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Tottenham 2-0 Manchester United – Three talking points from Wembley

Jake Jackman




Tottenham delivered an excellent home performance to overcome top-six rivals Manchester United and move to within two points of the Champions League places. It will be important for Mauricio Pochettino’s men to finish in the top four for the third successive season as they attempt to become mainstays in Europe’s premier competition. Their consistency in the Premier League hasn’t been as good as it has been in recent seasons, but they were back to their best on Wednesday and picked up a pivotal three points. The visitors were underwhelming again in a big match and Jose Mourinho’s tactics should be questioned as he once again opted for a defensive approach. It didn’t work. Here are three talking points from the match:

The Tottenham defence was excellent

The Tottenham back five were all excellent on Wednesday, as they kept a clean sheet and made sure that a talented Manchester United team offered little threat in the final third. Jan Vertonghen was one of the standout players, as he completed seven ball recoveries and won five aerial duels to help his team to another shutout. Furthermore, he was assured in possession and regularly looked to launch attacks from deep. His pass success rate of 86% shows how effective he is on the ball.

Meanwhile, his centre-back partner Davinson Sanchez gave one of his best displays since moving to Tottenham in the summer. He has all the tools to be a leading Premier League centre-back and he regularly got the better of Romelu Lukaku on the night. The 21-year-old’s positioning is rarely off and he has improved significantly in the absence of Toby Alderweireld. It can be argued that neither Kieran Trippier or Ben Davies are the first choice full0backs, but they both didn’t put a foot wrong.

Romelu Lukaku misfired again in a big game

One of the main narratives that were discussed after Lukaku joined Manchester United was his inability to deliver the goods in the biggest matches. That may have been somewhat unfair, but with every passing game against the top-six, his belief that he can contribute will decrease. He has now scored only 15 goals in 63 Premier League appearances against the top-six. For a striker that cost as much as he did, that isn’t good enough. It seems that there is a mentality issue that is preventing him from pushing on in these matches.

On Wednesday, his movement wasn’t as crisp as it needed to be to get the better of the Tottenham defence. He failed to attempt a single shot on goal and that will be a concern for Jose Mourinho. If this defensive style is going to succeed, he needs his attacking players to show dynamism and make things happen in the final third. Lukaku was a passenger and his pass success rate of just 48% shows how poor he was at Wembley.

Christian Eriksen is undroppable

Every team has a player that makes them tick in the final third and Christian Eriksen is that man for Tottenham. He had a slow start to the season compared to his high standards, but he has quickly kicked on after the turn of the year and he was excellent against Manchester United. The game started well for him as he scored after only eleven seconds, which was one of the quickest goals in Premier League history. He now has seven goals and six assists to his name. This is another very impressive return for the midfielder.

It was his creativity that stood out most on Wednesday, as he made six key passes and finished the game with a pass success rate of 93%. There are few players that can break down an opposition defence quite like Eriksen and his class stood out against Manchester United. Mauricio Pochettino is trying to put him, Dele Alli, Son Heung-min and Harry Kane on the pitch at the same time. The addition of Lucas Moura provides another quality attacking option to the manager and it will be interesting to see how the pieces fall. Whatever happens, the Danish international will continue to be a crucial player for Spurs.

Jake is a journalist based in the South East. He is a Newcastle United fan and has a keen interest in Dutch football. Jake can be found on Twitter here - @jakejackmann.

Champions League

Gareth Bale’s red-hot Real Madrid form should scare Liverpool

The Welshman has scored 11 goals in his last 15 appearances.

Max Cohen



Gareth Bale
Photo: Getty Images

In Real Madrid’s final league match of this season on Saturday, Gareth Bale swept home a lovely right-footed finish to open the scoring against Villarreal.

That goal marked the Welshman’s 11th goal in his last 15 appearances for club and country; a remarkably prolific run of form that should scare Liverpool ahead of next weekend’s Champions League final.

Injury problems have marred much of Bale’s time at the Bernabeu, and he suffered a lengthy two-month absence from the first team this fall.

Yet, after returning from his injury lay-off, the former world-record signing has hit full form in the last two months.

In that time period, the winger has scored a hat-trick for Wales, braces against Las Palmas and Celta Vigo, and a crucial goal versus Barcelona.

This spring resurgence presents a worrying prospect for Liverpool’s defence, who already will have their hands full trying to keep Cristiano Ronaldo in check in Kiev.

(Photo by Manuel Queimadelos Alonso/Getty Images)

Add in Gareth Bale hitting full form, and suddenly the task at hand for Jurgen Klopp’s men appears far more difficult.

The 28-year-old also has quite the decorated history for los Blancos in cup finals. In his debut season for Real, Bale scored sensational winning goals in both the Copa del Rey and Champions League finals.

The following season in the European Cup final, the Welshman assisted Real Madrid’s sole goal and scored his penalty in the ensuing shoot-out; his cup final record is simply superb.

Combined with Bale’s recent tremendous goalscoring form, the prospect of facing up against the powerful winger might strike fear in the Liverpool backline.

But the Reds have proven adept in stifling some of the best attacks in Europe this season.

Liverpool famously restricted high-scoring Manchester City to just one goal over 180 minutes in the quarterfinals and the Reds will have to conjure up that heroic rearguard performance in order to stop the on-form Gareth Bale next weekend.

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Everton should offer Crystal Palace former player Yannick Bolasie to get Wilfried Zaha

Everton are keen on signing the Ivory Coast winger.

Mathew Coull



Everton have today been linked with a move for Crystal Palace attacker Wilfried Zaha. The Ivory Coast international has been in fine form for the Eagles this season, scoring nine and assisting five goals in 29 appearances, and is being targeted by a host of clubs in the Premier League.

The Sun is now suggesting that Everton’s main managerial target Marco Silva wants the winger to be his main man and the club are putting together a £60 million deal.

(Photo by Christopher Lee/Getty Images)

It is, however, a tough field in terms of transfer opposition. Chelsea, Liverpool and Manchester City are also keen on the player this summer. For Everton to get their hands on the player they will need to do something a little different and offering Palace a ready-made replacement could be the best option.

The player in question is Yannick Bolasie. If Everton want Zaha, then offering the DR Congo winger back to his former club might give them the edge over their competition.

Bolasie joined Everton in 2016 for a fee reported by the BBC to be in the region of £25 million. After a promising start to his career on Merseyside, a knee ligament injury saw him out of action for over a year. Since his return to action, the 28-year-old has struggled to find any good form, frustrating players with his inconsistent performances.

Many value the fact Bolasie can occasionally produce some magic. But if Zaha is around, he will be doing so on a more consistent basis.


Offering him back to Palace would give the Eagles a ready-made replacement who knows the club. It would also help Zaha in his decision to leave Selhurst Park in good hands, as he clearly cares for his boyhood club.

There is also a school of thought that Bolasie’s presence at Goodison Park could help convince Zaha to come and play for the Toffees, given the pairs good relationship.

Either way, it is clear the £25 million star could play a pivotal role in Everton ensuring they are the ones to get their hands on Zaha this summer.

Fans will certainly hope that is the case, as Zaha would be a major signal of intent from Everton ahead of a new era at the club.

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Tottenham Hotspur

If Tottenham lose Christian Eriksen, Hakim Ziyech is a quality replacement

Tottenham Hotspur have been linked with the Ajax star this summer.

Mathew Coull



Tottenham Hotspur will be hoping to keep as much of their squad together for next season after another impressive, but ultimately trophyless campaign. One player who it seems may be hard to keep hold of is Danish attacker Christian Eriksen.

The playmaker has perhaps just had the best season of his Tottenham career but has attracted interest with that form. Barcelona are looking to find a replacement for club legend Andres Iniesta, who is leaving the Nou Camp this summer. As reported by Don Balon this weekend, Barca have decided Eriksen is the man for that job.


With Barca lurking, Tottenham will be fearful of losing their Danish star. But who would the club sign as his replacement?

One potential option appears to be Moroccan international and Ajax star Hakim Ziyech. Last week it was reported that Spurs were one of many clubs interested in the player by Italian outlet Calciomercato.

So could he replace Eriksen?

The obvious comparisons begin with the club from which Tottenham would be signing him. Eriksen also arrived at Spurs from Ajax and has certainly proved to be a success.

In terms of playing style, he is very much like the Spurs star. An intelligent player he reads the game brilliantly. His passing range is also excellent and he has shown that on numerous occasions for Ajax the past two season.

This season he has scored nine goals in 39 appearances but has also been an assist machine. The 25-year-old has provided an incredible 18 assists in all competitions this season and is set to be the focal point of Morocco’s attack at the World Cup this summer.

(Photo credit should read ODD ANDERSEN/AFP/Getty Images)

With Eriksen gone, Tottenham would be in need of a similar assist king and Ziyech is young enough to continue improving whilst still offering much of what Eriksen does for Spurs.

Signing Ziyech whilst Eriksen remains at the club would certainly not be necessary. With Dele Alli also present, it would be overkill in the number 10 role at Spurs.

But should they reluctantly let Eriksen head to Spain, Tottenham would be right to sign the carbon-copy Moroccan from Ajax this summer.

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