Ndombele the great risk for Tottenham or a potential great?

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If relief had a sound then you could hear it amongst Tottenham fans as the club have agreed with Lyon to finally purchase Tanguy Ndombele for a reported £65m. The midfielder is understood to be signing this week for the club after having to pass a medical. The question is just who have Tottenham bought?

One has to remember that Ndombele was plying his trade with Amiens the season before and Lyon bought him last summer for just £7m- they have won nothing this season, and never looked like doing so- and his value has risen by almost £60m. That would suggest he is Lyon’s outstanding player? Not so.

Looking at how Ndombele performed statistically in the European Fantasy League rankings we can see that Ndombele wasn’t even Lyon’s best midfielder let alone being their best player.

In Ligue 1 midfielders alone Ndombele finished in 27th position. His ranking by position for all midfielders in major leagues was 177th with his overall ranking as a player at 449th. While it is true that stats can only get us so far, paying £65m for a player of Ndombele’s standing seems wrong, inflated and grotesque.

His achievements thus far have been zero, still he is young and at 22 Tottenham are hoping that is where his value lies. There has been talk that Tottenham are about to buy the next Michael Essien, perhaps they are and in an ideal world he will stay for six seasons, win trophies and become a club legend before being sold to Real Madrid for £200m. It could happen, and it could not.

Lyon’s value of the player is simply a joke, he has not improved by £60m over one season, but at the same time he has made the French squad four times albeit in friendlies. One has to wonder what Lyon’s valuation would be for Nebil Fekir, who did have a better season than Ndombele and is regarded as a huge player for Lyon even though he wasn’t deemed good enough to start for France at last summer’s World Cup.

Tottenham manager Mauricio Pochettino will be hoping that Ndombele’s arrival will be the first of many, but does club owner Daniel Levy think that way? The good news is that the club are about to splash the cash after being linked too Giovani Lo Celso from Real Betis with a reported £60m deal on the cards, of course these figures fluctuate depending on who you believe. But that deal seems to have stalled. Then there was Bruno Fernandes from Sporting Club in Portugal but they could have a fight on their hands with Manchester United for his signature.

The club are at an important moment in their history, right dead bang on centre to moving on from the pretenders of yesteryear when an odd cup was good enough. There is a sense within the club that they can start winning important trophies and build a legacy on it. And it is all going to start this summer, that’s if Pochettino can get his players and Levy to open up his chequebook again.

Top Premier League Goalkeepers in 2018/19: Hugo Lloris

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Hugo Lloris completed his seventh season with Tottenham and even though it ended with no trophies there was no denying that his club had had a successful season. In the end Lloris helped Tottenham to a Champions League final, the clubs first final in their history and they also finished 4th in the Premier League and qualified for next years tournament as a result.

Lloris played 33 league games for Spurs and kept 12 clean sheets conceding 33 goals along the way. In the European Fantasy League rankings for the Premier League Lloris finished in 4th place with a total of 60 points. In the end he finished just 2 points behind Chelsea’s world record signing Kepa Arrizabalaga.

While Lloris can look back on the season as a good one it didn’t exactly start off well for him when he was arrested on suspicion of drink driving. He later pleaded guilty to the charge. Whilst this was a down point in Lloris’ season what was positive is that the Frenchman did not feel sorry for himself and quickly battled back to be in the team, missing only five games this season.

Because Tottenham conceded in their first two games of the season it meant that Llois started it with no points. He picked up his first points after the brilliant 3-0 win at Old Trafford against Manchester United. That game ended up being a catalyst for the team to continue their good form and Lloris kept another two clean sheets on a row as Spurs went on to beat Cardiff and West Ham. Llrois’ run ended in the next game when Tottenham were beaten 1-0 by champions Manchester City.

One of the best months for Lloris was in April when he did not concede a goal in the league that month and earned 21 points from 3 games played after Spurs claimed victories over Crystal Palace, Huddersfield and Brighton.

Lloris’ lowest point of the season came against eternal rivals Arsenal, it was a frantic day of football in the north London derby that saw Arsenal come out 4-2 winners. Conceding 4 goals is never good as a goalkeeper and on that day he ended up with -6 points. There was also the defeat against Wolves which ended 3-1 where Llrois ended up with -4 points.

With the season winding down and Tottenham clearly concentrating on the Champions League, so did their club form. Lloris finished his final three games this season earning no points and indeed finished with -2 over that period.

Had Tottenham finished a little stronger there is no doubt that Lloris would have beaten Kepa in the rankings.

Lloris looks set to keep his place at Tottenham for another season and if manager Mauricio Pochettino can identify the clubs problems with some shrewd summer signings this should be able to bolster the clubs fortunes once more and Lloris will be looking to put more clean sheets and more points on the board for next season.

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Fabinho the key for Liverpool in the Champions League Final

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Of the numerous impressive individual performers across this past season for Liverpool, Fabinho fell under the radar somewhat. The Brazilian earned credit but not to the extent some of his teammates received.

Yet, by the end of the campaign, Fabinho was as important a player as any in the starting line up. Alisson, Virgil van Dijk, Trent Alexander-Arnold, Andy Robertson, Mohamed Salah, Roberto Firmino and Sadio Mane are the types of players that shone brightly. Fabinho was as important as them but did it in the quiet, efficient manner that separates the best defensive midfielders from the rest. And when Liverpool take on Tottenham Hotspur in the Champions League Final in Madrid on Sunday, it is Fabinho who will play a pivotal role. Continue reading

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.

Ajax take a step back to go forward and are on the verge of Champions League final

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Ajax beat Tottenham in London in the first leg of the Champions League semi-final to claim a vital away goal and a fantastic win.

To be fair it isn’t often that we have witnessed both teams get this far in the competition. Indeed for Tottenham it is the first since the rebranding of the competitions name in 1992/93 and their first since 1962.

For Ajax the last time the team were this good was in 1996 when they reached their second Champions League final in a row only to lose on penalties against Juventus. But rewind a year before when Ajax won the competition and beat the great Milan side of the 90s in the process.

That Ajax side were remembered for the youths that came through the side and stunned European football. Players such as Patrick Kluivert, Marc Overmars, Clarence Seedorf, Edgar Davids and Jari Litmanen just to name a few. All went on to play for the biggest sides in Europe- but that night will always remain the most special for the players.

The 1995 win was also the first for the club since 1973 when they won 3 European Cups in a row between 1971-73, headed by the great Johan Cruyff. There has always been quality and a sense of total football with Ajax since the 70s but since the early 2000s the club have suffered.

Youngsters were not coming through as frequently and when, on rare occasions, they did they would be sold and moved on when they were clearly too young. A new generation did threaten a couple of years ago when Ajax reached the Europa League final against Manchester United, but the Dutch side were simply not ready for Jose Mourinho’s side at that point.

This season has been unbelievable for them. They look on course to win the Dutch league and have been phenomenal in the Champions League. Not only did they end Real Madrid’s 3 year hold on the competition they destroyed them in their own back yard winning 4-1.

Next up was Juventus and not just any old Juventus, but the club that had bought Ronaldo from Madrid in order to win their first Champions League since 1996. But Ajax stayed professional throughout and won 3-2 over 2 legs, impressively beating Juventus in Italy.

In some ways this match up with Tottenham was fascinating. Ajax had rarely faced a stronger Tottenham side but Tottenham had never faced such a skilful and peaceful Ajax team. The way Ajax started the game in Tottenham’s new stadium was incredible- one was reminded of Pep Guardiola’s Barcelona from 2011.

It is a joy to behold to see how strong Ajax have become- the 2nd leg is still up for grabs of course but it does look like Ajax have one foot in the final. The likes of Matthijs De Ligt, Donny van de Beek,- who scored against Tottenham, Frenkie de Jong and Hakim Ziyech have been a revelation and a shot in the arm for European football.

Can Ajax recall teams of the past and make it to the final and possibly even win it- it’s not such a pipedream like it was at the beginning of the year. It feels like a reality and it is clear that Ajax mean business.

From Tottenham to Manchester United who will claim 3rd and 4th in the Premier League?

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We don’t know who will win the Premier League yet but we do know the teams in the running, Manchester City and Liverpool have already qualified for next seasons Champions League. But there are still two places up for grabs and yet there are 4 teams chasing those places. It looks like it will go down to the wire, but which two teams are likely to get the places?

Tottenham:

Tottenham are the clear favourites to seal a Champions League top 4 position and are currently in 3rd place with 70 points. They have a 3 point advantage over their direct rivals with just 3 games left to play. Tottenham start their games off with a home match against West Ham. This should be straight forward but the club will be thinking of their Champions League match against Ajax, the semi-final showdown is a huge part of Spurs’ footballing history and the players will be thinking of it. That game could well end in a draw.

After that Tottenham will be away to Bournemouth who are safe and now playing for anything and they should be able to get a hard working win there. They will finish the season off at home against in form Everton. This should be a fascinating game but the club will be determined to get all 3 points at their new stadium to wrap the season up. It won’t be easy for Spurs but we can see them getting at least 7 points.

Final Points Total: 77pts.

Chelsea:

Chelsea have blown hot and cold this season and have looked like world beaters at times. But the second half of the season has seen Maurizio Sarri’s side struggle more and they have concentrated more on their Europa League campaign. They will play Manchester United away this weekend and we can’t see them getting anything from a very difficult game plus they have the Europa League semi-finals on their mind. Win that and they get to play in the Champions League anyway.

After that they will be at home to Watford, and while Chelsea will still see the Europa League as priority we do expect them to get a win in this match. But it will be very close judging on how the team have performed over the past few months. They finish the season away to Leicester which will be a difficult game, and the best we can see there is that they walk away with a draw.

Final Points Total: 71pts.

Arsenal:

Much like Chelsea, Arsenal will have the Europa League on their mind where they have reached the semi finals and will play Valencia in what could be two very difficult games for the club. We could also have an all English final which would be quite incredible.

As for the games, Arsenal will play Leicester away on Sunday. Arsenal have been in poor form losing their last 2 games and conceding 6 goals, but we don’t think this will last with the quality they have and they can beat Leicester. The Gunners rarely lose 3 games in a row, and will have to be at their best against the Foxes.

Next Arsenal will play Brighton who have been very poor but fighting for survival, and Arsenal should have more than enough to get all 3 points at home, they have lost just 2 times at the Emirates all season. They finish the season with an away game against Burnley who might be able to come away with a draw, so we see Arsenal getting at least 7 points.

Final Points Total: 73pts.

Manchester United:

Somehow United still have a chance after their poor form in recent weeks and even if they do not qualify for the Champions League they have given it a massive shot in the arm since December and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s arrival. They will play Chelsea on Sunday and we believe that the club can get the win at home and turn their poor form around. It is a massive game for both sides considering they are both going for 4th place.

After that and considering the club are not involved in any other competitions unlike their rivals they will play Huddersfield, the poorest side in the league. They will be away granted, but we expect an easy win over a side who have lost 28 times this season. United finish their season at home to Cardiff. They could end up relegating them on the final day of the season or maybe the club will be down by then anyway. It doesn’t matter, United will have too much class for the team and should win that too. We see them finishing on a high and getting 9 points.

Final Points Total: 73.

So from the above we see Tottenham getting 3rd place but Arsenal and Manchester United finishing with 73 points each and Chelsea missing out on 71. Goal difference could be the key between United and Arsenal.

Currently Arsenal have an advantage of +16 goals over United, so that looks to have sealed the deal and by the skin of their teeth Arsenal should be able to fend off United even if they win all their remaining games.

We will wait and see if indeed it plays out like this.

3rd- Tottenham   77

4th  Arsenal       73

5th Manchester United   73

6th Chelsea      71

 

 

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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