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Tottenham 2-0 Royal Antwerp – Top of another table

After last week’s frustrating 3-3 draw with LASK, it was tough to take any real positives from that performance. However, a point against the Austrian side meant that Spurs had cemented their place in the knock-out stages of the Europa League.

Despite qualification being wrapped up, Spurs sat second in Group J. Meaning they needed to beat Royal Antwerp in the last game of the group to finish first.

Jose Mourinho made nine changes from the side that won 2-0 in last Sunday’s North London derby against Arsenal. Sergio Reguilon and Giovani Lo Celso being the only two remaining in the starting eleven.

Tottenham seemed to be in control of the game from start to finish, as Antwerp failed to register a single shot on target during the 90 minute affair.

With the score still at 0-0, half-time saw Reguilon make way for winger Steven Bergwijn, as Mourinho decided to shuffle the pack by going to a back four for the remaining 45 minutes.

Although looking comfortable, it took until the 57th minute and a moment of brilliance from Gareth Bale for Spurs to find a breakthrough.

The Welshman stood over a free-kick from at least 30 yards away and launched a rocket of a strike towards the top right corner, which was somehow tipped onto the post by Beiranvand.

Carlos Vinicius was the first to react to the loose ball, finishing into an empty net to give Spurs a 1-0 lead in front of 2,000 loyal supporters.

Bizarrely, Jose Mourinho made a triple substitution seconds after taking the lead, with the goalscorer Carlos Vinicius making way alongside Gareth Bale and Harry Winks for Harry Kane, Heung-Min Son and Tanguy Ndombele.

Tottenham 2-0 Royal Antwerp: Vinicius and Lo Celso goals seal top spot for  Mourinho's men

To nobody’s surprise the substitutes settled into the game instantly. A nice piece of linkup play between Bergwijn and Son resulted in Beiranvand having to turn away another shot which could have doubled Tottenham’s lead.

The changes didn’t stop there for the North London side, as in the 68th minute Moussa Sissoko was introduced at the expense of Lucas Moura.

Two minutes later, Lo Celso latched onto a Kane through ball and guided an outside the boot finish into the bottom left corner.

The Argentine put in a performance of the highest quality: recording an 82% pass success rate, twelve recoveries, four crosses, four chances created, six dribbles completed and scoring a goal.

Lo Celso’s performance may have spoken for itself but it didn’t stop Jose Mourinho from adding further praise.

“He was at a high level last season but got an injury and didn’t have a pre-season.

“He’s playing in the Europa League and coming off the bench in the Premier League. He played the last match well and this match very well. This is more like normal Gio.

“When he’s fit he can show that the intensity is there.”

Tottenham Hotspur seal top spot with Antwerp win - Eurosport

The result now means that Spurs sit atop of the Premier League and their Europa League group and now look forward to the Round of 32 draw.

The possible opponents for the Round of 32 consist of Krasnodar, Red Bull Salzburg, Olympiakos, Dynamo Kiev, Young Boys, Molde, Slavia Prague, Lille, Benfica, Granada, Real Sociedad, Braga, Maccabi Tel Aviv, Wolfsburg and Crvena Zvezda.

Written by Reece Coughlan

Edited by Joey Pickthall

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Tottenham vs Man City preview – Title charge starts now ?

After another round of seemingly pointless international fixtures, Tottenham return to action this Saturday in their biggest game of the season yet, home to Manchester City.

Spurs will be wanting to build on the momentum they had heading into the break, as Jose Mourinho’s men are currently on a three game winning streak – scoring six goals and conceding twice.

Jose Mourinho claims Tottenham have no chance of beating Chelsea in Carabao  Cup with bigger game just 48 hours later
Spurs will look to go top of the table on Saturday

The Portuguese would have hoped to have the entire squad at his disposal for the upcoming set of fixtures, however Matt Doherty’s positive COVID-19 test has thrown a spanner into the works.

Doherty was one of two players to test positive after the game against Wales, along with James McClean.

He will now be forced to isolate away from the squad for ten days, ruling him out of Saturday’s clash with Manchester City and potentially Thursday’s Group J tie against Ludogoretes.

However Spurs did receive some good fortune as Welsh trio Gareth Bale, Ben Davies and Joe Rodon all tested negative for the virus.

Gareth Bale, who was pictured embracing his Tottenham teammate after the game against Republic of Ireland, admitted that he felt ‘concerned’ upon hearing the news.

“It’s a slight concern for everybody when you’ve been playing someone and you’re in close contact with them on the field, Bale said.

“Maybe you’re not long enough with them to catch it, but you’re a bit wary.”

Bale later gave an update on Doherty’s condition, as he and Ben Davies had spoken to the right-back.

“Me and Ben have spoken to him briefly and he’s doing fine, he’s just got mild symptoms.

“Hopefully he recovers fine, doesn’t have any problems and will be back playing as soon as possible.”

Gareth Bale: Tottenham forward 'concerned' after embrace with club  team-mate Matt Doherty | Football News | Sky Sports
Bale and Doherty faced off against each other during the international break

Tottenham vs Manchester City has fast become one of the most entertaining fixtures in world football, with classics such as their Champions League quarter final in 2019, which saw Spurs reach their first ever semi-final in the competition on away goals (4-4 on aggregate).

The Lilywhites were able to take the three points in their most recent encounter with City, as goals from Steven Bergwijn and Heung-Min Son resulted in a 2-0 victory at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium.

Surprisingly, Spurs were able to remain undefeated against the Citizens last season, picking up four points from a possible six.

Heung-Min Son will be looking to build on the form which has helped him win Premier League Player of the Month for October. The winger has been directly involved in six of Tottenham’s ten goals over the course of the month – scoring four goals and assisting two.

The South Korean will also be looking to add to his impressive record against Manchester City, which boasts five goals in his last seven appearances. 

Saturday’s game kicks off a tough set of league fixtures for Tottenham with the likes of Chelsea, Crystal Palace, Arsenal, Liverpool and Leicester City to be played in the next few weeks.

Having recently come away with a 1-0 victory against West Brom, Spurs currently sit 2nd in the table with just a point separating themselves from league leaders Leicester City.

Spurs have a record of five wins, two draws and a single loss in the Premier League this season but if they want to be viewed as title contenders, then this is the time to make their intentions known.

West Bromwich Albion 0-1 Tottenham Hotspur: 5 talking points as Spurs win a  war of attrition | Premier League 2020-21
Tottenham beat West Brom 1-0 in their last Premier League fixture

In contrast to Spurs, Manchester City come into this game off the back of a 1-1 draw with Liverpool.

Pep Guardiola’s men have not lived up to their pre-season expectations so far and currently find themselves in 10th position, having only won three of their first seven fixtures in the league.

A win for City could see them jump to fifth in the table, depending on other results going in their favour.

Tottenham team news:

The absence of Matt Doherty has put Serge Aurier in prime position to make a return to the starting line-up. Aurier has seen his playing time reduced since the arrival of Doherty, only appearing in two of Spurs’ opening eight league games.

Versatile defender Japhet Tanganga has missed the majority of the season through injury, but is now in contention to be included in Jose Mourinho’s squad. 

However Steven Bergwijn is not expected to feature, having returned to Spurs early into the international break due to a groin injury.

Erik Lamela remains out as he continues to rehabilitate from a foot injury.

Predicted XI: Lloris, Aurier, Dier, Alderweireld, Reguilon, Hojbjerg, Ndombele, Sissoko, Son, Kane, Bale.

Manchester City team news:

Sergio Aguero is unlikely to feature, as he recovers from a hamstring injury.

Raheem Sterling is expected to make an appearance, despite damaging his calf whilst on England duty last week. The forward was released from the camp early in order to undergo fitness testing with Man City.

Predicted XI: Ederson, Walker, Dias, Laporte, Cancelo, Rodri, De Bruyne, Gündoğan, Torres, Sterling, Jesus.

By Reece Coughlan

Edited by Joey Pickthall

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The November international break and what it means for Tottenham:

Harry Kane’s 88th minute winner against West Brom last Sunday made it three wins on the bounce for Jose Mourinho’s side, but now the squad prepares for the international break, with many players set to be involved.

With such a talented group at the disposal of Jose Mourinho it is no surprise that Spurs’ squad boasts 13 senior internationals.

Harry Kane's 150th Premier League goal saves Tottenham against West Brom  but Gareth Bale injury will worry Jose Mourinho

The following players have been selected for the upcoming international fixtures:

Harry Kane, Harry Winks, Eric Dier (England), Gareth Bale, Ben Davies, Joe Rodon (Wales), Hugo Lloris, Moussa Sissoko (France), Giovani Lo Celso (Argentina), Matt Doherty (Ireland), Sergio Reguilon (Spain), Toby Alderweireld (Belgium), Heung-Min Son (South Korea)

On loan midfielder Gedson Fernandes has been called up to represent Portugal’s U21 side. While Norwich and Hoffenheim loanees Oliver Skipp and Ryan Sessegnon have been called up for the England U21 side.

Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg is set to withdraw from the Danish national team due to Denmark recently being removed from the exempt travel list for Coronavirus just four days ago.

The Premier League has advised players to not travel to Denmark for the upcoming fixtures, as the government have put restrictions into place which would see anybody returning to the UK from Denmark having to isolate for 14 days.

If Hojbjerg had gone on to play for his country then he would have missed Tottenham’s next three fixtures against Manchester City (November 21st), Ludogorets (November 26th) and Chelsea (November 29th). 

Tottenham: Gareth Bale in potential injury | The Transfer Tavern
Bale receiving treatment after being substituted against West Brom

Gareth Bale’s return to the Wales squad has caused a stir in the media, as Jose Mourinho voiced his displeasure with the winger’s fitness being observed by Arsenal coach Albert Stuivenberg.

The Tottenham manager had this to say. “Because for the previous fixtures he called me, we spoke about Ben Davies – not Gareth Bale because Gareth was not there. 

“We shared opinions on the situation, which is probably not going to happen this time.

“And the fact that one of the coaches is an Arsenal coach does not make me very comfortable. Honestly, it does not make me very comfortable.

“National team matches should have coaches that work exclusively for them, not coaches who work for other clubs.

“They have to manage the minutes that he plays and they should not let him get to fatigue levels”.

Bale has been making good progress since returning to Spurs, which saw him rewarded with his first Premier League start in 7 years against West Brom.

Internationals – Spurs against Spurs in Sunday's action! | Tottenham Hotspur
Dier and Alderweireld will face off during the international break

Some Spurs players will be going head-to-head with one another over the next two weeks, as Matt Doherty’s Ireland will go up against an England team consisting of Harry Kane, Harry Winks and Eric Dier. Before he travels to Wales in order to play another Spurs trio made up of Gareth Bale, Ben Davies and Joe Rodon.

Kane, Dier and Winks won’t only have to face off against Doherty during the break, as they also go to Belgium on the 15th November to lock horns with Toby Alderweireld in the Nations League.

Tanguy Ndombele, who suffered a minor injury against West Brom, will not be joining up with the French national team and will remain at the club in preparation for the resumption of the Premier League.

Steven Bergwijn has also returned to Hotspur Way after withdrawing from the Netherlands squad due to injury, whilst training alone for the two days of camp he was there.

Tottenham’s next six fixtures in the Premier League consist of Manchester City, Chelsea, Crystal Palace, Arsenal, Liverpool and Leicester.

Jose Mourinho will want his players managed carefully over the course of the next two weeks as the upcoming months will give an indication into how far Spurs are from reaching their ambitions for the season.

By Reece Coughlan

Cristian Romero: Welcome to North London

In the last few days, Tottenham have finally signed a centre-back in Cristian Romero from Atalanta. The Argentine joins on loan with an option to buy of £47 million.

credit: Tottenham Hotspur

The centre-back area has been one that has desperately needed addressing, with Toby Alderweireld and Jan Vertonghen’s decline resulting in them both leaving the club.

Alongside inconsistent performances from Davinson Sanchez and Eric Dier, has led Fabio Paratici to re-sign the man he signed for Juventus back in 2019.

Firstly, we will look at his strengths;

Romero is seen as an ‘old school centre-back’ who is comfortable with physical contact, making the transition to the Premier League much smoother.

Another strength is his tackling, which he averages 2.93 per 90 (Fbref).

He makes 2.77 average interceptions per game, also winning 3.86 duels per 90. This shows his commanding presence, reminiscient of our Belgian duo.

credit: Tottenham Hotspur

When you take into account how poor our defenders were in the air last season, Romero’s aerial ability is music to Spurs fans’ ears. With Alderwerield (2.15), Sanchez (2.98) & Dier (3.19), all winning less than the ex-Genoa defender.

One area of his game that lacks is his progressive passing, with only 2.47 per 90.

Some would say this is atypical to his style however, as he prefers defending over ball progression.

Although, if he is paired with a centre-back who’s skill is ball progression – then they would complement each other beautifully.

The ideal partner would be Jules Koundé, who the club has been heavily linked to throughout this crazy summer transfer window.

The Frenchman averages 5.51 progressive carries and 4.11 progressive passes per 90.

Koundé’s ability going forward would allow Romero to focus on protecting Tottenham’s goal with his life.

credit: FFF

The only catch to the Kounde solution, is that he will not come cheap, at all.

Rumours have circulated that Sanchez would go the other way, if any sort of deal was to be struck with Sevilla.

Ultimately, Romero will hugely improve our defence, however, he doesn’t solve every problem. Which is why pairing him with a complimentary centre-back, is key.

Regardless, whichever way you look at it, the signing of Seria A Defensive MVP is a fantastice piece of business by Paratici.

Ever since Vertonghen’s departure, Spurs have failed to settle on a central-defensive pairing, dropping 18 points from winning positions last season.

There are huge hopes around the club that Romero can have a huge impact from day one, with the ability to truly become world-class in the near future.

How can Tottenham Hotspur replace Harry Kane?

It is no secret that after the disappointing 7th place finish and the disasters of Jose Mourinho, Dinamo Zagreb and the Carabao cup final, Harry Kane’s desire is to depart Tottenham Hotspur.

The main interest in Kane comes from Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City.

What’s more, as of August 3rd 2021, the England captain has failed to report back for pre-season training in an attempt to force a move to the Citizens.

credit: (Getty Images)

With an asking price of £150 million, Spurs will have ample funds to try and find a new striker.

The question is, which striker can even attempt to fill the void that Harry Kane will leave in this Spurs team?

In his career, Kane has scored 166 goals for Spurs in the Premier League, at a rate of 0.68 goals per game. This in itself is astonishing, but Kane is more than just a goalscorer.

His overall game is almost impossible to replicate, as he registered 14 assists last season. The most in the league,at a rate of 0.41 assists per 90 minutes.

Kane excels in team-play, with an xG build-up of 0.13 per game last season, completing 1.42 key passes per match and averaging 4.0 shots per match.

He also had 0.65 goal creating actions, his highest count in this metric ever.

credit: FA

For Fabio Paratici, finding a replacement for Kane could be a potentially overwhelming task.

That being said, here are three possible replacements for Harry Kane.

Alexander Isak

Alexander Isak is one for the future. At 21 years old, the Swedish striker finished the 2020/2021 La Liga season on an impressive 16 goals and two assists for Real Sociedad.

Compared to Kane’s 23 goals and 14 assists it may seem like nothing, but Isak has some similar underlying stats to Kane.

Having played far less minutes Isak was able to produce an xG per 90 of 0.62, close to Kane’s 0.64. Furthermore, Isak was able to register an xG build-up of 0.11 per game, compared to Kane’s 0.13.

These stats show that Isak is more than happy to involve himself in key build-up as well as take shots that register a large probability of ending in a goal.

Kane stands at 1.88 metres tall, and has been used as a long ball outlet or target man at times for Spurs. Isak stands at 1.90 metres tall, and it is believed he could perform a similar role if required.

credit: La Liga

Patrick Bamford

Patrick Bamford had a fantastic rebound season in the Premier League with Leeds after managing no goals in his first spell with Middlesborough.

The ex-Chelsea striker exploded into life for Bielsa’s Leeds by scoring 17 goals and registering seven assists.

Bamford made 0.88 key passes per match last season, compared to Kane’s 1.4, Whilst also being involved in 0.12 xG build up per match, just shy of Kane.

The area of worry regarding Bamford is his xG of 0.54, which is a whole 10th off Kane. Furthermore, Bamford is not the best presence in the air, but he does provide excellent defensive work rate.

Bamford is usually the first Leeds player to charge down opponents and press from the front in Bielsa’s manic pressing system.

An asset that could be invaluable for Tottenham, who enjoyed their best spells in an ultra high-press system coached by a Bielsa prodigy, Mauricio Pochettino.

credit: Premier League

Lautaro Martinez

The most proven of the strikers listed; Lautaro Martinez formed a lethal striker partnership with Romelu Lukaku under Antonio Conte at Inter Milan, scoring 21 goals in the 19/20 season in all competitions, and 18 last season.

Martinez matched his xG per game of 0.59, scoring exactly 0.59 goals per game last season. This is 0.05 xG off Kane. Both strikers also completed over 1.0 key passes a match (Kane 1.42, Martinez 1.32).

Martinez also matches Kane in xG buildup, at exactly 0.13.

At 23, Martinez would be a fantastic long term option for Tottenham to replace Harry Kane.

Also, given Inter’s financial issues which caused Conte’s departure, Spurs may be able to negotiate a reasonable transfer fee.

This would allow Spurs to further invest the money gained from a potential Kane transfer into other aspects of the team.

credit: Seria A

It is likely that Spurs will not be able to find a player who can exactly replicate what Kane offers to the team, but these three options may be the club’s best bet if their poster-boy does get his move away from his boyhood club.

Bryan Gil: Out with the old, in with the new

The arrival of Fabio Paratici as Managing Director of Football has already proved emphatic.

Following the incoming loan of Pierluigi Gollini, Paratici has waved his wand and brought in a wonderboy in the form of Bryan Gil; a speedy Spaniard from La Liga side, Sevilla.

The transfer saw Erik Lamela go the opposite direction upon a transfer fee of £21.6m.

Lamela unveiled as Sevilla’s new #17 (credit: Sevilla FC)

Tottenham’s main aim prior to the transfer window was to shift out the squad members who the board felt were holding the club back from reaching its goals, referred to by the fanbase as “deadwood”.

An eight-year shift at Spurs came to an end as the player known for his rabona’s against Arsenal and Asteras, as well as his passion on the pitch – was shown the door.

The Argentine has been replaced by a younger, fresher winger who’s hungry for self-development.

Gil is only 20 years old but oozes his way through defences like any world-class attacker.

He has played for Spain at seven different levels and made his debut for the first team in March this year, coming on against Greece in a 2022 World Cup Qualification match.

He is not one to have mind-blowing numbers in goal contributions, with four goals and three assists in the league last season.

However, he makes up for it with his quick feet and great composure on the ball on the flanks.

Gil in action for La Roja at the Olympics (credit: Tokyo Olympics 2020)

On top of his dazzling dribbling, the young man has superb vision too, impressing with the odd ping or cross in the final third of the pitch.

Deemed the “next Cruyff” by some, whether that may be a nod to his haircut or playstyle, he has a fantastic footballing mind and reads the game very well for his age.

He possesses the unique ability to entertain himself and others through his weaving of backlines and impressive trickery, all whilst keeping the ball glued to his feet.

Enjoying his time at Sevilla (credit: Sevilla FC)

Last season he attained a passing accuracy of 83.3% and his average dispossession was as low as 1.3 per game, highlighting the player’s desire to maintain the ball at all times.

Which suits Nuno Esperito Santo’s possession-based philosophy, down to the ground.

He additionally brings his experiences of silverware to Tottenham, a Europa League winner and a European under-19 Champion with Spain.

European Under-19 Champion (credit: UEFA)

Fans are intrigued as to how the first-team could appear, spoiled with options on the wings with the likes of Lucas Moura, Steven Bergwijn, Heung-Min Son and even youngster Jack Clarke.

Gil is currently with Spain at the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo who play their final with Japan at 13:30 CET on August 7th.

Although being absent, the Spaniard has left a message for Spurs fans, announcing he will give “everything in every minute” and that he “can’t wait for the season to start“.

Spanish fans took to social media to proclaim their jealousy of Tottenham’s acquirement of Gil, furthermore fuelling their excitement to watch the club’s new prospect, eagerly waiting to see what he has to offer.

Is Pierluigi Gollini the heir to Hugo Lloris’ throne?

Tottenham transfer news: Pierluigi Gollini joins on initial season-long  loan from Atalanta | Football News | Sky Sports

Fabio Paratici seems to be making his mark at Tottenham rather quickly. The nearly finalised swap deal with Sevilla, exchanging Erik Lamela & £21.4m for Bryan Gil, along with advanced talks for Atalanta’s Cristian Romero, have given fans a reason to be excited.

Paratici and Tottenham’s first official signing of the summer also comes from the region of Bergamo.

Earlier today, Spurs announced the arrival of goalkeeper Pierluigi Gollini from Atalanta on loan with an option to buy for £12.8m. The option to buy becomes an obligation if Gollini reaches 20 appearances.

Tottenham make offer for Pierluigi Gollini | FootballFanCast.com
credit: Atalanta FC

Gollini’s football journey has been interesting to say the least. The Italian goalkeeper began his career with spells at Spal and Fiorentina before making the audacious decision to sign for Manchester United at 15 years old, swapping his native Italy for England. 

Pierluigi would spend three years with the Red Devil’s, playing with the likes of Paul Pogba, Adnan Januzaj, Marcus Rashford and Jesse Lingard before returning to Italy with Hellas Verona in 2014.

His time with Hellas Verona was overall an impressive one, but the clubs relegation to Serie B led to another brief spell in England, this time with Aston Villa in 2016.

Gollini would make 20 appearances during his time in Birmingham before being loaned out to Atalanta for 18 months. 

Atalanta would make Gollini’s stay at the club permanent in June 2018 for an undisclosed fee.

He was originally given the role of backup goalkeeper, but would make a name for himself in the second half of the season earning the number one spot for La Dea and a senior cap for the Italy national team. 

Gollini’s rise in the footballing world was parallel to Atalanta’s, as the Serie A side would go from fighting relegation to three straight years of Champions League qualification.

Having made his third move to England, Gollini will be wanting to prove to Spurs fans that he is the man to replace Hugo Lloris in North London.

Tottenham : De la concurrence pour Hugo Lloris ? | Goal.com

So, what are we supposed to expect from Gollini? 

The 26 year-old goalkeeper is prone to coming off his line often, in order to intimidate the opposing attacker. Gollini is thought to be a rather demanding player, who remains concentrated on the task at hand and expects his defenders to do the same.  

Gollini’s distribution looks to be a perfect match for Nuno Espírito Santo’s system. As his ability to complete a range of accurate passes allows the team to create counter-attacks in an instance but also build from the back if needed.

Gollini’s nine clean sheets in 25 matches ranked third-best in Serie A during the 2020/21 season – only Donnarumma and Handanovic conceded fewer goals. 

Atalanta goalkeeper Gollini on verge of Tottenham transfer - Football Italia

“I had proposals from Italian clubs but Tottenham are the best one! I respect Hugo Lloris, he’s a great goalkeeper and I’m proud to work with him at Spurs” said Gollini.

Having already expressed his excitement about working with Hugo Lloris, Spurs will be hoping that Gollini will pick the brain of Lloris during his loan stay before taking the reins himself.

There are many reasons to be optimistic for the Italian’s future in North London and now it’s time for the potential number one of the future to get down to business. 

By Reece Coughlan

Højbjerg, Skipp & Ndombele. Tottenham’s new midfield three?

Nuno Espírito Santo has his feet now firmly under the table at Tottenham Hotspur, beginning pre-season with some members of the senior squad and the U21’s on the 7th of July.

Tottenham Hotspur will now tackle a set of friendly games against Chelsea, Arsenal and more in order to prepare for the coming Premier League season. Ensuing frantic debate amongst fans on how the Portuguese will tactically set out his first Spurs XI.

It’s fair to say fans are most curious about how Espírito Santo will work with the variety of midfield talent available at Tottenham.

Credit: Football365

At Wolves, Espírito Santo utilised the 3-4-2-1 formation in the Championship, but switched to a 3-5-2 once Wolves were promoted. The change in formation offered more solidity in the midfield and allowed Wolves to dominate possession centrally, with their added numbers.

The 3-5-2 featured a midfield three of Joao Moutinho, Ruben Neves and Leander Dendoncker, flanked by wingbacks Matt Doherty and Jonny.

Neves was the deeper-lying midfielder who was tasked with screening the defence and progressing build-up play with short passes or long balls, with an impressive passing range.

Ruben Neves

Dendoncker featured on the right of the three, and his role was more of a box-to-box midfielder.

His versatility allowed him to drop and form a double pivot with Neves while Moutinho stayed high, resembling more of a 3-4-1-2 shape. Or play alongside Moutinho and make surging runs into the box to get onto the end of crosses from the wingbacks.

Lastly, Joao Moutinho was Wolves’ creator-in-chief. He was given the license to roam freely and occupy positions all over the midfield in order to dictate play.

Credit: Goal.com

At Tottenham, Espírito Santo has the opportunity to forge a midfield three that is similar to his Wolves setup, but will also have distinct features that the Portuguese can use to his advantage.

Pierre Emile-Højbjerg would fit perfectly in the deeper-lying midfield role that Neves played at Wolves.

We saw at the recent European Championships that Højbjerg possesses exceptional ability on the ball. According to whoscored.com, Højbjerg made 1.8 key passes and 1.7 dribbles per match playing central-midfield in Denmark’s 3-4-2-1 formation.

In comparison, Neves completed just 0.9 key passes and 0.3 dribbles per match for Wolves last season.

Højbjerg has shown exceptional endurance, leadership and consistency, so we can expect him to be one of the first names on the team sheet for Tottenham.

Credit: Eurosport

To take up the box-to-box role that Leander Dendoncker played, Espírito Santo should look no further than Tottenham’s very own; Oliver Skipp.

Skipp has returned to Tottenham after a phenomenal loan spell at newly-promoted Norwich City, where he gained much needed first-team action.

Daniel Farke even said, “We take it for granted Oliver Skipp plays nearly every game with so little mistakes.”

For Norwich, Skipp operated in a 4-2-3-1 double pivot role for most of the season. As the more offensive midfielder, the young Englishman would making driving runs from deep almost every week. He completed 0.6 dribbles and 0.6 key passes per match, while making 2.2 tackles and 1.1 interceptions.

Credit: Tottenham Insight

These metrics blow Leander Dendoncker off the park, even in his best season for Wolves. Where in 19/20, he completed only 1.8 tackles, 1 interception, 0.4 dribbles and 0.2 key passes a match.

Finally, onto Joao Moutinho’s role. We may see Tanguy Ndombele deployed here, however his impact on matches may be slightly different from the smaller Portuguese.

Moutinho is definitely more of a creator, completing two key passes a match in the 19/20 season, compared to Ndombele’s 0.4 in the 20/21 season.

Ndombele is more of a mazy, forward-first dribbler. He completed 74 take-ons in the 20/21 season, the seventh best in the league, averaging over two dribbles a game.

Credit: Planet Football

In essence, Ndombele will offer a more direct approach to ball progression with incisive dribbling, but he is not afraid to play line breaking passes either.

This will certainly help against teams that sit in a low block, as Ndombele has the ability to leave a defender for dead and open space up for his teammates.

Spurs obviously have a plethora of midfield talent, but it is up to Espirito Santo to utilise them correctly.

Three players that will shine under Nuno Espírito Santo at Tottenham

On the 30th of June, Tottenham Hotspur finally put an end to their 72-day search for a new manager after the sacking of José Mourinho in mid-April, appointing ex-Wolves boss Nuno Espírito Santo.

Credit: Tottenham Hotspur

It’s an appointment that has received mixed reception within the fanbase, many consider the new manager vastly underwhelming, as just a number of weeks ago Spurs were linked to managers such as Antonio Conte, Mauricio Pochettino and Erik ten Hag. 

Furthermore, many feel this is not in line with Daniel Levy’s aims of “reverting back to core DNA of playing attacking, entertaining football.”

As, in the season just passed, Wolves finished 13th scoring only 36 goals and accumulating an xG of just 38.62.

However during the season, Wolves suffered a plethora of adversities including injuries and losing players to direct rivals.

Despite his poor final campaign, Espírito did superbly in the Midlands, guiding Wolves from the Championship to a Premiere League side that regularly challenges in the Europa League and comfortably beats sides in the Top Six.

Credit: Goal.com

In terms of philosophy, Espírito has been influenced by several coaches.

He worked under José Mourinho and Jesualdo Ferreira at Porto, and even spent some time at Hotspur Way learning from ex-Spurs boss Mauricio Pochettino, following his sacking at Valencia.

Simply put, the Portuguese values a solid defence, playing out from the back, aggressive transitions and counter-attacks whilst dominating the wide areas. He utilised both the 3-4-3 and the 3-5-2 in his time at Wolves, which will be the template for this analysis. 

That being said, here are three players that will shine under Nuno Espírito Santo at Tottenham Hotspur:

Matt Doherty

Doherty was signed by Tottenham from Wolves after three years of working with the Portuguese manager.

Nuno’s system complimented Doherty perfectly, as Wolves would usually begin build up play on the left-hand side, creating an overload and dragging their opposition with them, freeing up space on the right before switching the play to Doherty with a long diagonal pass or quick, short passes through the midfield.

He would then be isolated one versus one against the opponent’s left-back and could create a chance with a run to the byline and a cross. This could be a tactical facet that Nuno may use in his system at Tottenham.

Joe Rodon 

Rodon was signed by Tottenham from Swansea in the final stages of last summer’s transfer window. Despite barely starting under Mourinho, whenever Rodon did start, he impressed.

Notably his performance against Liverpool in the 3-1 loss at home, where despite the loss, his highlight was a last-ditch tackle to stop Sadio Mané. 

The Welshman is confident on the ball, and his height can make him a threat from set pieces, which Wolves put to good use regularly during their peak years under Espírito.

He is also just 23 years old, so has more than enough time to develop. 

Credit: Sky Sports

Giovani Lo Celso 

Lo Celso has had a difficult first two years at Spurs. Initially signing on loan, he did not experience much playing time under his fellow Argentine Mauricio Pochettino.

However under Mourinho, Lo Celso was the shining light in a frankly dreadful Tottenham side post-December 2019.

Last season Lo Celso started well, scoring a handful of goals in the Europa League qualifying and group stages. However, injuries and underwhelming performances have caused the Spurs fanbase to develop a resentment toward the Argentinian midfielder. 

A player who flourished under Espírito at Wolves was former Monaco midfielder, Joao Moutinho.

Moutinho offered a great passing range, good technical ability, a wicked delivery on set pieces and smart movement that allowed Wolves to create overloads all over the pitch.

These are all abilities that Lo Celso has showcased in the past, and it would not be far-fetched to assume that Nuno could bring the best out of the Argentine. 

Credit: Goal.com

In conclusion, Nuno Espírito Santo is a coach who is well known for improving players, working with youth and overachieving.

He has an extremely difficult task in front of him to try and bring Tottenham Hotspur back to the harmonious, passionate and entertaining football team it was in its peak years under Mauricio Pochettino.

Only time will tell if he can achieve this, but these three players could play a crucial role in his attempt to revitalise the sleeping giant that is Tottenham Hotspur.

Nuno Espírito Santo – The man to lead the rebuild?

Who would have thought that Tottenham’s decision to sack Jose Mourinho would result in a 70+ day search for a successor?

The decision to sack Mourinho six days before Spurs faced Manchester City in the Carabao Cup final was always going to be met with criticism. However, many still believed that the club had an idea of who they wanted to take the reins for the upcoming season. 

It was believed that RB Leipzig’s Julian Nagelsmann was the preferred choice to replace Mourinho at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium but the vacant position at Bayern Munich was enough to tempt the German into becoming the new manager of the Bundesliga champions. 

Graham Potter, Roberto Martinez, Gareth Southgate and Erik ten Hag would later see their names heavily linked with the Spurs vacancy – the latter having held a meeting with Daniel Levy. 

Spurs target Nagelsmann to take over at Bayern this summer

Former manager and fan favourite Mauricio Pochettino was thought to be interested in a return having found it hard behind the scenes at PSG, despite winning the Coupe de France and Trophée des Champions in his first five months. 

Although interest seemed to be mutual, Spurs would once again fail to appoint a new manager as PSG’s determined stance to keep the Argentine at the Parc des Princes would stop talks from progressing any further.

According to Fabrizio Romano, Pochettino would have needed to make a ‘public statement’ if he wished to leave PSG, which was something he wasn’t likely to do.

Mauricio Pochettino: Any big player in the world welcome at French  champions Paris Saint-Germain - Eurosport

The following week would see Daniel Levy approach former Juventus, Chelsea and Inter Milan manager Antonio Conte.

Conte had recently left his position at Inter Milan, despite winning the clubs first league title in eleven years due to the Italian side’s financial troubles limiting his resources in the transfer market. 

The news of Conte’s potential arrival had created a sense of optimism among supporters and confidence in a deal being concluded was growing day by day. However, talks would later collapse with the self proclaimed ‘serial winner’ as he believed that the project pitched to him by Spurs didn’t match his own ambitions. 

Spurs offer manager 'pharaonic' deal amid incoming 'divorce' - Football365

Although the appointment of Conte was a failure, Spurs were able to secure the signature of another Italian as Fabio Paratici was appointed as the new Managing Director of Football.

Paratici began his non-playing career as Sampdoria’s Chief Observer/Head of Scouting in 2004 before becoming the Head of Technical Areas and Sporting Director at Juventus in 2010.

The Italian was immediately given the responsibility of putting an end to Spurs’ managerial saga.

Portuguese coach Paulo Fonseca was thought to be Paratici’s choice to replace Mourinho but tax complications caused the deal to collapse. Gennaro Guttuso had also agreed terms with the club but pressure from fans led to Spurs going in a different direction.

Tottenham appoint Fabio Paratici as new Managing Director of football

With preseason just around the corner Spurs were finally able to put an end to the longest running managerial search in Europe’s top five leagues as Nuno Espírito Santo was appointed as Tottenham Hotspur manager.

Espírito Santo is best known for his four years with Wolverhampton Wanderers, having guided the Wolves from the Championship to the Europa League quarter final. 

Espírito Santo’s first management gig was with Portuguese side Rio Ave in 2012. Nuno would reach both the Taço de Portugal Taça de Liga finals before leading them to the UEFA Europa League for the first time in the club’s history.

The success achieved at Rio Ave would be followed up by brief spells in La Liga with Valencia and a return to Portugal with Porto.

Championship side Wolverhampton Wanderers would be the next destination for the Portuguese coach, a move which would pay off for all parties. Wolves would return to the Premier League as champions after a six year absence from the top-flight of English football in 2017-18. 

The Wanderers experienced a rather pleasant first season in the Premier League as they finished 7th, the clubs highest top-flight finish since 1979-80 and qualified for the Europa League for the first time since 1980-01.  

The following season would see similar results for Wolves as they would once again finish 7th – with a record Premier League club points total of 59. 

Nuno and Wolves would agree to a mutual termination at the end of the 2020-21 season, having faced a disappointing and injury plagued season which resulted in a 13th placed finish.

Tottenham fans react as Wolves confirm Nuno Espirito Santo is leaving this  summer - The Boot Room

Espírito Santo is known for his trademark 3-4-3 formation, which relies on defenders being comfortable with the ball at their feet in order to build from the back. 

While at Wolves Conor Coady would be the catalyst for this system, as his range of passing allowed the full-backs to push high and wide when trying to attack. 

The willingness to engage in one-on-one’s with opponents is also a key component in how Espírito Santo’s system works. The team must be able to dictate the tempo and control of the game in order to isolate defenders and create these opportunities, something Wolves were able to do for the likes of Adama Traore and Pedro Neto.

Another key element to Nuno’s philosophy would be the counter-attack. It is essential for players in this system to overwhelm opposing defenders with runners once possession has been regained. Mexican striker Raul Jimenez was able to benefit immensely through the use of counter attacks, scoring 17 goals in his debut Premier League campaign.

Nuno Espirito Santo 'offered' to Tottenham as Portuguese 'replacement lined  up' for Wolves - Birmingham Live

While width is key to how Wolves attack, a compact shape is required on the defensive end.

Wolves’ shape defensively is routinely described as a back three that can be adjusted to a back five when the team is out of possession (5-4-1).

Pressing traps are employed by positioning players in the midfield and defence in a staggered arc in order to cover more distances. 

“We have to be compact, close to each other, knowing that the outside [space] is there but the moment it goes we are there to engage on our defensive process. But the main idea is to be compact when we defend and achieve maximum width when we attack” said Nuno in 2020.

Nuno Espirito Santo is on shaky ground at Tottenham from the off but his  record shows he could be a canny hire | Evening Standard

Spurs will be hoping that Espírito Santo can work alongside Paraciti and help rebuild a team that is in desperate need of a shake up.

Pochettinho once said that Spurs were in need of a “painful rebuild” and this may be their chance to do just that.

By Reece Coughlan

Relief, disappointment and international duty – A week in the life of Tottenham Hotspur (21st March – 28th March)

Tottenham Hotspur 2-0 Aston Villa – 21st March

After such a catastrophic performance against Dynamo Zagreb, Spurs travelled to Villa Park looking to save their season.

Jose Mourinho faced a fair amount of scrutiny following Spurs’ exit from Europe and made his feelings toward the squad known as seven changes were made from the starting eleven.

Aurier, Dier, Davies, Sissoko, Winks, Lamela and Dele would all miss out and be replaced by Tanganga, Rodon, Reguillon, Hojbjerg, Ndombele, Lo Celso and Vinicius. Kane, Moura and Lloris would be the only three to remain.

Academy products Dane Scarlett and Alfie Devine were also given places on the Tottenham bench.

Mourinho and Spurs fans alike certainly got the reaction that they were looking for after 29 minutes of action as Vinicius chased down a long ball from Reguilon forcing a mistake from Martinez, who raced off his line but failed to make a clearance. Allowing Moura to capitalise by playing a nice one-two with Kane before squaring the ball to Vinicius, who has an empty net in front of him.

Having scored his first Premier League goal, the on-loan Brazilian striker has now scored nine goals in nine starts for the North London club.

Tottenham beats Aston Villa 2-0 to keep CL spot in sight | Raleigh News &  Observer

The first half was a positive one for a new-look Spurs team, as the unfamiliar back-line was able to stop Aston Villa from registering a single shot towards the Tottenham goal in the opening 45 minutes.

The reliable Harry Kane would double the Lilywhites’ lead from the penalty spot in the 68th minute after a reckless challenge from Cash.

Kane has been on an absolute tear this season, currently leading the Premier League in both goals and assists with seventeen and thirteen respectively.

Aston Villa vs. Tottenham Hotspur - Football Match Summary - March 21, 2021  - ESPN

The win leaves Mourinho’s side in sixth place, only three points behind fourth place Chelsea going into the international break.

With the potential return of Heung-min Son looming and a place in the top four, Spurs still have it all to play for to end the season.

Gareth Bale’s comments – 23rd March

It’s fair to say that Gareth Bale’s comments caused quite a stir among Spurs fans this week.

The Welshman was asked about his current situation at Tottenham and where he expects to be next season during a press conference, ahead of Wales’ World Cup qualifier against Belgium.

“There’s no distraction for me,” said Bale.

“I think the main reason I came to Spurs this year was to play football first and foremost.

“Going into the Euros I wanted to be match-fit. The original plan was to do a season at Spurs and after the Euros still have a year left at Real Madrid.

“My plan is to go back, that’s as far I have planned.”

Jose Mourinho insists Gareth Bale and Dele Alli have futures at Tottenham  following loss to Man City - Eurosport

Many viewed Bale’s comments as a form of disrespect towards Spurs and questioned why he would want to return to Real Madrid, due to his tainted relationship with current manager Zinedine Zidane.

In reality this is a typical comment that loan players often give, Bale is still contracted to Real Madrid for another year once his loan with Spurs expires so for him to comment on his future elsewhere without anything being agreed shouldn’t be expected.

According to Marca, Bale is not in Real Madrid’s plans next season with the club keen to sell him before the expiration of his contract at the Santiago Bernabeu.

football.london reported that Spurs have the first option to bring Bale back next season, if he agrees. The terms of his loan would remain the same if triggered, meaning roughly 40 percent of the wingers wages would be paid by Spurs.

International break

With nineteen Spurs players representing their nations during the international break, it’s safe to say that the club will be well represented for the next two weeks.

The following players have been selected to participate in senior fixtures for their nation:

Gareth Bale, Joe Rodon (Wales), Toby Alderweireld (Belgium), Steven Bergwijn (Netherlands), Harry Kane, Eric Dier (England), Tanguy Ndombele, Moussa Sissoko, Hugo Lloris (France), Matt Doherty, Troy Parrott (Ireland), Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg (Denmark), Serge Aurier (Ivory Coast) and academy centre-back Maksim Paskotsi (Estonia).

Following call-ups for the England U21 squad, on-loan pair Ryan Sessegnon and Oliver Skipp join Japhet Tangnga for UEFA Euro U21 action, while Alfie Devine and Dennis Cirkin link up with England’s U19 squad.

Ben Davies was forced to withdraw from Wales’ squad due to an injury that he picked up against Aston Villa. The left-back is expected to be sidelined for up to three weeks.

Dane Scarlett’s new deal – 28th March

Academy standout Dane Scarlett was rewarded with his first professional contract after breaking into Mourinho’s matchday squad at the age of sixteen.

The young striker’s contract will run until 2023, having been triggered following his 17th birthday.

Everything you need to know about Spurs record breaker Dane Scarlett -  PlanetFootball

Scarlett made his first team debut in Spurs’ Europa League victory against Ludogorets Razgrad in November 2020. He has currently racked up three appearances for the senior side, including a Premier League debut vs West Bromwich Albion.

The Hillingdon-born forward has scored 22 goals in 18 appearances for the U18 and U23 sides this season.

By Reece Coughlan

A week in the life of Tottenham Hotspur: 7th – 14th March

Tottenham Hotspur 4-1 Crystal Palace – 7th March (Alfie)

Sunday night saw Spurs pick up their third win in a week, leaving the most impressive display till last.

Following wins earlier in the week, Spurs completed a second-half rout against the South London side to take their aggregate scoreline of 13-1 for the week.

Pushing the Lilywhites’ goal tally for the season past 100, second only to Europe’s elite – Bayern Munich.

It was 90 minutes in dreamland once again, with Gareth Bale and Harry Kane running the show. A partnership fans could only dream about years ago, was unfolding in front of their eyes.

Spurs’ first two goals showed the duo’s prowess in full flow, Kane’s passing ability combined with Bale’s intelligent attacking positioning, allowed Spurs to score twice either side of a stooping Benteke header for the visitors.

Kane then produced one of the goals of the season, hitting a first time pass from Matt Doherty across the keeper, sailing into the far corner.

The win was then sealed after Heung-Min Son selflessly squared across to Kane for his second and Spurs’ fourth – breaking the 25 year-old record for most goal contributions by a partnership in a single season.

Jose Mourinho opted for his familiar 4-2-3-1 formation with three changes in the starting XI from the team that beat Fulham, with Tanguy Ndombele being handed a well-deserved rest.

Ben Davies & Dele Alli were replaced by Sergio Reguilon and Lucas Moura as the team was refreshed at the end of a busy week.

The changes in the side were awarded immediately, after Moura’s relentless pressing allowed Bale to tap in for his first goal of the night.

Tottenham Hotspur 2-0 Dinamo Zagreb – 11th March (@sheku_thfc42)

After Sunday’s thrashing of Crystal Palace, it was back to Europa League action for Tottenham against Dinamo Zagreb in the round of 16.

A fast start by the Croatian outfit put Spurs immediately on the back foot, with two great chances for them to take the lead early on.

However, Tottenham inevitably settled into the game, creating a few close chances but failing to capitalise.

But then, a skilful Erik Lamela solo run left five defenders in his wake, only for his left footed shot to come off the post for a Harry Kane tap in.

The start of the 2nd half brought more refereeing controversy, with Serdar Gözübüyük failing to award a clear penalty on Tanguy Ndombele.

The second half continued in the same vein as the majority of the first half with Tottenham creating lots of chances but failing to convert.

Gareth Bale and Steven Bergwijn nearly doubled the lead minutes after coming on, with the Dutchman narrowly missing the post.

The lead was eventually doubled in the 69th minute with Serge Aurier finding Harry Kane in the box for his 26th goal in all competitions.

Bale nearly made it 3-0 as the Zagreb keeper punched his swerving free-kick away from goal.

Next week sees the highly anticipated North London Derby and the second leg of Spurs’ Last 16 tie.

A week in the life of Tottenham Hotspur: 28th February – 6th March

Tottenham Hotspur 4-0 Burnley – 28th February

It was vintage Gareth Bale at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium on Sunday, with a return to winning ways in the Premier League.

Sky Sports brought some pre-match entertainment, with Roy Keane effectively calling Bale “average.” Which he took personally.

It took just two minutes for Bale to be distinctly unaverage, latching on to a low in-swinging ball from Heung-Min Son to make it 1-0.

Spurs continued to bombard the Burnley defence with chance after chance. Then it was Harry Kane’s turn in front of goal.

After a fantastic start to the game, Bale picked the ball up well inside his own half and sent a long ball out to Kane, who came inside and smashed the ball past the breakdancing Nick Pope.

Before long, it was three. Sergio Reguilón floated a ball to Lucas Moura, who expertly put the ball into the back of the net.

Much of the same came early on in the second half. Serge Aurier looked good on the right, Kane was all over the park, and the midfield duo of Pierre-Emile Højbjerg and Tanguy Ndombele were controlling the middle of the pitch.

Burnley slowly began to grow into the game, but then Spurs broke at lightning speed. Son found Bale with a cross-field through ball and without hesistation, the Welshman found the far corner to send Spurs four up.

Full time, a strong defensive display and the fourth time in a month scoring four goals… lots to be pleased about.

Loan Watch

Oliver Skipp (Norwich) vs Brentford – 3rd March

A huge clash at the top of the Championship saw Skippy help his side to an important three points, taking Norwich 10 points clear at the top.

Despite one over-ambitious attempt at a pass to Max Aarons, his clever play on and off the ball, commanding challenges, and fantastic block in stoppage time earned him yet another ‘Man of the Match’ award from Norwich’s Twitter page.

We’re sure the Spurs fans had nothing to do with his landslide victory…

Cameron Carter-Vickers (Bournemouth) vs Bristol City – 3rd March

‘CCV’ scored a late goal, courtesy of his backside, to earn Bournemouth three crucial points in their hunt for promotion.

No clean sheet for the American, but it was a decent enough overall performance, and his winning goal made it a thoroughly good evening.

Jack Clarke (Stoke) vs Swansea – 3rd March

A frustrating evening for Jack Clarke, as he conceded a penalty in the final seconds of injury time, which was converted, costing them a point. There was minimal contact, if any.

He certainly divided opinion after coming on as a substitute at half time, with his lively play on the ball, and his ability to draw fouls, causing the winger to trend on Twitter.

Ryan Sessegnon (Hoffenheim) vs Union Berlin – 28th February

Came on for a 23 minute cameo in a disappointing draw, after playing 20 in the Europa League that Thursday.

Before then, he had missed seven games through injury, so it was a much needed return to play for the Englishman.

Juan Foyth (Villarreal) vs Atlético de Madrid – 28th February

Villarreal succumbed to a 2-0 defeat at the hands of league-leaders Atlético, with Foyth playing in the role of right-back.

The Argentine was not at fault for either of the goals and it was a confident performance yet again, despite appearing in multiple positions this season for the Yellow Submarine.

Troy Parrott (Ipswich Town) vs Accrington Stanley – 2nd March

His spell at Millwall may not have been particularly successful, but Troy Parrott seems to be making a name for himself in East Anglia.

He didn’t have too many sights of goal, but he won a penalty and worked tirelessly in the victory for the Tractor Boys.

Harvey White (Portsmouth) vs Doncaster – 2nd March

He recently scored his first senior goal, but Harvey was unable to prevent his side from a poor 2-1 loss at the hands of Doncaster Rovers.

The loss will be a bitter blow to Pompey’s promotion hopes, as now they could fall out of the playoff spaces if games in hand don’t go their way.

Fulham 0-1 Tottenham – 5th March

After a cutting edge display of attacking prowess on Sunday, a more subdued affair was in store for Thursday’s midweek fixture.

Fulham had a lively start to the game, repeatedly driving at Spurs’ defence, dominating the first 10 minutes with 60% possession.

Hugo Lloris, fresh from receiving his 100th Premier League clean sheet, was eager to make it 101 against the London side.

A combination of him and Davinson Sanchez kept Fulham at bay. Then in the 19th minute, a pass from midfield by Dele found Son on the wing, who then returned the favour to an onrushing Dele into the box – meant Spurs took the lead.

However, de ja vu struck late into the first half, as Tottenham and Harry Kane especially, failed to capitalised on a few golden chances to double the lead.

This theme continued into the second half, where Spurs’ failure to kill the game off nearly resulted in the spoils being shared.

Josh Maja rightfully scored in the 62nd minute, only for VAR to dubiously rule the goal out for a handball in the build-up. Since that the decision, the law has already been changed.

Ultimately Tottenham’s defence stood strong, with the likes of Sanchez playing superbly once again, and showing many fans why he deserves to play every week.

Next week, Tottenham host Crystal Palace in the Premier League & Dinamo Zagreb in the Europa League.