Wingman’s Match Day 28 Premier League predictions

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It was one of those days for Manchester United, who were unable to score in their second straight away match on Sunday.

United lost to Newcastle 1-0, who won their first home match in about four months. The Toon army were full value for the win, although United missed three or four golden scoring opportunities.

Jose Mourinho after the game said it was one of those games where his side could have played for 10 hours without scoring. He’ll get no argument from the Wingman about that obvious assessment.

Mourinho, Aka the Boring One, can’t seem to get his personnel decisions, or tactics, right. Paul Pogba needs to be let off his leash, with either Nemanja Matić or Ander Herrera sliding in as the side’s the sole defensive midfielder.

Until Mourinho contradicts his very nature,  United won’t ascend to the heights many people expect, even with an excess of star power and overpaid talent.

Who will win on Match Day 28

The Wingman was a missed Charlie Adam penalty away from predicting another correct parlay last week. Regardless, he has still correctly predicted seven of his last nine picks and is looking to improve his winning percentage on Match Day 28.

Coming off the big victory at home, Newcastle travel to Bournemouth in an important match on the south coast. The Wingman likes Newcastle for the win, even with the Toon Army sitting at massive +275 underdogs. After a great run of form, Bournemouth got thrashed by Huddersfield on the weekend and will experience a slight dip in form, which includes impending defeat to Rafa Benítez’s side.

For his second pick, the Wingman focusses his attention on the match between Burnley and Southampton.

Both sides are struggling dearly, completely devoid of confidence. This match has draw written all over it, as both teams cannot afford to lose, particularly as the plot thickens at the foot of the Premier League table.

Wingman’s Match Day 27 Premier League predictions

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The Wingman has predicted correctly six of his recent seven Premier League picks and he looks to continue the momentum into Match Day 27, where he chooses a tasty two-game parlay.

But first, if you haven’t seen the Liverpool vs. Tottenham match, do yourself a favour and watch the highlights.

It was one of the wildest finishes to a Premier League game you’ll ever have the joy of witnessing. You won’t get much joy watching the highlights if you’re a Spurs or Reds supporter, though, as it was as unnerving as it was suspenseful.

The Wingman discusses some perplexing moments from the grand finale, including the contentious first penalty decision.

Harry Kane, while in an offside position, was played onside when Reds’ centre back Dejan Lovren touched the ball on his attempted clearance.

Wingman picks Tottenham and Stoke

The first comes from Wembley, where Tottenham host Arsenal in another highly anticipated North London Derby. Pick the home side to win this match, particularly due to Arsenal’s woeful away form this season. Contrastingly, Spurs are firing on all cylinders after bossing Manchester United and Liverpool off the pitch.

In the second game, the Wingman backs Stoke to take all three points in their home match against Brighton.

Paul Lambert recently took the helm at Stoke, and has somewhat steadied the ship. He has a lot of work to do for Stoke to climb out of the perilous situation they currently find themselves in.

 

 

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)

Dominant Dane sparkles as Tottenham topple United

Sports

It took Christian Eriksen less than 11 seconds to make an unforgettable statement on his return to the lineup, showing how much Spurs have missed his presence of late. 

Eriksen is the lone Tottenham starter blessed with an artist’s creativity and an entrepreneur’s vision.

Though his opening goal, the third fastest in Premier League history, had more to do with anticipation, canniness and, as his gaffer put it, a teachable sense of belief. Talking about belief, his goal – which he finished with the killer’s instinct – injected Tottenham with exactly that.

Eriksen’s goal, taken in context with his overall performance, was a mere drop in the ocean. The masterful maestro made six key passes according to Who Scored, but it felt like he was ripping apart Manchester United’s defence like a butcher’s blade through bone every time he had possession.

Eriksen played a first-time ball to Harry Kane in the first half, delivered a stunning free kick that Eric Dier headed over and threaded the needle in the second half, putting Son Heung-Min through on what should have been Spurs’ third.

Eriksen, back to his inspirational best

It reminded me of his performance against Ireland in the World Cup playoff qualifier, when he scored a hat trick while concurrently breaking a nation’s collective heart. Sure, he didn’t score against United, but his performance had the same creative spark, youthful energy and decisive dominance.

But last night’s showcase came against one of the world’s best clubs, not a mediocre nation whose hopes of making the World Cup were more aspirational than realistic.

United, even after being exploited by Spurs, still lay claim to the stingiest defence in the Premier League, having kept a clean sheet in four straight encounters before last evening’s match. Only their Manchester counterparts have conceded as few goals.

The dazzling Dane, after two weeks off through illness, looked fresh and full of life. Maybe it was burnout that weakened his immune system and led to him contracting the flu. Regardless of what caused the sickness, it looks like a case – based on his supernatural display against the Red Devils – of short-term pain for long-term gain.

If Eriksen continues in this rich vein of form, Spurs will be guaranteed a top four spot to go along with a deep run in the Champions League.

(This piece originally featured on Tottenham HQ. Photo by Julian Finney/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)

Same old problem haunts Tottenham, hampers Kane, in Southampton draw

Sports

A number of issues contributed to Spurs’ draw with Southampton, none of which having as much impact as the lack of offensive support for Harry Kane.

Christian Eriksen’s absence certainly hampered Tottenham’s usually fluid attack, and so too did the wet and boggy conditions on the south coast. But those factors alone shouldn’t be enough to derail a side of Tottenham’s credence and quality.

Whether we like to admit it or not, our beloved Lilywhites would be in a dire state without Kane’s prolific offensive output. The elephant in the room reared its ugly head on Sunday, and not for the first time.

Kane, who scored Tottenham’s sole tally against Southampton, has 45 percent of his team’s Premier League goals this season.

No other club in England relies on an individual as much as Tottenham count on Kane: Wayne Rooney, with 10 goals, has scored 38 percent of Everton’s goals while Mohamed Salah has a 33 percent share of Liverpool’s markers.

Nobody else comes close to scoring at Kane’s alarmingly disproportionate rate.

And as impressive as that is, it’s also gravely disconcerting.

While a winger like Bordeaux’s Malcolm would help, he’s not the solution to all that ails Spurs. Mauricio Pochettino needs a shifty, speedy, creative forward to support, supplement and partner Kane. I’m not disillusioned enough to think the gaffer will transform entirely his tactics to accommodate a new signing, all of a sudden altering his philosophy by deploying two men up front.

Another top striker is needed

But there is scope, particularly in matches like the one at St. Mary’s, that would lend itself to playing two up front. Debilitated by Eriksen’s illness, Pochettino opted to start with Mousa Sissoko, Mousa Dembele and Eric Dier as the trifecta patrolling the midfield, playing directly into Southampton’s rough-and-tumble persona.

The partnership of Dier and Dembele have more than enough to cope with Southampton’s physical prowess. Starting Sissoko, who didn’t necessarily perform poorly, was overkill, his position made redundant on a day tailor-fitted for a bit of craft from a skilled second striker. Seeing Pochettino bring Erik Lamela for an added attacking threat instead of Fernando Llorente says it all.

Pundits reckon no striker wants to play second fiddle to Kane, a logical and reasonable excuse for Tottenham’s inability to lure another top frontman to North London. Surely, though, any proficient forward can see the merit in suiting up beside Kane, whether to play alongside or in support of the club’s sniper.

But the rightful suitor cannot share similar attributes or physicality traits with our top marksman. He must be the polar opposite in playing style and character, while still having the desired complementary effect.

Not taking anything away from Fernando Llorente, but a move for an élite secondary striker is well overdue, and until Spurs solve this unrelenting bugbear, they’ll find winning the Premier League just beyond their outstretched reach.

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

Son Heung-Min is most underrated player, not most improved

Sports

Garth Crooks says that Son Heung-Min is the Premier League’s most improved player, but the former Tottenham man has completely missed the mark with evaluation of the South Korean.

Your performances must get substantially better over the course of a moderate time period to be considered the most improved player. That is certainly not the case for Son, who has played at the same élite level since the start of the 2016-17 season.

Son definitely has a strong claim as the league’s most underrated player, though.

Crooks, who played for Spurs between 1980-1985, said in an interview with the Evening Standard, “I have said before that I think Son is one of the most improved players in the Premier League and against Everton he proved it once again.”

I’m not sure what version of Son he’s been watching over the last two seasons, but the 25-year-old South Korean is one of Spurs most consistent players, and has been for almost two seasons.

Sure, he took a while to adapt and acclimate to the Premier League, scoring four goals in 28 appearances during his début season with Tottenham.

Since, though, Son is producing at a consistently high rate, and is usually on Mauricio Pochettino’s team sheet, appearing in 22 of 23 league games this season.

Son’s consistent contributions

In 2016-17, Son scored 14 goals and added six assists in 34 appearances. And it’s not just the number of goals he scores, but the importance of them. He’s a clutch performer who elicits the best from his teammates.

The affable Korean is his nation’s top scorer in the Premier League; he is one of the primary reasons Spurs were in the title race for most of the 2016-17 season and bagged his momentous 20th goal in a Tottenham shirt earlier this season.

After a trivial blip at the start of this season, Son has picked up where he left off in May. He didn’t score in the first seven matches of the 2017-18 campaign, but has bagged eight goals while adding four assists in the 15 games since. Oh, and Son has scored in five consecutive home Premier League matches, matching Jermain Defoe as the only other Tottenham player to achieve that feat.

To further emphasize my point, Son has won the Premier League Player of the Month award twice in less than two seasons – in September 2016 and April 2017.

Surely those numbers reflect his unerring consistency, contradicting totally Crooks’ most-improved-player assertion. If anything, his viewpoint confirms just how underrated and undervalued Son is across the league.

But the gaffer, teammates and supporters understand acutely his importance to the side, and it’s time the rest of the Premier League sees the light when it comes to our favourite Son.

(This piece originally featured on Tottenham HQ. Photo by Jordan Mansfield/Getty Images)

Son Heung-Min’s standout performance spearheads Spurs win

Sports

Son Heung-Min, claiming man of the match ahead of Harry Kane, put in a flawless performance in Tottenham’s 4-0 win over Everton. 

Son should bursting with pride this evening; he was that good against the Toffees. I’ve seen a lot of fantastic Son performances since the South Korean joined Spurs in 2015, few of which better than his near perfect display this evening.

His flicked header in the 15th minute flew inches over the bar, the South Korean making clear his intent from the start. Son was the benefactor of a whipped in Serge Aurier cross eleven minutes later, easily dispatching for Tottenham’s opener. While tapping in was a simple task, it was the movement beforehand that offered Aurier a clear target.

Son has scored in five consecutive home Premier League matches, matching Jermain Defoe as the only other Tottenham player to achieve the feat. If his first half was a display worth writing home about, Son’s second half performance was of an otherworldly variety.

Son shines brighter in second half

Spinning on a dime in the 47th minute to embarrass Jonjoe Kenny, Son intelligently zipped the ball into Kane’s path, providing Spurs the springboard from which to launch. People can debate whether Son meant to pass or shoot until the cows come home, but his intention matters little as the move came off to double the home side’s advantage.

Later in the second half Son smashed a left-footed effort flush off the post from just beyond the box, taking Jordan Pickford entirely out of the play. Son was unlucky not to have scored a brace.

And he wasn’t quite finished, the 25-year-old also playing a part in Spurs’ fourth. Son drove at Everton’s fragile and vulnerable defence, laying off to Dele Alli, whose astonishing back heel set Christian Eriksen up on a platter.

Like an overloaded locomotive, it took a while for Son to find top gear this season. He didn’t score in the first seven matches of the 2017-18 campaign, but has scored eight goals while adding four assists in the 15 games since.

In the lead up to this match, I pointed out the importance of players like Son, Alli and Eriksen lessening Kane’s goal-scoring burden. Secondary scoring could be the difference between Spurs clinching a top four spot and finishing on the outside looking in.

From what I saw today from Son and company, if things continue on this trajectory, Spurs won’t have any trouble pipping either Liverpool, Chelsea or Manchester United for an all-coveted Champions League berth.

(Piece originally featured on Tottenham HQ. Photo by Jordan Mansfield/Getty Images)

Wingman match day 23 Premier League predictions: Premier League recap

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After a brief holiday hiatus, the Wingman is back with his December Premier League recap along with a prediction for this week’s top flight matches.

December in retrsopect

He hits on many of the main talking points from December while also focussing on the best pick of the week for match day 23. Mark Hughes joined the litany of other managers – Paul Clement, Ronald Koeman, Slaven Bilic, Frank De Boer – who have been given the cold shoulder by their clubs this season.

In other news, Manchester City actually dropped points, to Crystal Palace of all teams. While there is little doubt as to where the Premier League title will end up at season’s end, it’s nice to see the indomitable Manchester side aren’t completely unflappable.

Oh, and Jose Mourinho, like a severely wounded cat, is still whining, this time saying Manchester United need to spend more money to win their first Premier League title since 2013.  Mourinho has splurged £300 million since arriving at Old Trafford, underpinning how unwarranted his outrageous claim is.

He’ll get absolutely no sympathy from me.

We’ve become more accustomed to watching Harry Kane’s celebration than watching Donald Trump make up words, and that’s saying something. Kane is the hottest property in world football, touted to be worth about £300 million on the transfer market.

Only a few teams –  Real Madrid, Barcelona, Manchester City, PSG – have the financial clout to afford that kind of astronomical sum.

Premier League prediction of the week

Swansea travel to Newcastle with the Welsh outfit hoping to get back to winning ways. The odds are stacked against them, though, with Newcastle pegged as sizeable favourites in the build up to the match. Take a look at what the Wingman thinks and place your bets accordingly.

 

This weekly YouTube segment is based on tangential marketing, an all-inclusive marketing strategy.

The animated character, dubbed the Wingman, stars in this series, Premier League Pick of the Week, and another related legacy series, entitled NHL Back to the Futures.

Tottenham vs. Everton: tale of the Premier League tape

Sports

Tottenham look to make it 11 Premier League matches on the bounce without losing to Everton, a streak that goes back more than five years. 

Coming off a disappointing home draw with West Ham, Spurs are once again in need of a bounce-back performance as they close in on Liverpool for the last available Champions League spot.

Current Tottenham ongoings

Spurs go into the match with the sixth best home record in the top flight, with only a single loss on their 2017-18 Wembley CV. You’d have to scroll back over four months to source Tottenham’s last home defeat, a 1-2 loss to Chelsea on Aug. 20. And, if you’re blessed with an elephant’s memory, you’ll recall Spurs dominating that particular fixture, too.

However, Tottenham’s almost unblemished home record is flawed by four draws, all of which against teams far the Lilywhites’ inferior. Just when you think Tottenham have reclaimed consistency expected of top teams, a result like the draw against Hammers brings Mauricio Pochettino’s men back down to Earth. Then again, the West Ham result would have been worse had it not been for Son Heung-Min’s heroics.

Suffering a single loss in eight matches, there are ostensible signs of Tottenham reaching their peak level. Son and Dele Alli are scoring again, crucial elements to a concerted Spurs resurgence.

Harry Kane, who is a goal shy of tying the Teddy Sheringham’s 97 for a share of the club record, is scoring at an otherworldly rate. His goals are assured, but Spurs’ continued success depends on the prodigiousness of the supporting cast.

According to PremierLeague.com, Son will become the second Tottenham player to score in five consecutive top flight matches with a goal against Everton; only Jermain Defoe can boast of that Spurs’ goal-scoring achievement.

Current Everton Premier League ongoings

Big Sam stormed in and righted an off-course, wayward Everton vessel destined to be shipwrecked. Initially, that is. Everton are winless in five matches since their unbeaten run under Sam Allardyce’s tenure. Reality is often a menacing thing to cope with, as Big Sam can attest.

But in classic Big Sam fashion, Everton’s once porous defence has seen a drastic improvement, both in the number of conceded goals and their shape on the pitch. More organized and disciplined, the Toffees defence is more compact and extremely difficult to penetrate.

But with the good comes the bad, and Everton’s offence is garishly bad. Kept off the score sheet in three of four matches, Everton mustered a single goal during that anemic stretch, scored by Idrissa Gueye in a 2-1 loss to Bournemouth.

Accentuating those scoring dilemmas is Everton’s abysmal away Premier League record. One win in their last 19 away outings underpins how miserable the Toffees perform away from Goodison. Everton, with a single victory on their travels this season, make identifying their away misgivings easier than pointing out Allardyce’s fixation on defence-first football.

While you’re not supposed to knock a man when he’s down, this is the top flight, an unforgiving league where merciful behaviour is a sign of weakness.

Spurs are a lot of things, but being weak is most certainly not among them. Look for Tottenham to add to Big Sam’s away misery on Saturday afternoon.

(This piece originally featured on Tottenham HQ. Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images)