Mauricio Pochettino Proves His Worth at Tottenham Hotspur

By now, everyone should know better than to doubt the skills and abilities of Mauricio Pochettino. The dismantling done by Tottenham Hotspur against Borussia Dortmund was a clear reminder that Pochettino will be able to pick where he wants to go when the time comes. The hierarchy of Manchester United are obviously aware of the talents that Pochettino brings to the table. However, Paris Saint-Germain and Real Madrid have also started showing interest in the Tottenham Manager. Moreover, after witnessing the limitations of Ole Gunnar Solskjaer against PSG, you can understand why there no rush to give him the permanent job at Manchester United.

Mauricio Pochettino’s Strategy Against Dortmund

When the announcement was made that Tottenham Hotspur would play against Dortmund, there were loads of questions and head-scratching with regards to the line-up. Four centre-backs? Did Pochettino lose his mind? He placed Serge Aurier on the pitch to mark Christian Pulisic. When you considered that the last six goals by Dortmund were conceded from a cross, why didn’t Fernando Llorente start? What this the match where Pochettino got every wrong? We were quite foolish to think so…

No one can question the wisdom of Pochettino. This season alone he managed to conjure a match-winning player in Moussa Sissoko, created a persistent midfielder from Harry Winks, managed to lose more than half of his goals due to injuries to Dele Alli and Harry Kane and still managed to find a way to win matches. There’s even been a moment when it seemed like he would resurrect the Georges-Kevin Nkoudou wreck.

This is certainly one man you can trust. If Mauricio Pochettino said he will fix your car with a sledgehammer and string, you can give him your keys because he knows what he is doing. This time around, the secret to his success was made by Jan Vertonghen in a left wing-back position as opposed to full-back which he occasionally plays. The centre-back from Belgium let loose as he provided one of the most impressive crosses to Son Heung-Min to score their first goal. Later during the match, he managed to arrive at the perfect time to provide the second goal for Tottenham.

Mauricio Pochettino Is The Real Deal

Pochettino is definitely the real deal. A proper football coach that can occasionally feel dissatisfied with the players available to him, he is thankfully proactively of the best way to utilise them as opposed to complaining about it excessively.

“Football is a beautiful sport where everyone, unfortunately, has their own opinion,” Pochettino stated. “It’s my responsibility to create the perfect strategy. Everyone is welcome to their own opinion. However, in the end, it’s only we that truly know,  it’s only us that can successfully measure the level of a specific player and what we ultimately want from each match. Our knowledge, our intuition, our feelings. We have all the necessary information to make the correct decisions.”

Manchester City’s Impressive Goal-Scoring Chart

The hat trick scored by Sergio Aguero against Arsenal in the Premier League was the 10th of his career which places him just one behind Alan Shearer with a record of 11 hat tricks. It was arguably the easiest treble he scored in his career from a combined distance of only 12 yards. It composed of two open goals and a header that was impossible to miss.

That is exactly why it was such a stunning hat trick by Sergio Aguero. Not because it emphasises the finishing ability of Aguero, not because it rivals Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink’s for The Blues against Tottenham Hotspur in 2002 or Dennis Bergkamp’s for Arsenal against Leicester City in 1997 for the quality of their strikes, but because it flawlessly emphises everything Man City is all about. 

Manchester City in the Premier League

Manchester City is currently playing catch-up for the title but remains the most potent attacking force in the league, having scored ten goals more than Liverpool who are currently in the lead. The primary reason they boast with more goals is not that they take the most shots on goal, but because they take shots from close range. Pep Guardiola emphasised how vital it is to work the ball in scoring positions with the highest percentage of getting it past the goalkeeper. This is evident when you look at how regularly Manchester City finds an empty net when they score.

Sergio Aguero’s third and second goals were both open goals during their match against Arsenal, making it the 6th and 7th time Man City have scored open goals this season. Sergio Aguero has managed to score three of those goals while the rest were provided by Riyad Mahrez, Raheem Sterling, and Leroy Sane.

Sergio Aguero is considered an excellent finisher in front of goal, while Sterling is regarded as erratic when he is in front of goal. Aguero has transformed into a ruthless goal scorer of late, not because he improved on his finishes, but because he always finds himself in the perfect position to ensure a shot on goal is unmissable.

Manchester City’s Metrics for Scoring

There are several metrics to emphasize Manchester City’s shooting range. For instance, they take the most shots from inside the 6-yard box, with a total of 36, City’s shots are closer than any other club, apart from Burnley, and City boasts with the highest expected-goal value, ranking in at 63.06. However, the most appropriate aspect is simply that the team consistently score open goals. So how on earth does Manchester City do it each and every time?

Well, there are four key factors that play a role in their scoring chart. They manage to stretch the opposition’s defense both in depth and in width. They provide perfect balls for wingers after patiently building up a play. They assist with low crosses from positions that are deemed quite narrow, and they manage to run on the blind side when it comes to centre-backs.

Neymar Could End His Season After Foot Injury

Brazil and Paris Saint-Germain football star Neymar could potentially have his second successive football season ended due to a metatarsal injury after a source confirmed that he might need to go for surgery to rectify his latest problem on his right foot.

Neymar was hobbling off in tears in the second half during their 2-0 victory over Strasbourg last week in the Coupe de France round of 32. His availability to clash against Manchester United in the round of 16 for the Champions League in February has been one of the hottest topics ever since.

Neymar’s Injury

According to sources, the Paris Saint-Germain forward has managed to fracture the same metatarsal as last year, although not in the same location. That means its quite impossible for him to recover completely before the squad makes their way to Old Trafford on 12 February 2019 to face Manchester United in the Champions League.

With Rodrigo Lasmar, the doctor for the Brazil national team, currently in France to attend to Neymar’s injury, attention has turned to this year’s Copa America in Brazil as well as the final two months of Neymar’s season for PSG.

Both the Selecao Brasileira and the Ligue 1 giants are yet to comment on Neymar’s injury, and several sources confirmed that the two parties involved are still in debate whether surgery is Neymar’s only option going forward to fix the problem. However, Tite, the Brazil coach, confirmed that he wouldn’t be called up half-fit.

“We’ve been in contact with Neymar and visited the player since the injury occurred. It was a personal call from my end to see how he was doing. Should there be any information on his injury, the medical team and Edu Gaspar will pass it on. I am well aware that everyone is interested in knowing what is going on, but I know when to stay out of someone’s business, “Tite stated.

Edu Gaspar, the national team director, stated that officials in Brazil would further evaluate the situation once a full report has been submitted by Lasmar. “Keep in mind that Neymar is a player for PSG,” Gaspar stated. “We have to respect all decisions that are made by the club. Our doctor, Rodrigo Lasmar, will certainly aid him. Once that’s done, we will look at technical decisions. The club is quite conservative and invited Lasmar along with other specialists to assist Neymar before making decisions.”

Possible Surgery for Neymar

Should Neymar need surgery on his right foot, his recovery time will take much longer than the last time this occurred which means his second season for PSG will end prematurely and will threaten his participation in Brazil’s Copa America on home soil.

The Brazilian boss has also admitted that he is unsure whether he’ll be able to call Neymar for a friendly fixture in March when they face the Czech Republic. All we can do now is wait for the results from his doctor to see if surgery is needed.

Barcelona Pays £75 Million to Sign Frenkie de Jong

Barcelona has recently confirmed that the club will sign Frenkie de Jong from Ajax for an initial price tag of €75 million, beating Manchester City and Paris Saint-Germain to the highly regarded midfielder.

Ajax will receive an additional €11 million in add-ons should De Jong succeed at Barcelona, where he has inked a 5-year deal with Camp Nou that will take him up until the 2023/24 season. De Jong is going to stay at Ajax until the current season is completed before he makes his switch to Barcelona during the summer.

“De Jong is one of the most promising midfielders in Europe at the moment,” Barcelona stated recently. “At only 21 years of age, De Jong is set to join the Camp Nou club after he proved himself as an incredible multifunctional footballer that has the ability to offer killer passes and can read a game extremely well.”

The Pursuit for Frenkie de Jong

Barcelona’s pursuit for de Jong goes all the way back to 2016. Robert Fernandez, the former sporting director for Barcelona, has been admiring the Netherlands international for a long time and made two offers for him previously. However, Marc Overmars, the sporting director for Ajax, stated that they were not even close to the player’s true value.

After failing with both their offers, Barcelona decided to withhold their interests until the season came to an end. However, after PSG surfaced with their interest in de Jong, Barcelona had to act quickly. A delegation from Barcelona quickly made its way to Amsterdam as de Jong seemed like he was leaning towards the offer made by PSG. However, Barcelona decided to up their offer and provide frequent playing time as well which is something de Jong was concerned about the most.

Earlier this week, Barcelona still didn’t have a clue if their efforts were enough for de Jong to make the trip to Camp Nou and simply had to wait for the decision from de Jong, knowing that there was fierce competition for de Jong’s signature.

One club that wanted de Jong was Manchester City. However, although they were quite interested in transferring the player, they already realized that de Jong was very interested in Barcelona and they couldn’t match the bonuses or salary to successfully sign the player.

Later in the week, de Jong finally informed Barcelona that he would sign the contract. To avoid another Antoine Griezmann fiasco, Barcelona quickly made plans to get the contract drawn up and let de Jong sign it before any other football club could interfere.

De Jong’s Career

De Jong initially joined Ajax in 2015 from Willem II and successfully progressed through the academy of the club, making his initial debut in early 2017. He managed to win his first international cap last June for the Netherlands and established himself as a vital player for the Ajax squad. His new deal with Barcelona will certainly see the player improve even more at Camp Nou.

Why Barcelona Wants Jean-Clair Todibo

Jean-Clair Todibo joined a small football club, located in the north of Paris when he was just six years old. In the French League system, he is currently competing with a first-team in the fifth tier. Todibo used to train in Les Lilas three times a week until the age of 16 before he decided to leave to make his way to Toulouse.

Two years ago, Todibo was still playing at the club where he captained the under 17’s. However, now he is set to play at Barcelona, alongside Lionel Messi, next season after accepting a deal on a free transfer during the summer.

Jean-Clair Todibo’s Football Career

Up until the 2018/19 season, Jean-Clair Todibo had never participated in a professional match in his life. However, after 10 Ligue 1 matches for Toulouse, he is well on his way to Barcelona. It’s essentially a fairy-tale story that can only be written within the world of football. But how on earth did the defender manage to get here?

Bruno Coton-Pelagie, the Les Lilas sporting director, trained under 19’s and 17’s for more than two decades, stated to reporters,

“Les Lilas is essentially a family club, and Todibo formed part of the family. We witnessed how he matured, developed, grew, and become stronger since he arrived at the club. He was always extremely ambitious, driven, and determined. However, Todibo was a local kid from Bagnolet and was hard-working and very respectful. He obviously had the talent, but he had to work very hard to reach the top.”

At the age of 14, Jean-Clair Todibo was not considered one of the best players at the club in Les Lilas. So he did only a few kids would do in such a situation, he continued to work on his skills and abilities. When he turned 16, he managed to become much stronger as a football player and his incredible talent started to shine.

Jean-Clair Todibo’s Transfer to Barcelona

Todibo, a 6-foot-2 versatile centre-back with great technical abilities and pace, had trials at Le Havre, Man Utd, and other European clubs but he decided to sign for Toulouse in 2016 during the summer. Although he played for the under 19 squad, he was never offered a professional deal until he managed to make a remarkable breakthrough with the first-team.

It took Toulouse a total of 2 years before they realised his talent, but it was far too late by then as Todibo avoided signing for the club. After only ten matches, the defender was benched by the club and hasn’t played a match since 3 November 2018 due to his contract situation.

Once Barcelona made their intentions clear, it was quite an easy choice for Todibo. There isn’t a lot of players who will refuse to play at Camp Nou, and Todibo was overjoyed with the idea to play for such a prestigious football club. Now we merely need to wait until next season to see what he is capable of.

Premier League Predictions for 2019

The Premier League returned this weekend with some of the most incredible matches to date, both for the title race and for Champions League qualification. Manchester City’s 2-1 victory over Liverpool managed to reignite the title race, while United has created a three-way battle with Arsenal and Chelsea for the top-four finish, especially after their sensational win against Tottenham Hotspur. So, who will finish where in the Premier League, and why?

Manchester City

Manchester City will be facing back-to-back home games against Chelsea and Arsenal in February, and if Pep’s team can get 6 points from these games, they will fire off a warning shot to The Reds. Man City is vulnerable against lower-ranked teams as they suffered defeats against Leicester and Crystal Palace this season. However, victories over the top-six will allow them to reclaim the top spot in the premier league.

Liverpool

Liverpool’s defeat against Man City was their first for the 2018/19 season, which means they are definitely not out of form. However, their biggest danger is injuries. Liverpool has three players that they cannot afford to lose, including Alisson as its goalkeeper, Mohamed Salah as the forward, and Virgil van Dijk as the central defender. If any of these players are out, Liverpool will be in real danger. Liverpool is currently boasting with 4 points, but the lack of reliance and success with certain players definitely makes them vulnerable.

Tottenham Hotspur

If Tottenham wants to be a serious contender in the Premier League, they need to claim victories on the matches they are expected to win. This is a huge problem this season as they managed to lose against Wolves and Watford. They have also failed to win against Man City, Arsenal, Liverpool, and Man United this weekend which was a huge shock to Tottenham supporters. They are quickly turning into chokers as they fail to produce the goods when its needed most.

Manchester United

Manchester United managed to defeat Tottenham this weekend, bringing Solskjaer’s record to five consecutive wins since he took over from Mourinho. The victory against Tottenham managed to revive the momentum for the team and allow them to re-enter the race to finish in the top-four of the Premier League. Manchester United certainly has the necessary firepower to succeed this year, and with Solskjaer managing the team, they can definitely pull it off.

Arsenal

Chelsea’s visit on 19 Jan is an important game for both squads, but it’s one that the Gunners cannot afford to lose. An Arsenal win will be good for the Premier League title race and for Manchester United as they will be one step closer to claiming the fourth spot in the Premier League standings. Unai Emery has managed to make progress with the squad he received from Arsene Wenger. However, a lack of strength has become a problem again at the back. Unai Emery needs time and patience to rectify this going forward. However, the likelihood of rectifying this before it causes more problems is near impossible.  

Arsenal Can’t Afford To Let Ramsey Go

These are confusing and strange times for Aaron Ramsey. The midfielder for Arsenal is playing for a manager that decided to sanction the withdrawal of a brand-new contract agreement earlier this season. However, despite being undesirable by Unai Emery, Ramsey is well aware that he has admirers at Liverpool, Bayern Munich, and Juventus, all of which are willing to sign Ramsey as a free agent during the summer.

Judging by the extended chanting of the footballer’s name by over 5,000 Arsenal fans during their 3-0 win against Blackpool in the FA Cup third-round on Saturday, Ramsey certainly has the vocal backing of the supporters in the stands as he starts his final six months with Arsenal.

Ramsey’s Current Situation at Arsenal

The fact that Aaron Ramsey started the game against Blackpool highlights his standing under Emery when it comes to the pecking order. Although Ramsey was involved on a frequent basis this season, he started less than half of the Premier League games for Arsenal which means he is not one of Emery’s top-tier players at the moment.
When asked after the match whether he wants Ramsey to stay onboard, Emery merely danced around the question with an evasive answer. “I’m not sure about the situation,” Emery stated. “But I’m extremely proud of his achievements and how he assisted the squad today.”

Several sources have informed us that the decision to withdraw the contract offer last September, which spanned across eight months, was solely down to Emery who believed that Ramsey couldn’t fit the requirements of an Arsenal midfielder. Meanwhile, Ramsey was ready to ink a brand-new contract worth £180,000 until the club decided to withdraw the contract.

Arsenal is well aware that the footballer can cover more miles and run longer than most players at the club. However, his strengths are more based on endurance as opposed to the high-energy needs that Emery wants which caused the contract to be withdrawn. As of 1 January 2019, Ramsey is welcome to talk freely with any non-English clubs regarding a summer move.

Where Will Ramsey Go?

Juventus are currently the front-runners when it comes to Aaron Ramsey, making it clear to him that they require another midfielder that already contains an arsenal of top-tier players. Bayern Munich are also quite interested in Ramsey and are prepared to swap Allianz Arena for the Emirates, while Liverpool also sees a highly diverse player that will cost them nothing when it comes to a transfer fee if they decide to sign Ramsey towards the end of the summer.

However, if Liverpool, Bayern Munich, and Juventus are so keen on obtaining Ramsey, who has been a fantastic player at Arsenal since he arrived in 2008 from Cardiff City as a young teenager, why has Emery already decided to write him off due to not fulfilling the necessary requirements? This is one question most Arsenal fans are wondering about, and they definitely made their concerns loud and clear when they chanted his name during the match against Blackpool.

Xherdan Shaqiri Is The Answer To Liverpool’s Success

Liverpool’s complicated move for Nabil Fekir, and it’s predictable collapse that took place last summer, created a huge frenzy among fans, so much so that when Liverpool eventually turned its attention away from Fekir, their ‘Plan B’ was considered a bit overwhelming. However, while there are plenty of contenders for the Player of the Season award at Liverpool this year, including James Milner, Andrew Robertson and even Virgil van Dijk, Xherdan Shaqiri is right there with them.

Shaqiri’s two sensational goals during the 3-1 victory against Manchester United earlier this month were definitely considered the most noticeable contributions the star has made at Liverpool, but most fans believe that his presence has been felt much earlier.

Xherdan Shaqiri Contributions to Liverpool


The addition of Xherdan Shaqiri, who was signed from Stoke for approximately £13.5 million during the summer, has worked perfectly on a number of levels for Jurgen Klopp, with individual performances being the most basic of them. Klopp has described the midfielder’s contributions as ‘not normal’ and ‘genius’ on several occasions and is regarded as a symbol of how amazingly the Liverpool side functions as a machine. Xherdan Shaqiri slotted in seamlessly and was absorbed into the club like a dancer who joins a group routine without ever missing a single step. That’s primarily down to him as well as his attitude but also due to the overall unit being so amendable and flexible to brand-new arrivals.

Usually, players are signed by huge clubs to act as backups, to place additional pressure or to replace already established stars. However, Shaqiri immediately complimented the marvellous attacking trio of Roberto Firmino, Mohamed Salah, and Sadio Mane last season. To introduce Shaqiri to that attacking line-up was a massive gamble for Klopp to undertake.

Given the problems Liverpool had last season at the back of 91 goals scored by the attacking trio, no one would have criticized Shaqiri for leaving the club alone and focusing on his skills elsewhere. However, Klopp was well aware that his forwards were struggling at times to break down lesser sides which meant a different approach was required. The approach involved a 4-2-3-1 formation where Shaqiri played alongside others to make the team whole and excel individually.

Liverpool’s Gamble Paid Off

Acquiring a low-profile footballer from a relegated club, especially when you have title aspirations, seemed like a huge gamble. However, Liverpool made it work as it’s a recipe that the club has tried before. Georginio Wijnaldum and Andrew Robertson were brought in from Newcastle and Hull, following their demotions, and if you include Shaqiri, the three of them cost a mere £45 million.

This indicates how flexible the transfer policy is at Liverpool and it makes the statement quite clear that the club is after the right player for the position as opposed to the most expensive player that is currently the most popular. Klopp definitely made a gamble for Shaqiri, but if you look at what the player is bringing to the table, you can see why Liverpool is at the top of the log at the moment.

Man Utd Hire Solskjaer After Sacking Jose Mourinho


By the summer, Man Utd will have five managers appointed after the era of Sir Alex Ferguson, including Jose Mourinho, Louis Van Gaal, David Moyes, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer as caretaker, and another permanent boss that has yet to be decided. Every time, the debate regarding the identity of the newly appointed manager has focused heavily on the identity of the club. Does the manager get the club? Does he understand the traditions? Is the new boss considered a Man Utd manager?

Ole Gunnar Replaces Sacked Mourinho

The decision to hire Solskjaer to take the role of the new Man Utd manager after the club sacked Mourinho is probably the most shocking decision in Premier League history. Solskjaer might be a temporary fix for the club, but more than half the season still remains, and Man Utd are also in the Champions League Round of 16.

Solskjaer is regarded as a bright and experienced coach, but he only managed to succeed in Norway where the top-flight team can be compared against the Kazakhstan Premier League as per the coefficients of UEFA, and he contributed to the relegation campaign for Cardiff in 2014. Manchester United might be struggling at the moment, but they remain the biggest club in England and its impossible to recall another coach who made such a sudden leap into the Premier League.

The main reason for Solskjaer’s appointment is purely based on the fact that he known the club. He spent more than a decade up front for Man Utd and managed to coach the reserves for several seasons. To be honest, it’s not about Solskjaer knowing the club, it is about the club knowing Solskjaer. Man Utd fans are delighted to see a familiar face again after they got sick of the gloomy frown always presented by Mourinho.

Is there a benefit to Solskjaer?

In all honesty, it is hard to imagine any real benefit when it comes to Solskjaer knowing Manchester United. Solskjaer will probably be familiar with most faces around Carrington and won’t require any directions to find the dressing room in Old Trafford. However, the implication is that he understands the playing traditions of the club.

What this means is still unclear. The modern history of the club is completely dominated by Sir Alex Ferguson who is the only manager for Man Utd to win the title in the last 50 years. Under Ferguson, Man Utd had no permanent approach, no grand philosophy, which is exactly why the club was so feared and so successful. They managed to win in any manner that was possible.

Ferguson’s Man Utd squad played positively and were always title contenders, pushing for wins in situations that other clubs wouldn’t dream of. This allowed them to become England’s richest club which allowed them to acquire top-class players who provided imagination and flair. What exactly should Solskjaer do to formulate such a brilliant team going forward? That is the biggest question on everyone’s mind at the moment.

Tottenham Hotspur Advances to Champions League Knock-Out Stages After Draw Against Barcelona


Tottenham Hotspur has managed to remain in the Champions League after Lucas Moura scored a much-needed goal during the 85th-minute to cancel out the sensational individual effort by Ousmane Dembele to draw against Barcelona.

Tottenham Hotspur were only required to match the results of Inter Milan to progress. However, for a long time, it seemed that they would fail in their pursuit due to the remarkable saves that Jasper Cillessen made during the match while Barcelona had a 1-0 lead. Meanwhile, Inter Milan were only able to draw against PSV Eindhoven at home, which allowed Tottenham to make it through to the round of 16 thanks to the late goal by Lucas Moura which allowed the game to end up in a draw.

Tottenham could only blame themselves if they didn’t make it to the round of 16. They had a string of chances against Barcelona where they dominated the game and had disappointing results against Eindhoven and Milan earlier on in the tournament.

Tottenham’s Difficult Task Against Barcelona

Tottenham travelled to Spain knowing full well that a win would be more than enough to make it through to the round of 16 if they could defeat Barcelona. They were also fully aware of the fact that Barcelona has been unbeaten for a total of 28 matches at home, a phenomenal run that stretches back all the way to 2013 against Bayern Munich.

Barcelona also had two record signings that started against Tottenham Hotspur, including Philippe Coutinho and Dembele, costing the club a staggering €300 million for both, but the game against Hotspur soon showed why. Dembele might be in the headlines for his poor punctuality, but his remarkable opener ensured that he stays with the club a little longer. Dembele’s goal occurred within the opening 15 minutes while Tottenham was still trying to get into the game. Heung-Min Son had the best opportunity on goal during the first half but wasted the opportunity for his team, while Coutinho managed to hit the post on the other end.

The second half was dominated by Tottenham but got extremely frustrated due to the ball-saving abilities of Cillessen. The Barca goalkeeper made several impossible saves from Moura and Eriksen, while Coutinho managed to hit the post once again during the second half. Harry Kane managed to shoot over for Tottenham and started wondering what on earth they could do to score a goal as Messi was brought in from the sidelines. At that very moment, however, Moura made his appearance, fizzing a ball in from close range with 5 minutes left on the clock.

The 5,000 Tottenham Hotspur fans at Camp Nou, including the millions of fans watching from home, nervously waited for news from San Siro. Once the final whistle went off in Milan, fans erupted. And this happened without Hotspur even breaking the incredible Barcelona unbeaten record at home. Now we wait and see how they perform in the round of 16.