Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp believes a proposal to introduce blue cards and sin-bins to football does not “sound like a fantastic idea” initially.

The PA news agency understands that blue cards will be shown to players sin-binned in new trials to try and improve participant behaviour.

It is understood that the initial trial phase will not feature top-level competitions to avoid players being in events with different rules concurrently.

PA understands that plans to publish details of these trials have been delayed until next month, but Klopp believes a blue card could present “more opportunities to fail”.

He told a press conference: “I think everything what the actual situation shows is we should keep it as simple as somehow possible, for the referees as well.

“It’s a difficult job, often quite emotional when we speak about it more so because it’s after the game, and I think the introduction of a blue card would just give more opportunities to fail as well because the discussion will be: ‘It was a blue card, should it have been a yellow card, now it’s 10 minutes off, in the good old times it would have been a red card or only a yellow’.

“These kind of things just make it more complicated. If they want to test it I have no problem with testing if that’s the first step to agreeing or it already being sure it will happen – I don’t know that.

“It doesn’t sound like a fantastic idea in the first moment but actually I can’t remember the last fantastic idea (which) came from these guys, if they ever had one. I am 56 and, pah, never.”

Tottenham manager Ange Postecoglou also remained unconvinced by the proposals, adding his “biggest issue” in football is VAR.

“I don’t think people will be surprised by my thoughts on it. I struggle to understand this urgency all of a sudden to bring in new things,” he said.

“I don’t know if there’s that much wrong with the game as I see it. My biggest issue with the game right now is that VAR has changed the experience, whether you’re a player, a manager or a supporter or whatever you are I think it’s changed the experience of football.

“I assume that’s a means to an end, that the introduction of technology is going to get us to a better place. I remain to be convinced about that.

“Beyond that, I don’t know why a different colour card is going to make any difference. I struggle with this whole taking from other sports.”

Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta hopes that the proposals would be “tested very well” if introduced.

“I don’t know when we’re going to get there,” he said.

“I think we’ve got a lot going on with decisions, with technology, with what is coming. I don’t know if we are ready for that yet.

“Who knows (if it is a good idea). Hopefully it’s going to be tested very well before they introduce it at this level.”

Newcastle manager Eddie Howe admitted he was “not a big fan” of the new proposals.

He said: “I’m not a big fan, to be honest. I think that’s what yellow cards are for. I think the current system works well, it’s just got to be applied right.

“I think adding a blue card would just add more confusion, in my opinion, so I’m against it.

“I think (sin-bins) would change it a lot, but again not, for me, in a good way because I think it will make it very bitty, more stop-start.

“I fear for the players who would have to go off for 10 minutes and then re-find the rhythm of a Premier League game after 10 minutes out, I’m just not sure it works, personally.”

Wolves boss Gary O’Neil believes blue cards could “damage” the stadium experience.

“I haven’t looked into it too much, it would damage the in-stadium experience, it would change the game drastically, to have to spend 10 minutes down to 10 men,” he said.

Ange Postecoglou hailed the professionalism of Tottenham captain Son Heung-min ahead of his club return for Saturday’s visit of Brighton.

Son suffered Asian Cup disappointment with South Korea on Tuesday as they lost 2-0 to Jordan at the semi-final stage.

The South Korea skipper cut a dejected figure at full-time, but was quickly back on a plane to the UK and trained on Friday to make himself available for Spurs’ fixture with Brighton.

Postecoglou said: “It wouldn’t surprise anyone to see him be like that.

“He was very, very disappointed with Korea’s exit because they haven’t won it for quite a while and after they got past Australia, when you get to the semi-final stage, you feel so close.

“But anyone who watched the tournament (knows) he gave everything for his nation and didn’t leave anyone questioning his commitment to his country.

“He was spent by the end of it but I spoke to him not long after it and he was keen to come back, get amongst the boys again. He was keen to come back here.

“It didn’t surprise me that he wanted to train straight away and be available. That’s why he is the person he is.”

The return of 12-goal Son is the latest boost for Tottenham, who had Pape Sarr involved at Everton and will have Yves Bissouma available for this weekend’s clash with his old club.

Bissouma endured a mixed Africa Cup of Nations campaign with Mali after he struggled with illness, but Postecoglou provided an update on his fitness.

He explained: “Yves had a slight form of malaria before the tournament started, but it cleared up after the tournament started. He had no issues after that.”

Manor Solomon (knee) and Ryan Sessegnon (hamstring) are the only players on the treatment table at Tottenham, but ex-Fulham attacker Solomon could return by the end of February.

Postecoglou is excited to have his options in midfield and attack boosted ahead of the final three months of the season.

Spurs start a run of three consecutive home matches when Brighton visit, but the away side will be without manager Roberto De Zerbi, who has a touchline ban to serve following his third yellow card of the campaign in last weekend’s win over Crystal Palace.

“It’s disappointing that Roberto won’t be there because I’ve got a lot of time for him and a great respect for him,” Postecoglou added.

“It’s the existence we have as managers these days. I think I’m one card away from sitting in the stands, so I shouldn’t cast judgement on others.

“So disappointed he won’t be on the touchline but hopefully I’ll get to say hello to him at some point.”

Ex-Tottenham forward Jermain Defoe had contemplated giving up on his managerial dream, but remains determined to follow in the footsteps of Chris Hughton and become a trailblazer for black coaches.

Former England international Defoe called time on his distinguished playing career in 2022 and has spent the past 18 months coaching in the Spurs academy.

Defoe is well aware of potential hurdles and the low number of black and ethnic minority managers in English football, which has been further hit by the January sackings of Darren Moore and Troy Deeney by Huddersfield and Forest Green respectively.

Deeney’s maiden managerial tenure lasted 29 days but Defoe will draw inspiration from Hughton’s three decades as a coach when he does eventually take his first steps into the dugout.

“For me going into management and hopefully getting an opportunity, it can show the next generation that if you do want to become a coach, look I’ve done it,” Defoe told the PA news agency.

“I look at someone like Chris Hughton, who has had a long career in the game. I was with Chris at Tottenham when he was assistant and he’s managed Newcastle and Brighton, big clubs.

“He’s had a fantastic career so I look at that and I know there has not been many. Troy Deeney recently lost his job, Darren Moore too and Patrick Vieira was obviously at Palace.

“At one point I did think, ‘what is the point of going into it? Am I going to get an opportunity’?

“Because there are people I speak to with fantastic careers, icons of the game that I looked up to but these ex-players talk about not getting an interview or a call back.

“You do think about it but I just love football.

“For my journey, with what I am doing at Spurs, the badges I have got, I would like to believe I will get an opportunity.

“I don’t want a job because I am black and it ticks boxes, I want to get a job because I am good enough and I’ve done the hard work I needed to do.

“I am more than confident that when the opportunity comes, I will do well.”

Defoe, who was at St George’s Park last week for the launch of McDonald’s Fun Football free grassroots football coaching development and education programme, enjoyed an excellent first season as a coach at Tottenham.

He played his part as Stuart Lewis’ Under-18s claimed success in two Premier League Cup competitions, while this term they have reached the FA Youth Cup quarter-finals and Jamie Donley and Alfie Dorrington have been promoted into Ange Postecoglou’s first team.

“It is an exciting group. Last year was brilliant when we won two trophies,” Defoe admitted.

“We have some really exciting players and I would love to see them go on and have a career in the game.”

Defoe’s current focus is helping Spurs’ academy stars, but he has received interest from clubs over his managerial ambitions and already knows the make-up of his coaching staff when he does ultimately become a head coach.

The 20-goal England striker has also regularly watched back clips of Tottenham first-team training and praised Postecoglou for getting the club buzzing again.

Defoe added: “I’ve been at the club a long time now. Nine years as a player, second year as a coach, so I know what it feels like when the place is buzzing and the stadium is rocking at the minute.

“Of course the results are the most important thing, but the performances and how the team is playing under Ange, it has been fantastic.”

:: Jermain Defoe was supporting McDonald’s Fun Football’s new coaching qualification in partnership with Kick it Out, British Blind Sport, and England Futsal to make Fun Football the most inclusive grassroots programme in the UK. Register for your local session here – mcdonalds.co.uk/football

Son Heung-min will return to Tottenham’s training ground on Thursday after South Korea’s Asian Cup exit.

Son suffered disappointment with his nation on Tuesday after they lost 2-0 to Jordan in the semi-finals.

While the majority of the South Korea squad have returned to their home country along with manager Jurgen Klinsmann, Son headed straight to the UK and will link up with his Spurs team-mates again on Thursday.

It raises the prospect of Tottenham captain Son being available for Saturday’s visit of Brighton.

Spurs have been without Son for four matches over the past month, claiming only one victory during that period without their 12-goal attacker.

Ange Postecoglou could have Yves Bissouma in contention for the clash with Brighton after Mali were knocked out of the Africa Cup of Nations on Saturday, but the midfielder will be assessed after struggling with illness during the tournament.

What the papers say

Raphael Varane is reportedly the latest big name attracting a wealth of interest from Saudi Arabia. The Daily Star says Saudi Pro League side Al-Nassr are hoping to reunite the Manchester United defender with his former Real Madrid and Red Devils team-mate Cristiano Ronaldo, with an offer believed to be in the region of £50million a year.

The Independent reports Kylian Mbappe‘s contract negotiations with Real Madrid have hit a stumbling block. According to the paper, the two parties are yet to come to terms on the 25-year-old striker’s wage package, with an agreement believed to be a way off. However, there is belief amongst all involved – including Mbappe’s current club Paris St Germain – that a deal to take the France captain to Spain will eventually be made.

And The Telegraph reports Aston Villa has reached a verbal agreement on a new long-term contract for Jamaica winger Leon Bailey.

Social media round-upPlayers to watch

Raphinha: Journalist Paul O’Keefe says on X the Barcelona attacker is being carefully monitored by Tottenham.

Hwang Ui-jo: The Nottingham Forest striker has agreed terms to spend the rest of the season on loan at Turkish side Alanyaspor, reports Turkish outlet Sports Digitale.

Tottenham head coach Ange Postecoglou felt goalkeeper Guglielmo Vicario deserved more protection from referee Michael Oliver after Everton earned a last-gasp 2-2 draw.

The Italian, having endured a similar problem in their FA Cup exit to Manchester City last week, failed to deal with Dwight McNeil’s inswinging corner under his own crossbar which allowed Jack Harrison to equalise to initially make it 1-1.

And while the Spurs boss was reluctant to criticise the officials, he felt there could have been more intervention as Spurs missed the chance to move level on points with second-placed City.

“It just seems to be in general referees are reluctant to call these now and leave to VAR,” said Postecoglou on the first goal.

“At the moment any contact in the box referees seem reluctant to call.

“It is disappointing to concede any goal. There were about 30 set-pieces. It is stuff you have to deal with.

“It is obviously a difficult place to come and play and dominate and for the most part I thought we handled it OK.

“We started the game really well, lost a bit of our composure, the second half was OK and we created some good chances and probably needed a third to kill the game off.

“In the last 10 minutes it is almost inevitable you will be put under pressure here. We have to take it on the chin and move on.”

Everton manager Sean Dyche denied they had deliberately targeted Vicario.

“No, not necessarily. We want to be competitive on set-pieces all over the pitch. Delivery is massively important as is the intent and desire to score a goal,” he said.

“That is a large part of what we drill into the players. We do look a threat. There is no story there, it is just what we work on.

“Some weeks you give more time on (working on) the opposition but it is mostly what we work on.”

Jarrad Branthwaite’s first goal of the season deep into added time snatched a morale-boosting draw, with ex-Toffee Richarlison having scored twice for Spurs.

“Very pleased from top to bottom,” was Dyche’s assessment of the performance.

“The commitment is evident and some of the quality. They (Tottenham) started well and scored a very good goal from their point of view and then we went on the front foot and took the game on and played very well.

“At half-time I just said to the players ‘that is a very good half so we have to keep that going’. We kept our levels extremely high and deserved at least an equaliser, if not to take all three points.”

Everton defender Jarrad Branthwaite’s added-time header snatched a 2-2 draw against Tottenham to spoil two-goal Richarlison’s return to Goodison Park.

The visitors appeared on course to make it six wins in seven after quality strikes from the Brazil international, only for the Toffees’ 21-year-old centre-back, one of their players of the season, to pop up at the far post with his first goal of the campaign.

A point was as much a reward for Sean Dyche’s side’s determination as it was a punishment for Spurs not finishing off their opponents when they had the chance.

Richarlison chose not to celebrate his eighth and ninth goals in the last eight league matches in deference to fans who less than two years ago adored him for the part he played in their first escape against relegation.

But there were wild scenes in the fourth minute of additional time when Tottenham defender Cristian Romero could only flick on James Garner’s inswinging free-kick and Branthwaite ghosted in to nod past Guglielmo Vicario, who endured a difficult afternoon dealing with Everton’s set-pieces.

Dominic Calvert-Lewin’s struggles also continued as he thought he had ended a 17-game drought extending back to October by nodding in from close range for the Toffees’ first equaliser only for the goal to be credited to Jack Harrison just before the start of the second half.

There were no such doubts about Richarlison’s well-taken goals; the first after four minutes when he swept home a volley after Idrissa Gana Gueye – injuries meaning he went came straight back in the side following Senegal’s African Nations Cup exit – had allowed Destiny Udogie to run beyond him to collect Timo Werner’s pass.

But instead of pressing home their early advantage Spurs were pushed back, with Harrison’s embarrassment at missing from a couple of yards spared by an offside flag.

Everton’s best opportunities came from set-pieces, particularly with Dwight McNeil targeting Vicario with inswinging corners from the right.

It was one of those which eventually paid off as Vicario, under pressure from Garner, failed to deal with a corner under his own crossbar and James Tarkowski headed back across goal for Calvert-Lewin to nod in.

Or so he thought until intervention from the Premier League’s goal accreditation panel.

Blissfully unaware the Everton striker now had a spring in his step and only just failed to get on the end of a Harrison cross having been crowded out by centre-backs Cristian Romero and Micky van der Ven.

Everton were actually in the ascendency when Richarlison put Spurs ahead again; James Maddison and Werner combined down the left with the latter teeing up the Brazilian who, with Harrison slow to react, had time to curl a shot across and beyond Jordan Pickford.

Vicario’s legs blocked Ben Godfrey’s header and Vitalii Mykolenko’s volley was parried late in the half but Tottenham’s momentum continued after the break with Werner denied by Pickford in a one-on-one only to be flagged offside.

Pickford made a better save when it mattered to deny Richarlison his hat-trick and the visitors should have put the game beyond doubt.

That they did not should have seen Youssef Chermiti make them pay only for him to stab a shot straight at Vicario and, after fellow substitute Beto had two penalty claims turned down, up stepped Branthwaite to deliver the painful blow.

Everton are still without a league win since mid-December but the manner in which they secured a point should do wonders for morale. However, a trip to Manchester City now awaits.

Ange Postecoglou feels there is even more to come from in-form Tottenham forward Richarlison.

Richarlison made it seven goals in as many Premier League matches with the crucial third goal in Wednesday’s 3-2 win over Brentford.

Spurs have been without captain Son Heung-min for the last month due to his Asian Cup commitments, but the Brazil international has filled the void and started to repay his £60million price tag following a difficult debut campaign.

Ahead of Saturday’s trip to Everton, Postecoglou said: “For me, it’s about trying to get players to fulfil their potential and with Richy, I still think there is growth there.

“If he keeps growing, well we the football club will be the beneficiaries of it.

“The goals are obviously important because that’s everyone’s measure, but I think his general game is improving and that’s the main thing for me. That’s what I’ve seen.

“The way we play and the kind of player Richy is, I was always confident he would score goals but we need more than that. I think his work rate now defensively, which was really important when we had Sonny up there hasn’t dropped off with Richy there.

“He’s working really hard for the team and the Ks (kilometres) he did the other night was right up there. Then his link up and hold up play is improving all the time. See I love that.

“I love when players still want to improve and do improve rather than say he’s played for his national team and been here quite a while. I can see him developing further and that’s what you want as a manager and coach. For us, he’s becoming a really important player.”

Minor groin surgery in November has been cited as a key reason behind Richarlison’s improvement, but Postecoglou has also fostered an environment at Tottenham that has allowed several players to flourish after previously mixed spells at the club or elsewhere.

He placed the credit firmly with the squad, adding: “I think the team has helped, but not just Richy, it’s a really strong dressing room in terms of the guys being really supportive of each other.

“We’ve had a number of guys coming back from long-term injuries or missed football and I think the reason they’ve come back and never felt disconnected is because of the dressing room we’ve created.

“For that, you need good leaders. Sonny is definitely that and (Cristian) Romero now, over the last few weeks, has grown even more. He’s a positive influence over everyone in the group and I’m sure Richy.

 

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“I see it on a daily basis, others don’t, but if you watch Emerson Royal train every day, you’d think he plays every game.

“He’s just outstanding with his attitude and demeanour around the place.

“There’s no time for anyone to feel down.

“When you see a guy like Emerson and like Fraser (Forster) or Ben (Davies), they train so hard every day, always have the greatest disposition, it doesn’t give anyone else an excuse to not feel up for it.”

Tottenham boss Ange Postecoglou admitted he was left disappointed with one failed move on transfer deadline day – missing out on Lewis Hamilton!

Spurs were one of the most active clubs in the winter window, signing Radu Dragusin during the first half of January in a deal that could rise to £25million and bringing in Timo Werner on loan.

The Premier League’s profit and sustainability rules contributed towards a largely drama-free deadline day, which was overshadowed by news that seven-time Formula One champion Hamilton would join Ferrari from 2025.

It allowed Postecoglou the chance to have some fun at the start of his press conference ahead of Saturday’s trip to Everton.

“Probably the only disappointing one was yesterday I thought there was a really good opportunity for us but the club just didn’t feel it was the right move for us so disappointed with that,” Postecoglou explained.

“But he ended up at Ferrari so we just have to cop it… look at you all! You were ready to type away.

“I was going to pause just to let his (press officer’s) phone blow up, but it was a good one, mate, a good one.

“You had a flat day so I’m trying to spark you.”

When Postecoglou did reflect on Spurs’ business over the past month, he deemed it a job well done, especially with Dragusin and Werner signing early enough to feature in matches with Manchester United, Manchester City and Brentford.

Tottenham also sent young prospects Ash Phillips and Alfie Devine to Plymouth, while Alejo Veliz completed a loan switch to Sevilla on deadline day.

Postecoglou added: “From our perspective we had some clear objectives. One was we had a real gap at centre-back, especially after letting Davinson Sanchez go, and getting Radu in early was great and getting Timo in early was also excellent for us.

“With the absences from injury we’ve had and particularly having (Son Heung-min) away (with South Korea at the Asian Cup), the beauty of getting them in early is they’ve already made a contribution.

“If you leave it until the last day it still takes guys time to settle, but they’ve both settled in really well.

“Even in terms of outgoings, we got some good loans. Alejo was developing well with us but great for him to get some game-time in a good league at a good club. Ashley Phillips, Alfie Devine too.”

Spurs were able to move towards one important deal on Thursday after they convinced Swedish teenager Lucas Bergvall to join the club over Barcelona, the PA news agency understands.

Bergvall had been set to sign for Barca, but the 18-year-old has now agreed to put pen to paper on a long-term deal at Tottenham with the transfer set to be finalised in the coming days.

Postecoglou would not be drawn on the midfielder, although did admit Spurs’ academy is an area where they must improve.

“I think we’ve got a lot of work to do in our academy and (academy director) Simon Davies is certainly one that is putting a lot of emphasis and priority there,” he said.

“I don’t think we have the production line other top clubs have, certainly not. Even currently that’s why we’re investing in some younger players, even for the first team. For us as a football club that’s definitely the way forward.”

James Maddison insists Tottenham can still do something special this season after he got the last laugh over Neal Maupay following a chaotic 3-2 home win over Brentford.

A fiery clash between the London rivals appeared to be sparked by Maupay mocking Maddison with his own darts celebration after he put the visitors ahead in the 15th minute.

Referee David Coote struggled to control both players in the first half, but Spurs regained focus after the break and scored three times in eight minutes through Destiny Udogie, Brennan Johnson and Richarlison.

It ensured Ivan Toney’s late strike was mere consolation and Maddison was happy to poke fun at Maupay during his post-match interview before the pair traded blows on Instagram.

 

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Maddison started the war of words with the caption “a short story” beneath three pictures – one of Maupay celebrating, one of Maddison with his arms aloft and one of the final score – before the Frenchman hit back, writing: “Went a bit early with that one. Gutted we couldn’t get the win. More goals and less relegations in my career than James Maddison. We go again Monday bees.”

Asked about Maupay, Maddison told TNT Sports: “I said to him, he probably hasn’t scored enough goals of his own in the last few years to have his own celebration, so he had to copy mine. A short story and it ended well for us.”

He added: “I feel really positive. We’ve had a very stop-start season with injuries and suspensions. We started really well and had the same XI for 10 or 11 games in a row, which is very rare in the Premier League. That Chelsea game (which Spurs lost 4-1) was a crazy game.

“The main question I get asked is, ‘What’s the aim for Tottenham this year?’ I don’t think the gaffer wants to put a limit on it.

“There’s no ceiling because there’s more chance of something special happening. We’re three points behind second place, so let’s not put a ceiling on it. Let’s take it game by game.

“We could go on a run. If you don’t believe something special can happen, then nothing can ever happen.”

The Chelsea game was the match in which Maddison suffered ankle ligament damage, which ruled him out for the best part of three months.

Spurs lost four of their first five matches without him, but look well placed for a strong finish to the Premier League season.

Maddison said: “It’s lovely to be back. When you’re starved doing what you love, that reminded me why I love football.

“The first half was stop-start, a lot of stoppages, which is how they have been successful.

“Second half we created a lot of chances, scored some goals, but it’s never simple – there’s always a lot of goals at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium.”

 

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Brentford were able to leave north London with plenty of positives, with Toney on target again in his second match since he returned from a betting ban.

Toney scored under the watchful eye of England boss Gareth Southgate and has been backed to get even better.

“He has been working very hard to come back to the level,” Bees boss Thomas Frank said.

“The first game he played 90 plus 15 against Nottingham (Forest) and today also. Hopefully with a little bit more rhythm, he will come even sharper, but it is five or 10 per cent maximum.

“I think his touches look good and he is a threat.”

James Maddison and Neal Maupay were embroiled in a war of words after the Brentford forward mocked the Tottenham midfielder’s goal celebration.

Maupay opened the scoring in the 15th minute at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium on Wednesday night and celebrated by throwing a dart alongside Ivan Toney, mimicking the move Maddison and Spurs team-mate Son Heung-min have done this season.

That annoyed big darts fan Maddison, who had a heated exchange with Maupay on the goalscorer’s way back to the centre circle.

The England international had the last laugh though, with goals from Destiny Udogie, Brennan Johnson and Richarlison securing a 3-2 win for Spurs.

 

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Maddison told TNT Sports: “He’s not scored enough goals of his own to have his own celebration so he’s copied mine.”

Maddison’s comments irked Maupay, who responded on Instagram after the game mocking his opponent’s relegation with Leicester last season.

 

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The Frenchman wrote: “Went a bit early with that one.

“Gutted we couldn’t get the win. More goals and less relegations in my career than James Maddison. We go again monday bees.”

Ange Postecoglou was pleased Tottenham regained their composure to storm back to earn a crucial 3-2 home win over Brentford but told both sets of players to enter the UFC ring if they want to focus on grappling over goals.

Spurs were sluggish in the first half and trailed to Neal Maupay’s 15th-minute opener, which saw him mock James Maddison’s darts celebration and appeared to be the catalyst for a fiery contest between the London rivals.

Whatever Postecoglou said at half-time did the trick though with Tottenham scoring twice in 72 seconds through Destiny Udogie and substitute Brennan Johnson before Richarlison made it three goals in eight second-half minutes when he steered home with 56 minutes on the clock.

Ivan Toney set up a grandstand finish when he pounced on Udogie’s error to score in front of England boss Gareth Southgate, but Spurs held on to leapfrog Aston Villa and reclaim fourth spot following a chaotic encounter.

Asked if Maupay’s darts celebration had fired up his team, Postecoglou replied: “I hope not because that’s exactly what I’m talking about.

“I’m not a fan of it. I don’t like the whole bravado, pushing people around. If you’re that brave about things, my players and their players, get into a UFC cage and I’ll see how brave they are.

“We’re out there to play football and that’s what I want our guys to do, focus on playing football and they shouldn’t get motivated by things that aren’t really that important to us.

“Like I said, we got sucked in first half. Second half was better.

“I think we started the game well, started with good intensity and good tempo, obviously they score and then we lost our way.

“We lost focus. I was a bit frustrated with our inability to stay disciplined, just too many stops and starts, it kind of plays into their hands, lots of set pieces and throw ins.

“We spent more time talking to the referee than playing the game. I was a bit frustrated we lost our real clear focus.

“Second half, I think for 25-30 minutes we were outstanding, scored three great goals and probably should have had a couple more.”

Spurs started on the front foot but were rocked when Udogie gave away possession to Christian Norgaard, who sent Toney away and while Guglielmo Vicario denied him, Maupay was on hand to bundle home and score for a fourth consecutive match.

Tottenham got sucked into Brentford’s game-plan after with the rest of the first 45 stop-start and containing plenty of melees, but a double substitution at the break inspired the hosts’ comeback with Johnson and Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg introduced.

Udogie slotted home after a slick one-two with Werner, who then set up Johnson at the back post in the 49th-minute.

When Richarlison fired in for his seventh league goal in as many matches, after Maddison’s shot had been blocked, Spurs were on track for three points but another poor Udogie pass allowed Toney to tee up a dramatic finale in N17.

Maddison was forced off late on with cramp, but Postecoglou’s side survived seven minutes of stoppage-time to return to the top four.

Opposite number Thomas Frank stoked the fire further after full time when he questioned why Tottenham had allowed Maupay’s darts celebration to irritate them.

“If that’s what’s irritating them, then they have a problem,” Frank said.

“Is that fair enough? If they are talking about darts celebrations winding them up, then I think they have an issue, personally.”

On Postecoglou’s UFC suggestion, Frank added: “Yeah, I agree. Just in general concentrate on playing football.”

Youngster Conor Bradley registered his first Liverpool goal and two assists as the Premier League leaders thumped Chelsea 4-1 at Anfield to go five points clear at the top.

The 20-year-old right-back fired into the bottom corner in the 39th minute to double the Reds’ lead having earlier provided the pass that led to Diogo Jota’s opener midway through the first half.

After Darwin Nunez sent a penalty against the post in first-half stoppage-time – one of four times he hit the woodwork – the advantage was extended in the 65th minute when Dominik Szoboszlai headed in from Bradley’s cross.

Christopher Nkunku replied before Luis Diaz wrapped things up for Jurgen Klopp’s men as they made it 15 league matches unbeaten, and four successive wins, in their first top-flight outing since the German’s announcement that he is to step down as boss at the end of the season.

A miserable evening for Mauricio Pochettino’s Chelsea ended a three-match winning run as they stayed 10th.

Manchester City, who have played a game fewer than Liverpool, returned to second place with their fourth league victory on the bounce, beating struggling Burnley 3-1 at the Etihad Stadium.

Julian Alvarez netted twice on his 24th birthday and Rodri also got on the scoresheet before top-scorer Erling Haaland make his comeback from injury as a 71st-minute substitute.

Ameen Al-Dakhil netted a stoppage-time consolation for second-bottom Burnley, managed by ex-City captain Vincent Kompany, as Pep Guardiola’s treble-winners went above Arsenal on goal difference.

Tottenham moved into the top four after a flurry of goals early in the second half helped them come from behind to beat Brentford 3-2 at home.

Neal Maupay’s effort for the Bees on the quarter-hour mark was cancelled out three minutes into the second half by Destiny Udogie.

Brennan Johnson then put Spurs ahead a minute later, with Richarlison adding a further goal for the hosts seven minutes on from that.

Ivan Toney subsequently reduced the deficit in the 67th minute but Ange Postecoglou’s team emerged with the three points to leapfrog Aston Villa in the table.

Tottenham moved back into the Champions League places after three goals in eight second-half minutes fired them to a chaotic 3-2 win at home to Brentford.

Spurs were sluggish in the first half and trailed to Neal Maupay’s 15th-minute opener but Ange Postecoglou’s half-time team talk seemingly did the trick.

Destiny Udogie and substitute Brennan Johnson scored within 72 seconds of each other at the start of the second period before Richarlison grabbed his seventh goal in his last seven Premier League games.

There was still time for Ivan Toney to score again on his second appearance since his return from a betting ban but Tottenham held on to leapfrog Aston Villa and reclaim fourth spot.

Spurs were eager to bounce back after exiting the FA Cup last Friday and James Maddison was handed a start but Brentford also had their returning hero involved with Toney leading the line again.

While all eyes were on Toney, it was the Bees’ other forward who broke the deadlock.

Udogie gave away possession to Christian Norgaard who sent Toney clear and while goalkeeper uglielmo Vicario thwarted the England international, Maupay was on hand to bundle in to score for a fourth consecutive match.

Maupay and Toney celebrated by mimicking Maddison’s dart throw celebration but it was a deserved opener after Mads Roerslev had a goal ruled out for offside minutes earlier.

Postecoglou’s side initially reacted well to going behind with Timo Werner testing Mark Flekken after a fine Rodrigo Bentancur run before Werner headed wide from a Pedro Porro corner.

Richarlison then flashed an effort past the post from range but Spurs started to get sucked into Brentford’s gameplan that has earned them multiple wins at Chelsea and success at Man City during the past two seasons.

Frustration began to boil over at the away side’s pedestrian pace at set-pieces and the Bees nearly doubled their advantage when Ethan Pinnock backheeled wide after another dangerous ball into Tottenham’s penalty area.

Dejan Kulusevski and Maupay were booked by David Coote for a shoving match soon after before Vicario punched away a Toney header to ensure it was 1-0 at the break.

Postecoglou made a double change at half-time with Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg and Johnson introduced.

Werner and Udogie lacked cutting edge in the first half but combined to equalise three minutes into the second half.

Udogie carried the ball forward, played a quick one-two with Werner and, after his first effort had been blocked by Pinnock, he was on hand to slot home to make it 1-1.

The Brentford players had barely got back into position when Tottenham grabbed another.

Kulusevski sent Werner away and the RB Leipzig loanee showed a clinical edge with a fine ball to the back post where substitute Johnson tapped in.

Johnson celebrated by copying Maddison’s darts celebration and Richarlison followed suit in the 56th minute.

Tottenham were at their free-flowing best now with Udogie finding Maddison, who cut back and had a shot blocked by Pinnock but Richarlison was on hand to steer home.

Brentford remained a threat and after Toney had sent two efforts wide, he made it third time lucky in front of England manager Gareth Southgate with 67 minutes played.

It was another gift from Udogie, who failed to look up and sent his pass back straight to Toney and he rifled into the corner to set up a grandstand finish.

Maddison’s night ended early with what appeared to be cramp before the Bees created one final chance but Vicario tipped over Josh Dasilva’s close-range volley to earn Spurs a precious three points.

Chelsea’s potential outgoings could dominate transfer deadline day with speculation over Conor Gallagher and Armando Broja’s futures at the club yet to subside.

West London rivals Fulham have been linked to Broja over the last few days of the January window, while England midfielder Gallagher has been linked with a move to Tottenham throughout the month.

Spurs have been one of the busier clubs in a seemingly quieter January transfer window so far, with Radu Dragusin and Timo Werner arriving in north London, but head coach Ange Postecoglou suggested on Tuesday it would be “unlikely” to see any more signings

Financial services firm Deloitte suggested that clubs’ desire to avoid tough sanctions for financial rule breaches could be a factor in a general drop in Premier League transfer spending this month, but did not rule out a “late flurry” of activity before the 11pm deadline on Thursday.

Aston Villa have been active in the final stages of the window, with winger Morgan Rogers expected to join from Middlesbrough in a deal worth £16million.

Forward Jhon Duran has been linked with Chelsea, while Unai Emery is also keen to keep hold of Jacob Ramsey, who has been linked with Tottenham and Bayern Munich.

Speaking about the midfielder at a press conference on Monday, Emery said: “Jacob Ramsey is a very important player. He grew up in the academy and his progression is getting better.

“His level is increasing a lot and I want to keep him here with us. Of course, there are movements (speculation) around him.

“Maybe there are teams involved in the possibility to sign him because he has a big, big potential at Villa and in England. I want to keep him here, 100 per cent.”

Newcastle were another club linked with Ramsey, but Eddie Howe insisted on Monday that the Magpies had made no approach for the 22-year-old.

Howe added he is determined to keep his squad “intact” amid speculation over the futures of Kieran Trippier, Callum Wilson and Miguel Almiron throughout the window.

After securing Kalvin Phillips on loan, Portuguese winger Jota is reportedly a target for West Ham to replace Algeria winger Said Benrahma, who is likely to leave before deadline day.

Pablo Fornals could be another player to leave the Hammers and he is reportedly close to sealing a move to Real Betis.

Brighton have been linked with a move for Leicester midfielder Kiernan Dewsbury-Hall, but Seagulls boss Roberto De Zerbi remains tight-lipped about the speculation.

“I don’t know anything about him (personally); I know him as a player,” he said.

“He has great quality but it’s not my business speaking about other players, especially because (Foxes boss) Enzo Maresca is my friend and I want to be correct with him.”

There could be activity towards the bottom end of the Premier League table as Sheffield United boss Chris Wilder admitted the club will be working “frantically” to improve their squad before Thursday, while Nottingham Forest manager Nuno Espirito Santo is also hoping to bring in reinforcements.

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