Tottenham Hotspur Opinion: Two midfield targets to aid Spurs’ title push
Despite doing extremely well to get to the final at the Wanda Metropolitano, Spurs seemed to completely lose the plot when it mattered most. The Liverpool midfielders dominated proceedings right from the opening knockings of what was a tactical game of football.
Although Mauricio Pochettino does have names like Lucas Moura, Heung-Min Son, Harry Kane, Christian Eriksen and Dele Alli to choose from, their internal weaknesses were exposed by Klopp’s explosive playing style and for all their efforts, they ended up having nothing to show for it.
The game was definitely lost in the midfield as Georginio Wijnaldum and Fabinho were absolutely spectacular in the centre of the park. The Anfield duo dominated proceedings right from the start and never really allowed Spurs’ creative players to get going.
The fact that they got completely neutralised by a couple of midfield destroyers is a worrying sign indeed and it only exemplifies the need for back-up midfielders at the new stadium.
According to a recent report by the Guardian, Mauricio Pochettino is said to be waiting on Daniel Levy to deliver his summer transfer targets. It has been suggested that this list of potential signings includes Lyon midfielder Tanguy Ndombele and Roma star Nicolo Zaniolo.
Here are the 2 players that Spurs should sign to challenge for the title:
The French international midfielder is only 22 but shows amazing composure and maturity while out on the field. A strong man by stature, the youngster gets around the pitch with ease and puts himself about in attempts to win the ball back quickly as well.
He is extremely sharp on the ball and has a knack for cutting out passes by reading the play in midfield. Able to move the ball around quickly, Ndombele’s destructive style is one of the missing pieces in the Spurs puzzle.
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The Italian international winger has been one of the Serie A’s shining stars over the course of last season and his performances have seemingly impressed Pochettino quite heavily. Capable of playing anywhere across the midfield line, Zaniolo’s tall figure gives him a physical edge over most players.
He uses his physicality well and guards the ball in order to bring teammates into the game. The youngster is an excellent dribbler and also has a mean through ball in his arsenal. His attacking creativity would be a huge boost to Spurs as well.
[Image] Predicted 4-2-3-1 Man United XI to face FC Astana – can the Red Devils begin Europa League journey with a win?
Manchester United vs FC Astana prediction: Manchester United line-up
Manchester United begin their Europa League campaign with a home encounter against Kazakhstan side FC Astana on Thursday.
While Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side have endured a mixed start to the Premier League season, they still sit fourth on the table with eight points from five games. The Red Devils narrowly defeated Leicester City at the weekend and Solskjaer will look to achieve some momentum now.
With a relatively thin squad this time around, the Norwegian tactician could use the Europa League by giving the academy stars a chance to impress. In fact, it is the perfect time for some of the Manchester United fringe players to make a lasting impact.
Anthony Martial and Paul Pogba are unlikely to feature on Thursday but they’ll be ready for Sunday’s trip to West Ham. Diogo Dalot is a doubt but Solskjaer could have Jesse Lingard back for the FC Astana test.
Probable Manchester United XI
Manager: Ole Gunnar Solskjaer
Sergio Romero (GK)
Romero has often featured in this competition in the past and the experienced Argentinean could start between the sticks on Thursday.
Ashley Young (RB)
With Wan-Bissaka expected to be rested and Dalot still out, Young is likely to be deployed at right-back.
Axel Tuanzebe (CB)
Tuanzebe made his first appearance of the season coming off the bench against Leicester on Saturday. He should get his first start of the season against Astana.
Phil Jones (CB)
Partnering Tuanzebe at the heart of United’s defence could be Jones, whose experience will come handy in such a tricky game.
Marcos Rojo (LB)
With Shaw out injured, Solskjaer could hand Rojo his first start of the campaign at left-back.
Nemanja Matic (CM)
Matic may not have played much this season but he is likely to start this game and help United get a solid start in the Europa League.
Fred looked lively in his first appearance of the season against Leicester, impressing after coming off the bench. This could be the perfect opportunity for Fred to get some minutes under his belt and impress the manager.
Jesse Lingard (RW)
Lingard hasn’t been able to make much of an impact for the Red Devils this season. So, he’ll look to seize the chance on Thursday against FC Astana.
Tahith Chong (LW)
Chong was very impressive in his cameo against Leicester, adding plenty of pace, energy and dynamism to the attack. He is in line to start his first game for Manchester United.
Angel Gomes (CAM)
Gomes is a special talent, who could provide some much-needed creativity and spark to United’s attack. He has been knocking on the door for some time now and is likely to start in the no.10 role.
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Mason Greenwood (ST)
Needless to say, Greenwood needs a run of games in the number 9 role. No starts have come his way yet, but the first could come on Thursday.
3 centre-backs who Arsenal should target in January including this 6ft 5in Bundesliga beast
3 centre-backs who Arsenal should target in January
After a summer of heavy spending, Arsenal have made a promising start to the 2019-20 season and manager Unai Emery has every reason to be pleased with how things have panned out for him so far in the ongoing campaign.
Arsenal currently find themselves 7th in the standings with two wins and two draws in their first five games and while that means that the Gunners are currently not in the top-four, they still have plenty of time left in the season to make a surge for a Champions League place.
With that in mind, however, it is worth mentioning here that the draw of fixtures hasn’t been particularly kind to the Gunners, given that they have already had to face the likes of Liverpool as well as bitter rivals Spurs early in the season.
The performances of the players at the back, though, haven’t been up to the mark, especially in the games against Liverpool and Spurs, and Arsenal’s backline has already creaked far too often for Emery’s liking.
Vulnerability at the back was one of the main talking points of Arsenal’s campaign in the Premier League last season and though they brought in David Luiz to plug the holes at the back, the Gunners might be forced to dip into the market in January once again given the Brazilian’s torrid start to his time in North London.
The loss of experienced heads like Nacho Monreal and Laurent Koscienly has further depleted Arsenal’s depth at the back and the lack of a solid centre-back pairing might once again prove to be a major stumbling block in the Gunners’ pursuit of a top-four finish this term.
With that in mind, let us take a look at 3 centre-backs who they can look to sign during the mid-season trading period:
1. Dayot Upamecano (RB Leipzig)
The French U-21 international was heavily linked with a move to the Emirates throughout the summer but Arsenal struggled to get a deal over the line, with the 20-year-old’s current club RB Leipzig turning down a £55million offer for the young centre-back.
Upamecano has carved out a reputation for himself as one of the burgeoning young talents in the German Bundesliga since his move from Salzburg in January 2017.
A tall, strong and physically imposing centre-back who is also very adept at playing it out from the back, the 20-year-old also has a good turn of pace to complement his old-fashioned way of defending.
In other words, he is someone who encapsulates the features of an old-school centre-back and a modern-day ball-playing defender with a touch of dynamism in his style of play. He is unlikely to come cheap but Arsenal would bag a real coup if they manage to land him in January.
2. Jonathan Tah (Bayer Leverkusen)
Certainly a more established central defender in Germany when compared to Upamecano, Bayer Leverkusen’s Jonathan Tah was linked with a move to Arsenal prior to the January transfer window in 2019.
A youth product of Hamburger SV, he became the youngest ever debutant for his boyhood club before earning a move to Bayer Leverkusen in 2015.
The 23-year-old centre-back, who stands at 6ft 5in with a towering frame, has earned rave reviews in his homeland for his sharpness, agility, strength, as well as incredible passing and distribution ability.
Tah, who has 6 caps for Germany at the senior international level, seems to have all the attributes to fit seamlessly into Unai emery’s plans.
Furthermore, he is still young and has plenty of years ahead of him to work on his game and develop into a physically imposing defender in the Premier League.
3. Nathan Ake (Bournemouth)
A face lot more familiar to the Premier League followers, Nathan Ake struggled to make the grade at Chelsea but he has really come of age since his move to Bournemouth a couple of years ago.
The Dutchman has evolved into a powerful centre-back with impressive technical abilities on the south coast of England under the watchful eyes of Eddie Howe and at 24, the time might just be right for him to test his credentials at a top-six club in the division.
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Already a full-fledged international for the Netherlands, Ake is expected to hit his prime as a centre-back in the next two or three years and his homegrown status should make him a lucrative prospect for Arsenal.
3 Top-class right-backs Tottenham should look to target in January including this Barcelona speed demon
3 right-backs Spurs should look to target in January
Spurs have been anything but spectacular in the opening rounds of the Premier League and Mauricio Pochettino will know that he has got his work cut out if the Lilywhites are to mount a serious challenge for the league title this term.
The North London giants went into the international break with only a solitary win in their first four fixtures and while a 2-2 draw against Arsenal in the derby looked like a fair result, the fans certainly won’t be pleased with the team’s slip-up at home against Newcastle United.
Indeed, Spurs can ill-afford to drop such crucial points against mediocre sides on their home turf and the early signs are somewhat alarming for their title surge.
They came out of their miserly habits to grab the headlines with a club-record deal for Tanguy Ndombele this summer but if the first four games in the Premier League are anything to go by, Pochettino still has plenty of holes to plug in his squad in a bid to challenge Liverpool and Man City for the title.
Pochettino made a brave call in the summer when he opted against bringing in a replacement at right-back following the departure of Kieran Trippier to Atletico Madrid. That decision, though, has come back to haunt the manager very early in the season.
Indeed, academy star Kyle Walker-Peters showed a lot of promise in the first three fixtures but Spurs found themselves in a big hole when the youngster was forced off with an injury against Newcastle, with Serge Aurier frozen out of the squad for reasons we can only speculate on.
And Davinson Sanchez’s miserable display against Arsenal in a makeshift role on the right further exposed the lack of depth in that area of the pitch. With that in mind, let us take a look at 3 realistic right-back options that the Lilywhites can consider in January.
1. Hiroki Sakai
The vastly experienced Japanese international was repeatedly linked with a move to North London in the summer transfer window (h/t Sky Sports) and Spurs should consider dipping in the market for the 29-year-old in a bid to add more stability to their right-back options.
Sakai made over 100 appearances for Hannover 96 in the German Bundesliga before moving to Marseille, where he has played as one of the mainstays of the backline for the past three campaigns.
A strong, energetic and tenacious attack-minded right-back with well-rounded attributes, Sakai might not fall in the bracket of a promising young talent but he does have the experience at the highest level to solve a key issue for Pochettino in a crucial area of the pitch.
2. Youcef Atal
Perhaps a more realistic option for Spurs due to his age, the 23-year-old has emerged as one of the most exciting full-backs in Ligue 1 with his impressive displays at OGC Nice.
The Algerian international was linked with a move to Spurs in January last season and they might as well look to revisit their interest in the jet-heeled defender once again in this winter following his stellar run of form under Patrick Vieira.
Atal still has plenty of room for development and Pochettino will fancy his chances of transforming him into a better defender in the future.
3. Nelson Semedo
Both Man United and Spurs were linked with a move for the out-of-favour Barcelona defender this summer, with the Sun suggesting that he was likely to be available for around £30million after struggling to nail down a regular starting role under Ernesto Valverde at Camp Nou.
The Portuguese international was tipped for stardom in the La Liga following an impressive start to his career at Benfica but things haven’t quite gone according to plan for the 25-year-old.
He still has plenty of time on his side though, and Spurs should look to offer him an escape route to resurrect his career.
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