Blood­ied Spurs ready for Stam­ford Bridge re­turn

Kuwait Times - - SPORTS -

LON­DON:

Tot­ten­ham Hot­spur face a major test of nerve to­day when they re­turn to Stam­ford Bridge, scene of the 2-2 draw with Chelsea that ended last sea­son’s ti­tle chal­lenge. Spurs had nine play­ers booked and Mousa Dem­bele was hit with a six-game ban for goug­ing Diego Costa’s eye in a stormy May 2 en­counter that de­liv­ered the Premier League crown to Le­ices­ter City. Mauri­cio Po­chett­tino’s side are lick­ing their wounds once again, hav­ing been dumped out of the Cham­pi­ons League by Monaco, but goal­keeper Hugo Lloris says they will rel­ish the trip to Chelsea.

“I said the same af­ter we lost against (Bayer) Lev­erkusen at Wem­b­ley: this is the best type of game to bounce back,” said the France in­ter­na­tional fol­low­ing Tues­day’s 2-1 loss to Monaco at the Stade Louis II. “The only thing is to digest the frus­tra­tion of this de­feat and look for­ward. “It’s a big dis­ap­point­ment, but we need to keep our chins up be­cause it’s a big game to­day.” Harry Kane struck twice late on as Spurs came from be­hind to beat West Ham United 3-2 at White Hart Lane on their pre­vi­ous league out­ing. But that was Spurs’ only win in their last nine fix­tures in all com­pe­ti­tions, a run that has seen them slide to fifth in the ta­ble, four points below lead­ers Chelsea.

Chelsea, in stark con­trast, are fly­ing, hav­ing won their last six games with­out con­ced­ing a goal and will be de­fend­ing an un­beaten home record against Spurs stretch­ing back 26 years. Cen­tre-back Gary Cahill says it is im­por­tant for the play­ers not to get car­ried away. “We’re happy with our work, but the league isn’t won now,” he told the Chelsea web­site. “There’s plenty more foot­ball-it’s not even Christmas yet-so keep go­ing, keep the foot down and keep try­ing to pro­duce per­for­mances like we have been in the last few weeks.”

Should Chelsea slip up, Liver­pool and Manch­ester City-both just a point below them-will have de­signs on sup­plant­ing them at the sum­mit.

Record-hunt­ing Rooney

Liver­pool, who ceded top spot af­ter draw­ing 0-0 at Southamp­ton last week­end, host a Sun­der­land team buoyed by back-to­back wins that have lifted them off the foot of the ta­ble. “It’s our job to show from the first se­cond as a big group, crowd in­volved, that we are dif­fer­ent-here it’s dif­fer­ent,” Liver­pool manger Jur­gen Klopp told his pre­match press con­fer­ence. “Sun­der­land, if they win foot­ball games in the Premier League: well done, de­served, what­ever. But not here.” Like his Chelsea coun­ter­part An­to­nio Conte, Liver­pool’s ab­sence from Euro­pean com­pe­ti­tion means Klopp has had a full week to pre­pare his team for their next league as­sign­ment. But City man­ager Pep Guardi­ola will have lit­tle time to drill his play­ers ahead of to­day’s trip to Burn­ley, which fol­lows Wed­nes­day’s 1-1 Cham­pi­ons League draw at Borus­sia Moenchenglad­bach.

The re­sult in Ger­many took City into the last 16, al­beit as run­ners-up be­hind Barcelona, and they will now look to build on last week­end’s 2-1 win at Crys­tal Palace. “Ob­vi­ously it’s only two days in be­tween for the next game, so that’s tough to fly back and be pre­pared, but I think men­tally we need to try to be pre­pared,” City mid­fielder Kevin De Bruyne told the club web­site. Ar­se­nal, in search of a se­cond wind, wel­come Bournemouth to the Emi­rates Sta­dium to­mor­row. Ar­se­nal needed a late Olivier Giroud header to res­cue a 1-1 draw at Manch­ester United last week, then saw their hopes of top spot in their Cham­pi­ons League group fade in a 2-2 draw with Paris Saint-Ger­main.

Giroud’s goal con­demned United to a third suc­ces­sive home draw in the leaguethe first time that has hap­pened since April 1992 — but they bounced back to crush Feyeno­ord 4-0 in the Europa League. United, nine points below Chelsea in sixth, face West Ham to­mor­row in the first of back-to-back home games against the east Lon­don club, who re­turn to Old Traf­ford in the League Cup on Wed­nes­day. Hav­ing net­ted his 248th United goal against Feyeno­ord, skip­per Wayne Rooney will equal Bobby Charl­ton’s club scor­ing record if he scores against West Ham. — AFP

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