Mauricio Pochettino says facing his former club Tottenham will always be "emotional", but his full focus is on guiding Chelsea through a testing period ahead of Thursday's London derby at Stamford Bridge.

Pochettino enjoyed a successful five-year stint with Spurs between 2014 and 2019, leading them to a Champions League final and to three straight top-three Premier League finishes.

He has found the going more difficult since taking over a Chelsea side still going through a transitional period under the Todd Boehly regime, with the big-spending Blues sitting ninth in the Premier League table. 

Chelsea did beat Tottenham 4-1 in a memorable return fixture in November, meaning Pochettino could become the first coach to complete a Premier League double over Spurs having previously managed them in the competition. 

"It will be emotional coming up against people who I worked with for a long period. I can't hide my emotion for the club," Pochettino told reporters on Wednesday.

"But across 90 minutes we want to win and Tottenham are going to come here to try and win."

Chelsea are five points adrift of the top seven with a game in hand, and Pochettino believes the club are taking the first steps on a path similar to that followed by his Spurs team.

"Tottenham was amazing because the challenge was to create a team that could compete with top sides," he added.

"Now at Chelsea, we are in the process of building an exciting project that needs time and this is maybe the most challenging period."

Tottenham are in desperate need of points if they are to reel in Aston Villa and secure a top-four finish, having suffered back-to-back defeats against Newcastle United (0-4) and Arsenal (2-3).

Despite their recent slide, Ange Postecoglou is in no doubt that his team have made big strides this term, saying: "What I see is us playing football, measuring ourselves against the best. 

"My players have got real belief in what we are doing. That's all I need to see."

PLAYERS TO WATCH

Chelsea – Cole Palmer

Palmer, whose tally of 20 Premier League goals this term has only been bettered by Erling Haaland (21), has scored hat-tricks in each of his last two home games, netting three goals against Manchester United and four versus Everton.

The only player to ever score three or more goals in three straight home Premier League matches is Haaland, who did so against Crystal Palace, Nottingham Forest and United last season.

Tottenham – Guglielmo Vicario

Vicario failed to command his area from corners as Arsenal scored twice from such situations in last week's North London derby, and it's an area in which the Italian needs to improve.

Only United (15.3) and Burnley (14.9) have allowed their opponents a higher cumulative expected goals (xG) figure from set-piece situations than Tottenham's 14.3 in the Premier League this season, though Chelsea's tally of 83 shots from dead-balls is a league-low number.

MATCH PREDICTION – DRAW

Chelsea have a great record against their London rivals, recording 34 Premier League wins over Spurs. Only United have beaten them more often in the competition, with 39 victories. 

At Stamford Bridge, Chelsea have only lost one of the last 33 league meetings between the sides, going down 3-1 in April 2018 when Pochettino was in the Tottenham dugout.

Tottenham are looking to avoid suffering three straight Premier League defeats for the second time this season, having also done so in November – a run which began with their 4-1 defeat in the reverse fixture against Chelsea. 

Postecoglou's men could think themselves unfortunate on that occasion, though, missing several good chances to get back into the game despite being reduced to nine men by red cards for Cristian Romero and Destiny Udogie. 

One thing is for certain – goals should be expected. Chelsea have already conceded 59 Premier League goals this term, their most in a single campaign in the competition, while Spurs have shipped 52 and failed to keep a clean sheet in their last six matches. An entertaining draw could be on the cards. 

OPTA WIN PROBABILITY

Chelsea – 39.9%

Tottenham – 32.6%

Draw 27.5%

Howard Webb admitted officials got one of the big decisions wrong in Nottingham Forest's controversial Premier League defeat to Everton this month.

Forest were beaten 2-0 at Goodison Park on April 21 but were left fuming that referee Anthony Taylor did not award a penalty despite three separate calls involving Ashley Young.

Following the game, Forest released a controversial statement on the social media platform X - formerly Twitter - that hinted at the fact VAR Stuart Attwell was a fan of relegation rivals Luton Town and should not have been involved in the game.

Webb was speaking about the incidents on the Mic'd Up TV programme and claimed that while the first decisions were "really subjective calls", the third one , which saw Young challenge Callum Hudson-Odoi, should have resulted in a penalty for Nuno Espirito Santo's team.

"The referee waves away the penalty appeal. The VAR looks at it and asks himself the question, 'Was the non-award clearly and obviously wrong?' and came to the conclusion it wasn't," Webb said.

"He doesn't see a clear action by Young that he considers to be worthy of intervention, one that reaches the threshold of being very clear.

"But we would have preferred an intervention for the referee to go to the screen to make a judgement for himself in this situation and probably would have come out with a different outcome if that would've happened."

"The game is played by human beings, it's officiated by human beings. And obviously our job is to try to ensure that we have a positive impact on the game by identifying correct decisions on the field. This wasn't one.

"But of course they're humans making judgements as well, so we always are trying to reduce the number of errors that we that we make."

Webb also said referee Michael Oliver will have been "really disappointed" to have not originally spotted a foul by Declan Rice on Ben Davies as Arsenal beat Tottenham 3-2 in the North London derby on Sunday, with a VAR intervention eventually awarding a spot-kick.

"I know Michael [Oliver] will be really disappointed," added Webb.

"He had a really good game. He's one of our top referees and one of the top referees in the world."

Ange Postecoglou admitted "I don't celebrate goals any more" after VAR denied Tottenham during their north London derby defeat by Arsenal.

Spurs were beaten 3-2 by their rivals, who kept their Premier League title challenge on track, despite a late rally having trailed 3-0 at half-time at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium.

Trailing 1-0 to Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg's own-goal, the hosts thought they had equalised when Micky van de Ven slotted past David Raya, However, the decision to award the goal was overturned following a VAR review with the defender adjudged to be offside.

Arsenal took advantage of their let-off with Bukayo Saka and Kai Havertz increasing their lead, while second-half strikes from Cristiano Romero and Heung-Min Son proved academic for Tottenham.

"Games aren’t refereed in the stadium any more," Postecoglou told reporters during his post-match press conference. "I don’t celebrate goals any more.

"You've got to wait for somebody down the road. It’s a shame, I don’t like it, but I’ve got to accept it."

The Spurs boss was pleased with his side's response after the break, and hopes his players will benefit from the disappointment of losing the derby.

"It's a big day for our club and our fans, and we didn't get the outcome we wanted, so it's obviously very disappointing," he added on SpursTalk.

"You can go out in the second half and accept your fate that it's not your day, but we had to show some resilience and fight - just for our supporters more than anything else. To be fair to the lads, they did that.

"We just lacked some focus today in key moments, particularly in the first half. Sometimes, you've got to feel the pain of it to learn that lesson properly."

Mikel Arteta was "praying" Arsenal clung on as the Gunners held off a late Tottenham fightback to claim a 3-2 north London derby victory on Sunday.

Arsenal looked to be cruising at 3-0 up after a Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg own-goal put the Gunners ahead at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, before Bukayo Saka and Kai Havertz extended the visitors' lead.

However, a David Raya mistake allowed Cristian Romero to cut the deficit before a Son Heung-min penalty threw Arsenal's lead into further peril after Declan Rice brought down Ben Davies.

The Gunners held on, though, despite some late pressure, a period in which Arteta conceded he was fearing the worst.

"I was praying," Arteta told reporters. "It was a really emotional game.

"3-0 up you're in control, and then an individual error happens that clicks something. We started to deal with the situation better, but they have the players to put a lot of courage forward."

Along with the derby day spoils, the win extends Arsenal's lead at the Premier League summit to four points, temporarily at least with closest rivals Manchester City taking on Nottingham Forest later on Sunday in the first of their two games in hand over the Gunners.

The destination of the title remains in the hands of Pep Guardiola's City, who overtook Arsenal last term to claim a fifth Premier League title in six seasons last term after the Gunners led for much of the way.

Arteta believes Arsenal are better-equipped this time to go on and win the title, however.

When asked if Arsenal have the ability to go all the way, Arteta replied: "100%.

"I’ve seen that the whole season. They give me reason to believe that every single day. The motivation for what is ahead is beautiful."

Bukayo Saka saluted Arsenal's fighting spirit as they withstood a late Tottenham revival to claim all three points in the north London derby.

Mikel Arteta's side prevailed 3-2 at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium to extend their lead at the Premier League summit to four points over second-place Manchester City with three matches remaining, though the Citizens still have two games in hand.

The Gunners surged into a 3-0 lead before half-time with Saka and Kai Havertz on target after Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg's own-goal broke the deadlock.

The winger's 15th goal of the season - his highest tally during a single term - saw him become the first English player to score home and away for Arsenal against Tottenham in the same Premier League campaign since Ian Wright in 1993-94.

However, the visitors given a late scare with Cristian Romero pouncing on David Raya's error to pull a goal back, before Heung-Min Son's 87th-minute penalty set up a grandstand finish.

Nevertheless, they held on for three points and, though the destiny of the title is out of their hands, their challenge remains very much alive.

"The last 20 minutes weren't nice, but it was worth it," Saka told Sky Sports.

"We know it's a big derby, and they don't want to lose 3-0 at home. Once they got one goal, the crowd were up and the momentum shifted their way. But I'm proud of the boys. We fought until the end, and got the three points.

"We showed our level heads at the end, and I'm proud to get the win. We know what it means to the fans and to us, so we're delighted.

"This is a massive win for us. We've got three [matches] to go, we're going to give it everything. City are an amazing team, but they're not perfect - nobody's perfect, they can drop points. We just need to do our job and see where it leads us."

Arsenal survived a late scare to move four points clear at the Premier League summit following a 3-2 win at rivals Tottenham in Sunday's north London derby.

The Gunners cruised into a 3-0 half-time lead thanks to an own goal from Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg along with Bukayo Saka's strike and Kai Havertz's header.

Yet a second-half collapse looked to be on the cards when Cristian Romero punished David Raya’s error before Son Heung-min pulled another back from the spot. However, the Gunners ultimately held on.

Arsenal, at least temporarily, tightened their grip on top spot ahead of second-placed Manchester City, who play the first of their two games in hand against Nottingham Forest later on Sunday, while Tottenham remain seven points off the top four in fifth.

The Gunners broke through after 15 minutes when Hojbjerg inadvertently nodded Saka’s inswinging corner beyond Guglielmo Vicario at his near post.

Spurs responded, and after Romero headed against the post, Micky van de Ven thought he had levelled when he slotted home from close range. However, the decision to award the goal was overturned following a VAR review with the defender adjudged to be offside.

Arsenal doubled their lead in the 27th minute following a swift counter that saw Havertz pick out Saka, who cut inside before slotting past Vicario.

Havertz then got in on the act before half-time, heading home Declan Rice’s corner from inside the six-yard box.

Yet an error by Raya gifted Spurs a lifeline after the break, when Romero pounced on the goalkeeper’s poor clearance to reduce the hosts’ arrears.

Matters were made more fraught for the Gunners late on, when a VAR check confirmed a penalty should be awarded to Spurs for Rice’s foul on Ben Davies.

Son lashed a brilliant spot-kick into the left-hand corner, yet a late Spurs onslaught ultimately came to nothing, as the Gunners secured another big win.

Saka shines in the derby limelight

The destiny of the Premier League title may be in Man City’s hands, but Arsenal are still very much in the hunt after a second London derby victory this week.

Mikel Arteta’s side, who thumped Chelsea 5-0 on Tuesday, have bounced back brilliantly from their defeat to Aston Villa two weeks ago, scoring 10 goals in three games while conceding just twice.

After his corner led to the opening goal, Saka doubled the lead with his 15th league strike of this term – his most in a single season – while he became the first English player to score home and away for Arsenal against Tottenham in a single campaign since Ian Wright 30 years ago (1993-94).

The damage was effectively done when Havertz headed in the Gunners’ 16th goal from a corner this season, the most in a single campaign since West Bromwich Albion in 2016-17 (also 16), though Arteta will have been concerned by their near slip at the end.

Spurs' struggles on home soil continue

The 195th north London derby culminated in Tottenham losing successive home league games against Arsenal for the first time since 1988.

Despite their best efforts in the second half, it was always going to be difficult to turn things around against the side that has now won all 16 matches when leading at half-time this season.

Now without a win in four meetings against their rivals, they have also tasted success just once in five home outings against the Gunners.

With their own title hopes undented by their rivals, Arsenal will hope Tottenham can instead harm City’s chances when they host them on May 14.

Harry Kane surpassed the 400-goal mark for his senior career as his double helped Bayern Munich beat Eintracht Frankfurt 2-1 at the Allianz Arena on Saturday.

Kane moved within one of the milestone as he put Bayern 1-0 up after just nine minutes, coolly finishing from close range after Konrad Laimer's pass had set him up.

Then, after Frankfurt levelled through Hugo Ekitike, Kane slotted home a penalty with typical aplomb following a foul on Thomas Muller to move himself onto 400 career goals and ultimately lead Bayern to victory.

Kane scored 280 of his goals in 435 appearances for Tottenham, overtaking Jimmy Greaves to become the club's all-time leading scorer when he netted for the 267th time in Spurs colours against Manchester City last February.

His tally of 213 Premier League goals, meanwhile, puts him just 47 behind the competition's all-time leader Alan Shearer, who scored 260 times for Blackburn Rovers and Newcastle United.

Kane is also the most prolific player in England's history, his 62 goals for the Three Lions coming in 89 international appearances. 

He memorably missed the chance to surpass Wayne Rooney's previous record of 53 when he blazed a penalty over the crossbar in the Three Lions' quarter-final defeat to France at the 2022 World Cup, only to clinch his place in history in a Euro 2024 qualifier against Italy three months later.

The very first goal of Kane's senior career came in League One during a loan spell with Leyton Orient as they thrashed Sheffield Wednesday 4-0 in January 2011.

That was the first of five goals Kane scored in O's colours, while he also netted nine times in a loan spell with Millwall in 2011-12 and twice during a stint with Leicester City the following season.

Mikel Arteta is looking to prove the Opta supercomputer wrong as Arsenal prepare for perhaps the biggest test of their Premier League title credentials, in Sunday's North London derby at Tottenham.

Arsenal began the weekend one point clear of Manchester City at the top of the table, though Pep Guardiola's men have a game in hand and have been in ominous form lately, winning their last four league matches. 

Five wins for City will ensure they retain their crown, and according to the Opta supercomputer, the champions started the weekend with a 71.7% chance of topping the pile, compared to 26.6% for Arsenal and just 1.7% for Liverpool.

Arteta hopes to see Arsenal's figure boosted by a derby win, saying: "I don't know what to say, hopefully we can trick that computer and make it a bit higher! 

"Maybe it needs to update the software, we need to help it or give it more tools. Hopefully we can change that!

"We are there. We have to look at ourselves and try to perform in the best possible way to win our matches and I can't wait to see what happens.

"We had a big win in the last London derby against Chelsea and now we have another big one. I'm sure if we're going to win the league, we're going to have to beat Spurs as well."

Tottenham, meanwhile, need points if they are to overhaul Aston Villa in the battle for Champions League qualification, with fifth place now extremely unlikely to be enough.

Ange Postecoglou, though, is more interested in seeing how Spurs measure up to a side they hope to challenge in the future.

"We understand the importance of the game but ultimately, it's still about us measuring ourselves against the teams we want to be challenging on a more consistent basis," Postecoglou said.

"It's a great opportunity to do that on Sunday."

PLAYERS TO WATCH

Tottenham – Son Heung-min 

Son scored twice for Spurs in the reverse fixture against Arsenal in September – a 2-2 draw at the Emirates Stadium. In all competitions, only five players have scored more goals in the fixture's history than Son's seven. 

The only player to score multiple goals in both north London derby matches in a league season was Arsenal's Ted Drake, who did so back in 1934-35.

Arsenal – Martin Odegaard 

Odegaard has been involved in six goals in his last six away appearances in the Premier League, scoring three and assisting three.

The Gunners captain was in mesmerising form in Tuesday's 5-0 win over Chelsea, leading all players on the pitch for assists (two), chances created (eight), passes into the final third (34) and duels won (eight). A repeat performance would be huge for the visitors' title hopes.

MATCH PREDICTION – ARSENAL WIN

Tottenham have won just one of their last six Premier League games against Arsenal (one draw, four defeats), with their four losses in this span as many as they had suffered in their previous 16 against the Gunners (six wins, six draws).

They also lost this exact fixture 2-0 last season, meaning the Gunners could win on back-to-back league trips to Tottenham for the first time since enjoying a run of three victories there between 1987 and 1988.

Arteta's men know there is no margin for error with the title race in City's hands.

Even a draw could prove fatal to their hopes – at the end of the 2015-16 season, the North London derby was the most drawn fixture in Premier League history, with 20 of 48 meetings finishing level (42 per cent). Since then, only four matches between these rivals have seen the points shared (27 per cent).

Arsenal have kept six straight clean sheets on their travels in the Premier League, with only two teams ever keeping seven in a row – Chelsea from September to December 2008 and Manchester United from November to February in 2008-09. The Gunners should have enough to grind out a huge win.

OPTA WIN PROBABILITY

Tottenham – 31%

Arsenal – 41.3% 

Draw – 27.7%

Ange Postecoglou insists Tottenham must focus on themselves heading into the north London derby with Arsenal, rather than on denting their rivals' Premier League title hopes.

With four matches remaining, the Gunners are a point clear at the summit from reigning champions Manchester City, who still have a game in hand on Mikel Arteta's side in second place. 

While Arsenal look to stay very much in the hunt for a first league crown in 20 years, fifth-place Tottenham will aim to reduce their six-point deficit to fourth-place Aston Villa, on whom they have two games in hand.

Spurs are winless in the last three north London derbies - winning just one of the most recent six - though they twice came from behind to earn a point in September's reverse fixture at the Emirates Stadium.

And Postecoglou has his sights firmly set on beating his side's rivals, and says his players are not driven by the prospect of thwarting their opponents' title bid.

"Not in terms of that as a motivation," he said when asked if he would like to dent Arsenal's title hopes.

"I understand the importance of winning against your traditional rival. I never believe your motivation should revolve around the demise of somebody else.

"Your motivation should be about yourself. We can win on Sunday, but it doesn't mean we are title contenders this year. I want to win because I want us to progress. I want us to be in a position fighting for the title.

"If that's your kind of measure, always peering over the back fence to see what your neighbour's building, you could both have the worst houses in the street because everyone else is building beautiful places, and you're looking over the back fence."

Tottenham have confirmed left-back Destiny Udogie will miss the rest of the season after undergoing surgery on his left thigh.

Udogie has flourished in his first campaign in the Premier League and made 30 appearances in all competitions for Spurs.

The Italian defender has caught the eye with his ventures into midfield under Ange Postecoglou but he revealed on Saturday night his 2023-24 campaign was over.

Spurs said in a statement on their website: “We can confirm that Destiny Udogie has undergone surgery to his left quadriceps, having sustained an injury in training earlier this week.

“The defender will continue his rehabilitation with our medical staff and is expected to rejoin the squad during pre-season.”

News of Udogie’s injury is untimely for a Tottenham team who lost 4-0 at Newcastle last weekend. Spurs lost ground in the battle for Champions League qualification as a result and are currently three points behind fourth-placed Aston Villa.

Tottenham’s top-four prospects have been dealt a blow after full-back Destiny Udogie was ruled out for the rest of the season.

Udogie has flourished in his first campaign in the Premier League and made 30 appearances in all competitions for Spurs.

The Italian defender has caught the eye with his ventures into midfield under Ange Postecoglou, but revealed in a post on Instagram that he had surgery on an unspecified injury and would not play again in the 2023-24 season.

 

View this post on Instagram

A post shared by DESTINY UDOGIE (@udogiethree)

 

“An injury brings my season to an early end,” Udogie wrote.

“It doesn’t take away from how grateful I am to every person that has supported me this year.”

News of Udogie’s injury is untimely for a Tottenham team who lost 4-0 at Newcastle last weekend.

Spurs lost ground in the battle for Champions League qualification as a result and are currently three points behind fourth-placed Aston Villa.

Jose Mourinho was sacked as manager of Tottenham on this day in 2021, less than a week before he was due to lead them out for the Carabao Cup final.

Spurs’ Premier League form was what ultimately cost the Portuguese his job, with his last match in charge a 2-2 draw with Everton which left Tottenham seventh, five points off the Champions League places and with just one win from their last five league games.

Mourinho’s dismissal after just 17 months at the helm was announced hours after Tottenham had confirmed they intended to join a breakaway European Super League, plans that were swiftly aborted after fans’ backlash, although that was unrelated to the Portuguese’s axing.

The 58-year-old was denied the chance of delivering the club’s first piece of silverware in 13 years, with academy coach Ryan Mason put in caretaker charge as Tottenham lost 1-0 to Manchester City in the EFL Cup showpiece.

Spurs striker Harry Kane, whose form that season had been a bright spot with 47 goal contributions in 43 games, wrote on Twitter: “Thank you for everything Boss. A pleasure to have worked together. I wish you all the best for your next chapter.”

Tottenham chairman Daniel Levy spoke of his regret following Mourinho’s departure, having long coveted the former Chelsea and Real Madrid boss.

Levy said on the club’s official website: “Jose and his coaching staff have been with us through some of our most challenging times as a club.

“Jose is a true professional who showed enormous resilience during the (Covid-19) pandemic. On a personal level I have enjoyed working with him and regret that things have not worked out as we both had envisaged.

“He will always be welcome here and we should like to thank him and his coaching staff for their contribution.”

Mason remained steward until the end of the season before making way for Mourinho’s fellow Portuguese Nuno Espirito Santo, who had a disappointing four-month spell in charge

Chelsea pair Nicolas Jackson and Noni Madueke are not the first team-mates to clash on a football pitch.

Cole Palmer’s four-goal haul in the Blues’ 6-0 win over Everton on Monday was overshadowed by what boss Mauricio Pochettino called an “unacceptable” altercation over who should take a second-half penalty.

Palmer, the club’s designated penalty-taker, finally took charge, following intervention from captain Conor Gallagher, recovering his composure to score his fourth.

Jackson and Madueke follow a long line of club colleagues to have had a very public difference of opinion. Here, the PA news agency takes a look at some previous incidents.

Lee Bowyer and Kieron Dyer

Perhaps the classic of the genre, the Newcastle team-mates came to blows towards the end of a 3-0 home defeat by Aston Villa in April 2005, Dyer grabbing Bowyer by the throat and the pair trading punches before being separated by Villa’s Gareth Barry. Both men were dismissed by referee Barry Knight – defender Steven Taylor had earlier been sent off for handball – and later hauled before the media by manager Graeme Souness to apologise for their conduct.

Graeme Le Saux and David Batty

Blackburn’s Le Saux was left with a painful reminder of his bust-up with David Batty during a 3-0 Champions League defeat at Spartak Moscow in November 1995. Four minutes into the game, the pair collided as both tried to retrieve a Mike Newell pass and Batty made his displeasure abundantly clear. The row descended into a pushing match before Le Saux – he later insisted in self-defence – struck out, breaking his left hand during a scuffle in which intervening skipper Tim Sherwood took a blow to the cheek.

Hugo Lloris and Son Heung-min

Tottenham keeper Lloris and striker Son became involved in a heated row on the pitch as the half-time whistle sounded in a 1-0 Premier League victory over Everton in July 2020. Lloris angrily confronted the South Korea international over his failure to track back and the pair had to be separated by team-mates Giovani Lo Celso and Harry Winks. The spat continued down the tunnel and into the dressing room, although the two men embraced after the final whistle.

Derek Hales and Mike Flanagan

Charlton strike partners Hales and Flanagan came to blows during an FA Cup tie against Maidstone in January 1979. The source of the spat was allegedly Flanagan reacting to Hales failing to pass to him by making a disparaging remark about his team-mate’s genitals. Both were sent off.

Craig Levein and Graeme Hogg

The Hearts duo became involved in a disagreement during a pre-season friendly at Raith in August 1994 after their side had almost conceded. Both men threw punches, but it was Levein’s which did the damage, breaking Hogg’s nose. He was sent off as he was being carried off on a stretcher with Levein suffering the same fate, and they were later handed 10 and 12-match bans respectively.

What the papers say

The Sun reports that Chelsea are seeking contract extensions for midfielder Enzo Fernandez and winger Mykhailo Mudryk. The two 23-year-olds’ previous long-term deals would be extended by another year.

The Daily Mail reports that Liverpool are considering Sunderland goalkeeper Anthony Patterson as a potential replacement for Caoimhin Kelleher.

According to the Telegraph, ex-Chelsea and Everton boss Frank Lampard has dropped out of the running to become the new head coach of Canada’s national team.

Social media round-upPlayers to watch

Tosin Adarabioyo: Tottenham have made an offer to the Fulham defender, says Teamtalk, as they try to beat Manchester United in the race to sign the 26-year-old.

Viktor Gyokeres: Manchester United are keen on the Sweden striker from Sporting Lisbon but fear Liverpool may scupper their signing chances, reports HITC.

Djed Spence: Tottenham’s 23-year-old right-back is one of several senior players expected to leave the club this summer, claims Football Insider.

Eddie Howe has thanked the Newcastle hierarchy for backing him in his hour of need after emerging from a dark winter.

The Magpies romped to a 4-0 Premier League victory over top-four candidates Tottenham at St James’ Park on Saturday to boost their own hopes of European qualification despite missing 11 players through injury or suspension, six of whom could be conceivably named in his strongest starting line-up.

It was their third win in four games since the international break, a run in stark contrast to a sequence of eight defeats in 10 outings in all competitions around the turn of the year, during which the club’s Saudi-backed owners remained steadfast despite the first murmurings of disquiet around their 46-year-old head coach.

Howe said: “I always say the most important thing for me is not during the good times, but the difficult moments which will inevitably be there.

“There will always be negative and difficult moments and it’s the support you get then that is the defining factor.

“You need stability, calmness, level heads and to be allowed to focus on your work. The people behind the scenes have done all of that for me.”

Howe, his staff and his players have done much the same in the face of an injury list which has remained stubbornly lengthy throughout a challenging campaign.

On Saturday, they started with their back-up goalkeeper Martin Dubravka, winger Jacob Murphy at right-back, third-choice right-back Emil Krafth and left-back Dan Burn playing as two of three central defenders and left-sided frontman Anthony Gordon operating on the right.

But it was the way in which the players implemented Howe’s game-plan to the letter which won the day as they lured Spurs into their trap by allowing them possession and then hitting them with devastating counter-punches.

Alexander Isak and Anthony Gordon punished two errors from defender Micky van de Ven inside as many first-half minutes to set the ball rolling, and the imperious Sweden international ran away from his Netherlands counterpart after the break to make it 3-0 before Fabian Schar completed the job at the death with a bullet header.

With six games to go, Newcastle could yet drag themselves to within three points of last season’s tally of 71 – and they will have key midfielder Bruno Guimaraes available to aid their cause after he safely negotiated an 11th outing on nine bookings – although Howe is refusing to look too far ahead.

He said: “We’ve got a long way to go to get there. Six games to go and we’ll give our best to try to win every one.”

Opposite number Ange Postecoglou headed back south chastened, but ready to come out fighting once again.

He said: “There’s no point sitting around feeling sorry for yourself. There’s another game in two weeks. We’ve just got to get ready for that.

“It’s not the first time it’s happened to us and it won’t be the last. It’s part of our growth. Sometimes that growth is painful. That’s part of it and you’ve just got to embrace it, use it and get ready for the next challenge.”

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