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English Premier League

Spurs have unsettled more than just Berahino and Wanyama

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West Bromwich Albion‘s Saido Berahino has now missed three matches due to ongoing speculation about his future. This weekend, Southampton’s Victor Wanyama missed the match against Norwich for not being ‘in the right mental shape’ to represent the Saints. Both have a lot in common. Both have been subjected to intense media speculation regarding their futures. Both are players that Mauricio Pochettino has been intent on bringing to White Hart Lane. Both have handed in transfer requests. Both have had them rejected. Both have been unsettled by Spurs and the questionable tactics that they have used to push through deals for the two players.

Tony Pulis has regularly been peppered with questions about Berahino’s future with the Baggies’ boss claiming that the striker’s head wasn’t in the right place because of Spurs’ “disruptive” pursuit and bid for the forward. Whether you agree with Pulis when he says that it’s “ridiculous” that the transfer window is still open when the season has started is another debate. But what isn’t up for debate is the fact that a young player who still needs valuable game time to develop is missing games because he’s been unsettled by rumours, speculation and unclear transfer tactics is not fair on the player, club or supporters.

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The start of the season is a crucial time for players to find their feet and pick up some form to kick start their season successfully. Both Tony Pulis and Ronald Koeman, like any other manager, want to spend the beginning of the season fine tuning their tactics and selections to find some rhythm early doors with almost fully fit squads. However, when Victor Wanyama and Saido Berahino, both key players to their respective teams, are unable to play because of the dubious tactics that Spurs are employing in the transfer market, more than the individual players are getting affected.

Fans want to see their best players play. Berahino is one of the biggest goal threats that the Baggies possess having scored 20 goals for West Brom in all competitions last campaign, the Berundi-born England Under 21 International would have been eager for a decent run of form early on this season that could have put him in good stead to better that goals return. However, missing out on games because of being unsettled not only threatens his form for the remainder of the season but also threatens his relationship with The Hawthorns faithful.

Like Berahino, Victor Wanyama is another essential player for Southampton. After being partnered with the gifted Morgan Schneiderlin for the previous two campaigns, the Frenchman and the Kenyan formed a formidable relationship that made them one of the most impressive and sought after defensive midfield duos in the league. With Schneiderlin getting his deserved move to Manchester United, Saints fans were eager for some stability in midfield and the mighty Kenyan was seen as pivotal in that for what many expect to be a big season for the former Celtic player. But with interest from Spurs being fed out through the media and what appears to be a poor attitude and reaction from the 24-year-old, Wanyama was left out altogether from the Saints team that was victorious against Norwich at the weekend.

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Not only has Spurs’ interest in these two player impacted the two players, but their interest has also influenced the starts that these two teams have made to the season. Let’s go back a couple of weeks to when the champions visited The Hawthorns and recorded their only win of the season to date. When the score was 0-0, James Morrison had a penalty saved by Thibaut Courtois. With the first goal being pivotal in any game, if The Baggies did have regular penalty taker Saido Berahino in the starting line-up and the 22-year-old had converted the spot kick, given the start Chelsea have made to the season, the champions may not have left The Midlands with all three points.

Spurs’ pursuit of Berahino took another sour twist in the last hour of Deadline Day. Details of two bids in the final hours of the summer transfer window emerged which led to the forward venting his frustrations on social media. Berahino tweeted: “Sad how I cant say exactly how the club has treated me but I can officially say I will never play Jeremy Peace [West Brom Chairman].” Despite their clear long-standing interest in the player, Daniel Levy and Spurs left it until late on in the transfer window to make their move; a move that has drastic repercussions for everyone involved with the club. Although; as Berahino states, from the outside we are unaware of how he has been treated by The Baggies, his reaction on social media was unnecessary and screams of a reaction of a spoiled young player. Maybe that was the reaction that Levy desired from Berahino in order to push through a move in the final moments of Deadline Day. However, Peace’s and West Brom’s resilience means that The Baggies now have to deal with a want-away player who is threatening to go on strike. The impact that this will have on the rest of the club and their supporters could become astronomical. Whether a Baggies fan or supporter of Spurs, in fact whoever you support, that is neither right nor fair.

Whether Spurs have done anything untoward is debatable, but the fact that Tottenham’s top two transfer targets are extremely unsettled at their clubs can’t be a coincidence. Especially considering that players subjected to similar speculation such as John Stones are more than capable to continue performing at a high level for their club. It’s not just the players that are being affected. It’s the managers, coaching staff, team-mates, the club and us, the fans. That’s not fair. Something must change.

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Dan is a Journalism student at UWE and is an aspiring football journalist. His first ever football match was Southampton's 3-2 win over Leeds in 2003 and he has been a Saints fan ever since.

Liverpool

Three Liverpool men who need to capitalise on rotation

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With the Champions League semi-finals occupying all of Liverpool‘s mind and attention, it has represented a fresh chance for some players on the fringes of the squad.

For three men in particular, the next few seemingly meaningless Premier League fixtures could represent a chance to rescue their Anfield careers.

Danny Ings

The ex-Burnley striker had rotten luck in picking up a serious knee injury in training days after Jurgen Klopp’s appointment and has only just started his first two Premier League games under the German coach up against Everton and West Brom.

His poachers’ finish at The Hawthorns was an emotional moment for the striker and whilst it seems inevitable that his future lies on loan next season at least, good form from the Englishmen could see him make a case to be a back-up option in 2018/19.

With Dominic Solanke not pulling up trees when given the chance earlier on in the campaign, Danny Ings may feel that there is a place up for grabs.

(Photo by Nigel Roddis/Getty Images)

Ragnar Klavan

The Estonian central defender was never signed as a long-term solution at the back and whilst usually reliable, he has let the team down at times.

The arrival of Virgil Van Dijk has pushed him further down the pecking order and it still looks likely that another defender may arrive in the summer to join the Dutchman in favour of Dejan Lovren or Joel Matip.

Klavan has seen the latter half of this season disrupted by injury but by leading the way in an inexperienced backline in the upcoming league fixtures could be pivotal to defining his Anfield future.

Alberto Moreno

The Spaniard has always been a controversial figure on Merseyside, but at the start of this season he appeared to be on the right track and became a regular in Jurgen Klopp’s selections.

An injury picked up in the Champions League forced him onto the sidelines and led to the emergence of Andrew Robertson, who rapidly became a fan favourite and one of the first names on the team-sheet.

The left-back had shown his defensive improvements earlier on in the season and will need to maintain that if he is to convince Klopp that he is worth keeping around for 2018/19.

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English Premier League

Tottenham fans reminded why they sold Federico Fazio for just £3.8m

The Argentine was poor against Liverpool, reminding Tottenham Hotspur fans why he was sold.

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Last night Liverpool put one foot in the Champions League final. They raced into a 5-0 lead against AS Roma at Anfield. Inspire by the best attacker in the world right now, Mohamed Salah, Liverpool put the Italians to the sword. Whilst the Giallorossi did manage to grab two goals to make the second leg a contest, Liverpool will feel confident of progress.

For Tottenham fans, the game represented a reminder of why they sold a player they were regretting a couple of weeks ago. When Roma turned around a 4-1 deficit against Barcelona, the performance of Federico Fazio caused a stir. He was a man-mountain in the Stadio Olimpico, as Roma won 3-0.

It left some Tottenham fans wondering why they sold him for a fee in the region of £3.8 million in 2017 – as reported by talkSPORT – after just 32 appearances for the North London club.

Last night showed exactly why.

(Photo by Tom Dulat/Getty Images)

Fazio, along with the other members of the Roma back three, was poor against Liverpool. He was not helped by the decision to play a high-line. However, his physical attributes were exposed by Liverpool. Slow, sluggish and clumsy, this looked like the Fazio that Tottenham fans remember from his time at White Hart Lane after joining from Sevilla in the summer of 2014.

But a high-line is not his game, he is a combative defender who is excellent in the air. Well, that did not look the case when he wimpishly challenged Roberto Firmino for a header that the Brazilian dispatched.

Tottenham fans were impressed with his performance against Barcelona in the last round and, with Toby Alderweireld set to leave, having Fazio around again might have appealed to some Spurs fans. Based on this performance v their Premier League rivals, they will be happy he is in the Italian capital.

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Liverpool

Statistics show Jordan Henderson’s display against Roma was his best for Liverpool

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In the build-up to the Champions League semi-final, there was one joke which was repeatedly told, “imagine the sight of Jordan Henderson lifting the Champions League trophy”. On Tuesday night, the Liverpool captain showed just why it’s a distinct possibility.

The midfielder completely dominated the experienced Italian trio of Daniele De Rossi, Kevin Strootman and Radja Nainggolan, teaming up perfectly with James Milner and Georgino Wijnaldum, who replaced the injured Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, to put their stomp on the game and dictate the tempo.

Sitting deep and playing balls over the top, Henderson showed what he can do as a playmaker with his impressive range of passing on show once again, completing as many passes in the final third as Sadio Mane.

Of his 54 passes, only 16 were backwards, compared to 22 forwards, and Henderson was consistently looking to move the ball forward and find a breakthrough against Roma’s high defensive line.

(Photo credit should read FILIPPO MONTEFORTE/AFP/Getty Images)

Defensively, Henderson was even more impressive. No player completed more ball recoveries than Henderson’s 12, so much so that the next best tally on his team was seven, almost half of what the captain contributed.

The location of his recoveries too showed his influence, playing in the holding midfield role and breaking up play before looking to rapidly start counter-attacks.

Restricting himself to an entirely central role, Henderson got the better of the likes of De Rossi and Strootman and put them on edge right from the off, causing them to be sloppy in possession and panic, which only got worse as the goals started flowing for the Reds.

In addition, he was successful in more tackles than any other Liverpool player as he made the midfield his own in arguably the highest profile fixture he has ever played in.

Many have questioned the credentials of the former Sunderland man, who is also in contention for the England captaincy, but performances like on Tuesday should soon convince any doubters that he is a key piece of Jurgen Klopp’s puzzle. Post-match, a number of fans and pundits aired their praise for his display.

The tie may only be at half-time but Jordan Henderson must show such leadership on the field of play again in Rome after his team lost their focus in the closing stages of their first leg clash.

Leading by example is pivotal to Henderson’s style and displays like his performance on Tuesday night at Anfield go a long way to justifying his role as captain of Liverpool.

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