Poch ready for top-four battle

Tottenham Hotspur head coach Mauricio Pochettino says his side need to improve their play, ahead of a potentially crucial run of Premier League games.

Spurs had to settle for a 1-1 draw at Southampton on Sunday, a result which could leave them five points adrift of the top four if Liverpool win at Swansea City on Monday evening.

And things will not get any easier for the Londoners in the next few weeks, as their next three league games see them face Manchester united, Liverpool and Arsenal.

That tough treble is already on the mind of Pochettino, who has urged his squad to give their all to try and be in top form for the tasks ahead.

He told reporters: "Of course these games will be important for us. It is important if we are going to take points and win games.

"It's true that we're going to fight, if not, it will be difficult. That's the idea, try to win games and be consistent. At the end, we have the possibility to fight for the top four."

Spurs are priced at 15/8 to finish in the top four in the Premier League this season, with Liverpool available at 1/6 and Arsenal 6/1.

Meanwhile, Pochettino played down the effect of flu, which saw the likes of goalkeeper Hugo Lloris and playmaker Christian Eriksen sit out the clash with the Saints on Sunday.

He added: "A few players were affected last week, but it's not an excuse, our performance wasn't the best.

"We need to be focused on improving. We must do better, play better. If we want to be in the top four, we need to improve our level."

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Pochettino laments wasteful Spurs

Tottenham Hotspur manager Mauricio Pochettino felt his side were guilty of not using the ball well enough in their 1-1 draw with his former club Southampton at St Mary's.

The hosts took a deserved early lead as Spurs central defender Davinson Sanchez diverted Ryan Bertrand's low cross into his own net.

It was to prove short lived however as Harry Kane took advantage of some static marking from a corner less than three minutes later to nod home his 99th Premier League goal.

Jack Stephens could have put the home side ahead again before half-time, while sub Erik Lamela went close late in the second period for Tottenham before Kane dragged a shot wide from ten-yards with the final scoring chance.

Pochettino felt the points dropped were down to Spurs own doing.

"We needed to move the ball quicker and create more," he said. "The result is the result because football punishes us for not using the ball.

"The game was even, we had more possession but we needed to be more aggressive and create more chances, the performance wasn't great but the pitch didn't help.

"You must give credit to the opponent, but I am not happy with our performance."

Spurs are 23/20 to win their next Premier League game at home to Man United, while they are 15/8 to finish in the top four this season.

Southampton remain in the bottom three despite collecting a point and are 9/2 to be relegated this season. His former club are winless in their past 11 Premier League game but Pochettino doesn't feel they are relegation candidates.

"It is temporary that Southampton are in the relegation zone, for sure they will push up the table. It is two points we are going to miss at the end of the season because it is so tough between six or seven teams," he added.

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Poch poised for defensive boost

Tottenham Hotspur head coach Mauricio Pochettino hopes to have central defender Toby Alderweireld available for selection in the very near future.

The 28-year-old Belgium international has been sidelined by a hamstring injury since the beginning of November, but is closing in on a return and may be involved in the FA Cup fourth round tie at Newport County a week on Saturday.

Pochettino told reporters ahead of a Sunday Premier League visit to Southampton: "I think maybe if all is okay with him today, tomorrow he can integrate himself in some exercises with the group and step by step he can build his fitness to be available again.

"Tomorrow, if all is good with the scan. That is plan, he will do the warm-up with the team. The first exercise and then integrate gradually with the group.

"We'll see in the next week if he can improve step-by-step and be ready. We are going to have all the week to train and we'll see if he can arrive in a good condition to play. We'll assess him day-by-day."

Meanwhile, goalkeeper Hugo Lloris is a doubt for the clash with the Saints on Sunday due to illness.

The France international will be given until Saturday to recover, with Michel Vorm waiting to step in as a replacement against the Saints.

Pochettino added: "I don't know (if he'll be fit for Sunday), difficult to say.

"We need to wait today and tomorrow and then assess him tomorrow and if he's available or not. I think it's flu or a virus."

Spurs are 13/20 to take all three points at St Mary's and are 15/2 to claim a 2-0 victory, with striker Harry Kane available at 8/11 to score at any time in the game.

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Which ‘Lucky S’ will Get the Football Betting Cheer?

So the January Window is in full swing in the Premier League, as the chasing pack squabbles for players to try to keep their seasons’ on track.

Today’s headlines speculate that the Sanchez/Mkhitaryan swap between Manchester United and Arsenal is imminent, with neither likely to feature in this weekend’s football games, while I understand Chelsea may be interested in taking West Ham’s battering ram Andy Carroll.

But for this week’s Asian Handicap Betting picks, I’m focussing on matters on the pitch, at the muddy end where the relegation scrap rages. And it seems you’re more likely to be in trouble if your team name begins with the letter ‘S’!

Stoke City vs Huddersfield Town (January 20, 23:00 GMT+8)

Paul Lambert is the latest surprise appointment for the panicking clubs, replacing the relatively more successful Mark Hughes. Lambert has inherited a squad well capable of survival, though. Xherdan Shaqiri and Joe Allen are, at least, mid-table players and in Jack Butland, they have a keeper rated as an England World Cup prospect. I just sense the Terriers may be running out of steam and Stoke could profit.
So my opening 🌟🌟 bet, at odds of 2.09, is a much needed home win.

Southampton vs Tottenham Hotspur (January 22, 00:00 GMT+8)

If the Potters do the business then it’s likely Southampton could be the side to replace them in the bottom three. Without a win in ten league games and missing star striker Charlie Austin, it’s all looking a little gloomy at St Marys. How they would love to have a Harry Kane. The Spurs striker is homing in on 100 Premier league goals and a brace on Sunday would do it. The fact that he’s scored five times in six games against Saints, it’s not far-fetched.
I bet Harry gets at least one, and I’m backing a game of over 2.5 goals, a 🌟🌟 bet at 1.88.

Swansea City vs Liverpool (January 23, 04:00 GMT+8)

The other ‘S’ looks the likeliest to sink the fastest and the rock bottom Swans have a nightmare fixture as Jurgen Klopp’s marauding Reds prepare to invade South Wales. Loan signings Renato Sanches and Tammy Abraham haven’t paid off, and new coach Carlos Carvalhal needs to find some impetus quickly. That may prove tricky against the conquerors of Manchester City though!
I expect Liverpool to be ahead at half time at odds of 1.80, which is my 🌟🌟🌟 bet.

A short explanation on how our (🌟) bets are worth :

🌟🌟🌟 = £20
🌟🌟 = £10
🌟 = £5

Head over to the betting tips section and see how our writers perform in their predicted bets.

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Allardyce fires Toffees warning

Everton boss Sam Allardyce has warned his players they will have to go 'back to basics' after suffering a defensive nightmare in a 4-0 defeat to Tottenham Hotspur.

Allardyce was incensed by what he perceived to be an unprofessional and disorganised performance at Wembley, with the Toffees having trailed by just a single goal at half-time.

The visitors also failed to muster a single shot on target in the game, leaving Allardyce with plenty to ponder as his side have now not won any of their last six games in all competitions.

He told reporters: "Too many of our players decided not to defend anymore when Tottenham had the ball. I'm hugely disappointed in the professionalism of my players, it's out of order.

"It shocked me. I haven't seen it since I got here. Tottenham can beat anybody by a lot of goals, but they should have had to work a lot harder than they did.

"We keep foregoing the clean sheet to try and get a result and not getting a result. We need to go back to basics.

"It was surprising to see the collapse. That is what it was, a collapse of organisation and professionalism. The defending basics have gone out of the window and it is a question of being a bit more boring."

Allardyce has a full week to work with his squad to try and turn things around, with their next assignment a visit from west Brom next Saturday.

Everton are 6/5 to take all three points against the Baggies, with the draw priced at 2/1, while the Merseysiders are 4/11 to finish in the top half of the Premier League table come the end of the season.

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Poch: Kane deserves his records

Tottenham Hotspur striker Harry Kane has been back to break all Premier League goalscoring records, having netted twice in a 4-0 thrashing of Everton at Wembley.

England star Kane took his top-flight tally to 98 with his double, moving him one past the Spurs Premier League record previously held by Teddy Sheringham.

And head coach Mauricio Pochettino expect there to be plenty more to come from Kane in the coming years, with the all-time Spurs league scoring record held by the legendary Jimmy Greaves on 220.

He told BT Sport: "Harry Kane is such a talented player, so professional and I am very happy. He deserves all the credit and a lot of praise.

"In this way he will break all the records in the Premier League. The good thing is Jimmy Greaves' record is far (away), so not every week he is going to break something."

Meanwhile, Pochettino was also delighted with the overall performance of his side, who have re-energised their season by taking 16 points from a possible 18 in their last six league games.

He added to BBC Sport: "It was a massive performance, fantastic. I am so pleased and congratulations to our players because the effort was fantastic.

"The three points are important because the top four is so tough. The performance was very good, the players showed great character and I don't think we conceded a shot on target."

Tottenham, currently fifth in the table, are available at 1/1 to finish in the top four, with Liverpool priced at 4/11 and Arsenal 11/4.

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Kane double sends Spurs through

Harry Kane scored two in three minutes to end any threat of Wembley jitters as Tottenham progressed through to the fourth round of the FA Cup.

Spurs beat League One AFC Wimbledon 3-0, Kane's goals being added to by Jan Vertonghen to ensure a comfortable victory in the end.

However, all the goals came in the second half, with Neal Ardley's side frustrating their Premier League opposition for just over an hour.

They had a good chance of their own to open the scoring, Jimmy Abdou's shot being palmed onto the crossbar by Michel Vorm.

However, any Wembley nerves were calmed just after the hour mark when Moussa Sissoko got free on the right and his low cross was bundled into the net by Kane.

He made it 2-0 shortly afterwards when Kyle Walker-Peters got into the area and his shot was deflected into the path of Kane who calmly guided the ball home.

Vertonghen made it three on 71 minutes with the Dons losing possession in their own half, the defender unleashing a shot from over 20 yards out which caught a deflection, giving the keeper no chance.

So, Spurs are through to the fourth round of the FA Cup and, in fifth place in the league they are back in Premier League action next weekend with a home match against Everton.

They are 2/9 to win with the Toffees 10/1 and the draw priced at 11/2.

Spurs are 5/4 to finish in the top four and qualify again for the Champions League.

Spurs boss Mauricio Pochettino paid tribute to Wimbledon after the game. He told the BBC: "It was a difficult game. Wimbledon played so well. They had a few chances which they could have scored from. It was a solid performance from us.

"The second half was difficult – they started well and had some chances. We scored then and again quick and the game was over.

"We are happy because we're in the draw. We hope to get a home draw. The team deserves this. This is a competition we'll like to go far in. In my opinion I try to put out the best side to play."

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Pochettino cools top-four talk

Mauricio Pochettino says it is too early to talk about Tottenham's top-four hopes after his side were held to a 1-1 draw by West Ham at Wembley.

Spurs were forced to come behind to earn a point in the London derby on Thursday with Heung-min Son's stunning equaliser cancelling out Pedro Obiang's thunderbolt.

Pochettino's team earned 10 points from their four Premier League fixtures over the festive period and are fifth in the table, three points adrift of fourth-placed Liverpool who are two behind Chelsea in third.

Spurs, who won 2-0 at Swansea City on Tuesday, are 8/1 to win the FA Cup and 5/4 to finish in the top four this season while Liverpool can be backed at 1/3 and sixth-placed Arsenal at 11/4.

"I am not thinking [about top four], I am not worried," insisted Pochettino after the match. "We are in the middle of the season. I think we are close. We missed the opportunity today but I think we are close.

"I'm happy with the performance and the effort after 48 hours to play two games. It was fantastic.

"Nothing to say. I'm very pleased with all of the players and only sometimes you need some luck to open the game, like it was against Southampton.

"I think it was a similar game. One was 5-2 and another was 1-1."

Two Blockbusters Make for a Live Betting Thriller!

Tottenham Hotspur 1-1 West Ham United

Two sensational second-half strikes lit up Wembley Stadium as West Ham won an unlikely point to frustrate Spurs’ assault on the top four.

Pedro Obiang hit a screamer to put the Hammers in front, and then Heung-Min Son repaid in kind for Spurs. These were goals to grace any top-flight match, but this was one dominated by Mauricio Pochettino’s team, as football betting pundits fully expected. But for all the hosts’ possession and shots, there’s only one statistic that counts.

The Hammers came into the match with 11 points from their last six league football games, and David Moyes has pulled them from the drop zone by making them a difficult unit to beat. After a first half with 73 percent possession and 11 shots to none, Spurs may feel they should have gone into halftime with a lead. But every time they managed to breach the Hammers’ defence, they couldn’t beat keeper Adrian: he turned away a curler from Harry Kane and made tipped a deflected shot from Dele Alli over the bar a minute before.

Spurs continued to press without any success before the game was turned on its head on 70 minutes. Pedro Obiang picked the ball up inside the left touchline and, with the Hammers’ first shot of any kind, unleashed a howitzer into the top left corner from 25 yards. He gave Hugo Lloris no chance and sent the visiting fans wild.

While Spurs huffed and puffed in search of an equaliser, Heung Min Son had clearly learned from Obiang’s example and fired his own beauty, swerving into the top right corner with five minutes remaining.

That was the only way Adrian was going to be beaten and the Hammers deserved their point. Spurs hoped for more but, in the end, they had Son to thank.

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Cresswell a doubt for London derby

David Moyes hopes Aaron Cresswell is fit enough to feature in Thursday's London derby between Tottenham and West Ham United.

The Hammers came from behind in dramatic fashion to beat West Brom 2-1 on Tuesday thanks to a brace by Andy Carroll and Moyes wants his players to adopt a similarly battling approach at Wembley.

"Spurs have got a really good team," said Moyes. "It will be hard work for us but we will go there with the same spirit, same attitude and same determination we've had in all our games.

"I'm hoping Cresswell's injury doesn't keep him out because we're pretty short in both full-back areas. The biggest thing is I don't have lots of players."

The Hammers, who beat Spurs 3-2 in the Carabao Cup in October, are 11/2 to be relegated this season following their win against the Baggies, and Moyes knows that his team will have to be at their best if they are to move up the table.

He added: "You can see how the Premier League is going to go between now and the end of the season. Games are going to be won and lost on really small margins.

"I think you can see there's a lot of tension at the bottom of the league this season, because two defeats and you slide back in. Two wins and you could be talking about trying to get into mid-table."

West Ham are 11/1 to win at Wembley and 10/1 to keep a clean sheet against Spurs.