Join soccerly to save and share the best soccer stories
Sign up with Facebook
By login in with Facebook you agree on the terms and conditions specified here


Ahead of the resumption of Premier League hostilities this weekend, Tottenham Hotspur defender Jan Vertonghen said that he believes Manchester City should be regarded as favorites for this season’s title.  Tottenham will travel to Manchester on Sunday afternoon to take on City, and while both clubs had been talked up as title contenders, it is a game that sees eighth take on seventh, not positions that either club would want to be in, even this early in the season.

Although both clubs have struggled for consistency thus far, Vertonghen told Sky Sports he believes City will be on top after 38 games, while also acknowledging the unpredictability of the league this season.

He said, "[This season] It's really crazy.

"I think if we'd won against Newcastle [they lost 0-1 owing to Tim Krul’s heroics], we'd be joint second now - but we're seventh.

"It's unbelievable how we play City and United next.  It's very hard this year.  [Vincent] Kompany already said it will be the toughest league in years to finish top.  We have to be at our best to finish in the top four.

"City I think is the best team in the league.  Arsenal are doing very well of course.  But especially in home games, City is the team to beat."

Vertonghen's analysis is certainly endorsed by the bookmakers, all of whom continue to have City as clear favorites to win the title, with Arsenal generally being the team close behind.

As Vertonghen alluded to, Tottenham face a challenging next two games against the two Manchester clubs, before away trips to Fulham and Sunderland then lead into fixtures against Liverpool and Southampton.  All of these fixtures can be expected to provide a stern test, albeit for differing reasons, and how Tottenham are looking will give an idea as to whether they can challenge even for the top four, let alone the title itself.


Tottenham Hotspur closed in on a place in the Europa League knockout stages with a hard-earned 2-0 win away to Moldovan champions Sheriff Tiraspol on Thursday.

It was a hard-earned win for Andre Villas-Boas' side, with Sheriff applying plenty of pressure, but ultimately the Premier League team's class shone through. Villas-Boas made wholesale changes to the Spurs team that had beaten Aston Villa on domestic duty on Sunday but the visitors needed just 12 minutes to open the scoring.

On their first attack, captain for the night Jan Vertonghen headed home Christian Eriksen's cross to settle Tottenham down on the tricky trip to Transnistria, a territory that claims independence from Moldova itself. A Sheriff side with a heavy African and Brazilian influence might have drawn level moments later but Vlad Chiriches made a stunning last-gasp clearance to stop Luvannor Henrique from scoring after rounding Hugo Lloris. The hosts then had a goal disallowed but they remained very much in the contest until Jermain Defoe made sure of the win in the 75th minute with a deflected strike that saw him equal Martin Chivers' record of 22 European goals for Spurs.

The north London club have the maximum nine points from three games in Group K and lead the section by five points from Anzhi Makhachkala, the Russians who beat Tromso 1-0.


Tottenham Hotspur manager André Villas-Boas has called the Football Association's failure to ban Chelsea's Fernando Torres for scratching Jan Vertonghen a "disgrace".

Spain forward Torres was seen by television cameras to have clawed at the face of Spurs' Belgian defender during a 1-1 Premier League draw involving the London clubs at White Hart Lane on Saturday.

However, as one of the match officials saw some, but not all, of the incident, the FA said Tuesday it would not be taking additional action -- a move Villas Boas labelled "farcical". Villas-Boas, while wary of provoking a fresh row with Portuguese mentor José Mourinho, now in his second spell as Chelsea manager, said he couldn't understand how the FA, English football's governing body, had come to its "joke" conclusion.

"Obviously, it is almost a farcical decision," Villas-Boas said Wednesday."It doesn't matter to me which player or club is involved. Neither do I want to with my words put into question Fernando's integrity; neither their manager's, in trying to defend what is our position. I think the FA has made a decision almost a joke. It looks incredible. How can you see the images, pretty clear, and come out without punishment, on something (which) overtakes all professional behaviour? I think the decision is a disgrace." 

"We don't want Fernando suspended because it can make them weaker, because their bench is so strong, but I think the FA has lost all opportunity to put some sense into the images everybody saw."

Torres was subsequently sent off after receiving two yellow cards, meaning he will serve just a one-match ban.

This season has seen the FA introduce a new system where three former referees will look at incidents retrospectively and decide if charges should be brought. Previously, action was only taken if the match referee viewed the footage and judged whether he should have in fact sent a player off.

However, in both cases if any match official saw some of the incident, even if not in its absolute entirety, then the FA cannot take further action. 

The FA, explaining its decision, said Tuesday: "In these particular circumstances, in line with the FA's policy on when retrospective action may be taken, reviewed this summer by the game's stakeholders (the Premier League, the Football League, the Professional Footballers' Association, the League Managers' Association, Professional Game Match Officials Limited and the National Game), no action may be taken."

There is a general rule of thumb in soccer that says defenders should either let the ball pass or the opponent, but never both. Tottenham's Jan Vertonghen however, has come up with a new way of stopping strikers.

In the League Cup match between Aston Villa and Tottenham, Villa's striker Nicklas Helenius was set to score when Jan Vertonghen found a way to stop him from behind. The Belgian defender didn't trip Helenius, nor did he shove him, instead Vertonghen pulled his shorts down, which distracted the Danish striker who sent the ball flying over the Tottenham goal. 

The ruling on the field should have been a penalty kick, but the referee did not blow his whistle. What more evidence did the ref need to call a foul than the shameful scene of Helenius having his shorts down to his ankles?

The Premier League's top teams swarmed to Asia chasing the region's growing wealth and unquenchable thirst for English football, but they go home counting the fitness costs. At least two key players -- Jan Vertonghen of Spurs and Matija Nastasic of Manchester City -- suffered injuries during lucrative friendlies that could see them miss the start of the season, which kicks off in under three weeks.

Manchester United's Wayne Rooney was in Bangkok for less than 24 hours when he sustained a hamstring injury in training and was immediately sent back to Britain for rehabilitation. He is at least expected back before the start of the season and is pencilled in for a return on August 6.

Trips to Asia are becoming a hugely important revenue source for clubs keen to cash in on television and sponsorship deals, fees from friendly matches and sales of official merchandise. But while the clubs' moneymen rub their hands together at the ever-increasing demand for live appearances across the continent, coaches and players alike have admitted the demanding schedule is exhausting.

Spurs manger Andre Villas-Boas was in open revolt after seeing Vertonghen, a first-choice defender, pick up an ankle injury playing on a surface in Hong Kong that his Sunderland counterpart Paolo Di Canio branded "a killer pitch".

"If I can be sincere, I would prefer not to play, but this is the reality that we have to face," said the Portuguese on the eve of his side's friendly against South China.

After seeing his team hammer the hopelessly outclassed local side 6-0, Villas-Boas said that he was just relieved to get out without any more injuries. Hours later Manchester City manager Manuel Pellegrini found himself in the same boat when he lost first-pick centre-half Nastasic, also at Hong Kong Stadium, where days of heavy rain had the players slipping and sliding dangerously. The young Serbian's injury was caused by a kick to the ankle, said Pellegrini, refusing to blame the muddy pitch. Nastasic appeared to be in considerable pain as he was stretchered from the field in front of a 40,000 sell-out crowd.

Manchester United were the most ambitious, jet-setting on a whistlestop tour of Thailand, Australia, Japan and Hong Kong. They played five times in just 17 days. Their manager David Moyes said it was inevitable players would pick up minor injuries in such a tight schedule.

"When you've been away for three weeks and played the games in quick succession and had to travel there's always going to be slight niggles and strains which you want to protect," he said.

His Arsenal counterpart Arsene Wenger, whose side embarked on a two-week tour that took in Vietnam, Japan and Indonesia -- where temperatures nudged above 32 degrees Celsius (90F) -- also admitted four games in 13 days had taken its toll.

"We are well advanced in our preparation," Wenger said. "It depends now on how quickly we'll recover from that trip because it was very difficult. It will take a few days to recover from that."

The England striker Jermain Defoe, who hit a hat-trick in the romp over South China, was another to admit that playing on the other side of the world in the fierce summer heat and humidity had been draining.

"A lot of the boys have been really tired to be honest, as you can imagine with the time difference and training twice a day," he said.

"But it's a long season and you need to get fit. It's not a holiday, at the end of the day. We've had six or seven weeks to have our holidays and that, and now it's time to work."

Liverpool were also in town, playing friendlies in Indonesia, Australia and Thailand that racked up a total of seven goals, but thankfully for manager Brendan Rodgers there were no significant injury worries.