two seasons at their new ground the Gunners spent just £40m, and there is the fear that Tottenham’s budget could be crippled somewhat by stadium costs. But Levy has commented in the past that this will not be an issue, we wait and see.
Tottenham’s first scheduled match at their new stadium will be against Crystal Palace on April 3rd which is a Wednesday evening game. The week after that they will play Manchester City in a mouth watering Champions League first leg. Could the fact the club have moved into this fantastic stadium make all the difference? Watch this space. What is sure is that exciting times lie ahead for this famous London club.
This weekend we have another full schedule of ten EPL matches to look forward to. Here are the predicted lineups for every EPL game.
Crystal Palace v Brighton
Crystal Palace XI: Guaita, Wan-Bissaka, Dann, Tomkins, Van Aanholt, Kouyate, Milivojevic, Schlupp, Townsend, Batshuayi, Zaha
Brighton XI: Ryan, Montoya, Dunk, Duffy, Bernardo, Propper, Stephens, Bissouma, Knockaert, Andone, Jahanbakhsh
Out: Speroni, Sakho, Souare (Crystal Palace); Balogun, Gross (Brighton)