What impressed most about Tottenham’s 2-2 draw at Anfield?

Opinion, Sports

It was by no means a perfect away performance but Mauricio Pochettino can be proud of his side for the way they refused to capitulate in unsavoury conditions. 

Firstly, I’ll talk about the elephant in the room, getting the negative aspects of the draw off my chest.

Spurs have won a single match at Anfield in their last 24 visits; that win came back in May 2011.

Tottenham haven’t kept a clean sheet against a top-six side in 30 matches on their travels and have a single win to show from 21 away contests versus the élite six.

Some disconcerting trends from the match also reared their ugly head. Eric Dier and Davinson Sánchez endured miserable matches, akin to the weather on Merseyside. But Sánchez is still only 21 and is bound to have uncomfortable outings, while Dier’s performance can be considered a mere blip for the time being.

On to the positive for Tottenham

But overall, Mauricio Pochettino is probably walking some extra pep in his step today after watching his side thoroughly outplay one of only two teams in England who remain unbeaten at home.

Speaking of Pep, Manchester City is the only other unbeaten home side.

Jurgen Klopp’s game plan was effective in the first half. Liverpool’s relentless high press disturbed Tottenham’s flow, stifling their ability to play enterprising football for which they’re renowned. But Spurs didn’t bat an eyelid, steadfast and defiant in their approach.

While the first half was fairly evenly played, the exact opposite is true of the second 45 minutes. Tottenham bossed proceedings, knocking the ball around like they were in a Sunday training session.

It’s one thing to enjoy the lion’s share of possession against Liverpool, but it’s altogether different to accomplish that feat at Anfield, one of the most difficult places to play in Europe. Overall, Spurs enjoyed 66 percent of possession. Those numbers underpin just how comprehensively the away side outshined their Merseyside counterparts.

Spurs received their just deserts when Victor Wanyama scored what will certainly be the goal of the season to level the score.

Harry Kane then had a chance to put Spurs ahead, but the marksman, usually a sure thing from the spot, missed his penalty.

And then the unthinkable happened: against the run of play, Mohamad Salah came up with a genius moment, scoring to put the Reds up late in injury time.

My nerves totally shot, I was consigned to defeat.

But then Tottenham displayed in a few minutes how far they’ve come as a unified collective. A never-say-die attitude, combined with the skill, gumption and bit of good fortune, pulled off the grandest escape against all odds.

I’m not going to analyze whether it was a penalty. That matters little at this point. What does matter is how Tottenham reacted to Salah’s goal, a moment that would have killed off permanently most other sides.

But Tottenham are not most other sides.

They have a fortified togetherness other teams can only dream of. While the point Spurs left Anfield with is invaluable, the resilience the team showed is far more important in the long-term.

Wanyama’s wonder goal and Erik Lamela’s contribution on the second penalty also mark the first time all season Pochettino’s substitutes have affected decisively the outcome of a match. It’s yet another good omen to take away from Merseyside.

It was exactly the type of away performance that should spur Tottenham on, and, with Juventus beckoning in the Champions League, it came at the most opportune time.

I wouldn’t be surprised to see Pochettino’s side use this result as a springboard, lofting the team to eminent heights on all three remaining fronts.

(This piece originally featured on Tottenham HQ. Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Images)

Tottenham’s Mauricio Pochettino playing a dangerous game with Kane

Opinion, Sports

Mauricio Pochettino, by starting Harry Kane unremittingly regardless of the occasion, is a playing an exceedingly dangerous, yet necessary game.     

Pochettino’s decision to start Harry Kane was once again proven correct, with Spurs’ precious asset scoring Spurs’ only goal against Newport County, delivering an FA Cup stay of execution. One question, unanswerable in nature, is whether Kane would have come up with the goods had he come on from the bench.

It’s a question that could stoke an endless debate among Spurs supporters. The more meaningful question, though, is when, if ever, will Pochettino rest his leading man.

If Pochettino can’t afford to rest him against a team of Newport County’s negligible pedigree, then when will Kane be able to recharge a battery that will, sooner or later, start to deplete.

It’s obvious the gaffer has no trust in Fernando Llorente, and who can blame him? The Spaniard has been an abomination since signing for Spurs in the summer. The argument that Llorente hasn’t been provided the platform to succeed is no longer valid. That ship has long since left the dock.

His listless, beggared performance against Newport is further proof of his inadequacy. Which leaves Pochettino with an unrelenting quagmire. While youthful and vibrant, Kane, like any other professional footballer, is not entirely indefatigable. And with compounding wear and tear comes increased susceptibility to injury.

Regarding Kane, I’m not sold on Pochettino’s ride-it-until-the-wheels-come-off mantra. The overt lack of strategy is palpable, caused solely because of an absence of viable alternatives.

No rest forthcoming for Kane

I can’t envision Kane being rested any time soon, so hopefully he’s able to maintain his present otherworldly form devoid of a rest in the run in. Jostling for a top four spot in the Premier League, combined with a Champions League round of 16 tie with Juventus, guarantees Kane’s interminable on-field presence.

The potential of burnout, with playing two games a week, even for a 24-year-old at peak fitness, increases considerably.

But maybe Pochettino knows something the rest of us don’t. If Kane starts in the Wembley replay against Newport on Feb. 7, a match sandwiched between playing Liverpool and Arsenal and less than a week before facing Juventus, my suspicions of him being from another planet will be confirmed.

And if that’s the case, Gareth Southgate can rest easy knowing England’s only hope of winning the World Cup is immune to a human’s imperfections.

(This piece originally featured on Tottenham HQ. Photo by Dan Mullan/Getty Images)

Could every Tottenham supporters’ worst nightmare become reality?

Opinion, Sports

Loyal, long-term Tottenham supporters waited for what seems like eons to see their team transform into a contender, so try imagine what it would feel like if everything came crashing down in an unbearable foul swoop.

My mum, in my formative, impressionable years, always told me to hope for the best but to prepare for the worst. The worst-case scenario for Tottenham, though, makes me wish I never thought in a prudent way, as it would resemble a scene from the Day After Tomorrow.

It includes Mauricio Pochettino being poached my Real Madrid, with Harry Kane as the Argentinian’s first purchase for the Galácticos. The thought of that catastrophic moment causes recurring, lucid nightmares.

While improbable, pessimists will direct you to the irrefutable and persuasive arguments as evidence of the armageddon-like moment becoming an eventuality. And those arguments shouldn’t be ignored, or overlooked: Mauricio Pochettino spent the peak of his playing career in Spain with Espanyol; he returned to Espanyol for his first managerial job, coaching the La Liga side from 2009-2012; Espanyol is to Barcelona what Arsenal is to Tottenham; Real Madrid is Barcelona’s main competition, and other than Espanyol, their fiercest rival. Real Madrid are back-to-back Champions League holders; and, as blatantly obvious as it might sound, Spanish is Pochettino’s native tongue.

Have the involuntary sweats started yet?

I won’t fire off the reasons Kane could be enticed to the Bernabeu. However, suffice to say that if Pochettino goes, so too does Kane.

You hear it all the time; no player is bigger than the club they play for.

Pochettino and Kane’s club

But what about the world’s most valuable forward and sought after coach, together as one?

That venerable, superstar package comes close to vetoing the rule. Pochettino and Kane, even in tandem, still aren’t bigger than Tottenham Hotspur Football Club; though it wouldn’t be an exaggeration to say the pair, particularly Pochettino, are the glue that holds the squad together.

Pochettino is the primary reason Spurs were able to sign Dele Alli, Davinson Sanchez, Juan Foyth, Fernando Llorente, Victor Wanyama and Toby Alderweireld.

He is the principle reason Tottenham have been able to hold on to Hugo Lloris, Eric Dier, Christian Eriksen, Jan Vertonghen, and to this point, Alderweireld.

And the Argentinian is also the main reason Harry Winks, Kane, Alli, Eriksen, Alderweireld, Vertonghen, Dier, Wanyama, Ben Davies, Son Heung-Min and Kieran Trippier have fulfilled their respective potentials.

It doesn’t take a neurosurgeon to foresee a potential player exodus if Tottenham’s charismatic boss leaves for pastures anew.

Would Tottenham recover if the duo leave for Madrid?

The club, knowing Spurs as I do, is, as a collective, blessed with the resilience and never-die persona to recover from such a disaster. But, like in the aftermath of a Category-5 hurricane, that recovery certainly wouldn’t happen overnight.

Some might consider the comparison of Pochettino and Kane departing for sunny Spain and the world coming to a violent, cataclysmic end as sensationalistic, even dramatic.

You obviously haven’t been a Spurs supporter long enough if that’s the case.

(This piece originally featured on Tottenham HQ. Photo by Catherine Ivill/Getty Images)

If the top five pound-for-pound UFC fighters were NHLers, who would they be?

Opinion, Sports

Comparisons between professional hockey players and mixed martial artists aren’t often made, but there are more similarities among the top five UFC fighters and current NHLers than you might realize.  

Can you envision Conor McGregor or Daniel Cormier strapping on a pair of skates and hitting the open ice? Nor can I.

But that doesn’t mean they don’t share some skills and character traits of prominent NHLers.

Altogether dubious of their skating abilities, I’m going to focus on attributes that are necessary, transferrable and advantageous assets across both sports from the top five pound-for-pound fighters. The fighter rankings are provided by UFC.ca

5. Daniel Cormier would be Jarome Iginla

Light heavyweight champion Daniel Cormier and free agent Jarome Iginla share numerous commonalities: both, at one time or another, were at the peak of their sports.

Unlike Iginla, Cormier is still at the top of his sport, looking ahead to defending his title against Volkan Oezdemir at UFC 220 on Jan. 20. However, that could change in the blink of an eye if the Swiss challenger upends Cormier in Boston on Saturday. The pair of powerhouses are of almost identical builds, with Iginla two inches taller and five pounds heavier than Cormier.

They are highly respected in their respective sports, both of whom usually avoid running their mouths, preferring their skills do the talking. The wily veterans are only two years apart, with Iginla, 40, two years Cormier’s elder.

And both have represented their nation at the Olympics. More forebodingly, If Cormier loses his belt on Saturday, his career, like Iginla’s, will take a downward turn.

4. Max Holloway would be Patrick Kane

American idols – please, excuse the pun – Patrick Kane and Max Holloway are dominant forces in their corresponding sports. Both are relentless in attack and lethal finishers.

Kane has won three Stanley Cups and Holloway is the undisputed featherweight champion. They share the same height and are ranked first in their specific fields: Kane sits atop EA’s NHL 2018 right winger rankings, while Holloway, until March at the very soonest, rests on his pedestal as the featherweight’s apex predator.

3. Georges St-Pierre would be Sidney Crosby

Two of the most decorated Canadian athletes, Sidney Crosby and Georges St-Pierre are idolized and lionized in the Great White North. Crosby has won three Stanley Cups with the Penguins and two Olympic golds, while St-Pierre is one of the only UFC fighters to win belts in different weight classes. St-Pierre is unbeaten in 13 bouts and Crosby has won back-to-back Stanley Cups.

Physically, there’s not too much to choose between the two legends. Crosby weighs 15 pounds more than St-Pierre while both are 5 ft 11 in.

While St-Pierre’s nickname is Captain Canada, Crosby is Canada’s captain. The uncanny list of similarities doesn’t end there, as both superstars have been plagued by a litany of injuries throughout their illustrious careers.

Finally, they way they present themselves maybe their most impressive shared trait. True ambassadors of their respective sports, the venerable duo are well spoken, humble and forever respectful, the polar opposite of the following featured pair.

2. Conor McGregor would be Brad Marchand

The bad boys of both sports certainly know how to backup their bellicose trash talking. Conor McGregor and Brad Marchand have reached the pinnacle of their sports, and both are controversial figures who draw a large, cult following.

Marchand has won the Stanley Cup and Olympics; McGregor is the only UFC fighter to hold two titles, featherweight and lightweight, simultaneously. The polarizing stars stand at 5 ft 9 in, and both are 29 years old. And it goes without saying that The Notorious and The Nose Face Killah love an old fashioned, no-holds-barred street brawl.

1. Demetrious Johnson would be Johnny Gaudreau

Despite defending his flyweight title a record 11 times, the top ranked pound-for-pound fighter in the UFC is under hyped, still fighting under the radar. He is indisputably the most talented fighter in the UFC, continuously showcasing his exceptional agility, quickness, creativity and technique.

All of the aforementioned attributes apply to Johnny Gaudreau, who plies his trade for the Calgary Flames. The diminutive left winger certainly hasn’t enjoyed the unparalleled success of his UFC counterpart, but Johnny Hockey is blessed with a comparably impressive skill set.

The 24-year-old is also undervalued, but that’s slowly changing as Gaudreau’s unique, highlight-reel playing style can only be passed over for so long. Sound like a certain UFC flyweight champion?

(Photo by David Becker/Getty Images for Wynn Nightlife)

Lambasting Arsenal is good for Spurs’ supporters souls

Opinion, Videos

The only thing comparable to watching Tottenham dismantle Everton on Saturday occurred the very next day, when Arsenal walked away from Bournemouth dejected and despondent. 

Maybe you most enjoyed watching Granit Xhaka, Arsenal’s supposed defensive central midfielder, mosey back on Bournemouth’s winner, altogether losing his mark and disregarding his responsibilities.

Or did you find the most gratifying aspect of the match watching Arsene Wenger stew on the sideline?

Or, perhaps seeing Alexis Sanchez withdrawn from the Gunners’ lineup sent you into a state of euphoria. How about Alexandre Lacazette not scoring for over 10 hours?

Regardless of which Arsenal calamity brings you the most joy, it was an all-round joyous weekend of Premier League football as far as Tottenham are concerned.

Sure, Spurs supporters would have loved to see Manchester United trip up against Stoke or Liverpool throw away a three-goal lead, but Arsenal’s catastrophic display on the south coast provided enough cause for celebration.

Wenger’s is in disarray yet again, and the Wingman doesn’t mince his words about the club’s current state of disrepair. If it feels like you’ve heard that before, you assuredly have, but never to this abject level. Arsenal are ensnared in a state of free fall, evinced by their locker room unrest and dismal away results. The Gunners have taken 13 points from 12 away matches, their lowest return in over a decade, since 2005-2006.

Their lack of guile and toughness in midfield is laughable, factors that guarantee perpetual road misery.

Oh, and if you haven’t heard, Sánchez is booking his one-way ticket out of the Emirates. No player is bigger than a club, but Sánchez is unarguably Arsenal’s best player. The Gunners have lost three in a row without the diminutive, petulant Chilean.

And what’s more reinforcing for Tottenham is knowing things are going to get a lot worse at Arsenal. Some say Wenger has lost the locker room. I believe it by the discernible and disrespectful lack of commitment Wenger’s side play with.

Not usually one to harbour malevolent feelings or wish ill-will toward an opponent, I’m amenable to making an exception in Arsenal’s case.

That’s what 22 consecutive years of inferiority will do to a man.

However, those years are well and truly behind us, as either side of North London couldn’t be on more opposite trajectories.

(This piece originally featured on Tottenham HQ. Photo by Charlie Crowhurst/Getty Images)

If Donald Trump is a “stable genius”, then I still have a shot at the NHL

Opinion, Sports

Donald Trump, by claiming he’s a “stable genius” in one of his latest Twitter tirades, provided hope for everyone who thought their unfulfilled dreams were dead and buried. 

I’m not going to dive into the far-reaching political implications or the absurdity of his irresponsible, petulant Tourette-style tweets.

Instead, I’m going to focus on a silver lining, the fact that Trump’s comical defence of his questionable mental state has instilled me with the belief that it’s not too late to fulfil my childhood dream of making the NHL.

Sure, I’m two months shy of my 35th birthday, a touch too old by most sane people’s reckoning. Rustiness might also be a slightly hamstringing factor, as I haven’t laced up my skates for almost a decade.

But, like Trump, my mental stability is beyond reproach, so the physical impediments are mere blips to overcome on my journey to NHL glory.

It’s going to be a long, arduous journey but I’m up for the challenge. I must be strategic, though. Figuring that knocking on Brad Treliving’s door, or showing up to the Saddledome with a pair of skates in hand wouldn’t render desirable results, I’ve ruminated ad nauseam about how best to make an unforgettable impression.

To begin what will assuredly be a lengthy, gruelling training regime, I’ve decided to start on the mental side of things. To become an NHLer, I must think like one, and to do that there is only one place to start: EA Sports’ NHL 2018.

NHL 2018 Training Camp

To loosen up and learn the basics, after a decade hiatus from playing EA’s hockey series, I suited up and hit the ice for training camp. I’d like to say it was akin to riding a bike, but that would be bald-faced lie; there were, admittedly, a few teething problems, namely learning how to tie-up an opponent on the draw. It’s slightly embarrassing, I know.

And don’t get me started on the dekes.

After a few slight hiccups, I proficiently passed all training camp requirements. Confidence brimming, it was time to showcase my newfound talent by pitting my skills against an online opponent.

My first NHL 2018 online test

I realized quickly that, like the real thing, there is absolutely no tolerance for off-puck hits. A constant stream to the penalty box eventually ended up costing me, as my opponent, the name of whom I don’t recall, scored on one of his numerous man advantages.

That halted my original game plan, inspired by the brutes and enforcers in Slap Shot, the 1977 cult hockey classic.

But I was confident that training camp fitted me with the skills needed to compete in the online NHL 2018 world without running roughshod. I was sorely mistaken. Thoroughly outplayed for the lion’s share of the game, I managed to somehow score the equalizer. The goal, as you can imagine, wasn’t pretty, but they all count.

Mike Smith, the Flames’ starting goaltender, kept me in the game, not too dissimilar to the situation on the road in Calgary’s current NHL campaign.

Going to overtime

Tied at one, I managed to take Anaheim to overtime. Like an out-of-shape athlete coming out of retirement, I started to prematurely fatigue. My sore fingers were the most immediate concern. Like an NHLer playing through injury in the Stanley Cup playoffs, I battled on, the prospect of glory increasing my pain threshold.

More surprisingly than some of Trumps’s most ridiculous tweets, I potted the winner in double overtime. I leapt off the couch, celebrating like I’d won the Stanley Cup.

After some time to reflect, I’m deathly scared of putting my 1-0 record on the line. I know a loss isn’t far away, but quitting isn’t an option.

If I’m going to eventually make the NHL, I must re-enter NHL 2018’s online universe and take on all comers.

My NHL 2018 username is New_Age_Journo, so please have mercy if we happen to meet head-to-head online.

Just keep in mind that I’m NHL-bound and on a transcendent journey, largely in part because of a single, utterly laughable Trump tweet.

(Feature photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)

Top ways to promote your online content and most common SEO mistakes

Opinion

SEO and content marketing go together like fish and chips. They thrive as part of a dynamic team, working in symbiotic way.

A proficient content marketing strategy can only be executed properly in conjunction with a sound SEO approach. SEO and content marketing are not independent of each other and must overlap and coalesce in harmony for optimal effectiveness.

Neil Patel’s site provides a wealth of SEO and digital content advice. It’s one of my top resources as Neil offers in-depth insight into many current SEO trends.

Top 12 ways to promote your content online

Always using a layered, multi-pronged attack, I’ve utilized the below promotional methods:

1. One of my favourite promotional techniques is to write an additional piece of closely related content, embedding a link with an optimized keyword cluster directing readers to the original piece, and contributed it to a highly renowned, authoritative site within the greater industry. It’s often referred to as guest posting.

2. When applicable, adding a strong influencer’s quote works well, particularly if that influencer is amenable to sharing your content on their social media channels.

3. Partnering with media outlets who have a robust social media presence in a similar niche, I create skill-testing social media competitions, utilizing their social clout to bolster exposure.

4. Create a supplementary video to augment exposure, utilizing it on all social channels. The video should be related, while differing slightly from the written piece. That way you’ll appeal to a wider demographic.

4. Paid social media advertising on all applicable platforms, focussing on concerted, targeted Facebook and Twitter advertising campaigns.

5. Develop a social media content dissemination strategy, driving promotion through as many social channels as possible. Historically, bespoke hashtag campaigns on Twitter have proven fruitful.

6. A long-term strategy includes consistently engaging with related communities and forums like Quora and Reddit.

7. If applicable, I email all sources used in the content, giving them an opportunity to read, share and promote it. This method is particularly cost effective.

8. Find previously published content of a similar nature, contact the writer and ask their thoughts. They might share your content. If nothing else, they will engage with you as it’s a topic of shared expertise.

9. Go through older, popular content you’ve published and, if possible, add a blurb about the new piece of content, inserting the corresponding link accompanied by an optimized set of keywords.

10. Depending on the project, StumbleUpon’s Paid Discovery Service can expose your content to a vast demographic. I use this method if the content needs an immediate surge of new readers.

11. I’ve also used traditional methods like press releases and building relationships with paid media outlets.

12. Search Engine Marketing, or Paid Search, can also help increase exposure, though it can be time consuming and, depending on your budget, costly.

Most common SEO mistakes

I consistently come across flagship content that is over optimized for focus keywords and anchor text.

I’ve had bundles of experience with content whose keywords are chosen because of their high search volume.

However, the chosen keyword is too competitive, making the chance of ranking nearly impossible. Oftentimes it’s better to choose a less competitive niche keyword, thereby exponentially increasing your chances of ranking. This technique usually facilitates better conversion rates.

Another mistake is to neglect the importance of title tags and meta descriptions. This is your chance to entice readers and draw them in by showcasing your content’s uniqueness.

Some unversed, inexperienced SEO practitioners also make these familiar mistakes: using the same anchor text for every link, attempting to use black hat SEO techniques and focussing on obtaining an abundance of average links rather than a few excellent ones, along with falling short on creating link-worthy content.

SEO and content marketing go together like fish and chips. They thrive as part of a dynamic team, working in symbiotic way. A proficient content marketing strategy can only be executed properly in conjunction with a sound SEO approach. SEO and content marketing are not independent of each other and must overlap and coalesce in harmony for optimal effectiveness.

For more SEO help, visit Newagejourno’s most visited SEO sites.

Don’t underestimate the important benefits of gaming

Opinion, Sports

Everyone should devote some time to playing video games, as the list of benefits is as long as Sydney Crosby’s career accomplishments.

It is, of course, imperative to strike a delicate balance between gaming and participating in more traditional hobbies, sports and other recreational activities.

Negative publicity about the potential addictiveness of video games, akin to the tone of most Montreal Canadiens game reports so far this season, has recently taken precedence, the resulting hysteria unfairly stigmatizing some gamers.

But make no mistake, gaming is good for cognitive development; it’s also good for the soul.

The cognitive benefits of playing video games

Engadget, in an enlightening piece published in September, focussed on eight cognitive benefits associated with kids playing video games. Those benefits range from improvement in coordination and multitasking skills to memory enhancement.

While comprehensive, the list certainly isn’t exhaustive.

I remember how effectively playing EA’s NHL and FIFA series garnered – and refined – my competitive nature.

Whether you like to admit it, the world is more competitive than ever before.

Electronic Arts’ (EA) FIFA and NHL labels, along with participating in those sports’ real-life applications, helped ready me to fight tooth and nail for everything I have since strived for.

Playing video games – part of my pre-game ritual

The aforementioned EA labels also add insight and perspective into how best to position yourself in practical sports situations. I can, having avidly played soccer and hockey, back up that assertion. Delving into a few NHL or FIFA games before taking to the pitch or ice prepared me mentally for the challenges that lay ahead.

It allowed me, like a harbinger, to envision situations that could arise against forthcoming opponents. Playing EA’s NHL before strapping on skates was part of my pre-game ritual, the called-upon motor functions sharpening my reaction time and focus.

EA’s Special Effect Program

To further underpin the intrinsic benefit of video games, I turn swiftly to EA’s SpecialEffect program.

A team of therapists and technology specialists dedicate their time to creating bespoke control systems which facilitate disabled gamers with the tools required to proficiently play the games they otherwise wouldn’t be able to.

Video games – a way of life

To many, video games aren’t merely seen as a hobby or activity to pass time. Gaming is way of life, a means to sharpen and accentuate ones skill set. Video games can also increase quality of life and build bridges between cultures.

They don’t discriminate and are all-inclusive, embodying many values upstanding citizens pride themselves on.

It’s those tactic perks that fly under the radar, underrated and unheralded.

So grab a controller and dive into the game you’re most passionate about, if not for the reasons I’ve mentioned, than for pure unadulterated fun.

Just remember the old adage “everything in moderation” when playing your favourite game on your preferred console or device.

(Feature image by Stephen Lovekin/Getty Images for Bud Light)

Tottenham’s Christian Eriksen ascends to demigod status

Opinion, Sports

Christian Eriksen made it a night to forget for the Republic of Ireland, whose dreams of qualifying for the World Cup were dashed by the demigod Dane’s hat-trick heroics.

It was an evening of international football that will be eternalized in Danish folklore after Tottenham’s midfield maestro enjoyed his most prodigious performance, both for club and country.

Constantly creative, threatening and dangerous in the center of Tottenham’s midfield, Eriksen has never been so magisterial, almost demigod-like in dispatching a team and country in such a merciless way.

While scoring a hat-trick at any level is no simple task, more impressive is the stage on which he pulled it off. Ireland took the lead in the sixth minute from a Shane Duffy finish before Andreas Christensen equalized in the 29th. Eriksen then put Denmark on his shoulders, scoring three unanswered goals less than 40 minutes apart.

Ireland’s fortitude and resilience gave them a chance to pull off the unlikely upset. The difference in class, however, shone through, the cream eventually rising to the top. International football matches are parity-laden, won and lost by the slimmest of margins.

Those tiny winning margins usually come down to a moment of pure class. A single magical moment wasn’t enough for Eriksen, who was clearly unaffected by the grandeur of the occasion.

The 25-year-old looked like he was enjoying a recreational kickabout at Spurs training ground on Hotspur Way, such was the impressiveness of a performance most players don’t experience in an entire career. And all of it coming on the road, in a particularly hostile environment.

Eriksen immortalized by hat-trick heroics

I won’t be surprised to see Eriksen’s profile – and market value – skyrocketed after last night’s fairytale display. He has propelled himself into an unfamiliar, and unachievable, world for most, one defined by improbable feats of perfection. Few players can relate to how Eriksen feels today, among them another Spurs legend, Gareth Bale.

Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Cristiano Ronaldo also deserve the plaudits that come with lifting an entire country to new heights, taking their rightful place as national heroes. But unlike Ronaldo and Ibrahimovic, Eriksen is humble and virtuous, forever placing his team’s wellbeing ahead of his own.

Football ability aside, it’s the reason he’s so beloved on the white side of North London.

In the aftermath of the defeat, Republic of Ireland bench boss paid homage to Tottenham’s star.

“We were beaten by a side that was better than us and has a world-class player in the team, who was absolutely magnificent. Eriksen is top class and he showed it.”

All of this bodes extremely well for Spurs ahead of their most important fixture of the Premier League season. Eriksen is clearly walking on air, his confidence on par with Achilles after becoming the hero of the Trojan War.

I wouldn’t be surprised if the Dane forgoes flying back to London on a commercial airliner, instead spreading his wings, once again taking matters into his own hands, or feet, depending on the situation.

The appendage in question matters not for Eriksen, whose larger-than-life figure will be haunting anyone associated with Arsenal Football Club in the coming days.

(This piece originally feature on Tottenham HQ. Feature image by Mike Hewitt/Getty Images)

What to expect from Tottenham against Dortmund on Tuesday

Opinion, Sports

Both teams are enduring a difficult stint going into Tuesday’s Champions League contest, the major difference being that Tottenham are already guaranteed a spot in the round of 16. 

Both teams struggling

Spurs and Dortmund have lost three of their last five matches in all competitions, with the German side coming off two successive defeats, to Stuttgart and Bayern. The German giants haven’t won in four matches, their season currently tailspinning out of control.

The team’s last win came about a month ago, when they thrashed minnows Magdeburg 5-0 in the German Cup. Anything but a home win and a favourable result in the Madrid vs. APOEL match will see Dortmund bow out of the Champions League at the earliest stage.

Things haven’t been rolling along for Tottenham either, at least on the domestic front. Spurs have lost their last three domestic encounters, two of which – away to Arsenal and Manchester United – in the Premier League. The other loss came at the hands of West Ham in the Carabao Cup.

While Spurs supporters, regardless of the situation, loath losing to Arsenal and Manchester United, neutrals wouldn’t have bat an eyelid had these results occurred a few seasons ago. But Tottenham are now expected to compete, if not beat, the very best, which is exactly what they’ve done in the Champions League.

LONDON, ENGLAND – SEPTEMBER 13: Christian Pulisic of Borussia Dortmund battles for the ball with Mousa Dembele and Serge Aurier of Tottenham Hotspur during the UEFA Champions League group H match between Tottenham Hotspur and Borussia Dortmund at Wembley Stadium on September 13, 2017 in London, United Kingdom. (Photo by Dan Istitene/Getty Images)

Champions League – Tottenham’s best chance for silverware

With a win in Dortmund, Tottenham will secure top spot in Group H going into the round of 16 draw, hopefully affording a slightly easier opponent in the knockout stages. Spurs are unbeaten in four European matches, including a 3-1 win at Wembley on opening night against tomorrow’s opponents.

Other than the FA Cup, the Champions League offers Tottenham’s best chance of winning silverware this season. So expect Mauricio Pochettino to go rabidly for Dortmund’s exposed jugular. He will start his best team so Tottenham can lock up first place with a home match to spare.

Spurs’ confidence, with their recent domestic defeats in mind, won’t be damaged. Tottenham are firing on all cylinders in the Champions League and will be up for another gargantuan task on Tuesday.

The Champions League perfectly suits Tottenham’s current makeup, as they’re comfortable soaking up pressure and countering with precision and deadliness. Don’t be surprised if Tottenham make a deep run in this competition as it’s always the trophy top managers covet most.

And make no mistake, Pochettino has groomed them success in this campaign.

The time for Spurs, who probably won’t be able to rein runaway Premier League leaders Manchester City, on the European stage is now.

Expect Tottenham to put Dortmund out of their misery tomorrow by leaving Germany with at least a share of the spoils, ensuring they can secure top spot in the group with a Wembley win against APOEL on December 6.

And from there who knows what treasures await in Tottenham’s dream of conquering Europe.

(This piece was originally featured on Tottenham HQ. Photo by Dan Istitene/Getty Images)