Tot­ten­ham re­turn to scene of ti­tle col­lapse af­ter set­back

Malta Independent - - SPORT -

Back at the scene of last sea­son's Premier League ti­tle col­lapse, Tot­ten­ham will be pick­ing up the pieces from a fresh dis­in­te­gra­tion.

Af­ter spend­ing five years try­ing to mus­cle its way back into the Cham­pi­ons League, Tot­ten­ham is timidly ex­it­ing from the group stage, stalling the progress of an am­bi­tious man­ager and his rel­a­tively young squad.

And for the first time since tak­ing charge of Tot­ten­ham in 2014, Mauricio Po­chet­tino's de­ci­sion­mak­ing is com­ing un­der scru­tiny ahead of Satur­day's trip across Lon­don to Chelsea.

Play­ing in the Euro­pean Cup for only the third time in its his­tory was the con­so­la­tion for Tot­ten­ham af­ter miss­ing out on a first English ti­tle since 1961.

Po­chet­tino's side had been push­ing Le­ices­ter in the ti­tle race un­til a bad-tem­pered melt­down at Chelsea in May. A two-goal lead was sur­ren­dered and a 2-2 draw handed Le­ices­ter the tro­phy. Tot­ten­ham never re­cov­ered, losing its last two games to tum­ble to third be­hind Arse­nal.

As dam­ag­ing as the loss was, Tot­ten­ham failed to use the ex­pe­ri­ence to strengthen its team sig­nif­i­cantly in the trans­fer win­dow.

Mis­fir­ing striker Vin­cent Janssen, signed in July from Dutch club AZ Alk­maar, has not been an ad­e­quate backup to Harry Kane. Moussa Sis­soko, a 30 mil­lion pound (then about $40 mil­lion) sign­ing, has not looked to be much of an im­prove­ment on Nacer Chadli, who was sold to West Bromwich Al­bion.

While Tot­ten­ham is the only un­beaten team in Eng­land's four pro­fes­sional leagues, the team is fifth in the Premier League while Chelsea leads the way.

Tot­ten­ham's fail­ure to kill off games has been dam­ag­ing, draw­ing half of the 12 league matches so far. But there was a spir­ited come­back against West Ham. A 3-2 vic­tory, se­cured through Kane's two late goals, masked the de­fi­cien­cies ear­lier in the derby as Tot­ten­ham counts the cost of in­juries to de­fender Toby Alder­weireld and winger Erik Lamela.

Losing at Monaco on Tues­day left Tot­ten­ham with only one win from five Cham­pi­ons League games, in­clud­ing two losses at its tem­po­rary Euro­pean home at Wem­b­ley Sta­dium.

Leav­ing de­fend­ers Jan Ver­tonghen and Kyle Walker, and mid­fielder Chris­tian Erik­sen on the bench at Monaco showed that Po­chet­tino was al­ready look­ing ahead to the Chelsea game with his ro­ta­tion.

"Maybe we are not ready to man­age Premier League and Cham­pi­ons League cam­paigns at the same time, but we need to ques­tion our­selves about that," said goal­keeper Hugo Lloris, one truly world-class player in the Tot­ten­ham team.

Chelsea is helped by hav­ing a sea­son out of Europe at the start of An­to­nio Conte's reign.

"They have time to train and de­velop their phi­los­o­phy," Po­chet­tino said. "They are, not only in Eng­land but in Europe, the team most in form to­day."

Kom­pany out for 4-6 weeks, City man­ager Pep Guardi­ola says

Kom­pany vis­ited a spe­cial­ist in Barcelona this week af­ter dam­ag­ing lig­a­ments in his right knee dur­ing a Premier League game at Crys­tal Palace last week­end. The spe­cial­ist agreed with the ini­tial prog­no­sis of City's doc­tors that the Bel­gium in­ter­na­tional will miss the next four to six weeks, po­ten­tially rul­ing him out un­til the new year.

City man­ager Pep Guardi­ola gave the in­jury prog­no­sis at a news con­fer­ence on Fri­day, mark­ing an­other set­back for the team's cap­tain who hasn't com­pleted a game in five starts this sea­son. He has come off in­jured in three of them.

To­day Burn­ley-Manch­ester City ...................... Hull City-West Bromwich ...................... Le­ices­ter City-Mid­dles­brough ............... Liver­pool-Sun­der­land ........................... Swansea City-Crys­tal Palace .................. Chelsea-Tot­ten­ham Hot­spur ................. To­mor­row Wat­ford-Stoke ....................................... Arse­nal-Bournemouth .......................... Man United-West Ham ......................... Southamp­ton-Ever­ton ..........................

Cham­pi­onship

Yes­ter­day Barns­ley-Not­ting­ham F . ................... 2-5 To­day As­ton Villa-Cardiff City .......................... Brent­ford-Birm­ing­ham City .................. Brighton-Ful­ham ................................... Derby County-Nor­wich City .................. Ip­swich Town-QPR ................................ New­cas­tle-Black­burn ............................ Pre­ston-Bur­ton ..................................... Read­ing-Bris­tol City .............................. Wolves-Sh­effield W .............................. Rother­ham-Leeds U .............................. Mon­day Hud­der­s­field-Wi­gan ..............................

League One

To­day AFC Wim­ble­don-Fleet­wood T ............... Bury-Mill­wall ......................................... Charl­ton Ath-Sh­effield U ....................... Ch­ester­field-Bris­tol Rovers ................... Coven­try City-MK Dons ......................... Gilling­ham-Rochdale ............................. Northamp­ton-Bolton W ........................ Old­ham-Peter­bor­ough .......................... Scun­thorpe-Ox­ford United ................... Shrews­bury Town-Port Vale .................. Swin­don Town-Brad­ford City ................ Wal­sall-Southend United ......................

League Two

To­day Ac­cring­ton Stan­ley-Yeovil ...................... Bar­net-Notts County ............................. Black­pool-New­port County .................. Cam­bridge United-Chel­tenham ............ Carlisle United-Mans­field ..................... Colch­ester-Crewe Alexandra ................. Craw­ley Town-Grimsby Town ................ Don­caster Rovers-Ley­ton Ori­ent ........... Ex­eter City-Lu­ton Town ......................... More­cambe-Ply­mouth Ar­gyle ............... Portsmouth-Steve­nage ......................... Wy­combe-Hartle­pool ...........................

SCOTLAND

Tot­ten­ham’s Harry Kane

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