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Tottenham round-up: Semi-final ‘underdogs’ claims Mauricio Pochettino; latest on Toby Alderweireld’s future



With the Premier League title-race set to take a break as the FA Cup returns for its semi-final instalment, Tottenham Hotspur prepare to face off once more against title rivals Chelsea.

The Lilywhites are looking to not only remain in the hunt for more silverware, but seize a potentially crucial psychological advantage over the Blues in the league with a cup victory at Wembley.

To this end, manager Mauricio Pochettino has set about building-up his side as underdogs on the big occasion, in an attempt to relieve the pressure on his side, and heap the heavy weight of expectation onto the shoulders of Antonio Conte’s men once again.

In terms of recent form and general play, Spurs have been tipped as the best team in the Premier League at present, with eight wins from eight in all competitions, which has helped them reduce the gap at the top of the Premier League to four points, with six games remaining.

Despite the stakes of the semi-final, plus the psychological advantages it may hand to the winners in the league, Pochettino was insistent that like in the title-race, his side must be considered second-favourites behind the pace-setting Blues.

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“If there’s a favourite, it’s Chelsea”, Pochettino said at the press-conference prior to the FA Cup semi-final on Thursday, as quoted by the Guardian.

“They are top of the Premier League and then there is the experienced players and the manager that they have. We are talking about the team that, in the last five years, have won European competitions, World Cups, and a manager who won the title in Italy. 

“When you compare the players who have won trophies, Chelsea have players who won the World Cup. Our players have won nothing.”

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But besides talking up the Blues for the experience in their ranks, the Argentine was equally quick to praise his own side, and encouraged them to stand up to the challenge against the ‘best team’ in the country and reach the FA Cup final.

“They’re more experienced. But we’re in a good moment, too. We are hungry and it’s important for us to challenge this team. We will see but it’s important to enjoy the game.

We must feel the happiness. It’s a very important competition and we are fighting the best team in England.”

“But we are improving a lot. First, you have to be there to challenge, and we have that opportunity. It’s up to us now to step up and make the dream a reality.

“In the league we have 71 points with six matches to go whereas we finished last season with 70 points. Now it is the moment to translate those stats and the feeling we have; to show that we’ve grown up. That’s the most difficult step to achieve.”

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Pochettino also showed of a little of his fiery streak at the same press-conference.

The Argentine responded with a cool defiance when quizzed about the future of contract-rebel defender Toby Alderweireld, after news broke on Wednesday that the Belgian international had turned down the offer of an improved deal at White Hart Lane.

“Speak with Daniel (Levy)”, Pochettino said, quoted by the Independent.

“Some clubs are interested in some players. It’s very clear they need to knock on the door of Daniel Levy.”

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Alderweireld first arrived at Tottenham in 2015, following a successful loan-spell at Southampton, then managed by current Spurs chief Pochettino.

The North Londoners shelled out £11.4 million for the Belgian, who has since become one of the club’s most important players, and was a surprise omission in this season’s PFA Premier League Team of the Year.

The 28-year-old has two years left to run in his current deal, with the option of a third year, but speculation of interest from well-backed Serie A giants Inter Milan has emerged, amidst news that Alderweireld as a £25 million release clause written into his current contract at the Lane.

“The players that will leave the club is always a club decision,” Pochettino continued. “All the players have contracts for the next two or three years minimum and we are not worried.

“I invite the clubs who want players from Tottenham to visit the training ground and meet our chairman. Nobody has doubts about Toby, no.”

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Scott is a Port Vale fan who writes regularly for The Boot Room as a freelancer. He is a fan of several sports but most of his experience in journalism comes from football and volleyball. He has produced several works on major Championships for both the FIVB and CEV in the volleyball world out in Switzerland, and is currently studying for a BA Hons in Modern Languages at the University of Oxford.

Tottenham Hotspur

Moroyin Omolabi released by Tottenham Hotspur one year after praise

The Nigerian defender briefly spent time on trial at Reading this year.



Nearly one year ago Tottenham Hotspur prospect Moroyin Omolabi was winning praise for his performances in the club’s youth teams.

After a win against Norwich City for the under-18s the Nigerian midfielder was given high praise by his manager John McDermott.

It came after he seamlessly dropped into a centre-back role for the game. Speaking to the official Tottenham Hotspur website after the game McDermott stated:

“Moroyin Omolabi, playing at centre-half, stood out against their front players who were very good.

“There were a lot of positives today and I was very proud of the way we played.”

It seemed that the 18-year-old might, therefore, be a player to keep tabs on for the Spurs first-team one day.

(Photo by Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images)

But despite impressing back in April of last year, it seems Omolabi has not progressed quite like Tottenham would have hoped.

In the most recent list of player registrations released by the FA the versatile teenager has been confirmed as released by Tottenham.

The 18-year-old left Spurs by mutual consent on the 27th February.

The teenager was a part of the UEFA Youth League squad for Spurs, but did not feature in a single game.

He played seven times in the Under-18 Premier League this campaign, scoring against West Ham back in October.

But after dropping out of contention at Spurs, the Nigerian spent time on trial at Reading – featuring in three games for the Berkshire club.

(Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images)

His final game for Tottenham appears to have been the 2-1 defeat against Fulham in October.

His failure to launch at Spurs just highlights the strength in depth Tottenham have in their youth ranks.

The teenager will now face a hunt for a new team in the summer, with his Tottenham days behind him.

It will be interesting to see if Reading follows up their interest in the player but  Omolabi will now be on the hunt for a new team.

Hopefully, his education at Tottenham Hotspur will see him in good stead in his hunt for a professional career elsewhere.

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English Premier League

Heung-min Son might be the only man who doesn’t want Gareth Bale return

The Welshman has been linked with a sensational return to Tottenham Hotspur.



This week has seen Tottenham Hotspur linked with a potentially sensational move to bring Gareth Bale back to North London. Spanish source Diario Gol has reported that Bale is ready to leave Real Madrid this summer. Despite interest from Manchester United, the Welshman has decided a return to Tottenham Hotspur is his wish.

Bale spent six years at White Hart Lane before becoming the world’s most expensive player in 2013. Real Madrid paid Spurs a fee reported by the Telegraph to be in the region of £86 million.

Despite some excellent memories at the Bernabeu, including two Champions League wins, Bale could be moved on in the summer. His injury troubles have frustrated Madrid and Bale turns 29 this summer, meaning this may be their last chance to cash in on the player.

BOURNEMOUTH, ENGLAND – MARCH 11: Heung-Min Son of Tottenham Hotspur celebrates after scoring his sides third goal during the Premier League match between AFC Bournemouth and Tottenham Hotspur at Vitality Stadium on March 11, 2018 in Bournemouth, England. (Photo by Clive Rose/Getty Images)

Tottenham would need to break the bank to sign the player. One Tottenham player currently hoping that Daniel Levy does not loosen his famously tightened pursestrings will be Heung-min Son.

The South Korean nearly got the boot after a mixed first season at Spurs but has now become an integral member of the Tottenham first-team.

On his day Son has proved himself to be one of the most devastating left-wingers in the Premier League. Finally he looks settled into a first-team role so the arrival of Bale as a direct rival would be devastating for the 25-year-old talent.  

Bale would be a direct rival for Son in the left-wing position. Whilst the Welshman has had his struggles this season he undoubtedly has the ability to usurp Son in the race to be a Tottenham starter.

Tottenham Hotspur’s Welsh midfielder Gareth Bale celebrates scoring the only goal during the English Premier League football match between Tottenham Hotspur and Sunderland at White Hart Lane in north London on May 19, 2013. Tottenham missed out on Champions League qualification to Arsenal despite Gareth Bale’s 90th-minute winning goal. AFP PHOTO / IAN KINGTON RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE. No use with unauthorized audio, video, data, fixture lists, club/league logos or ?live? services. Online in-match use limited to 45 images, no video emulation. No use in betting, games or single club/league/player publications (Photo credit should read IAN KINGTON/AFP/Getty Images)

Tottenham fans of course will be excited by such a return. An attacking department containing Bale, Son, Christian Eriksen, Dele Alli, Lucas Moura and Erik Lamela, all supplying the deadliest striker in world football Harry Kane? Tottenham could easily become unstoppable.

But Son is a player who thrives on confidence. His best displays come after continued runs in the first-team. If Bale arrives the struggle would be at Son’s detriment and he would soon find himself spending more and more time on the bench.

Whilst partly Son will relish the chance to play and train with a player of Bale’s calibre, a part of him will also hope the dream return stays off the table.

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Tottenham Hotspur fans react to Danny Welbeck dive

Tottenham Hotspur fans were not pleased with Danny Welbeck’s dive v AC Milan.



Arsenal successfully knocked AC Milan out of the Europa League last night with a 3-1 win at the Emirates Stadium. The hero of the night was England forward Danny Welbeck. The striker scored two goals as Arsenal completed a deserved 5-1 aggregate victory over the Rossoneri.

But Milan had taken an early lead through Hakan Calhanoglu’s bamboozling long-range strike. Arsenal, at that stage, were looking on the ropes. Welbeck though won and then dispatched a penalty to level the scoring. The word ‘won’ being the optimum word.

Welbeck dived for the penalty, there is no doubt about that. Ricardo Rodriguez barely breathed on the Arsenal man, who tumbled to the ground hopefully. When the penalty was given, he looked in disbelief.

Tottenham Hotspur’s English midfielder Dele Alli (2L) is booked for a dive during the English Premier League football match between Liverpool and Tottenham Hotspur at Anfield in Liverpool, north west England on February 4, 2018. / AFP PHOTO / PAUL ELLIS / RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE. No use with unauthorized audio, video, data, fixture lists, club/league logos or ‘live’ services. Online in-match use limited to 75 images, no video emulation. No use in betting, games or single club/league/player publications. / (Photo credit should read PAUL ELLIS/AFP/Getty Images)

For Tottenham Hotspur fans it was a moment they did not appreciate.

Spurs have seen Dele Alli victimised throughout the season, and some would say rightly so, for his diving. There is no doubt that the England midfielder has dived this season and not many Tottenham fans would suggest not.

But the anger here lies with what Tottenham fans believe is hypocrisy. There is also a certain level or irony given a thinly veiled dig by Arsene Wenger against Spurs’ players this season.

After the highly controversial 2-2 draw at Anfield, where Harry Kane was accused of diving v Liverpool, Wenger had this to say, as reported by the BBC:

“I remember there were tremendous cases here when foreign players did it.

“But English players have learned very quickly and might be the masters now.”


“Sometimes players play a little bit with the rules. How far can you go? That is down to the referees.”

With Arsenal their next Premier League opponents, Arsene Wenger’s barb was not hard to see.

When that statement came out Tottenham fans quickly pointed out occasions when Arsenal’s English stars had been caught diving. Jack Wilshere and Theo Walcott were prominent examples. Now, in Welbeck, Tottenham have seen another.

Arsenal fans will be happy that their team have booked a place in the next round of the Europa League. On balance it was more than a fair result as over two legs Arsenal outplayed the Italian giants.

But the Welbeck moment certainly put an asterix on the game for Spurs fans.

Here is some of the best reaction from Twitter…

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