It’s an all English affair in the Champions League and Europa League

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Even after the first leg of the Champions League semi finals were done and dusted it seemed like a distant dream that we would see an all English Premier League final, the first since 2008 and only the second one.

Hopes were raised given that Tottenham and Liverpool had been separated in the draw but still the favourites to get through were Barcelona and Ajax, after all Barcelona had just made light work of Manchester United and were on form and Ajax had their best team in over 20 years.

When the first legs finished form looked good. Ajax had gone to London and beat Tottenham 1-0 and Barcelona had beaten Liverpool 3-0 in Spain. Those matches both looked over, and then football went crazy or to put it a better way, it just went berserk. Belief took hold, first from Liverpool who scored 4 goals as Barcelona played like their B team and Jurgen Klopp’s team won 4-0 and went through.

However Tottenham’s comeback was even greater, because they didn’t score first in Holland and indeed went a further 2 goals behind. Now Tottenham needed 3 with 35 minutes left and Lucas Moura scored a hat-trick, I mean let’s face it we won’t see the likes of this again, not from 2 different teams in the same season at that very crucial stage.

So Tottenham will play Liverpool in the final which will be the 6th time teams have played each other from the same country. The bad news for Tottenham is that on every occasion the favourites have won. At the same time maybe just maybe Tottenham’s name is on the cup this year. Historically it would be more significant if they won it given that it would be their first time. For Liverpool they have not won it since 2005 and since becoming the Champions League the club have appeared in 3 finals, this will be their 4th.

As for the Europa League final Chelsea will play Arsenal. Arsenal have not won in Europe for 25 years so this would be quite an anniversary for them. As for Chelsea they have had an excellent standard in Europe this decade winning the Champions League in 2012 and then the Europa League in 2013. And they will probably start as slight favourites, although never underestimate Unai Emery who has already won the Europa League with Sevilla 3 times in a row.

What do these final appearances say for the Premier League? After all no team had won from England in the Champions League since 2012 and the competition has only been won by a Premier League side four times- 2 for Manchester United and one apiece for Liverpool and Chelsea.

It says of course that the standard has improved and that this season whatever happens won’t be a blip with such utter domination in both finals. English and Premier League football looks like it is back on the map after being away for almost a decade.

Tottenham are one match away from greatness so why is Mauricio Pochettino talking about leaving?

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Timing is everything from comedy to football, get it wrong and everything including all of the hard work you’ve done can fall apart. So It has been odd to say the least that a few weeks before Tottenham play in their first ever Champions League final the manager Mauricio Pochettino has hinted that he may leave the club.

Now there are different sides and takes to this story and we must explore them all. The first is that Pochettino actually said that if Tottenham were to win the Champions League he could leave. His reasoning one believes would be that he has taken the club as far as he can take them, and that the season after would only be a come down. He has a point and the fact that Tottenham have never won the Champions League if they were to do so would be much more important in terms of football history than if Liverpool were to capture their 6th title.

It would be an incredible feat for Pochettino that there is no doubt and he would go down as a club legend. There is another story that Pochettino wants even more for Tottenham, he wants them to be the biggest club in England and in Europe and that he feels that club chairman Daniel Levy and himself are simply not on the same page, so he will leave.

But what about staying at the club even if they do win the competition? Wouldn’t building that legacy make much more sense? Tottenham have been the almost rans and pretenders to football’s elite for too long, and let’s face it they have been the best side in the Premier League for the last 2 seasons if we take their achievements for pound for pound.

Under Pochettino Spurs have risen, first past their neighbours the most successful Arsenal and then qualifying regularly for the Champions League and now they are in the final. That unlucky tagline or the most Neanderthal saying- ‘spursy’ simply seems redundant under Pochettino. He has made the right purchases, yes, but he has also proven his leadership qualities by getting his side to the Champions League final despite the club not buying anyone this season. It is a massive achievement.

On the other side if Levy will not or does not see Pochettino’s vision for the club then the manager would have a point about leaving, all of that remains hearsay though, until we know the truth.

One truth could be that Pochettino will leave the club to go to Barcelona. The Argentinian connection with Lionel Messi cannot be lost on anyone, and Ernesto Valverde’s time at Barcelona could well be up even if they do win the Copa del Rey at the weekend.

To summarise it would be unfortunate if Tottenham win or lose the final did lose Pochettino after he has taken the club so far.

EPL Weekend Picks – Week 36

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With only three or four games left in the Premier League season depending on which side you are following, things are starting to get serious! The title race looks all set to go down to the wire, while the relegation battle appears closer than many thought possible just a few weeks ago. Cardiff and Brighton appear the two sides most immediately in danger of claiming 18th and the final relegation place, though Southampton are not yet mathematically safe. Title contenders Liverpool and Man City both have games where you would fancy them to win, with City’s arguably the slightly tougher game. With that said, let’s go for a 4-3-3 again and see which players are worth keeping an eye on and including in your fantasy squads this weekend.

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EPL Player of the Week – Lucas Moura (Tottenham)

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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.

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EPL Weekend Picks – Week 35

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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!

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EPL Best XI – Week 34

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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.

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EPL Weekend Picks – Week 34

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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.

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Meltdown at Tottenham as they suffer their worst form of the season at crucial time

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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.

 

Battle for Premier League top-four finish hots up

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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

EPL Game of the Weekend – Liverpool vs Tottenham

liverpool-tottenhamWhen 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.

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