Month: April 2016

Dele Alli out for rest of the Premier League season

LONDON, ENGLAND - APRIL 25:  Dele Alli of Tottenham Hotspur argues with Claudio Yacob of West Bromwich Albion as referee Mike Jones intervenes during the Barclays Premier League match between Tottenham Hotspur and West Bromwich Albion at White Hart Lane on April 25, 2016 in London, England.  (Photo by Alex Morton/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND – APRIL 25: Dele Alli of Tottenham Hotspur argues with Claudio Yacob of West Bromwich Albion as referee Mike Jones intervenes during the Barclays Premier League match between Tottenham Hotspur and West Bromwich Albion at White Hart Lane on April 25, 2016 in London, England. (Photo by Alex Morton/Getty Images)

Tottenham will have to continue on the rest of their Premier League title campaign without key man Dele Alli up front as the Englishman is banned for three games under a violent conduct charge.

Alli, who became 20 recently, admitted to the charge after television cameras recorded clearly that he punched West Brom player Claudio Yacob in the stomach, but contested that the standard three-match penalty as “clearly excessive”.

The claim had since been rejected by the Football Association.

The incident, which had occurred in the 26th minute in White Hart Lane has escaped referee Mike Jones’s notice and was not included in the match official report.

But an independent panel consisting of three retired referees had subsequently reviewed footage of the incident and banned Alli, who was crowned Professional Footballers’ Association Young Player of the Year just a day before.

His next competitive match will be England’s Euro 2016 opener against Russia in Marseille on 11 June, if England coach Roy Hodgson chooses to include him in the squad.

Since his sentence, Dele Alli expressed regret and vowed to learn for the incident.

“Gutted that my season is over,” Alli tweeted. “Shouldn’t have reacted like I did. Will learn from this and come back stronger.”

Alli has been a hugely influential figure in his debut season for Tottenham, scoring 10 goals so far and forming an impressive partnership with striker Harry Kane.

But his team, siting at second-placed are seven points adrift of Leicester with three games left. Their campaign is in clear and present danger as the Foxes can win the title for good this weekend with victory at Old Trafford.

Even if Leicester fails to win, Tottenham needs every win in the rest of their three games. The match-ups are also considerably tricky as they battle Chelsea and Newcastle away from home, the latter of which is desperately in need of points to escape the relegation zone.

Manchester City earns Hart-won draw against Real Madrid

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Joe Hart almost singlehandedly wins a goalless semi-final draw for Manchester City with two brilliant saves late on, ensuring that his team were on the same footing as Real Madrid before they travel to the Bernabeu next week for the second leg.

Both teams were cautious throughout the game and had little offensive maneuvers, with Real having an apparent absentee in Cristiano Ronaldo. To put that in perspective, Real Madrid have won just 43% of their Championship games without Ronaldo, but has a win rate of 71% with him in the game.

It was a disadvantage that should have been exploited but was left unused as City relied more on defending. In fact, the game, expected to be a shootout between two teams that possess great attacking prowess turned out to be one with little goalmouth action.

There were also significant issues with Madrid’s game plan early on as they showed a surprising lack of rhythm and a lot of misplaced passes. But City were not one to boast either, with themselves being unable to move the ball around efficiently.

Keylor Navas only needed to save one for Madrid throughout the entire game as Kevin de Bruyne fired a dipping free-kick in stoppage time.

City’s failure meant that they do not have a lead to take ahead of their away match at the Bernabeu, where Zinedine Zidane’s men had yet to concede a single goal in the Champions League throughout the season.

But there are some positives as Manuel Pellegrini’s team had been able to deny Real from scoring an away goal.

England keeper Joe Hart showed great reflexes as he managed to keep out two corners late on in the game. The ball thuds off his chest as a corner was knocked down by Pepe, who was unmarked and just five yards from goal. The keeper then slid his feet out to block as Casemiro heads in another corner directly at him.

With Sergio Aguero experiencing a frustrating night as the Argentinian got marked by Pepe and Sergio Ramos, a goalless draw was probably all they could muster despite their home advantage. But if they want to make it to the final, they need to perform well better than this stalemate of a first leg.

Leicester routs Swansea with Ulloa double

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Leicester City proved that they don’t have the jitters in their chase for the English Premier League title, claiming their biggest win of the season against Swansea to get eight points above Tottenham.

Claudio Ranieri was more than vindicated when his replacements for regulars such as Leonard Ulloa and Jeffrey Schlupp inspired the win through outstanding performances.

Combine this, alongside a can-do mentality and the willingness of players to be responsible, Leicester is proving to everyone why they are so high on top, and has the best chance as the League slowly approaches the finish line.

Riyad Mahrez, stellar for Leicester throughout the season and who later went to win the PFA award for best player, opened the scoring in just 10 minutes to end a mini goal-drought. Ashley Williams was culpable as his weak pass deflected off, and calmly slotted in by the Algerian.

Swansea also displayed a lacking defense against set pieces as Ulloa headed in Danny’s Drinkwater’s free kick, the 20th time this season they were caught out in a set-piece.

Englishman Schlupp would provide Leicester pace needed to outrun defenders as he went behind Swansea’s men to set up Ulloa for Liecester third.

But it was a pure moment of team spirit when Marc Albrighton, who had lost his place in the starting line-up to Schlupp, was subbed in.

There was a lovely exchange when Schlupp came off and the two players still shared a joke and a warm embrace – and within just a couple of minutes, the substitute had added the fourth goal, firing high into the net with an assists from yet another substitute, Demarai Gray.

The 4-0 win seemed excessively stress free for Leicester especially without their star man Jamie Vardy. Chants of “four-nil to the one-man team” emphasize that the home team now can allay fears of slumps in the absence of a key player.

With 3 challenging games left against Manchester United, Everton and Chelsea, the Foxes still need 5 points and may well lose the chance to get their miracle title in the process. It is simply unimaginable for them to slump at this point, and it will most certainly be traumatic to everyone who is watching them keenly at this point.

But at this point, everyone is optimistic. Fans all around chanted “Barcelona, we’re coming for you” and the King Power Stadium looked the happiest place in the world.

The only flicker of apprehension came when Ranieri was asked afterwards about the Barcelona chants.

“God, not Barcelona,” he said. “It would be a fantastic experience, but come on, man.”

Still, with the little things that Leicester had done this season, anyone would love pay to see them give it a go.