Liverpool Kids Bury Everton As Lucas Rescues Spurs

 

Liverpool inflicted fresh misery on Merseyside rivals Everton as a superb strike from teenager Curtis Jones sealed a 1-0 win in the FA Cup third round on Sunday.

Jones’ second-half curler sent Anfield in ecstasy as the club’s youth academy graduates handed Everton an embarrassing derby defeat.

The 18-year-old Liverpool-born midfielder was making only his fifth appearance and his memorable match-winner was his first senior goal.

Jones is the youngest goalscorer for Liverpool in a Merseyside derby since Robbie Fowler.

Without a win over their rivals in any competition since 2010 and thrashed 5-2 at Anfield in the Premier League earlier this season, Everton will feel the pain from this defeat against their under-strength neighbours for some while.

Hit by injuries that left him with 12 fit senior outfield players, Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp had made nine changes, selecting Nat Phillips, 22, and teenage trio Neco Williams, Harvey Elliott, and Jones.

In contrast, Everton manager Carlo Ancelotti made just two changes, fielding a strong team as the visitors chased a first win at Anfield since 1999.

Liverpool’s injury problems mounted within 10 minutes when James Milner limped off to be replaced by another teenager Yasser Larouci.

Ancelotti’s side threatened early on when Dominic Calvert-Lewin’s strike was pushed away from Adrian, who then repelled Mason Holgate’s header and Richarlison’s shot.

Liverpool’s youngsters had been thrashed by Aston Villa while the senior stars were away at the Club World Cup in December.

But they acquitted themselves much better this time and Japan striker Takumi Minamino, making his debut after joining from Salzburg, glanced a header narrowly off-target before Divock Origi’s low drive was brilliantly saved by Jordan Pickford.

Jones’ moment of magic came in the 71st minute when he played a chipped pass to Origi, took the return ball and curled a stunning effort into the top corner.

Spurs held

Elsewhere on Sunday, Lucas Moura kept Tottenham’s FA Cup hopes alive with the equaliser in their 1-1 draw at second-tier Middlesbrough, while Callum Hudson-Odoi got back in the groove as Chelsea cruised to a 2-0 win over Nottingham Forest.

Tottenham haven’t lifted a major trophy since 2008 when current Middlesbrough manager Jonathan Woodgate scored the League Cup winner against Chelsea.

Woodgate was on course to dent Tottenham’s bid to end that wretched run when Ashley Fletcher put Middlesbrough ahead in the second half at the Riverside Stadium.

But Brazilian winger Lucas headed the equaliser to send the tie to a replay in north London later in January.

“When we were losing 1-0, at that moment I had the feeling of ‘we are in trouble’,” Tottenham boss Jose Mourinho said.

“We could be out like a few other Premier League teams. But then everyone reacted. I reacted. The boys reacted.”

At Stamford Bridge, there were signs that Hudson-Odoi might be emerging from his sophomore slump.

He opened the scoring against the second-tier side in the sixth minute, just his second goal of the season and his first since September.

Blues boss Frank Lampard had made nine changes, but Chelsea doubled their lead in the 33rd minute when Hudson-Odoi’s shot was parried straight to Ross Barkley and the midfielder poked home at the back post.

“I was particularly pleased for Callum, he has had a bad injury, is getting himself fit and getting sharper. His goal was an early settler for us,” Lampard said.

Crystal Palace became the third Premier League club to be knocked out this weekend as second tier Derby won 1-0 at Selhurst Park.

Jayden Bogle fizzed a cross to the far post and Chris Martin tapped into the net in the 32nd minute.

In a VAR first in England, referee Michael Oliver used the pitch-side monitor to change a decision, sending off Luka Milivojevic after initially booking the Palace midfielder for kicking out at Tom Huddlestone in the 63rd minute.

Sheffield United avoided a non-league upset with a 2-1 win against AFC Fylde at Bramall Lane.

Lucas Rescues Spurs, Chelsea In FA Cup Stroll

 

 

Lucas Moura kept Tottenham’s FA Cup hopes alive with the equaliser in their 1-1 draw at second tier Middlesbrough, while Callum Hudson-Odoi got back in the groove as Chelsea cruised to a 2-0 win over Nottingham Forest in the third round on Sunday.

Tottenham haven’t lifted a major trophy since 2008 when current Middlesbrough manager Jonathan Woodgate scored the League Cup winner against Chelsea.

Woodgate was on course to dent Tottenham’s bid to end that wretched run when Ashley Fletcher put Middlesbrough ahead in the second half at the Riverside Stadium.

But Brazilian winger Lucas headed the equaliser to send the tie to a replay in north London later in January.

Keen to win silverware in his first season, Tottenham boss Jose Mourinho had made just three changes, with Son Heung-min returning from a three-match suspension and replacing the injured Harry Kane.

Son twice came close to putting Tottenham ahead in the first half and the visitors should have gone in front when Ryan Sessegnon fluffed his chance from Serge Aurier’s cross.

Tottenham were never completely convincing and, with only one clean-sheet since Mourinho took over, there was a familiar feeling when Middlesbrough snatched the lead in the 50th minute.

Fletcher beat Tottenham’s attempt to play offside, ran through on goal and fired past Paulo Gazzaniga, with no VAR in use to question the goal.

Tottenham hit back in the 61st minute, Aurier’s cross picking out Lucas for a thumping header.

“When we were losing 1-0 without strikers or the power to play inside their defensive line, at that moment I had the feeling of ‘we are in trouble’,” Mourinho said.

“We could be out like a few other Premier League teams. But then everyone reacted. I reacted. The boys reacted.”

At Stamford Bridge, there were signs that Hudson-Odoi might be emerging from his sophomore slump.

Hudson-Odoi has endured a difficult season as injuries and poor form have ruined the positive impact he had last season.

But the 19-year-old had made his name with a breakthrough display against Forest in the FA Cup last year.

So perhaps it wasn’t a surprise that Hudson-Odoi was more like his old self as he opened the scoring against the second tier side in the sixth minute.

Taking possession on the right, the England winger cut inside and fired into the bottom right corner for just his second goal of the season and his first since September.

Palace stunned

Blues boss Frank Lampard had made nine changes, but Chelsea — wearing a retro home kit in tribute to their first FA Cup final win against Leeds in 1970 — doubled their lead in the 33rd minute.

Hudson-Odoi’s shot was parried straight to Ross Barkley and the midfielder poked home at the back post.

“I was particularly pleased for Callum, he has had a bad injury, is getting himself fit and getting sharper. His goal was an early settler for us,” Lampard said.

Crystal Palace became the third Premier League club to be knocked out this weekend as second tier Derby won 1-0 at Selhurst Park.

Palace boss Roy Hodgson made five changes — a relatively small number compared to most other Premier League clubs this weekend — but the Eagles still went the same way as Aston Villa and Brighton, who bowed out against Championship opposition on Saturday.

Wayne Rooney was in the Derby attack and his side took the lead in the 32nd minute when Jayden Bogle fizzed a cross to the far post and Chris Martin tapped into the net.

In a VAR first in England, referee Michael Oliver used the pitch-side monitor to change a decision, sending off Luka Milivojevic after initially booking the Palace midfielder for kicking out at Tom Huddlestone in the 63rd minute.

Sheffield United avoided a non-league upset with a 2-1 win against AFC Fylde at Bramall Lane.

Spurs Boss Mourinho Expecting ‘Bad News’ On Kane Injury

Tottenham Hotspur’s Portuguese head coach Jose Mourinho takes a team training session at Tottenham Hotspur’s Enfield Training Centre, in north London on November 25, 2019, ahead of their UEFA Champions League Group B football match against Olympiakos.
Daniel LEAL-OLIVAS / AFP

 

Jose Mourinho said on Friday he was expecting “bad news” on Harry Kane’s hamstring injury after the England captain limped out of the 1-0 defeat at Southampton on New Year’s Day.

The Tottenham boss said the full extent of the problem would soon become apparent.

Kane pulled up as he slotted home Christian Eriksen’s free-kick 15 minutes from time on Wednesday but was flagged offside.

“I don’t know yet, I think maybe later today we have news,” Mourinho said. “But if you ask me just my feeling, good news or bad news, I am more bad news than good news, what the player felt, Harry Kane leaving a match the way he did.

“He didn’t think twice, didn’t take him two seconds to realise the severity of the situation.”

Spurs, who are sixth in the Premier League, face Championship side Middlesbrough in the FA Cup third round on Sunday.

Alli Saves Spurs From Another Defeat To Bottom Club Watford

Tottenham Hotspur’s English midfielder Dele Alli (C) controls the ball during the English Premier League football match between Tottenham Hotspur and Watford at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium in London, on January 1, 2019. Glyn KIRK / AFP

 

Dele Alli struck four minutes from time to prevent Tottenham suffering another demoralising Premier League defeat, but their struggles continued in a 1-1 draw with bottom-of-the-table Watford on Saturday.

The Hornets have still not won in the league since April and will rue a series of missed chances after Abdoulaye Doucoure put them in front after just six minutes.

Spurs seemed set for a third straight defeat after humiliating heavy losses to Bayern Munich and Brighton before the international break.

But a mix-up between Ben Foster and Kiko Femenia handed Alli an equaliser to at least salvage a point for last season’s Champions League finalists.

Mauricio Pochettino insisted prior to the game that he remained sure Spurs’ quality will eventually shine through this season.

But once again the Argentine again failed to rouse a response from his side as doubts over his ability to turn the tide in his sixth season in charge grow.

Tottenham have now won just three of their first 12 games in all competitions and, just like at Brighton a fortnight ago, they paid a heavy price for a slow start.

The match had barely started before Watford were forced into a substitution when Danny Welbeck hobbled off to be replaced by Gerard Deulofeu.

And Spurs were caught napping when play got back underway as Daryl Janmaat got in behind Danny Rose and crossed for Doucoure to apply the finish.

Impotent Spurs

After his exertions in a World Cup qualifier in North Korea for South Korea in midweek, Pochettino left Son Heung-min and club-record signing Tanguy Ndombele on the bench.

But Son’s spark was badly missed from an impotent Spurs before the break.

Indeed the hosts were fortunate to be just 1-0 down at half-time as Jan Vertonghen somehow escaped conceding a penalty for bringing down Deulofeu despite a VAR review.

Son was introduced for Davinson Sanchez at the break as Pochettino switched formation and he instantly offered more pace and directness to the Spurs’ attack.

His powerful drive from a narrow angle was tipped onto the bar by Foster on 50 minutes.

But in Tottenham’s search for an equaliser they were leaving huge gaps for the visitors to exploit on the counter-attack and Quique Sanchez Flores’s men lived to regret not at least doubling their advantage.

Serge Aurier’s last-ditch challenge denied Roberto Pereyra a simple chance after a purposeful burst from Deulofeu.

Doucoure then eased through the Spurs midfield before setting up Janmaat, who miscued his shot with the goal gaping.

Just as Tottenham seemed to be running out of ideas, Watford gifted them an equaliser when Foster collided with his own defender in Femenia and spilled the ball into the path of Alli, who swept the ball into an empty net for his first goal since January.

The visitors were infuriated as VAR checked the goal for a potential handball by Alli, but not a push by Harry Kane in the build-up.

Watford did at least withstand a late flurry from Tottenham to secure a point, but they remain rooted to the foot of the table.

AFP

Spurs Must Deliver Under Pressure, Says Kane

Harry Kane

 

Harry Kane says Tottenham Hotspur need to start delivering when the pressure is at its most intense if they are to take the final step and become trophy winners.

Mauricio Pochettino has led Spurs towards the top of the English game, challenging for league titles and domestic cups during his spell of nearly five years at the helm, but they have so far failed to land silverware.

The club have a tendency to fall short when it really matters and Kane knows that has been holding them back.

There was more evidence of that last week as they lost back-to-back Premier League games against Burnley and Chelsea before drawing at home to Arsenal — when they had been in a position to put themselves firmly back in the title picture.

“The thing for us now, kind of like this week, when the pressure is on and we need to step up, we need to find a way to get it done,” the England captain said.

“We haven’t done that in recent years, we haven’t done that this week and that will be the difference. That is the turning point that we need to try and achieve.”

READ ALSO: Man City ‘Much Better’ Than Last Year, Says Guardiola

Pochettino said last week that Spurs’ shortcomings meant it could be another five years before they were putting serious silverware in their trophy cabinet.

Kane hopes it will not take that long, but also accepts his side have some catching up to do.

“I don’t think it’s far away but I think what the gaffer was saying was it’s not a guarantee that if you improve you are still going to win things,” Kane said.

“Every team is improving, every team is strengthening, every team is getting better year-by-year so it’s important for us that we don’t fall behind that.”

Spurs have a chance to make progress in the Champions League when they head to Borussia Dortmund for Tuesday’s last-16 second leg with a 3-0 advantage.

“It’s not going to be easy, but it’s down to us to put a performance in and we will never have a better chance to get to a quarter-final,” he said.

“I wouldn’t say we are one of the favourites to go and win it. I think we have shown in certain games, like this year and last year against Real Madrid and Barcelona, that we can beat big teams.”

AFP

Spurs Overcome Leicester To Keep Title Hopes Alive

Tottenham Hotspur’s South Korean striker Son Heung-Min celebrates with teammates after scoring his team’s third goal against Leicester City at Wembley Stadium in London, on February 10, 2019. Daniel LEAL-OLIVAS / AFP

 

Tottenham kept alive their bid to gate-crash the Premier League title race as Davinson Sanchez’s first goal for the club and Hugo Lloris’s penalty save inspired a 3-1 win over Leicester on Sunday.

Mauricio Pochettino’s side took the lead through Sanchez’s first-half header, but they were indebted to Lloris for keeping out Jamie Vardy’s spot-kick after the interval at Wembley.

Christian Eriksen netted moments later and although Vardy got one back, Son Heung-min’s late strike ensured third-placed Tottenham clinched the fifth win in their last six league games.

The north Londoners are five points off the top of the table as they try to catch pace-setters Liverpool and Manchester City.

While Tottenham are still outsiders to win their first English title since 1961, their ability to stay in contention, despite injuries to key players Harry Kane and Dele Alli suggests they shouldn’t be completely written off.

READ ALSO: Kane Making ‘Fantastic’ Recovery, Says Spurs Boss Pochettino

This gritty success was the ideal preparation for hosting Borussia Dortmund in the Champions League last 16 first leg on Wednesday.

Leicester have lost four of their last five league games, increasing the pressure on under-fire boss Claude Puel.

Puel has reportedly lost the support of several influential players, including England striker Vardy, who was left on the bench for the first 60 minutes before coming on to miss the penalty with his first touch.

With the Dortmund clash looming on Wednesday, Pochettino tweaked his team, leaving out Toby Alderweireld and Lucas Moura and recalling Fernando Llorente.

Llorente was caught napping early on when Harry Maguire evaded the Spanish striker’s marking and met James Maddison’s free-kick with a towering header that Hugo Lloris tipped over.

That chance was symptomatic of a disjointed start from Tottenham.

Leicester’s Harvey Barnes was allowed too much space in the penalty area  as he raced onto Youri Tielemans’ pass, but a poor finish wasted a gilt-edged chance.

Finally piecing together an incisive raid, Tottenham were furious when Son’s penalty appeal ended in a booking for diving after Maguire stuck out a leg to halt the South Korean.

Pochettino’s men channelled their frustration into a sustained assault on the Leicester goal.

Danny Rose’s surging run ended with a close-range effort that brought a good save from Kasper Schmeichel.

 Protests in vain 

Tottenham kept pressing and were rewarded with a well-worked 33rd-minute opener.

Trippier’s short corner found the unmarked Christian Eriksen and he whipped a pinpoint cross towards Sanchez six yards from goal.

Leicester called for offside, but their protests were in vain as Sanchez launched himself into a diving header that flashed past Schmeichel.

Replays showed the Colombia defender was just onside as he scored his first goal for Tottenham since his 2017 move from Ajax.

Demarai Gray should have done better than head Ricardo Pereira’s cross tamely at Lloris from 10 yards out soon after the interval.

Leicester’s positive start to the second half brought a golden opportunity to equalise with their 60th-minute penalty.

A rapid exchange of passes opened up a chance for Maddison, prompting Jan Vertonghen to rashly bundle over the midfielder.

Vardy had been warming up in preparation and was immediately introduced, jogging forward to take the ball from Maddison.

But Lloris came to Tottenham’s rescue, plunging to his right to keep out Vardy’s spot-kick.

Tottenham made the most of their escape as Eriksen doubled the lead three minutes later.

Llorente pounced on Pereira’s poor clearance and teed up Eriksen for a superb strike from the edge of the area for his first goal since January 1.

Vardy gave Leicester hope in the 76th minute, pouncing from close-range to convert Pereira’s cross in a typically predatory fashion.

But Son had the last word in the 90th minute as the winger raced clear to slot past Schmeichel for his 15th goal of the season.

AFP

Kane Making ‘Fantastic’ Recovery, Says Spurs Boss Pochettino

Kane Strikes But Spurs Held By Brighton
Tottenham Hotspur’s English striker Harry Kane celebrates scoring the opening goal during the English Premier League football match between Brighton and Hove Albion and Tottenham Hotspur at the American Express Community Stadium in Brighton, southern England on April 17, 2018.
Glyn KIRK / AFP

 

Mauricio Pochettino says Harry Kane is making a “fantastic” recovery and could be back in action ahead of schedule following the ankle injury he suffered last month against Manchester United.

Kane was initially ruled out until March, but Spurs boss Pochettino said the England captain could feature in his side’s Premier League match at Burnley on February 23.

“Now he is here, he is doing well, he is doing fantastic. You know very well we need to stop him every day because he wants to be ahead of his recovery,” Pochettino said on Friday ahead of Tottenham’s clash with Leicester on Sunday.

“He’s very optimistic and determined to play as soon as possible — it’s unbelievable but he’s doing well.

READ ALSO: Spurs ‘Happy’ With Kane’s Recovery, Says Pochettino

“If you see him he’s nearly ready to play but we need to be realistic too and of course in between all the areas to take the best decision.

“He’s so close to coming back again. Not for Sunday, not for Wednesday but we will see after.”

Pochettino, whose side are third in the Premier League, five points behind Manchester City and Liverpool, spoke of his disappointment that their clash with Leicester has been moved to Sunday for television when Spurs face Borussia Dortmund in the Champions League on Wednesday.

The Argentine also said he felt it would be “tough” for Tottenham to move into their new stadium before the end of the season.

The club announced another delay to the grand opening earlier this week, confirming that the north London derby against Arsenal on March 2 will now take place at their temporary home of Wembley.

Spurs were originally due to move into their new 62,000-seater White Hart Lane stadium for the start of the current campaign.

The move has been put back on numerous occasions and now, with the Arsenal game confirmed as being played at Wembley, there are just five home games left.

Asked if he still expected to relocate before the end of the season, he said: “My gut feeling (is that) it will be tough but I hope and I wish to be in the new stadium.”

Pochettino also denied that he and assistant coach Jesus Perez had a secret dinner date with David Beckham and Zinedine Zidane during the week.

With Beckham and Zidane both having played for Real Madrid and Pochettino heavily linked with the managerial post at the Bernabeu, the rumour mill was sent spinning when all were photographed leaving the same London restaurant on Tuesday.

“I was with Jesus and another person. We were three and there was a table. We met by coincidence with (Beckham and Zidane) and that is all there is to it,” Pochettino said when quizzed over the incident.

AFP

Spurs ‘Happy’ With Kane’s Recovery, Says Pochettino

Kane Strikes But Spurs Held By Brighton
Tottenham Hotspur’s English striker Harry Kane celebrates scoring the opening goal during the English Premier League football match between Brighton and Hove Albion and Tottenham Hotspur at the American Express Community Stadium in Brighton, southern England on April 17, 2018.
Glyn KIRK / AFP

Tottenham Hotspur are “happy” with Harry Kane’s recovery process following an ankle injury but manager Mauricio Pochettino does not know if he will be back in action ahead of schedule.

The England captain was ruled out until early March after sustaining ligament damage in the 1-0 defeat by Manchester United on January 13, the third season in a row he has suffered such a problem.

But Kane, who has previously returned from injuries quicker than forecast, raised hopes he could be back in action soon after posting a video of himself on social media doing significant exercises on the joint.

Whether that means he will return before March remains to be seen and Pochettino was not putting a timescale on when the Spurs star would play again.

“I cannot tell you if he is ahead of schedule or not,” said Pochettino, whose side host Newcastle on Saturday.

“We assess him day-by-day. He is showing on his social media that he looks strong and very fit and very well, running and doing exercises.

“You know him very well, he is very strong and is a guy that puts 200 per cent in to be back as soon as possible.”

 ‘Going to dream’ 

Spurs, who will assess Son Heung-min after his midweek exertions on his first game back from international duty, will climb into second place and four points behind leaders Liverpool, albeit possibly temporarily if they win the lunchtime kick-off.

Pochettino, whose side failed to add to their squad for the second transfer window running, is daring to dream of overhauling Liverpool and Manchester City, though he applied his usual cautionary note.

He said: “We cannot put the excuse that we are not a real contender but we are going to try, we are going to dream because we are close, we are there in a very good position and we are going to try and fight until the end to be as high as we can.”

READ ALSO: Nigeria’s Asisat Oshoala Joins Barcelona On Loan

The Spurs boss has performed a surprising reversal and intends to use outcast Dutch striker Vincent Janssen, who has not played for the north London club since August 2017.

Having not been listed in the club’s Premier League squad in the first half of the season, and being forced to train with the Under-23s, he was expected to leave in the January transfer window.

However, despite links to several European clubs, Janssen stayed put and now Pochettino will include him in his first-team squad.

“My decision is from today he’s going to be involved with the first team, to try to do his best, to get fit and be competitive, and he’s going to be one more in the squad and the team,” he said.

AFP

Spurs Not Changing Transfer Strategy Despite Injuries, Says Pochettino

Tottenham Hotspur’s Argentinian head coach Mauricio Pochettino/ AFP

 

Tottenham boss Mauricio Pochettino says the club will not change their transfer strategy despite potentially costly injuries to striker Harry Kane and midfielder Dele Alli but are open to making signings this month.

Both players have been ruled out until March — Kane with ankle ligament damage sustained in the recent loss to Manchester United and Alli with a hamstring strain suffered in the win at Fulham on Sunday.

Pochettino, who did not sign any players during the summer transfer window, reiterated that Spurs’ transfer policy has not altered due to the injuries but says the club are “trying”.

“It is so clear, I am so open to improve the squad and add a player if Harry Kane and Dele Alli are fit or not fit,” he said. “I was open in the summer and I am open now.

“The difficult thing is to find quality that will add to the squad. We are not going to change strategy, we are working, we will see what happens at the end.”

Asked about Alli’s injury, Pochettino said: “We need to be positive like with Harry Kane.

“We are going to miss him for a long period, it is the worst moment because we have a very busy fixture list ahead. It is a good opportunity for other players to step up.”

Midfielder Moussa Sissoko has returned to training after suffering a groin problem against Manchester United but it is unclear whether he will feature in Thursday’s League Cup semi-final second leg at Chelsea.

Forward Lucas Moura is back in full training and should be fit to feature at Stamford Bridge following a knee injury.

Midfielder Victor Wanyama, who has been out since November with a knee problem, is also back in training but is unlikely to be involved.

“Sissoko and Lucas are in contention,” Pochettino said at his pre-match press conference on Wednesday. “Wanyama we will see if it is possible for the weekend. It is very good news in the last few days.”

Spurs, who are also without Son Heung-min, on Asian Cup duty with South Korea, take a 1-0 lead to Stamford Bridge after the first leg and are bidding for their first silverware since 2008.

The club, third in the Premier League, are battling for trophies on four fronts.

AFP

Spurs Defender Aurier Released After Arrest On Suspicion Of Assault

Serge Aurier Credit: @HotspurRelated

 

Tottenham defender Serge Aurier was arrested on suspicion of assault after police were called to his home near London but released without charge, reports said on Wednesday.

Sky Sports News reported that the Ivory Coast international, 26, was taken into custody on Saturday and missed Tottenham’s 1-0 defeat by Manchester United at Wembley the following day.

Police issued a statement to AFP saying: “A 26-year-old man… was arrested on suspicion of ABH (actual bodily harm) and has been released with no further action.”

A Tottenham spokesman quoted by the Evening Standard newspaper said: “We are aware of an incident concerning Serge Aurier this weekend. The player was released without charge.”

The former Paris Saint-Germain player, who has played 12 times for Mauricio Pochettino’s Spurs side this season, received a suspended two-month prison sentence after an assault on a police officer outside a Paris nightclub in 2016.

He was also suspended by PSG for making a homophobic slur against former coach Laurent Blanc in a social media video.

AFP

United Defender Jones Expects Tough Spurs Test

Manchester United’s English defender Phil Jones (2R) talks with referee Stuart Attwell (2L) and his assistant referee (L) as Attwell consults the Video Assistant Referee (VAR) after Manchester United’s Brazilian midfielder Fred put the ball in the back of the net. Oli SCARFF / AFP

 

Manchester United defender Phil Jones says Sunday’s clash with Tottenham will test the strength of the team’s recent revival under caretaker manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.

United have won all five matches since Solskjaer took the helm at Old Trafford following the sacking of Jose Mourinho last month.

Spurs, who are third in the Premier League, are likely to provide the toughest challenge so far at Wembley on Sunday.

“Spurs is a good test,” said Jones. “We are in good form and have some momentum going. We have steadied the ship a bit.

“We have not done anything yet, we have not achieved anything, but we need to keep it going. Possibly Spurs will be an indicator for us and how far we can go but it is a game we need to win.

“They are in good form and doing well and we need to have a good week, train well and prepare for a tough game. Hopefully the momentum can carry us on to win that match.”

United, who will spend the week preparing at a warm-weather training camp in Dubai, are six points behind fourth-placed Chelsea after successive Premier League wins over Cardiff, Huddersfield, Bournemouth and Newcastle.

Reaching the Champions League places is a clear target but Jones does not want to look too far ahead.

The 26-year-old, who helped United see off Reading in the FA Cup third round on Saturday, said: “Of course we should be in the Champions League next season and that is the aim but we have done nothing yet. I know it is a cliche but it has to be game by game.

“I don’t really want to think about the top four, or the Champions League or the FA Cup. It has to be game by game. Tottenham is tough and we aim to see where we are after that.”

AFP

Pochettino Urges Spurs To Fight For Champions League

Tottenham Hotspur’s Argentinian head coach Mauricio Pochettino gestures on the touchline during the English Premier League football match between Arsenal and Tottenham Hotspur at the Emirates Stadium in London on December 2, 2018. Adrian DENNIS / AFP

Mauricio Pochettino challenged his Tottenham squad to fight for silverware on two fronts after seeing his team thrust themselves back into the Premier League title race with a 2-0 victory at Leicester City ahead of a Champions League trip to Barcelona in midweek.

The Tottenham manager saw his side brush the Foxes aside despite Harry Kane and Christian Eriksen, two of his most potent attacking players, playing only cameo roles off the bench.

The pair will now be fresh for Tuesday’s crucial Champions League trip to Catalonia with Spurs needing to win at the Camp Nou to guarantee progress to the last 16.

And Pochettino believes all of his players will have a role in the hectic weeks ahead.

“To show the belief you have in the squad is massive,” said Pochettino.

“There’s no point players playing every three days. It’s not healthy, they need to rest and need some time to breathe.

“For some teams it’s so difficult to manage. The most important thing is being genuine in the trust you have in the squad.

“We are showing we trust all the players. In this busy period, everybody needs to be focused.”

Victory in the East Midlands moved Tottenham back into third, just six points off the top of the Premier League, now headed by Liverpool following Manchester City’s first defeat of the season at Chelsea.

By staying in the race despite a host of injury problems and delays over moving into the club’s new stadium, Pochettino now believes his players can keep pace with the league leaders.

“The three points are massive to keep our position in the table,” he added.

“It’s a massive win for us. The reality is we are there, fighting Liverpool, City, Chelsea and Arsenal – that’s the reality.

“It was a tough place so I’m very happy with the performance. I am so pleased and it allows us to start thinking about Barcelona.”

 Son on the rise 

In the absence of Kane and Eriksen, Son Heung-min came to the fore by opening the scoring with a left-footed rocket from the edge of the penalty area before crossing for Dele Alli to head home Spurs’ second just before the hour mark.

Son’s impact in the first few months of the season was limited by his participation in the Asian Games, but the South Korean has been in fine form in recent weeks after skipping international duty last month.

“The first few months of the season I was a little bit disappointed because he travelled a lot, but after a rest and not going with the national team he was so focused on trying to improve,” added Pochettino.

“Today he improved a lot from (the) Chelsea (game) and we’re so happy with his contribution and performance and that is the player we want.”

The only blight on a bright night for Pochettino was an injury to right-back Serge Aurier that could rule the Ivorian out for the Barcelona match.

However, Pochettino is confident Spurs can produce on the biggest stage to cap a remarkable comeback after picking up just one point from their opening three Champions League games.

“It will be a massive game. They are qualified for the next stage but in the Champions League, nobody gives you a present.

“We need to win and deserve to win and the mentality has got to be 200 percent to try to win because it’s a game we must win.

“We will arrive in the best condition but in front of us will be Barcelona, one of the best teams in Europe.”

AFP