Chelsea’s shock defeat at Stamford Bridge on Saturday has done much to reignite excitement in this season’s title race, after Tottenham’s win at Burnley cut the gap at the top to seven points. The difference remains a sizeable one with nine games left to play, yet the North Londoners could reduce that gap to a mere point by Saturday if results transpire in their favour.
Tottenham face a trip to Swansea on Tuesday before entertaining Watford in Saturday’s early kick-off. Meanwhile, Chelsea face a tricky home fixture against Manchester City on Wednesday, before featuring in Saturday’s late kick-off at Bournemouth. Providing the Blues are beaten by Manchester City, two wins for Spurs will see them move to just a point behind Chelsea by the time the latter face the Cherries.
Speaking to The Sun, Tottenham manager Mauricio Pochettino challenged his side to believe they can push Chelsea, but take things one game at a time.
“It’s crazy that it could be down to one point but that’s football”, he said.
“Nothing is impossible and that is our philosophy. Belief is the most important thing in football. Not only quality but belief, faith and fight.
“We’ve reduced the gap but it’s a big gap. Winning the next game is most important. We are fighting for a top four place and need to keep our position. Then we will see.
“Our focus must be Swansea and it will be a very tough game because they are battling for survival in the Premier League.”
Paul Clement, the manager of Tuesday night’s opposition, has heaped praise on the North Londoners ahead of their visit to South Wales, insisting that they will continue to push Chelsea until the end of the season.
“They have been challenging for the last couple of seasons and Mauricio Pochettino has done a really good job,” Clement told the London Evening Standard.
“He has a good, young squad who play exciting football. The Chelsea result has probably given them belief that they can take the title race right to the end of the season.
“I think it will be an interesting game for us. They will want to win here and we need points too.”
Meanwhile, Manchester United defender Luke Shaw was issued a ‘come and get me plea to Spurs manager Mauricio Pochettino, The Sun claims.
Shaw’s future at Old Trafford appears to be in tatters after Red Devils boss Jose Mourinho questioned his focus, commitment, and attitude in training when asked about the England defender following United’s goalless draw with West Brom.
With the former Southampton player behind Marcos Rojo, Daley Blind, Ashley Young, and Matteo Darmian in the pecking order at Old Trafford, and not having featured for the Red Devils since 4 March, it is thought that Shaw wishes to join Spurs and link up with Pochettino, whom he worked under at St. Mary’s when the Argentine was in charge.
Finally, Mauricio Pochettino has confirmed that key defensive midfielder Victor Wanyama will need to be assessed on Tuesday ahead of Tottenham’s trip to Swansea.
The former Saints midfielder has become a key member of the Spurs side this season and was withdrawn at half-time over the weekend after an aerial collision with Burnley’s Ashley Barnes. He may feature at the Liberty Stadium but must undergo a fitness test first.
“On Monday he wasn’t on the training pitch. We’ll see. He will have a chance to be in the squad but we need to assess him on Tuesday,” Pochettino told the London Evening Standard.
Were Wanyama to sit-out, Pochettino could re-deploy Eric Dier in defensive-midfield, which would then command a defensive re-shuffle, with Ben Davies likely to come in.
Yet Pochettino will be grateful that the prognosis of Wanyama’s injury is not serious, given that the injuries are piling up ahead of the crucial run-in. Harry Winks is the latest to join the injury list of Erik Lamela, Harry Kane, and Danny Rose, and is rated likely to miss the remainder of the campaign.
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Clement Lenglet is the perfect replacement for Toby Alderweireld
The French defender has been in fine form for Sevilla.
When Manchester United were dumped out of the Champions League by Sevilla last week, plenty of the La Liga side’s players put in heroic displays.
Wissam Ben Yedder, the goalscorer of both Sevilla’s goals on the night received the highest praise. However, it was defender Clement Lenglet who deserved the biggest plaudits.
The 22-year-old did a wonderful job of shackling Romelu Lukaku for most of the game, putting in a brave and assured performance at centre-back.
It was a display that undoubtedly won him some fans, and Tottenham Hotspur should be one of them.
It looks increasingly likely that Tottenham will lose Toby Alderweireld in the summer.
HLN in Belgium reported this week that Spurs have ended contract talks with the Belgian and are prepared to sell him for £43 million.
Tottenham, therefore, have a potential gap in the centre-back position.
Lenglet is the perfect option. Not only is he good enough, as he proved by United last week, but he fits the profile of a Tottenham signing.
The Sevilla defender is just 22 years of age and has years ahead of him to develop. Then, there is his release clause.
According to a recent report from Diario AS, the Frenchman has a release clause of just €30 million (£26.2 million).
Such a fee for a player of his talent and his age would amount to daylight robbery.
Lenglet, who only joined Sevilla from Nancy last summer, would be the perfect option for Spurs to replace Alderweireld.
He could rotate with fellow young talent Davinson Sanchez playing alongside the more experienced Jan Vertonghen in defence.
With a Frenchman behind him in Hugo Lloris and French speaker in Vertonghen, he would not have to worry much about the language barrier just yet.
Strong, fast, capable on the ball and a raw talent he is exactly the sort of player Mauricio Pochettino could mould into a future Tottenham star.
Alderweireld’s exit will no doubt be a shame for Tottenham.
Nonetheless, if they can bring in Lenglet for £17 million less than they sell the Belgian for, the club will have pulled off a masterstroke.
Tottenham should fear Toby Alderweireld’s potential exit
Losing the Belgian international would be a huge blow for the Lilywhites.
Reports from Belgian outlet Het Laatse Nieuws have linked Tottenham centre-half Toby Alderweireld with a £43 million exit from Spurs this summer after the north London club reportedly gave up on contract negotiations.
The loss of the Belgian international would be a severe blow to the Tottenham defense, as well as to the image of the club.
If Spurs want to take the next step and seriously challenge for the Premier League title and advance to the latter stages of the Champions League, they must keep hold of their biggest talents.
Alderweireld has been imperious for the north London side ever since he joined from Atlético Madrid in the summer of 2015. After impressing on loan with Southampton in the 2014/15 season, the centre-half excelled at White Hart Lane.
An integral part of the impressive Spurs teams of 2015/16 and 2016/17, Alderweireld was an ever-present in the backline. He played every single match in 2015/16 and 30 matches the following season.
And not coincidentally, these years coincided with tremendous defensive fortitude for Tottenham. In both seasons, Spurs boasted the best defensive record in the league, conceding just 35 and 26 goals respectively- a truly remarkable feat.
Yet this season, the Belgian’s involvement has been severely hindered due to a hamstring injury. Consequently, Spurs remain well off the pace for the title race and have already conceded 25 goals, almost surpassing the previous season’s total with eight matches to spare.
If the rumours of his impending departure are correct, Tottenham will suffer a major blow to their back four. Physically imposing and tactically adept, Alderweireld has been a colossus in the centre of defense for Spurs for three years now.
Davinson Sanchez and Juan Foyth are simply not capable replacements for the Belgian international, and a loss of Alderweireld would spell trouble for Tottenham’s title chances and European ambition in 2018/19.
£43m for Toby Alderweireld would be great business for Tottenham Hotspur
It seems that the Belgian defender is definitely on his way out of Tottenham Hotspur.
It seems as though Toby Alderweireld is on his way out of Tottenham Hotspur.
It is being reported by Het Laatse Nieuws today that the Belgian’s contract talks with Spurs have been halted.
With the Belgian out of contract in the summer of 2019, Spurs will attempt to cash in on Alderweireld now.
A fee of £43 million has been mentioned for the player, who reportedly wanted a wage to match that of Virgil van Dijk at Liverpool.
Tottenham’s stance of not paying out big wages to their top players has often been criticised. But on this occasion, the Lilywhites are doing the right thing.
On his day and when fit, Alderweireld might be the best centre-back in the Premier League. However, it has been a long time since the Belgian had such a day.
Most of this season has seen Alderweireld on the treatment table. When he has played, it has always seemed a precursor to his next injury.
Given his age and contract situation, the injury record gives Alderweireld three strikes. At £43 million, Tottenham would be getting a fantastic deal for their defender.
The report from HLN claimed that Alderweireld wanted a wage in the region of €180,000-a-week (£160,000-a-week). Such a sum is vast for a player with his current issues.
The fact Spurs were reportedly willing to go as high as €120,000 (£105,000) per week shows that Daniel Levy tried to keep the Belgian, even doubling his current wage, but Alderweireld is on his way.
It will be a shame for Spurs but breaking the wage structure at the club for an injury prone defender would not have been a wise move.
Eventually, Tottenham might have to be more lenient with their wages, but that should be saved for the likes of Harry Kane, Dele Alli or Christian Eriksen.
Tottenham should take £43 million for Alderweireld and persevere with the likes of Jan Vertonghen, Eric Dier, Davinson Sanchez and Juan Foyth.
Alderweireld’s next club will hope they can keep the Belgian fit long enough to reap the rewards of his potential signature.
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