Mauricio Pochettino is not expecting Spurs to play in the new White Hart Lane before the season ends.
My gut feeling [is that] it will be tough but I hope and I wish to be in the new stadium.
Saturday will be another difficult day for Cardiff and their supporters after Thursday’s confirmation that Emiliano Sala was killed in a plane crash, writes Niall McVeigh.
Cardiff have, to their immense credit, maintained their on-field focus as the tragedy has unfolded around them. Victory over Southampton would see Cardiff climb above their hosts and out of the bottom three, even if the result may still feel secondary to Neil Warnock and his players.
Claude Puel seems to go into every match as Leicester manager under pressure. He was booed by fans during the 1-0 home defeat by Manchester United, which prompted Ben Chilwell to call for patience from Foxes fans. They would probably be more patient if their team stopped conceding goals early in games. In the five matches since Leicester last won (1-0 at Everton on 1 January), his team have conceded in the 9th, 3rd, 4th, 11th, and 10th minutes.
We know we need more consistency in our game, especially at the beginning. We have conceded too many early goals. Too many times we are chasing the game. If we look at our game against Manchester United, there was little between the two teams.
Puel may be tempted to start Youri Tielemans in Marc Albrighton’s absence:
We will see [if he can start against Spurs]. I haven’t made my decision yet. He has worked hard in training.”“We have a difficult schedule at the moment but it’s a good challenge for my players.
Sky Sport’s Yellow Ticker of Doom suggests “PAUL SCHOLES EXPECTED TO TAKE CHARGE OF OLDHAM IN THE NEXT 24 HOURS …” which would be an interesting first step into league management for the former England midfielder.
Marco Silva takes his out-of-sorts Everton side to his old club Watford this weekend. He says he’s not too fussed about the welcome he’ll receive from Hornets fans – “I’m ready for everything and my job is to make my players also ready” – but could clearly do with a victory to put a listing season back on something approaching an even keel.
There has been plenty of reason for cheer at Old Trafford today, with Ole Gunnar Solskjær named manager of the month, Marcus Rashford named player of the month and Phil Jones signing a new long-term contract. Both Rashford and Jones seem likely to start against struggling Fulham on Saturday.
Some bad news for Leicester City: Marc Albrighton will require surgery on his troublesome hamstring and could miss the rest of the season. “He will perhaps not be available before the end of the season,” is manager Claude Puel’s assessment.
Middlesbrough manager Tony Pulis has been fulsome in his praise of Leeds’s Marcelo Bielsa ahead of their 5th v 2nd Championship meeting on Saturday:
I think he’s been a breath of fresh air, the way they play and the way they go about things. He’s interesting, he’s different.
And Bielsa returned the favour towards Pulis’s side:
If I had to choose which was the hardest game we’ve played so far, with frictions and the one that presented the most physical challenges – I would say it was the game against Middlesbrough.
Here’s a little more on the curious case of Benjamin Mendy, who may or may not be somewhere other than Paris, where Guardiola believed his injured left-back to be. Earlier, Guardiola was bemused by suggestions Mendy might be in Hong Kong. Mendy tagged himself at Hong Kong International Airport on his Instagram story on Friday morning. Guardiola said: “I didn’t know it. What? Fuck! I’ll have to install Instagram. He said he was going to Paris but Hong Kong is far away. Yesterday he was in Barcelona. It will definitely not be OK if he is in Hong Kong.”
Mendy has since been on Twitter to say that tagging himself in Hong Kong was all just a big laugh.
It was just joking with my uber driver I dont want no problems Pep.
Jürgen Klopp has emerged at Melwood for his Liverpool press conference. I haven’t seen pictorial evidence of this yet so I don’t know whether he’s wearing a flamboyant sweater or not in an attempt at sartorial oneupmanship on Pep. Our man on Merseyside, Andy Hunter, was there for the press conference. Here’s what Klopp had to say:
All I want to be able to say at the end of the season is that we gave everything. You can not do more. The boys did outstandingly well so far.”
Klopp also had positive news about Joe Gomes and Trent Alexander-Arnold:
Joe will be four to six weeks before he can play. Trent trained yesterday for the first time and didn’t mention any issues. We need to see.”
Klopp confirmed that Henderson trained yesterday too. Wijnaldum is in training and Lovren is out.
Pep Guardiola is showing no signs of title-race nerves given his bold choice of attire for his press conference. He’s turned up wearing an outrageous multicoloured striped jumper that looks like it’s been plucked from the year 1976. It the busiest sweater you’ll see this year.
He’s also just dropped the F-bomb when asked if he knew Benjamin Mendy was in Hong Kong and not Paris, recovering from a knee injury. He says he shouldn’t be there.
I didn’t know it. What? Fuck! I’ll have to install Instagram.
On the subject of Chelsea, he’s asked why he thinks they will be such difficult opponents when they haven’t been playing well of late:
I have to figure out what the manager wants to do. I see Chelsea and I can understand what they want to do. When you see the team and the players they have and the midfield players they have and the striker, the best players in the world … I have a lot of respect [for them]. The game on Sunday is a final for us. I want to feel like it’s a final for us.
He has incredible moments … he doesn’t need much to score a goal. He has incredible experience. He’s an exceptional striker.
And let’s zoom over to south-west London now, where Maurizio Sarri has been talking about how his Chelsea side are now only in the running for a top-four place – he sounds a bit negative and says his team is quite some distance behind Manchester City and need money or “hard work” to bridge the gap.
At the moment in my opinion Manchester City are the best team in Europe. We have to work. Guardiola is in his third season. We need to work or we need to be more competitive in the market. We have to try to reduce the gap.
On Hazard future:
I speak every day with Eden but I speak about hi position on the pitch. I will be really very happy with him if he wants to stay. Because you now very well that in my opinion he is the best in Europe. But it’s up to him, I think. I want to see him happy. And so he has to decide.
Mauricio Pochettino has been talking about being spotted at a posh London restaurant with David Beckham and Zinedine Zidane. He’s asked if he had a nice night out?
Yes, very good. Very good company. I was with Jesus [Perez, his assistant] and another person. We met by coincidence with you know [David Beckham and Zinedine Zidane]. And that is history. Only we say hello. We met by coincidence there. They came to say hello and we spoke for two minutes.
He denies having exited via the kitchen and says it has been made into something bigger than what it really is by sections of the media. He doesn’t look all that comfortable talking about it, mind.
On the subject of whether Spurs are back in the title race he says:
The competition is so tough. I think [Liverpool] are doing a great job and are building to win [the Premier League].
And are Liverpool showing signs of nerves?
No, the Premier League is tough. They are suffering similar to us with injuries and it’s not easy to stay at the same level. It is tough for every single club. No doubt Liverpool will be there until the end. And I hope we will be too. We are there third in the table. It will be tough on Sunday against Leicester, – they have good players. We have to win on Sunday to be involved till the end.
We should hear from Mauricio Pochettino shortly, who will no doubt be asked about his Tottenham team suddenly popping up in the title race again having previously fallen away. Expect questions about his future at the club too after pictures emerged of him having a meal with Zinedine Zidane and David Beckham, who used to play for Real Madrid you know. While we wait for Poch, here’s an injury update from Spurs. It appears that Dele Alli and Harry Kane are stepping up their recoveries while Eric Dier is out with a virus and Vincent Janssen is out with a knee injury.
Ole Gunnar Solskjær just can’t stop winning. He’s been named Premier League manager of the month for January. Solskjær has won nine of his first 10 matches in charge in all competitions, with United securing 10 of the 12 Premier League points available last month. Solskjær won the award ahead of Southampton manager Ralph Hasenhuttl and Burnley’s Sean Dyche. It’s the first time a Manchester United manager has been named manager of the month since Alex Ferguson way back in October 2012.
Who wants a miracle? Who needs a drink? Who ran the world? It’s lunch time, so get quizzical with Paul Campbell:
The first of our Premier League match previews has just gone live. Get your fill of Fulham v Manchester United team news here:
There’s a huge game in the Championship this weekend too, when fifth-placed Middlesbrough take on second-placed Leeds. The gap between the two clubs stands at seven points but with Boro having a game in hand, there’s a great opportunity for Middlesbrough to put the defeat by Newport County behind them and close in on an automatic promotion place. Leeds’ form has not been great of late, either.
Boro manager Tony Pulis says he has taken his players to task since the FA Cup defeat. One imagines it was an interesting chat he had with them.
I’ve told the players the fans have the right to criticise you. They have the right to say what they want so long as it is done in the right manner. They have travelled 12 hours and stood in the rain for two hours on an open terrace watching their team get beat. I’ve had a chat with the players yesterday and we’ve sorted one or two things out. As I said, we’ve sorted one or two things out.
Huddersfield Town are 13 points off safety with 13 games to play but Terriers goalkeeper Jonas Lossl is still dreaming of staying up:
I laugh a little bit because I still believe. Don’t write us off yet, we still have a chance and we will go 100% for that. The new manager has come in with a big bunch of energy, which has affected the team somehow. I think there’s a good spirit, definitely. Everybody’s together in this project of keeping us up right now. I haven’t experienced before fans being this loyal. They have shown immense character all the way through. My feeling is the fans feel the same as I do. We cherish the games in the Premier League. We’re going to play a fantastic game now and everybody I think is going to enjoy that, playing against Arsenal as Huddersfield.”
Some lunchtime reading for you now. The Guardian’s in-house tactics guru, Jonathan Wilson, has been pondering how best Chelsea should approach the game against Manchester City on Sunday. Here’s a taster:
Perhaps most telling is the fact that Chelsea do not have to press high to win games. Sarri is notably intransigent, insisting on trying to play his way whatever the circumstances but this, surely, is an occasion for compromise. Certainly he cannot risk allowing City the sort of freedom they had in the first 20 minutes of the meeting at Stamford Bridge when Fernandinho overwhelmed Jorginho – and may also recall that when his Napoli lost 2-1 at the Etihad in 2017, it was City’s opening blitz that did for them.
You can read the full piece here:
‘It brings the family peace, offers them comfort’
Neil Warnock has been speaking to the press before Cardiff’s match against Southampton and his focus was understandably on Emiliano Sala, whose body was recovered from the Channel on Thursday evening. He confirmed that Cardiff will hold a minute’s silence against Southampton.
It brings the family peace, offers them comfort. I think we’ve got to pay our respects with the situation now coming to an end, regarding Emiliano. We’ll wear black armbands and have a minute’s silence. I’m sure the Southampton fans will want that as well.
Warnock is asked again if Sala’s death has made him consider his position at Cardiff.
I think that was a little bit over the top. At the time I just said it made you think wether you want to carry on in football. I went in the local paper and put that to bed. It’s a challenge for me with all the things that have happened in the last few weeks. You can see in the last few games, it’s a challenge. But we’re all up for that. It’s a challenge we have to face head on. My mind has been back on football, as it’s got to be. I steer the ship, but I have to say the boys and the staff have been great to me. That does matter when you’re a team off the field as well as on it. You could see the response at Arsenal from the players, probably the best away performance. And the Bournemouth game was very good from our point of view, football wise.
Can Cardiff move on?
We have to. You never forget things like this – you can’t always put it out of your mind – but fortunately for me the players have grasped that in their performances. And now we have 13 Cup finals in a row.
Warnock also said that he has been impressed by the way Cardiff fans and the wider football community has responded to the distressing news concerning Sala.
When I think I’ve seen it all in football, our fans keep surprising me every week now. I don’t think there’s anything that would surprise me with them. And the Arsenal fans, Bournemouth fans, fans from clubs all over. When something like this happens it brings all the football family together. It shows that everybody is thinking on the same wavelength and it’s a loss to everyone in football.
Warnock was also asked about the dispute between Nantes and Cardiff over the first instalment of the fee for Sala.
The least of my worries is the record signing, finance does not come into it from my point of view. I couldn’t be more grateful to Ken (Choo, chief executive) and Mehmet (Dalman, chairman), they are keeping everything away from me. Off the field they are dealing with all that, and that’s the way to move forward. I’ve got enough on my plate dealing with the football on the field.
Are warm-weather training camps a good or a bad thing? Southampton manager Ralph Hassenhutl is a big fan and plans to take his team on one after the relegation battle with Cardiff this weekend.
What we now try to do is to use this time for hard work and to get perfectly prepared for the last two or three months that we have to go. We have prepared videos for every player about his positive things and his negative things and to show them what we are demanding more and to show them what was good until now. A little bit of feedback is very important for them, and therefore we need a lot of time, but I think they appreciate that and they need that to make their next step and therefore it is perfect to go there and have time together. It is also partly about the better weather conditions when you want to train tactical things on the pitch, because then you can rest for two or three minutes and you can explain more without catching a cold, and you can work in a good atmosphere. I hope that we take a good result on the weekend and then we can go there with a very good atmosphere and that helps us a lot to be critical and also positive in looking forward for the next exercises.
For what it’s worth, I’m not overly convinced it’s a good thing to take players outside of their normal training/playing conditions but I’m no expert. I also think if a team is readying itself for a relegation battle or title challenge it’s good to stay local and get a sense of the feeling among supporters to help forge a bond. Mind you, a bit of sun does do wonders for one’s mood. The weather’s slate-grey bleak in most of Britain today.
Jefferson Lerma is an injury doubt for Bournemouth’s match against Liverpool. The midfielder, who has been nursing an ankle problem in recent weeks, will undergo a late fitness test ahead of the trip to Anfield. Eddie Howe’s side have never won at Anfield but the Cherries manager says he is not going to let that record affect his side.
These things have always faced us before. In the Premier League every game when we first came into the league was a case of rewriting history and proving we could do things for the first time. I think we tend to look at these things as a nice thing to do, to try and write new history for the club all the time. Winning at Anfield is something we would love to do. No team has done it for a long period of time in the Premier League which goes to show how consistent Liverpool have been.
Tim Woods writes: “Liverpool ‘good at football’? Haven’t you heard the latest news? Having drawn two games, we are now officially bottlers with nerves of cotton wool, Van Dijk is a fraud and City have basically won the league due to the new rule about going back on top by goal difference. It’s all over basically and Klopp (who has never won anything) has been found out again. Please correct your blog accordingly.” Careful now Tim, such emotionally-charged missives are evidence of title-race nerves these days, so it seems. Koppites are supposed to be sat in the lotus position doing Om mantra chants to bring the title home aren’t they?
Brighton manager Chris Hughton has been full of praise for Peter Crouch before his side take on Burnley at the Amex Stadium on Saturday. The 38-year-old was at Spurs when Hughton was a coach there quite some time ago now.
He’s a player I knew very well in my years as a coach at Tottenham and him being a young player coming through my group. On a personal note I’m delighted to see him playing at the top level for as long as possible. He’s a good lad and you can’t play until that age unless you are dedicated to what you do. I think he’s very good for our game, I think he’s a brilliant ambassador for our game. It will be nice to see him, hopefully he doesn’t play too well against us.
Nantes have announced that they will retire the No9 shirt in memory of Emiliano Sala.
The club wrote on Twitter: “Because Emiliano Sala will forever be part of the legends that have written the great story of FC Nantes, the number 9 he has worn has been retired.”
Here is the story on the dreadful news that 10 people have been killed after a fire broke out at Flamengo’s training ground.
There is some deeply distressing news coming out of Brazil, where Reuters report that a fire at the training centre of Flamengo, in Rio, has killed 10 people and injured at least three. The Brazilian club’s training ground was redeveloped only two months ago.
Liverpool aren’t just good at football you know, they’re also record-breakers at making a pre-tax profit:
Liverpool broke the world record for the biggest pre-tax profit made by a football club during the 2017-18 financial year, the club’s latest accounts have revealed. Champions League qualification, progress to the final in Kiev and the £142m sale of Philippe Coutinho to Barcelona were instrumental in producing a pre-tax profit of £125m, eclipsing the £92.5m made by Leicester City in 2016-17.
You can read more on that story here:
Ole Gunnar Solskjær’s transformative powers at Manchester United can, incredibly, lift the club back into the top four on Saturday. With Chelsea playing on Sunday, if United beat Fulham at Craven Cottage in Saturday’s early kick-off, they will move a point above Chelsea. Solskjær has been speaking this morning about his good work and the future of the club. A little nudge, perhaps, in Ed Woodward’s ribs to remind him that he would be prepared to stick around for a while longer:
Every day I feel that I do help the club and put my stamp on it. But decisions sometimes on the future of players are not down to me. It’s the players, do they want to stay or move on but we have a vision and picture of how we want to look in a few years. We have to think long term and also short term and I’ve got a picture of what this Manchester United team should look like in a couple of years. I put my views to Ed and the club. I’ve supported and followed United for many years and I did have a clear view on what I thought my opinion would be. You get a different view on players but we’re not too far away from when I came.
One player who has committed his future to the club is Phil Jones. The defender has signed a new deal until at least 2023. Jones has featured in every match since Solskjær’s arrival and the caretaker manager sees the defender as a key force within the group. Solskjær said:
Phil knows what it takes to be a Manchester United player, he has won the Premier League, FA Cup and Europa League and is now one of the senior players within the team. He is coming up to his 27th birthday and entering into his prime years as a centre half. We are delighted Phil has committed his future to the club.
Last week Anthony Martial signed a new contract until at least 2024, while Chris Smalling, Luke Shaw and Scott McTominay all agreed new deals earlier this season.
The Premier League title race has heated up in the past fortnight, with Liverpool’s 1-1 draws against Leicester and West Ham giving Manchester City the chance to knock them off top spot with their 2-0 midweek victory over Everton. But Jürgen Klopp’s side can leapfrog City again if they beat Bournemouth at home tomorrow, meaning Pep Guardiola’s side, who have played a game more than Liverpool, will have to beat Chelsea at the Etihad to snatch top spot away again on Sunday. It’s a huge game – let’s not forget that Chelsea were the first team to beat City in the league this season. Meanwhile, Spurs, who have slowly crept up to within five points of City, play Leicester at Wembley. The Foxes are a dangerous opponent for teams at the top, having beaten City at home and drawn with Liverpool away. They generally raise their game against the top six. For a full rundown of what to look out for in the Premier League this season, have a read of this:
Welcome to the Friday football blog. First to the desperately sad news that Emiliano Sala’s body has been recovered from the plane that came down in the Channel on 21 January that was taking the player from Nantes to his new club Cardiff City.
“The body brought to Portland port has been formally identified by HM coroner for Dorset as that of professional footballer Emiliano Sala,” Dorset police said. “The families of Mr Sala and the pilot David Ibbotson have been updated with this news and will continue to be supported by specially trained family liaison officers.”
Around the world tributes have been paid to Sala and in France, where the striker made a name for himself with Nantes, all Ligue 1 and Ligue 2 games will be marked with a minute’s applause for the player. The Ligue de Football Professionnel said: “Emiliano Sala has left the memory of an endearing man and a hard-working forward in all the clubs where he has evolved.”
Cardiff City said: “We offer our most heartfelt sympathies and condolences to the family of Emiliano. He and David will forever remain in our thoughts.”
In Argentina, Sala’s home nation, president Mauricio Macri, who had joined calls for the search for the pair to be resumed after it was called off, sent his condolences to Sala’s family on Twitter, saying: “We are with you,” while Diego Maradona said: “I am very sorry about this sad news. Many of us kept a glimmer of hope for you, Emiliano.” Gabriel Batistuta tweeted: ““What sadness, this is the worst news. Rest in peace warrior.”
David Mearns, the shipwreck expert who led a private search for the plane, tweeted: “Rest in peace Emiliano. I was glad to provide some small comfort to … the whole Sala family during the past two weeks, but my heart goes out to the family and friends of David Ibbotson, whose loss is the same.”
Fifa said in a statement: “Fifa and the whole football community are deeply saddened about the death of Emiliano Sala. Fifa and its president Gianni Infantino would like to extend their sincerest condolences to his friends and family. Our thoughts are also with the family of pilot David Ibbotson.”