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English Premier League

Why is Wilfried Zaha the perfect signing for Tottenham Hotspur this summer?

The Ivorian attacker has been in fantastic form for Crystal Palace recently and is a long-term Spurs target.

Mathew Nash

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Crystal Palace were unlucky not to take all three points against Bournemouth in the Premier League last weekend. The Cherries scored late to steal a 2-2 draw from the game with the Eagles. It had looked as though Crystal Palace’s talisman had earned them all three points. Wilfried Zaha had smashed in from the edge of the area to give Palace a 2-1 lead, prior to Josh King’s late equaliser.

It was a performance which will once again have admirers of the Ivory Coast attacker on full alert. One such team is rumoured to be Tottenham Hotspur.

The North London side was linked with his signature back in the summer, but no deal ever came about. In February, The Times reported that Spurs were keen on a £50 million approach in the summer.

LONDON, ENGLAND – MARCH 31: Wilfried Zaha of Crystal Palace during the Premier League match between Crystal Palace and Liverpool at Selhurst Park on March 31, 2018 in London, England. (Photo by Catherine Ivill/Getty Images)

Of course, it would not be the first time Zaha left his beloved Palace for ‘bigger’ things. His move to Manchester United in 2013 quickly turned sour and he returned to Palace in the summer of 2014.

Back then he seemed to be immature still and lacking in end product. That no longer seems to be the case. Zaha is thriving in the role of leader at Selhurst Park in recent weeks and looks far more capable of dealing with a big money move should he get one in the summer.

On top of his improved mental capacity, the 25-year-old would be a perfect addition to the Tottenham side.

Occasionally, when operating with four at the back, Spurs’ ‘wide’ midfielders become too narrow. Having Zaha hugging the touchline could be a whole new beast in Pochettino’s tactics.

SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA – JULY 20: Wilfried Zaha of Manchester United looks dejected after missing a scoring opportunity during the match between the A-League All-Stars and Manchester United at ANZ Stadium on July 20, 2013 in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Brendon Thorne/Getty Images)

Not only can he play from the wing though. Zaha has proven an ability to play through the middle as the main striker in recent months and that could give Tottenham something they desperately need.

Harry Kane is often exposed as Spurs’ only decent striker. Recruits such as Vincent Janssen and Fernando Llorente have both failed to be a potent back-up to the England striker.

Zaha could certainly fulfil that role, as well as being a top regular wide-man.

£50 million is undoubtedly a little bit rich for Daniel Levy’s notoriously frugal blood. But judging by the boxes Zaha could tick for Spurs, the Spurs chairman may have to cough up.

Tottenham Hotspur

Harry Winks’ return to fitness is just what Tottenham need right now

Tottenham have been handed some much-needed good news.

Liam Thomas

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Harry Winks
Photo: Getty Images

Tottenham were handed some much-needed good news this week with midfielder Harry Winks returning to training after a lengthy spell on the sidelines.

Pochettino’s current options in midfield are extremely limited, due to injuries and the clubs’ lack of transfer activity during this summer’s window.

Therefore, Winks’ return couldn’t have come at a better time.

Although, it is unlikely that he will feature this weekend against Fulham, his return to full-time training suggests he will play a part in Spurs’ opening run of fixtures.

The return to action of Argentine Eric Lamela also brings some creativity and attacking flair to the Spurs midfield, which it seemed to be lacking in their opening day win at St. James’ Park against Newcastle.

However, the form Harry Winks displayed last season during his stint in Pochettino’s starting XI bodes well for the new campaign and, in a turbulent period for Tottenham and Pochettino, this news is refreshing, to say the least.

Winks’ return to the pitch is perhaps the best news Spurs fans have had in weeks, with the midfielder providing the ideal competition for Mousa Dembele, whose physical attributes are indeed on the decline.

The midfielder’s return will be a significant boost to the Spurs squad, and one that will lift some of the pressure off of Mauricio Pochettino‘s shoulders if the 22-year-old can come in and pick up where he left off last season.

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Fulham

One to watch: Ryan Sessegnon under the spotlight as Tottenham host Fulham

The teenager could be forced to play at left-back this weekend.

Max Cohen

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Sessegnon
Photo: Getty Images

Ryan Sessegnon’s Premier League debut did not go quite as planned.

The highly-rated 18-year-old, who took the Championship by storm the past two seasons was largely neutralised by Crystal Palace‘s Aaron Wan-Bissaka, and was denied space in the attacking areas where he is usually so dangerous.

It is still early days and it was by no means a poor performance, but revealed how the youngster must quickly adapt to the higher level of the top flight.

Sessegnon’s second ever Premier League match will come away at Tottenham Hotspur this Saturday and his performance at Wembley could go a long way in determining his success this season and later in his career.

Playing against the club he has so often been linked with will undoubtedly be difficult, providing a mental challenge that he is unlikely to have faced before.

However, perhaps the more challenging proposition will be in the footballing department. Fulham’s new left back Joe Bryan was forced off against Palace on the weekend with an injury, and is expected to be a doubt for Saturday’s fixture.

Without any true left back back-ups, Sessegnon will most likely be tasked with filling in at the left side of defence, instead of his preferred left wing position.

Against a fearsome attacking team such as Spurs, boasting the likes of Harry Kane, Christian Eriksen, and Dele Alli, the 18-year-old could endure a baptism of fire in his first ever top flight start as a defender.

Sessegnon’s performance will also be illuminating as it could provide a glimpse into his future as an attacking left back– not as an out-and-out left winger.

“He is an incredible player project, with a fantastic physical capacity. People compare him to Bale, for me it’s a mix between Marcelo and Bale. I’ve used him lately in a more offensive role, but he’s ready to be left-back of a big team that constantly attacks.”

Slavisa Jokanovic speaking to Marca this summer on Sessegnon’s future position

According to his manager, Sessegnon could develop into an attack-minded defender for a ‘big-team.’

On Saturday at Wembley, Spurs supporters could catch a first glimpse of the youngster in that role in the Premier League – a role they will be hoping he can perform for the club in north London one day.

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English Premier League

Mark Lawrenson believes West Ham could struggle this season

The Hammers will need to improve significantly on last week’s performance.

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Photo: Getty Images

West Ham‘s tenure under Manuel Pellegrini did not get off to the best of starts last weekend as the Hammers were dismantled by Liverpool at Anfield.

The Hammers host Bournemouth at the London Stadium this weekend, Pellegrini’s first home match in charge, and a much more positive result is expected despite the fact the Cherries won 2-0 against Cardiff City on the opening weekend.

Despite being carved apart by Jurgen Klopp’s side, the general consensus from pundits Paul Merson, Michael Owen and Mark Lawrenson is that West Ham will enjoy much better fortunes this weekend and will pick up points.

However, Lawrenson did not hold back in his predictions for the BBC and warned the Hammers they could be set for another tough season if they do not improve their game defensively after being ‘far too open’ against the Reds last time out.

“I was at Anfield on Sunday to see West Ham’s 4-0 defeat by Liverpool, and they were far too open. If they are going to keep leaving the back door open like that all season, they are going to be in trouble.”

– Lawrenson is the only of the three pundits predicting a draw.

While West Ham fans may not like to admit it after an exciting summer, Lawrenson does have a point as the Hammers business caught the eye in attacking recruits but defensively the business has felt rather sub-par.

Pellegrini is relying on Issa Diop and Fabian Balbuena to immediately adjust to the rigours of Premier League football, which is never an easy task, while there is a lack of depth in defensive midfield for the Hammers to choose from.

It seems that West Ham’s approach to this season will be to play attacking football and hope to be a high-scoring side that manages to edge their opponents but that could be a costly decision, particularly in matches where the Hammers are away from home.

A team that had the joint-worst defensive record in the Premier League last season, alongside relegated Stoke City, should certainly have placed more focus on restructuring that defensive line and it could come back to haunt Pellegrini in the coming months.

(Photo by Rob Newell – CameraSport via Getty Images)

Former Arsenal defender Paul Merson was also critical of West Ham’s defence last week, stating to Sky Sports they were ‘all over the place’, but supporters will be thrilled by the superb observational skills shown by Merson as he rightly said they will not face Liverpool every week. Cheers Paul.

There are more positive angles to West Ham though as last weekend was never really going to be a game where Pellegrini could show what his side are truly going to be about this season as Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool stripped the Hammers of any signs of displaying their attacking edge.

Michael Owen also made a very wise point in his predictions for BetVictor, correctly stating it would be extremely unwise to write the Hammers off after just one match – despite the performance being incredibly mediocre.

A home match against Bournemouth is the ideal opportunity for West Ham’s newly-assembled side to click into rhythm before a gruelling campaign that lies ahead, although the early signs suggest a return to European football could be too much to ask for in Pellegrini’s first year with the club.

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