Tottenham Hotspur

Harry Kane’s Slow Start is no Surprise

He burst onto the scene in October last year and took the Premier League by storm after waiting six years to become an overnight success, but this season Harry Kane is off to a stuttering start, this should be no surprise, however.

Kane scored 21 goals in 34 matches last season, finishing the season as the top English goalscorer as Tottenham ended the campaign in 5th.

Spurs’ star striker was rewarded for his fine form in March with his first senior England call-up and repaid the faith Roy Hodgson showed in him by scoring on his Three Lions debut in the 4-0 win over Lithuania within 80 seconds of replacing captain Wayne Rooney.

Goals dried up for Kane after April, with his hat-trick in the 4-3 win over Leicester on March 21 ironically seeming to be the start of a downfall before his strike at Everton on the last day of the season.

As soon as Tottenham’s season ended, they jetted off to Malaysia to play a local League XI, who Mauricio Pochettino’s men beat 2-1 with Kane scoring both for the English side before they were clocking up the air miles once more, this time flying to Australia to beat Sydney FC 1-0 where Kane again.

Kane scores in Malaysia as he impresses in pre-season

Kane scores in Malaysia as he impresses in pre-season

The U21 European Championship followed three weeks later which Kane, a first-teamer for England, refreshingly put himself forward for where others have felt the under-21s have been beneath them.

England and Kane were lackluster, however, only two goals were scored in the three games played with Kane failing to find the back of the net.

Tottenham’s pre-season friendlies for 2015-16 started on July 29 with a 2-1 defeat to MLS All-Stars (Kane scored Tottenham’s goal), but more travelling for the north Londoners, this time to Munich for the Audi Cup, took its toll on the 22-year-old.

Real Madrid beat last year’s League Cup runners up 2-0, but they responded with a 2-0 win of their own against AC Milan, with Kane failing to score in both games.

Pochettino has already admitted the long pre-season has left his star “tired”, and his failure to sign a striker over the summer has led to him rushing Kane back.

Two bids for West Brom’s Saido Berahino have already been rejected and if Tottenham do not secure his, or someone else’s signature soon, they could be forced to keep burn out a talent whose career is only just starting.

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Five Premier League Managers That Need to Hit the Ground Running in August

The 2015-16 Premier League season is slowly dawning upon us and, soon enough, so will the dreaded “sack race”. Here are five managers that will need a good start this season to prevent themselves being dragged into the mire.

1) Steve McClaren – Newcastle United

Newcastle’s murky issues off-the-pitch seem to finally look like they are coming to an end. Alan Pardew resigning as manager to take over at Crystal Palace in December 2014 was the beginning of the end of the “Cockney Mafia” and now owner Mike Ashley is set to step down to much fanfare from the Newcastle faithful.

New manager McClaren hopefully signifies a new dawn at St.James’ Park, however he arrives in Tyneside having twice failed to gain promotion from the Championship with Derby County following a brief stint as a coach at QPR, a failed return to FC Twente where he previously won the Eredivisie, a four month spell at Nottingham Forest and a dismal period at Wolfsburg where he was sacked after less than a year.

McClaren has defiantly announced his intentions to be the first man to bring a major honour to Newcastle since Stan Steymour who won the FA Cup in 1955 while in charge, which could suggest the Magpies’ league position could be sacrificed in order to pick up some shiny silverware.

A home match against Southampton offers McClaren a decent prospect of a promising start as Newcastle boss where he will be backed by a 50,000-plus capacity crowd, but defeat will only remind his new fans that he was once a man leading arch-rivals Middlesbrough to a 2004 League Cup win and a 2006 UEFA Cup final.

Man About Toon: McClaren is the new Newcastle boss.

Man About Toon: McClaren is the new Newcastle boss.

2) Brendan Rodgers – Liverpool

What a year for Rodgers – and not in a good way. He finished May 2014 by signing a four-year extension to his Liverpool contract after winning the LMA Manager of the Year award a few weeks earlier having guided the Reds to 2nd place in the Premier League scoring 101 goals in the process – the club’s most since the 1895-96 season and the third highest in Premier League history. He finished May 2015 with Liverpool in sixth and his job under scrutiny.

Raheem Sterling’s likely departure gives him another headache, as for already the second time in his tenure, he has to find a replacement for his top goalscorer – although Daniel Sturridge missed most of last season through injury.

That ultimately made his job a lot more difficult, as did £15 million man Mario “the postman does not celebrate when he posts a letter” Balotelli failing to deliver.

The Northern Irishman has wasted no time in recruiting for next season, already bringing in six new faces at the time of writing.

Charlton’s Joe Gomez (£3.5 million), Roberto Firmino of Hoffenheim (£21.3 million), Manchester City’s James Milner (free), Burnley striker Danny Ings (tribunal), Bolton’s Adam Bogdan (free) and Southampton right-back Nathaniel Clyne (£10 million) are the early Anfield arrivals to bolster what was a small side that struggled to cope with both Champions League and Premier League matches last season.

It is not a problem they will have this time around, which could work in their favour like it did two seasons ago, but with Arsenal, Manchester United, Everton, Tottenham, Chelsea and Manchester City being seven of Liverpool’s first eight away games and Jurgen Klopp still as yet being unemployed, Rodgers could well be soon nervously looking over his shoulder.

3) Arsene Wenger – Arsenal

Two successive FA Cup triumphs has certainly relieved some pressure on Arsene Wenger – it has silenced a few doubters, anyway – but this needs to be the season the Gunners finally start firing on all fronts.

The blow-your-socks-off signing of Alexis Sanchez for £35 million around this time last summer was the second sign of intent after the £42.5 million capture of Mesut Ozil the previous season from a manager who had attracted a reputation of being a bit stingy in the transfer market.

Sanchez swiftly showed with his performances why his manager paid the big bucks and the Chilean would later be named Arsenal Player of the Year.

Other signings Danny Welbeck, Calum Chambers, Mathieu Debuchy, David Ospina, and January buy Gabriel Paulista did not quite have the same impact though – with unexpected progress coming from academy players Hector Bellerin and Francis “Le Coq” Coquelin.

Whether Coquelin really is the rock-solid holding role midfielder Arsenal have been craving for years remains to be truly seen, but for now it has filled a reasonably large gap in the “how far are Arsenal away from being Premier League champions?” puzzle.

One piece of the jigsaw has definitely been found, however with the acquisition of goalkeeper Petr Cech from London and title foes Chelsea for £10.9 million.

While the Czech Republic international was no longer the main man between the sticks for the Blues, he is still clearly a top stopper and a definite upgrade on both Wojciech Szczesny and Ospina with Jose Mourinho openly reluctant to sell Cech to a Premier League rival.

Unlike McClaren and Rodgers, Wenger is not wary of an early sacking, but only picking up six points from their opening 12 last season opened the door for Chelsea to romp to the title. A better start this August, and we may just see a first Arsenal triumph since that “Invincibles” team of 2004.

4) Mauricio Pochettino – Tottenham Hotspur

Despite failing to reach the much-coveted Champions League places, Pochettino’s first year as Tottenham boss was a success, finishing fifth and guiding the north Londoners to a League Cup final, but some fans are still not totally sold on him due to a lack of plan B.

The Argentine has wasted no time in planning for next season though, bolstering what was an, at best, dodgy defense with the proven Premier League buys of Kieran Trippier and Toby Alderweireld (both undisclosed fee) who enjoyed successful seasons with Burnley and Southampton respectively in addition to FC Koln’s Kevin Wimmer (also undisclosed fee).

Spurs may attract some neutral admirers this season too with the English core that has the potential to develop in the coming years. Harry Kane had a phenomenal rise last season, going from third choice at Tottenham to most prolific English marksman in the Premier League in the space of seven months.

Ryan Mason, who has spent the majority of his seven-year Tottenham career out on loan to clubs such as Yeovil, Doncaster, Millwall and France’s Lorient ended the 2014-15 season as a once capped England international just a year after spending time on-loan at League One Swindon Town.

Eric Dier also found himself in the spotlight and the new additions of the aforementioned Trippier and Dele Alli (£5 million from MK Dons) join a rejuvenated Danny Rose, Three Lions regular Andros Townsend and Alex Pritchard who returns to White Hart Lane after two successful loan spells at Brentford and Swindon while, although Algerian, academy graduate Nabil Bentaleb will generate admirers from those who love a home-grown player.

This is similar to when he was at Southampton with Luke Shaw, Adam Lallana and Rickie Lambert all getting England recognition as well as Calum Chambers, James Ward-Prowse, Nathaniel Clyne and Jay Rodriguez all earning plaudits while Pochettino was in charge at St.Mary’s.

Pochettino will get a good opportunity to get some early points on the board once the difficult task of Manchester United away is chalked off with Stoke at home, Leicester away, Everton at home, Sunderland away and Crystal Palace at home following that as they look to go one step further and finally reach the promised land of the top four.

Maur of the same please, Poch: Promoting academy members and reaching cup finals makes Pochettino a popular man.

Maur of the same please, Poch: Pochettino with rising star Harry Kane.

5) Manuel Pellegrini – Manchester City

It is fair to say that Manuel Pellegrini starting the 2015-16 season at the helm of the Citizens a little surprising.

His pedigree of taking Villarreal to the semi-final of the 2005-06 Champions League and fellow Spanish side Malaga to the same stage five seasons later got him the Manchester City job with the target of making them in a force in Europe, which he has so far failed to do so.

Winning the league title in 2014 did Pellegrini’s reputation no harm, but a trophy-less season where City did not really challenge for the title, only made the last 16 of the Champions League and round four of both the FA and League Cup was underwhelming to say the least.

A huge rebuilding is expected at the Etihad this summer with young talents Sterling, Kevin de Bruyne, Jack Wilshere and Fabian Delph all linked with a move to the blue side of Manchester in order to give them a new lease of life and restore them as champions of England, and finally get them to worry Europe’s elite.

Failure to do so, however, may just result in the Engineer Pellegrini needing a servicing.

Hull City 1-2 Tottenham Hotspur (Livermore ‘8, Kane ’61, Eriksen ’90)

A controversial red card shown to Gaston Ramirez cost Hull dearly as Tottenham came from behind to rise to 10th.

Ramirez received for his marching orders for kicking out at Spurs defender Jan Vertonghen in an off the ball incident but there did not seem to be much malice in the coming together at all.

Ex-Tottenham midfielder Jake Livermore rifled the Tigers in front after just eight minutes but Harry Kane equalized soon after the hour.

Christian Eriksen settled the occasion with an angled shot past Allan McGregor in the 90th minute to leave Hull fans cursing referee Craig Pawson.

Livermore’s strike against his former employers was an impressive one, lashing into the bottom corner from distance after Ahmed Elmohamady’s cross was headed away by a Tottenham defender but only into the path of Livermore who punished the error.

Hull could and should have doubled their lead soon after with a flurry of chances, first Robbie Brady was denied by Hugo Lloris who got down quickly to deny the Republic of Ireland International and then Hatem Ben Arfa blazed over from near in as a result of Lloris poorly pushing a Brady effort straight at the feet of the 27-year-old.

The red card inevitably put Hull under the cosh though and Tottenham eventually clawed one back when Kane tapped home Eriksen’s free-kick that came back off the post.

Roberto Soldado’s worries in front of goal continued too with his best chance coming when he glanced a shot wide 25 minutes before the end and he was substituted by Paulinho 15 minutes later as his wait for his first Premier League goal since March continues.

Hull City: McGregor, Davies, Dawson, Robertson, Elmohamady, Huddlestone (Rosenior ’64), Brady (Quinn ’87), Livermore, Ramirez, Ben Arfa (Meyler ’57), Jelavic

Subs not used: Harper, Chester, Sagbo, Hernandez

Bookings: Livermore ’62, Huddlestone ’63

Red Cards: Ramirez ’50

Tottenham Hotspur: Lloris, Dier (Chiriches ’45), Fazio, Vertonghen, Davies; Dembele (Lennon ’59), Mason, Eriksen, Lamela, Kane, Soldado (Paulinho ’78)

Subs not used: Vorm, Ball, Ceballos, Stambouli

Bookings: Dier ’33

Red Cards: None

Man of the Match: Christian Eriksen

Tottenham 5-1 Asteras Tripolis (Kane ’13, ’75, ’81, Lamela ’29, ’66, Barrales ’89)

Tottenham finally earned their first win of their Europa League campaign this season, a five star performance thanks to a Harry Kane hat-trick and a delightful double from Erik Lamela.

Argentinian Lamela curled in a stunning Rabona effort from the edge of the box after 28 minutes for his first goal of the contest as he tries to justify his £30 million price tag.

His second, a volley from a tight angle, squirmed under Goalkeeper Tomas Kosicky at his near post to extend Spurs’ lead to three.

It was a home-grown product that gave the hosts the lead though as Kane scored his second goal in his third Europa League game this term with 13 minutes played.

The England under 21 striker struck home the opener from distance with his right foot into the bottom corner, leaving Kosicky grasping thin air as the underdogs went behind early on.

Kane tapped home his and Tottenham’s fourth with 14 minutes left on the clock, turning home a rebounded Moussa Dembele effort that gave Kosicky trouble, swerving away from the once capped Slovakia keeper and into the path of Kane who couldn’t miss.

He had his third six minutes after, provided by Federico Fazio’s cross, was headed home for 5-0. A triple against Tripolis capping off a successful night for Kane and his side.

An eventful night for Kane ended with him having to go in goal with Hugo Lloris being sent off for fouling an Asteris attacker. Substitute Jeronimo Barrales took the resulting free-kick which squirmed under the makeshift Goalkeeper.

Tottenham: Lloris, Dier, Fazio, Vertonghen, Davies, Capoue, Dembele, Kane, Lamela (Eriksen ’76), Townsend (Lennon ’83), Adebayor (Chadli ’76)

Subs not used: Vorm, Chiriches, Stambouli, Soldado

Asteras: Kosicky, Lluy, Sankare, Zisopoulos, Panteliadis, Munafo Horta, Mazza (Bakasetas ’82), Usero, Rolle (Barrales ’73), Tsokanis, Parra (Alberto Fernandez ’80)

Subs not used: Theodoropoulos, Badibanga, Gianniotas, Kyriakopoulos

Manchester City 4-1 Tottenham (250 word report)

Four goals from Sergio Aguero secured three points for his side to ensure Manchester City kept up the pressure on league leaders Chelsea while Tottenham dropped to sixth. 

The Argentine opened and closed the scoring, slotting home two penalties in-between, missing another while great Dane Cristian Eriksen provided Spurs’ solitary strike.

Aguero put his side 1-0 up 13 minutes in with a delicious finish into the bottom corner past a despairing Hugo Lloris.

Tottenham pegged City back 139 seconds later when a two-on-one scenario ended in Roberto Soldado teeing up Cristian Eriksen for 1-1.

26-year-old Aguero restored Man City’s lead on the 20 minute mark, converting a penalty after Frank Lampard was controversially brought down in the box by Erik Lamela.

He had a second penalty saved by Lloris later on in the first half but his third spot kick of the contest was buried like the first, sending the France number one the wrong way with 68 minutes played.

The game was put beyond doubt with a quarter of an hour left with Aguero fetching his fourth of the match, angling a shot away from the hapless Lloris.

Soldado had a penalty of his own saved by Joe Hart, the England goalkeeper diving to his right to keep out the Spaniard from 12 yards where he is usually so reliable.

Despite the convincing looking scoreline Tottenham did provide a good contest against the champions and could even have gone in front early doors but Ryan Mason’s shot was saved by the feet of Hart eight minutes in.

Manchester City 4-1 Tottenham

Four goals from Sergio Aguero secured three points for his side to ensure Manchester City kept up the pressure on league leaders Chelsea.

Two of his goals were penalties while the others were delicious finishes into the bottom corner past a despairing Hugo Lloris.

The Argentine also had another spot kick saved in an encounter that saw four penalties awarded in total by referee John Moss.

Visitors Tottenham were too handed an opportunity to score from 12 yards but a normally reliable Roberto Soldado was denied by Joe Hart in the second half.

Sergio Aguero will take all the headlines though and deservedly so with a spell-binding performance that began with an effort that he lashed past Lloris with 13 minutes played.

He had his second six minutes later when he sent Lloris the wrong way from the spot following a debatable foul on Frank Lampard by Erik Lamela.

It was three for the 26-year-old with 68 minutes on the clock, scoring his second penalty goal after three attempts after Federico Fazio pulled him down in the box, the defender was sent off for his misdemeanour.

Aguero’s fourth came 15 minutes before the end in similar fashion to his first, gliding a shot past the hapless Lloris.

SA

Despite the convincing looking scoreline Tottenham did put up a good fight against the champions. Hart needed to save low to deny Ryan Mason eight minutes in.

Cristian Eriksen’s goal materialised a quarter of an hour in after Soldado robbed a dallying Fernando in midfield and the Spaniard teed up Eriksen who smashed home first time past Hart off the underside of the bar 139 seconds after his side went behind.

Manchester City: Hart, Clichy, Demichelis, Kompany, Sagna, Milner, Lampard (Fernandinho ’28), Fernando (Toure ’77), Navas, Silva (Jovetic ’70), Aguero

Subs not used: Caballero, Kolarov, Boyata, Dzeko

Tottenham Hotspur: Lloris, Dier, Fazio, Kaboul, Rose, Capoue (Dembele ’60), Mason (Vertonghen ’70), Chadli, Eriksen, Lamela (Townsend ’60) Soldado

Subs not used: Vorm, Stambouli, Adebayor, Kane

Man of the Match: Sergio Aguero

Tottenham 0-3 Liverpool

A Raheem Sterling strike, a spot kick from Steven Gerrard and a magnificent individual goal by Alberto Moreno earned Liverpool a 0-3 win over Tottenham at White Hart Lane.

Sterling tapped Liverpool in front after eight minutes and Gerrard’s penalty ensured that his team would be going back to Anfield with three points.

Alberto Moreno’s marauding run and finish ended any Tottenham hopes of a comeback.

Liverpool began the game in typically dynamic fashion, new signing Mario Balotelli had a header saved after just two minutes.

They did not have to wait long for their opener however as Sterling converted from Jordan Henderson’s squared ball just six minutes later.

The Reds began the second half much like they did the first, scoring three minutes after the interval with a Gerrard penalty. Joe Allen was bundled over in the box by Eric Dier who failed to win the ball but the contact was minimal.

Spot on: Gerrard's converts his penalty.

Spot on: Gerrard’s converts his penalty.

Moreno’s first goal in England sealed the win, a powerful unchallenged sprint down the left flank which culmiated in the Spaniard lashing the ball off the inside of the post and in. Lightly reminiscing the sort of goals Gareth Bale scored in the same stadium once upon a time.

Brendan Rodgers’ boys should have made it four after a jinking run but did too much and his final product was a tame shot straight at Hugo Lloris when it was arguably easier to score.

It could have been a totally different game though had firstly Emmanuel Adebayor flick over Simon Mignolet gone under the bar rather than over sixty seconds after Sterling’s opener.

Nacer Chadli also had a half volley superbly saved by Mignolet just before half time.

Tottenham’s game was summed up in second half stoppage time, being denied a penalty for a shirt tug on Adebayor.

Tottenham Hotspur: Lloris, Dier, Kaboul, Vertonghen, Rose (Davies ’72), Bentaleb (Dembele ’59), Capoue, Chadli, Eriksen (Townsend ’59), Lamela, Adebayor

Subs not used: Friedel, Chiriches, Holtby, Kane

Liverpool: Mignolet, Manquillo, Lovren, Sakho, Moreno, Henderson, Gerrard, Allen (Can ’61), Sterling (Enrique ’86), Sturridge, Balotelli (Markovic ’61)

Subs not used: Jones, Toure, Lambert, Coutinho

Man of the match: Raheem Sterling

Brentford sign Alex Pritchard on loan

Championship side Brentford have confirmed that Alex Pritchard will spend the 2014/15 season at Griffin Park on a season-long loan deal.

The promising English winger, 21, spent last season on loan at Brentford’s then League One rivals Swindon Town where he scored six goals in 35 league games.

Pritchard also netted in a Capital One Cup tie away at Queens Park Rangers where Swindon ran out 0-2 winners.

Cup King: Pritchard celebrates his goal against QPR.

Cup King: Pritchard celebrates his goal against QPR.

Brentford’s new signing has also earned three caps for the England Under 20 side, two of which came in the 2013 Under 20 World Cup but England failed to make it past the group stages.

Tottenham winger Pritchard has also signed a two year contract extension that will keep him at White Hart Lane until 2016.

Pritchard made his Tottenham debut in the club’s 3-0 win over Aston Villa, coming on as an 83rd minute substitute.