Roy Hodgson is happy with Crystal Palace’s recent performances and hoping they can soon turn that into winning points again.

The Eagles have not tasted success in the Premier League since October 5 when they struck late in a 2-1 victory at West Ham.

While the south Londoners are on a five-match streak without a win, the mitigating factors are the level of opposition they have faced which includes Manchester City, Arsenal, Leicester, Chelsea and Liverpool.

On Saturday, Hodgson’s side will travel to Burnley looking to arrest a slide down the table from sixth to 13th.

“I don’t think you should confuse form with results,” he said. “I don’t know we are in mixed form. Our form hasn’t particularly dipped from the Man City game through to the Liverpool game.

“We have had five tough fixtures and I don’t think we’ve performed badly in any of them, but of course because we’ve been playing the top sides we’ve been unable to get many points.

“But we’ve been close to doing so on many occasions so I would not equate form and results. I don’t think our form is bad, but our results have been bad.

“We did fear we might be in for that type of period when we looked at the fixture list and we were playing the top five teams in the country one after another.”

 

 

Sean Dyche’s Burnley, on the other hand, are three points ahead of Palace and have triumphed 3-0 in their last two games.

Hodgson added: “We have every respect for them. We know they are a difficult nut to crack at all times and we have to be ready for the type of game it will be.”

This is the start of a busy schedule for all teams in the Premier League and Palace will play seven times between now and the end of the year.

It means the former England manager will have to consider rotation during a hectic period of the season.

“It’s a time when your squad is really tested,” Hodgson said. “You really need everybody in good form, physical condition and in good mental condition.

“It’s unrealistic to expect 11 players to carry out every 90 minutes you’re going to play, so it’s important everyone’s ready.”

The Palace boss confirmed he would be without Joel Ward for Saturday’s trip to Turf Moor after the defender suffered a serious knee injury in the 2-1 defeat to Liverpool last weekend.

 

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Jose Mourinho turned on the spot, skipped back to his dugout and delivered a short, sharp punch to the air. As he continued his journey, he pumped both fists and channelled his energy towards the pitch, bowing his head and releasing whatever noise was available to him in the moment. It mattered not; the away fans would drown it out anyway.

It had been a while since they had been given much to enjoy on their travels after all. Not since January had Tottenham won a Premier League away game. Boxing Day marked their last such victory against a team still in the top flight.

But for Mourinho, only one thing was on his mind. Much as Mauricio Pochettino made a habit of sharing such instances of unbridled joy with Jesus Perez, the tentative new stepfather made an instant beeline for Joao Sacramento.

You can tell a lot about the nature of a goal through not only how a manager celebrates it, but also how his assistant and coaching team does. If they choose to acknowledge it separately, then it has likely been born of individual error or fortune. If there is a mixture of flailing arms, mouths agape and general indecision as to how to react, then it was liekly a wonder strike impossible to account for or predict. But if they seek out one another instinctively, the chances are that they have seen that pass, that run, that move, that goal before.

It is impossible to know what Mourinho worked on in the three days of preparation for this game. But his embrace with Sacramento for the opening goal suggests any training-ground work involved Harry Winks splitting the lines of defence and midfield with one pass, Dele Alli controlling it with a single touch and playing it through to Son Heung-min with another, and the South Korean beating his defender before planting a shot beyond the keeper.

A minute prior to that strike, Winks again drove an inch-perfect pass through West Ham’s heart and into Harry Kane, whose delightful flick left Alli in space. The deft pass was again intended for Son but Declan Rice was, on this occasion, in place to thwart it. Once is an accident, twice is a coincidence, and by the time the same move was conducted again before half-time, it was clear this was a pattern.

And that should not be underplayed. It is unclear when Tottenham approached Mourinho but it was soon obvious that he has not used the last 11 months to build a friendship with Graeme Souness, develop a taste for humble pie or intently study Tim Sherwood’s fashion sense. He has been working, watching, waiting for his chance to reestablish his relevance.

This is a small step. It was almost a misstep. Tottenham were the better side in a drab opening 20 minutes, excellent for the subsequent 40 then painfully absent for the final 30. West Ham were the perfect opponents to face in these circumstances, and Roberto the single most welcoming host since Des Lynam. “Shouldn’t you be at work?” he asked a prone Angelo Ogbonna, shortly after accidentally punching him in the face to clear a ball that no Tottenham player was challenging for.

But this was progress and, most importantly, different. Mourinho stressed before the game that he does not wish to demolish what Pochettino has built; he is merely here to build on it and offer the project fresh direction and impetus. The small changes – Paulo Gazzaniga not playing it short from goal kicks, a more direct style of play and Serge Aurier looking vaguely competent – were simply new ingredients to an existing recipe.

Dele Alli is a fine example. He has been gradually improving over the past few weeks but, on this evidence, Mourinho can help him take the final steps towards where he once was. And that, rather than drastic, wholesale alterations, will be key.

Mourinho said it himself: this squad is a “gift” for a manager who inherited a broth spoiled by too many cooks at Manchester United and only made things worse. Pochettino has handed down a group of players familiar to one another, moulded to a style and system the new coach appreciates.

Michail Antonio and Ogbonna’s late goals will give Mourinho and his staff rather a lot more to consider than he expected when Kane gave Tottenham a commanding lead in the 49th minute. But there was enough on show to suggest he could be a success.

Matt Stead

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Jose Mourinho was at Tottenham’s training ground to meet his new squad on Wednesday afternoon following his appointment as Mauricio Pochettino’s replacement.

The former Chelsea and Manchester United boss signed a three-and-a-half-year contract less than 12 hours after Pochettino was sacked.

The 56-year-old, who had been out of work since leaving United last December, was at Hotspur Way meeting the club’s players and staff.

He was due to take training in the afternoon ahead of his unveiling press conference at 2pm on Thursday and first game in charge at West Ham on Saturday lunchtime.

Mourinho revealed he was relishing the chance to work with the players, who have under-achieved so far this season.

The Portuguese said: “I am excited to be joining a club with such a great heritage and such passionate supporters.

“The quality in both the squad and the academy excites me. Working with these players is what has attracted me.”

Mourinho also moved quickly to appoint his backroom staff, with Joao Sacramento and Nuno Santos joining from Lille.

Sacramento will be the assistant manager, while Santos becomes the new goalkeeping coach.

A statement on Lille’s official website read: “Following discussions between Lille and Tottenham, an agreement has been reached to allow the departures of Joao Sacramento and Nuno Santos, members of the Lille technical staff, and for them to join the English club as of this Wednesday.”

Despite his troubles in the latter stages of his tenure at Old Trafford, Mourinho remains one of the most sought-after managers in the game.

His success at delivering trophies is not in question, having won three Premier League titles, two Champions Leagues and a host of domestic cups, and that was a clear attraction for Spurs chairman Daniel Levy.

 

Levy previously tried appointing Mourinho in 2007 when he left Chelsea for the first time and has admired him since.

Levy said: “In Jose we have one of the most successful managers in football.

“He has a wealth of experience, can inspire teams and is a great tactician. He has won honours at every club he has coached. We believe he will bring energy and belief to the dressing room.”

A statement from the club described Mourinho as “one of the world’s most accomplished managers” who was “is renowned for his tactical prowess”.

It added: “He has won a domestic title in a record four different countries (Portugal, England, Italy and Spain) and is one of only three managers to have won the UEFA Champions League twice with two clubs, FC Porto in 2004 and Inter Milan in 2010.”

Pochettino was dismissed after five-and-a-half years in charge, less than six months after he took Spurs to the Champions League final, with the club lying 14th in the Premier League table after the opening 12 matches.

Mourinho, who has most recently been working as a pundit for Sky Sports, had turned down a number of opportunities to coach abroad since leaving United, including with clubs in China, Spain and Portugal.

His first match in charge will be the London derby away to West Ham on Saturday and they are due to play United at Old Trafford on December 4.

Spurs also play Champions League games at home to Olympiakos and away at Bayern Munich before hosting their new manager’s former club Chelsea on December 22.

Mourinho’s side host Liverpool on January 11 and Manchester City on February 1 before making the trip to Stamford Bridge on February 22.

 

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Spanish manager Unai Emery has been given a month to save his job at Arsenal, according to a report.

Officially, Emery retains the full support of his board for now, but that stance could change if no improvement is made on the field over the coming weeks.

In an unusual start to the Premier League season, Arsenal find themselves in only sixth place despite being above fellow giants Manchester United and Tottenham.

Arsenal have only won four of their first 12 matches this season and there has been an over reliance on new captain Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang‘s goals to get points on the board.

And the Daily Mirror claims that Emery now has seven matches to save his job, five in the Premier League against Southampton , Norwich, Brighton, West Ham and Manchester City and two in the Europa League versus Eintracht Frankfurt and Standard Liege.

There is a ‘belief inside the club that sacking the Spaniard will still not solve the crisis’ at Arsenal.

Some at the club think Emery ‘faces an impossible task to ­revive’ Arsenal with Arsene Wenger’s legacy ‘destroyed by a string of disastrous high-level ­appointments.’

A source told the Daily Mirror: “The DNA that made ­Arsenal the club it was has slowly but surely drained away.

“Appointments have been made – both before and after Wenger’s departure – that either didn’t work out or aren’t working out.

“Long-serving members of staff have been shocked by what’s ­happening to the club.”

There has been a lot of upheaval at the Emirates Stadium since Wenger left with Edu appointed as the club’s new technical director, while Steve Morrow left his position as head of youth ­recruitment.

The source added: “To say it was a shock to see so many good people leave so suddenly is an ­understatement.

“Steve Morrow, in particular, is a huge loss. He is someone who is ­respected throughout football and is seen as having the potential to be a director of football.”

 

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Marcos Alonso insists Chelsea are still a work in progress, and there’s more to come under Frank Lampard, despite climbing into the top four.

Alonso’s goal 17 minutes from time secured a 1-0 win over Newcastle, the Blues’ fifth consecutive victory in all competitions.

The Spaniard hailed the improvement under new boss Lampard but insists there is still more to come.

“We have many options in the team and this is good. The team is getting better, we are improving game by game and we need to continue in this way,” Alonso told the club website.

“We are moving the ball quickly, our press is good and we are doing a good job as a team. We have clear ideas and we have to continue in this way.

“It was very important to win after the international break. We played with a lot of patience and at the end we got the goal, we kept grafting and got a good reward.

“It’s a new season with new staff and there’s room for improvement but since the beginning we have improved a lot. We need to keep focused on each game and work hard in training.”

 

 

Defeat was harsh on Newcastle, who dropped back into the bottom three, and manager Steve Bruce saw plenty of reasons for optimism.

The Magpies now face a run of more favourable fixtures, with a visit from Wolves next up followed by a trip to West Ham and matches against Bournemouth and Aston Villa.

Bruce said: “We’ve had a really difficult start in terms of who we’ve played – we’ve played Tottenham, Liverpool, Manchester United, Arsenal and now Chelsea, and we’ve been away to Leicester. We’ve had a really tough start.

“The way the players went about their jobs, and their effort and commitment, I couldn’t have faulted.

“We looked a threat on the break, and if we can be a bit more careful with the final pass, then of course the big thing is we have to find some goals.

“But, certainly in the first half in particular, we looked a threat.”

 

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Gary Neville has questioned Manchester United’s interest in West Ham midfielder Declan Rice.

Rice emerged as a potential target for United over a summer which saw them pursue young, hungry British players.

Some (silly people) have even mooted a possible £90m bid in January, but Neville does not feel United “need another player” like Rice.

“It’s going to cost a fortune,” he told Sky Sports.

“I mean, you talk about £80m, £90m to get him out of West Ham. We’ve seen a bid for Zaha go to Everton this year for £70m. To get players out of the likes of West Ham now, Crystal Palace, it is not going to be easy.

“Would I say yes now at £80m, £90m? I’m not feeling that personally at this moment in time, but am I seeing a really good player who could potentially develop into something fantastic for the next ten years? Yes, I really do think that.

“But do United need another player? They’ve already got Matic, they’ve already got McTominay doing a similar role to what I see Rice doing.”

 

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When does Liverpool v Arsenal kick off?

It’s the late kick-off on Saturday 24 August, so kick-off is at 5.30pm UK time.

Where can I watch Liverpool v Arsenal on TV?

The match is live on Sky Sports, so it will be screened on both Sky Sports Main Event and Sky Sports Premier League.

Build-up starts from 5pm on both channels, and if you don’t have Sky Sports you can get a Now TV pass to enjoy their coverage for one day only.

The match is also being broadcast live by the likes of beIN Sports, SuperSport, and NBCSports, so international viewers will certainly not be short of options.

Who is the referee for Liverpool v Arsenal?

Anthony Taylor is the man charged with keeping order at Anfield, and he’s a man with some history in the fixture.

He officiated in April 2015 when Arsenal won 4-1 at the Emirates, and he sent off Liverpool’s Emre Can late in the game.

Last season he took charge of Liverpool just three times. He was the man in the middle when they lost at Manchester City, but also for their home wins against West Ham and Bournemouth.

He refereed Arsenal seven times during 2018/19, including their 1-1 derby draw with Tottenham.=

Gary Beswick and Adam Nunn will assist Taylor, with Jon Moss the fourth official.

Meanwhile, the man hoping he won’t be the most controversial man involved is Stuart Attwell, who will be the man in the VAR hotseat.

What is the Premier League history of Liverpool v Arsenal

In a word: goals.

The fixture, particularly at Anfield, is the most consistently high-scoring one in Premier League history.

Last season, Liverpool won the corresponding match 5-1. The season before that was a 4-0 win for the Merseysiders, and the one before that was a 3-3 draw.

The most famous, or infamous, meeting between these two teams since the start of the Premier League in 1992 was their Anfield clash in 2009.

It finished 4-4, with the mercurial Andrey Arshavin scoring all four goals for the Gunners.

What is the team news ahead of Liverpool v Arsenal?

Liverpool goalkeeper Alisson Becker was injured in the Reds’ opening game of the season at Norwich, and his calf injury is expected to keep him out of this one too.

That means that deadline-day signing Adrian will continue, with 35-year-old veteran Andy Lonergan to provide the cover.

Full-back Nathaniel Clyne and Naby Keita are also still sidelined for Jurgen Klopp’s troops.

Arsenal could welcome Granit Xhaka back into the fold after he missed the win over Burnley with a back injury. That is likely to be the only change to the side that won at Turf Moor, with mystery still surrounding the availability of Mesut Ozil due to security concerns.

Hector Bellerin, Konstantinos Mavropanos and Kieran Tierney are all some way off fitness, although Rob Holding is back training again.

 

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That it took 76 minutes to break down Aston Villa last weekend will not fill Tottenham Hotspur fans with confidence ahead of a trip to Manchester City, who barely had to move out of first gear on Saturday to destroy West Ham. Three years of Pep Guardiola’s tactical training have given City the muscle memory to pass and move in perfect triangles, making them vastly superior to any other team in England.

But Tottenham do tend to raise their game when facing Man City, pressing aggressively to create a tense and oppressive midfield battle. The win won’t come easy for Guardiola’s side, and yet with Tottenham looking vulnerable in the full-back positions and missing both Heung-Min Son and Dele Alli, the hosts should collect the three points.

Here are five tactical questions ahead of Man City v Spurs:

 

1) Will Pochettino go three at the back to sure up Rose and Walker-Peters?
Tottenham lined up in a 3-5-2 formation the last time these sides met, a 1-0 victory for Man City at the Etihad in April, and Mauricio Pochettino could deploy the same formation to provide additional support to Danny Rose and Kyle Walker-Peters. Both full-backs have an error in them, Rose having been beaten too easily by John McGinn in Spurs’ opener and 22-year-old Walker-Peters still raw. Playing with three centre-backs also has its advantages in helping to close out the inside-forward spaces in which Raheem Sterling tends to occupy.

However, it is more likely that Pochettino will use the diamond 4-4-2 that began the Aston Villa match, not least because Juan Foyth’s injury and apparent fitness concerns over Jan Vertonghen leaves the Tottenham manager with limited options at the back. In a diamond, Spurs can pack the midfield with bodies while giving Christian Eriksen the creative freedom he enjoyed against Villa from an advanced role – as well as pick Harry Kane and Lucas Moura to counter-attack together up front.

 

2) Will Ndombele be able to prevent De Bruyne from running the right channel?
The diamond formation, essentially using four central midfielders, should create a claustrophobic and compact game at the Etihad, more reminiscent of the three 1-0s between the sides last year than City’s 4-3 win in the Champions League. In such a cluttered midfield battle, the key head-to-head is between Tanguy Ndombele and Kevin de Bruyne.

De Bruyne’s role has changed slightly this season. The Belgian alternates between dropping alongside Rodri to help out his new team-mate defensively and drifting out into the right half-space to collaborate with Riyad Mahrez in attack. These two overloaded West Ham left-back Aaron Cresswell last weekend to devastating effect, and should be able to similarly trouble Rose on Saturday – particularly if Spurs play with such a narrow midfield.

Moussa Sissoko is likely to be the midfielder closest to Rose, but it is Ndombele’s presence at both ends that should either force De Bruyne alongside Rodri or allow him to roam up the pitch. Should the Frenchman burst forward in possession and seek to support Eriksen, then De Bruyne’s influence will be limited; theirs is a territorial battle that will go some way to deciding which side is on top.

 

3) Can Kane put pressure on Rodri?
Against both Liverpool and West Ham, Rodri was caught in possession on a couple of occasions in the opening 20 minutes, a typical sign of teething problems after arriving in such a fast and physical division. The mainstream narrative is that Rodri managed to adapt as each game wore on, but in reality it’s just that both of City’s opponents lowered the intensity of their pressing and tackling at around the half-hour mark.

Spurs are unlikely to similarly let up. Harry Kane in particular has a big role to play dropping into his favoured number ten position and nicking possession from Rodri, but it would be naïve to pinpoint just one player looking to harass the Spaniard off the ball. The only times West Ham looked close to scoring at London Stadium last Saturday was when Rodri was pickpocketed and space suddenly opened up in the final third. Pochettino will most definitely instruct his players to swarm Rodri.

 

4) How can Spurs target Zinchenko?
The obvious weak point in the Man City team is Oleksandr Zinchenko, who always looks a bit shaky and positionally unsure when playing left-back. However, Tottenham’s probable formation doesn’t provide a clear pathway to target the Ukrainian, particularly given that Walker-Peters will be instructed to play cautiously with Sterling lurking on the left.

Lucas Moura, peeling off to the right, is the only quick attacker in the Spurs team while Heung-Min Son serves his suspension, and so he is their best option to run in behind Zinchenko when Tottenham launch counters. Long balls into the channels from Toby Alderweireld would be a good idea in such a restrictive, high-pressing game.

But such is the complexity and efficiency of Guardiola’s tactic,s Zinchenko is unlikely to be exposed. In fact, he will pop up in central midfield just as often as left-back, providing cover for when Rodri strides into the Spurs half and making himself available for the connecting ball between Kyle Walker and Sterling. Chinks in City’s armour are so minute Spurs probably won’t discover them.

 

5) Will Sterling versus Walker-Peters settle the contest?
The machine-like efficiency of Sterling at the moment should strike fear into Spurs fans, particularly as the game wears on and gaps begin to open up. That he faces Walker-Peters is problematic. The right-back has the athleticism to stand Sterling up when one on one, but the bigger risk is during moments when City counter-attack on the outside of Tottenham’s narrow midfield, with Sterling particularly threatening making runs on the inside of the opposition full-back.

In all probability City’s superiority across the pitch will bring them victory, but should Spurs manage to restrict the hosts then Guardiola will look to Sterling’s one-on-one with Walker-Peters as the main source of a late goal.

 

Alex Keble

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