6 classic Arsenal vs Tottenham clashes from the Premier League era

Arsenal 5-2 Tottenham (2011/12)

Arsenal, it is fair to say, did not get off to the best of starts in 2011/12. An opening-day draw with Newcastle United was a disappointment but the worst was still to come, with the Gunners following up that stalemate at St James’ Park with a 2-0 home defeat by Liverpool and an infamous 8-2 demolition at the hands of Manchester United.

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Pochettino is right, the Premier League summer transfer window is a farce

Mauricio Pochettino, the Tottenham manager came out with a suggestion that the transfer window should stay open as long as in the rest of Europe and he is absolutely right.

The window closed on August 8th in England just a couple of days before the Premier League season kicked off. In theory this makes perfect sense. Close the window and start the league, that way no players can feel unsettled- however this is only the case in England. In the major top European leagues their windows do not close until September 2nd, and that means that the likes of Real Madrid can pursue for example Christen Eriksen from Tottenham and Tottenham won’t be able to replace him.

It makes no sense at all that the windows are closing on different dates. One solution could be that foreign clubs cannot buy any players from the Premier League once the window closes in England, but with big money involved you can see clubs going to court about that.

In England the window used to close around September 2nd in line with all other top European leagues and it was only decided a few seasons ago to stop this. The idea being that players feel unsettled starting the season with one club and ending the month at another. But closing the window before the beginning of the season doesn’t make any sense unless all other major European leagues do the same. If not surely England has to revert back to the end of the month?

From a fans perspective what has been good about the window closing early is that we can close the book on  any silly rumours flying about- except with European clubs able to take your clubs best players for an additional 3 weeks, you can’t.

In essence closing the window early in England has to go down as one of the biggest mistakes in the history of the Premier League, and this season it could come back and haunt some of the clubs, namely Tottenham and that is why Pochettino is obviously so concerned. But other clubs should be too- it might not be this season that your club is affected, but it could be the next.

Pochettino has voiced his concerns and said that he hopes the Premier League will change their stance. Of course it will be interesting to understand how fans feel about this, but the current situation does seem incredibly wrong.

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Hope for other EPL clubs after Manchester City draw with Tottenham

The Premier League season has started and 20 clubs will fight against each other for the coveted league title but also for European places & survival. In the first top clash of the season, a home match, Manchester City was all geared up to face Tottenham. In the last season, European finalists Tottenham knocked Man City out of the Champions League in the quarter-final.

Thus, the pressure was more on Manchester City as they have to give payback but also prove their mettle. The dreams and hopes of the supporters of City, as well as the players, involve winning as many trophies as possible this season. People who do sports betting invest a lot of money on these clubs through the real money casinos.

Manchester City were unable to defeat Tottenham. The match ended in a 2-2 draw. City players and fans will feel hard done by. Pep Guardiola’s champions will not have an easy time ahead. No team beat City since last season when Spurs accomplished a 1-0 victory in the Champions League. Since that loss, Guardiola’s men won many important matches, including two games versus Tottenham- one in the Champions League return leg and another in the league.

Last Saturday, a resounding 5-0 win in West Ham proved Manchester City will be aiming for another league title. Before Saturday 2-2 draw with Spurs, City had played 15 Premier League matches and won all of them to remain undefeated in the league since they lost 2-1 on January 29 in Newcastle. In the Champions League, Spurs defeated City and showed the other clubs that this was a possible feat. This led to a frantic second leg with more goals and much drama.

Manchester City set a record by winning 18 matches in succession in the Premier Leagues during the 2017/18 season. Unfortunately for City, they will not be able to beat or even match that record following the 2-2 home draw against bogey side Tottenham.

While records are good to have, what really matters to City and their fans is winning trophies, among them the coveted Premier League title. However, fans would love to see City lift the Champions League trophy as well. The 2-2 draw against Spurs has once again showed other English clubs that it is possible to derail this extremely talented City side.

For other clubs and in particular Liverpool, they must keep pace and they need to vanquish all the top 6 rival teams to maintain their extraordinary form. Last season, they gathered 97 points keeping the incredible form intact and lost only once in the entire season. Due to this loss, they came in second and Manchester City emerged as the winner last season. They lost the match to Man City and ended up losing the league by a single point which was quite saddening for Liverpool and their supporters. Liverpool beat Norwich 4-1 on opening weekend and followed that up with a second win away at Southampton meaning they are currently are on six points to City’s four.

That being said, for the coming three months, Liverpool may not be able to get close to the team of Guardiola again. This is because of the fixtures that are in front of them. Keeping the title race alive will be quite compelling just like it was last season. Manchester City was defeated last season by Newcastle and this simply showed how even struggling teams can play well and defeat the giants. 

Newcastle’s victory may be repeated by Norwich, Bournemouth or Brighton but it will be an extremely difficult feat against the talented and deep City side. Despite the 2-2 draw, it can be said that City’s players will have the opportunity to win match after match in the upcoming weeks and perhaps even build a small lead at the top before the trip to Anfield. Liverpool and Klopp are perhaps the only ones capable of stopping City from winning a third consecutive league title, However, watch out for Spurs would could still derail City when the two teams face each other in London.

Man City face first test of their Premier League title defence

In some ways, Manchester City strolled to the Premier League title last season. They might have had Liverpool keeping pace with them for the majority of the way, but nonetheless Pep Guardiola’s team still went much of the season unchallenged by the rest of the English top flight.

By doing this, City managed to retain a Premier League title for the first time and now there are signs that what Guardiola has built could become a dynasty. The 2019/20 Premier League season started last week and there’s no suggestion that City won’t be the frontrunners to win a third-straight title.

Only Liverpool and possibly Tottenham Hotspur can challenge Guardiola’s defending champions. We will find out more about Spurs this weekend when Mauricio Pochettino’s team travel north to take on Man City at the Etihad Stadium. It’s the first marquee, top-of-the-table clash and do a lot to determine the title race for the season ahead.

However, we will also learn a lot about City and whether they can be potentially caught. Spurs have made progress over the summer, signing Tanguy Ndombele, Ryan Sessegnon and Giovani Lo Celso to significantly strengthen what was already a strong squad. Pochettino led his team to the Champions League final last season, but he wants even more this season.

City were mightily impressive in the opening Premier League fixture of the season, putting five past West Ham away from home. This will be more of a test, though. Spurs aren’t just a strong team, but a group of players with the golden carrot of a piece of silverware still in front of their nose, leading them on. They are a motivated bunch.

There is a certain pressure that comes with being the chased. Man City, as the two-time defending Premier League champions, now play every week with a target on their back. Opposition sides up their game to take on Guardiola’s men and this will certainly be the case when Spurs come to visit this weekend.

What’s more, this is a side that caused City problems at the Etihad as recently as April, when Spurs knocked out the Premier League leaders on their way into the final four of the Champions League. Guardiola and his players cannot afford to take their challenge lightly. We will learn more about the dynamic between the two teams after Saturday.

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The Big four in the Premier League have been quiet in the transfer market

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The summer transfer window in the Premier League has been open since May 16th and in that time 7 weeks there hasn’t actually been that much activity between the top 4 clubs who finished in those places in the Premier League. The ones where you expect them to break the bank and make massive signings just like they have in the past.

Is FFP to blame? Or is it a case of the teams are simply not finding the right players at the right prices to try and compete? There haven’t been too many eye catching transfers in Europe either although the likes of Manchester City and Liverpool both aiming to dominate football and be the best would have risen an eyebrow to the highly talented Joao Felix signing for Atletico Madrid a few days ago. So the money is there or thereabouts but where is the quality this summer?

Of course the window does not shut yet but in England it has changed. Years ago the window used to close on August 31st even though the league had in all of those cases already started. The window now closes just before the league starts and that has been the new given rule in England. So it will close on August 8th. That is just 31 days away, and that goes very quickly, will we see more big deals go through or is that it?

Champions Manchester City who have spent close to £500m since Pep Guardiola became manager have brought in just two players. Angelino from PSV and their big one Rodri from Atletico Madrid. Angelino cost just over £5m but much is expected of Rodri who cost the club £63m. Give or take City have spent about £75m this summer on players, a lot of money but not nearly as much as City would usually spend.

Premier League runners up Liverpool have been very quiet buying just one player, Sepp van den Berg from PEC Zwolle for just over £1m and it will be questionable if the player gets games in the league and he may be only used for the league cup. So manager Jurgen Klopp is keeping his chequebook closed but at the same time Liverpool do have a very strong team and he will be happy with what he has.

Chelsea managed 3rd place in the end in the league but unlucky for them they currently have a transfer ban from UEFA. It is something that the club are appealing but with days running out anyway it looks almost certain that the Blues will not be buying or be able to buy any new players this summer.

That leaves us with Tottenham. A team who went the past two transfer windows not buying anyone. Young prospect Jack Clarke has come from Leeds for just £10m but the big purchase has been for Lyon’s Tanguy Ndombele who cost the club in the region of £55m, though that may rise.

All in all the big four clubs who finished in the top four last season have spent a combined £140m on players so far. Even taking into account Chelsea’s transfer ban this is a very low figure when you think of the TV deals that the clubs have been able to broker. We could also be fair and include Arsenal who finished 5th in place of Chelsea who can’t buy players.Yet even if we do this the Gunners have only spent £6m, with one player coming in on a free transfer.

Is the bubble finally bursting in the world’s most expensive league or should we remain more patient as the window closes by each passing day- either way we will find out soon enough.

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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Why UEFA should build a super stadium for major events

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It’s been a busy and interesting last few days for UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin who called English clubs ‘mad’ because Chelsea and Arsenal had complained that the Europa League final was in Azerbaijan and Ceferin had many good points to his argument. At the same time it is estimated that only 10,000 fans of both clubs witnessed the game live and one wonders if UEFA needs to change the format of the final?

Ceferin himself admitted that future Champions League finals need to be played at only 4 or 5 rotating venues around Europe, but is happy for the Europa League final to be played anywhere that has a capacity of more than 50,000.

For Europe’s premier prize it is thought that a stadium like Atletico Madrid’s Wanda was in fact too small at 67,000. And Ceferin rightly pointed out that more tickets would have been sold had the final been at Wembley Stadium for example. There is also the Bernabeu in Madrid and Nou Camp and if Ceferin gets his way we should expect these stadiums to be on the short list for future Champions League finals.

But here’s the thing- why don’t UEFA build their own purpose stadium, perhaps in Switzerland? A stadium that is simply the largest in the world- we’re talking between 150,000-200,000 capacity. It would be quite a job but it would also be possible in this day and age and with the technology we have.

One could see Ceferin’s frustration when he admitted that 980,000 fans had applied for a Champions League ticket. This was the tickets released on general sale. With so many applying less than 3% ended up being successful. In other words the chances for general football fans to witness a Champions League final is almost non-existent. Why not cut in those odds and sell more tickets?

Of course countries love to host the final but having it always in Switzerland makes sense if we have such a mega stadium. Switzerland is basically like the middle ground of Europe and easily accessible for fans. Over time the stadium would get a legendary reputation as the stadium that every professional footballer would want to play in.

As for getting costs back, other events such as concerts could take place there, Swiss expos, conventions, perhaps even the Europa League final and maybe the semi-finals of the Champions League too. UEFA could have shops and a UEFA museum attached to the stadium with exclusive hotels to boot. What UEFA would be doing is in affect stamping their name on the heart of football by creating a super stadium for super final games.

In the current climate the finals are evidently not working and genuine fans of clubs are being left out in the cold. Time for a mega stadium to happen.

 

Tottenham’s Harry Kane could burn out if he doesn’t protect himself

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It was unfortunate to see such a lethargic display from Harry Kane in the Champions League final after the Tottenham striker returned from injury and was immediately put into the first team. Kane is one of the very best prospects in England but the player needs to be protected and mainly from himself.

We do not have to doubt Kane’s goal scoring abilities and his eye for goal and work rate in the area is brilliant. He is so precise and if anyone does want to doubt Kane’s abilities as a striker then his 164 goals in 253 appearances for Tottenham should put that to bed.

But here’s the problem and it cuts both ways with coaches and Kane himself- he needs to know and they need to know when the player needs rest.

Before the Champions League final Tottenham manager Mauricio Pochettino was asked why he brought Kane straight back into the team forcing Lucas Moura the hat trick hero in the semi-final win over Ajax to be dropped to the bench? Pochettino reacted as if the interviewer was pulling his leg, such is Kane’s importance to the team, but it was arguably wrong to think that and it was a genuine question. Had Moura been returning from injury, he still would have started the final from the bench, and yet Kane was brought in. True he is special to the club but he was still slightly rusty after having missed almost the last two months of football. It was the wrong choice to start him.

That was proven in a game where Kane was almost invisible. Again not his fault, this was the final and he wasn’t about to miss it but Kane’s inclusion actually helped Liverpool, because it felt for the most part that Tottenham were playing with 10 men, he was that quiet.

A few days later England were playing the Netherlands in the UEFA Nations Cup and England manager Gareth Southgate absolutely did the right thing in not starting Kane but bringing him on later in the game. No matter if England eventually lost the match, Kane’s presence or not wouldn’t have made the difference as he is still clearly recovering.

The problem was that after the game Kane was interviewed where he remained positive and upbeat and told journalists that he would get right back to fitness, go for a run on the beach and hit the gym.

Whilst Kane’s words would seem normal to any day footballer who is 25 remember the problem is that Kane doesn’t seem to be listening to his own body. He missed two chunks of the season because of injury and his quality is such that Tottenham cannot really afford to be without him for long periods. And when he gets injured his willingness to get fit quicker than expected seems to hamper his recovery time. So when he is ready to return, he actually really isn’t.

Southgate did the right thing Pochettino to a lesser extent didn’t. But Kane also needs to listen to his own body, the last thing anyone wants to see is a career where he keeps picking up injuries here and there and doesn’t get a good run of games under his belt. He is a special talent and he needs to be looked after.

Van Dijk and Alisson the stars of Liverpool’s Champions League success

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Madrid has often been where Champions League legends are made, and that proved to be the case for Liverpool. This year’s Champions League final won’t go down as one of the best, indeed in many aspects, it was among the worst, but Liverpool won’t mind one bit.

This side have battled their way back throughout the Champions League this season, and it was no different in the final. The natural rhythm, tempo and desire were lacking from Jurgen Klopp’s side. Instead, they had to battle, scrap and find something much deeper to ensure they were lifting a sixth European crown by the evening’s end. This Liverpool side have transformed under Klopp this year. The swashbuckling, cavalier team of the past has made way for one that has much more about it. Continue reading

No need for despondency at Tottenham, who are well ahead of schedule

Following a lengthy three-week build up, Tottenham Hotspur’s chances of winning the Champions League were significantly damaged within just 22 seconds of the first whistle on Saturday night.

After Liverpool had raced forward in an attempt to get their noses in front early on, Moussa Sissoko was penalised when Sadio Mane’s cross struck his outstretched arm. Sissoko may have been a little unfortunate to see the ball ricochet off his chest and then hit his arm, but extending it away from his body to that extent was a needless risk that gave Mohamed Salah the opportunity to draw first blood in the second minute.

That strike made Spurs’ task harder, but there was still plenty of time to get back into the match and they will have drawn inspiration from their sensational comeback from three goals down on aggregate in the semi-finals against Ajax. This time, though, there was to be no dramatic turnaround. Mauricio Pochettino’s men enjoyed plenty of possession for the remainder of the encounter without ever sufficiently testing Alisson in the opposition goal. And although Liverpool, who made sure of victory with a well-taken goal by Divock Origi in the closing stages, did not play particularly well either, the onus was on Tottenham because of the scoreline.

Games as big as the Champions League final often lead to sweeping conclusions, and although Liverpool can legitimately point to the result and argue that the end justified the means, the Madrid showpiece could have turned out very differently had Sissoko kept his arm by his side. That is not to say that Tottenham would have triumphed but for that incident – who knows, they could have lost by an even bigger margin had Liverpool needed to chase the match – but it is important to remember that minor episodes can have major effects and it would be wrong to lose perspective with regards to where Tottenham are currently at.

In Pochettino’s first campaign at the helm, Spurs missed out on Champions League qualifications. They then finished as runners-up to Leicester City in 2015/16 and Chelsea in 2016/17, before securing two more top-four finishes in the last two seasons. This represents a phenomenal stretch of consistency given that Tottenham’s net spend and wage bill are substantially lower than the teams they are competing with, namely Manchester City, Manchester United, Arsenal, Chelsea and, their victors this weekend, Liverpool. Despite the disappointment of defeat in Madrid, it is important to remember that the north Londoners are still well ahead of schedule.

“Now it’s impossible to talk and we will all be very disappointed,” Pochettino told reporters at the Wanda Metropolitano. “The season was fantastic. We need to feel proud. I feel so proud of all the players, the fans and the club. We can’t give the last moment, the last game of the season, a massive reward for our fans.

“It’s not about tactics and today before 30 seconds a penalty that changed the plans completely. It had a massive impact for the team which we had to manage but the team was great, because of course it was difficult after.

“When that happens, it’s so painful but at the same time we need to be calm in the way that we talk and analyse the things because the season was fantastic and we need to feel proud. To finish in the top four and play in the Champions League final for the first time in the history of the club. It’s a thing that is going to be painful because we lost the final but in the same time we need to be positive.”

Pochettino later refused to commit his future to the club when invited to do so, but it is likely that he did not want to discuss such a big question in the immediate aftermath of the game. It would be a surprise if the Argentinian departed at this stage, but he is right to seek assurances from Daniel Levy about the club’s objectives going forward. Tottenham have had a fantastic five years, but they must ensure that their first ever Champions League final appearance is the start of something, not the end.

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