Tottenham boss Mauricio Pochettino is counting down the final few hours of the European transfer window before he can hit the reset button with his squad.
Pochettino has been managing a difficult situation at Spurs as a number of his group have been unsettled while the prospect of a move to Europe was still a possibility.
The Premier League season is well under way, but the future of Christian Eriksen, Toby Alderweireld, Jan Vertonghen, Danny Rose, Victor Wanyama and Serge Aurier has been in doubt.
But the window closes at 17:00 on Monday and Pochettino, who is not expecting any departures, is looking forward to be able to work with a settled squad.
“I was a little bit worried about the situation, because we knew very well what was going on,” he said.
“I am optimistic, happy, what is most important is to all be on the same page, with the club.
“That players have a clear idea where we want to arrive and how we want to move, clear minds like today Christian and different players, tomorrow they’re only going to be focused on Tottenham, not on thinking about different things that make management so difficult.”
Eriksen’s situation has been the most unsettled after he spoke about a desire for a fresh challenge, but the move to a top European club he wished for has not materialised.
He played 90 minutes in Sunday’s 2-2 draw with Arsenal and outlined his importance to the club with his 50th Premier League goal.
Pochettino says, barring any late twists in the tale, the Dane will be a Spurs player on Tuesday.
“There are still hours or one day,” he said. “I want to say it is going to be impossible but it is going to be difficult (for him to leave).
“I think nothing is impossible in football, but the most important thing is that it is only 24 hours and I hope that everything will be clear for everyone.”
As well as toasting the closing transfer window Spurs could also have been celebrating three points at Arsenal in a thrilling north London derby where they led 2-0.
Eriksen tapped in from close range and then Harry Kane’s penalty – his 10th goal in 10 games against Arsenal – doubled the lead.
But the Gunners crucially got one back on the stroke of half-time through Alexandre Lacazette and then Pierre Emerick-Aubameyang’s equaliser earned a point.
The point was the least Arsenal deserved as they were camped in Tottenham’s half after the break and boss Unai Emery felt his side could have won.
“Obviously after 2-0 we can be very proud of our response and how our supporters pushed us to get the second goal,” he said.
“The result I think we deserved more, we controlled the second half better than the first half.
“After the first 20, 25 minutes it was very good at the beginning. That second goal gave us difficult moments but the players worked very well to recover the result for us and our fans.
“We created a very good atmosphere. The game was amazing for the football but for us it’s not enough.”
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Pep Guardiola claims Manchester City‘s failure to sign a centre-back over the summer could prove a blessing in disguise.
The champions’ lack of cover in the central defensive positions was highlighted on Saturday as Aymeric Laporte suffered a serious-looking knee injury during the 4-0 win against Brighton.
With John Stones also missing the game through injury, midfielder Fernandinho was pressed into action as a makeshift defender.
Nicolas Otamendi is City’s only other senior centre-half following the departure of former captain Vincent Kompany at the end of last season.
City were linked with England’s Harry Maguire over the summer but refused to meet Leicester’s demands for a player who eventually joined Manchester United for £80million.
“We could not buy like the opponents or (for what) teams ask for these players. People believe (we can) still – of course we spent a lot two seasons ago – but last season one player, this season a little bit more, so we could not pay the money wanted.
“But we have an alternative and sometimes when that happens, the team unites better and we are going to find solutions to do that.”
City are still to reveal the full extent of Laporte’s injury. The club, who have already lost Leroy Sane to a long-term knee injury this season, fear a lengthy lay-off.
The injury certainly seems to have ended the 25-year-old’s hopes of making his France debut in their upcoming Euro 2020 qualifiers against Albania and Andorra.
The option of using Fernandinho is one that Guardiola began to talk up in the summer as it became clear the club had not found a direct replacement for Kompany.
The signing of a new defensive midfielder in Rodri does free up the Brazilian.
Guardiola said: “It happens because he is a nice guy, because he is open minded. He is a typical captain, he thinks for the group more than himself.
“He is a guy who is incredibly respected in the locker room and by our staff and that is why he can do it.”
Another possibility would be Kyle Walker with new signing Joao Cancelo coming in at right-back.
Guardiola said: “One day (if we) need to put Kyle Walker like a central defender, he is going to play central defender.”
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The 27-year-old is not the traditional Brazil forward; he does have touches of flamboyance and superb vision but he melds that with an incredible work rate and an appetite for tackling back and retrieving possession.
He sets the tone for the high-tempo, high press manager Jurgen Klopp demands and probably more than any other player in the squad is irreplaceable because of his unique characteristics.
Firmino is also not goal-shy, with his strike in the 3-0 win at Burnley – having pressured Ben Mee into making a mistake for the second goal which he set up – making him the first Brazilian to 50 Premier League goals.
“With his work rate, his technique, his goals and his all-round play, I don’t think there’s anyone like him,” said left-back Robertson.
“People will say there are better strikers, but for me what he does is so important to our team. We’d be lost without him. He’s world class.
“He does everything, and that’s the beauty of Bobby. He can do it all. He’s our first line of defence, and I’ve not seen anybody better at doing that.
“He presses the defenders and doesn’t give them a minute. He comes back and nicks the ball in midfield for us.
“He’s so important defensively for us, then he goes up the park and scores goals and makes assists. That’s what we need him to do.”
Firmino plays with a smile on his face but Robertson said people should not mistake that for a care-free attitude.
“He’s a good trainer; he perhaps doesn’t work as hard as he does in a game, but he saves it for a Saturday,” added the Scotland captain.
“The work he puts in during games is probably more than any other striker in the world.”
Victory at Burnley made it four wins from four – extending the top flight’s only 100 per cent record – and took the Reds into the international break with a two-point advantage over title rivals Manchester City.
Despite their impressive start, the first time Liverpool have won their opening four matches in back-to-back seasons and a 13th consecutive league win setting a new club record, Robertson insisted there was plenty of hard work still to come.
“It means nothing because we’ve only got four wins this season,” he said.
“Of course it’s nice to be in the record books and if that’s another box we’ve ticked off then great, but it’s not about that.
“It’s about four wins from four and top of the league going into the first international break.
“We had the aim to win the games we needed to win, luckily we’ve done that. Now we’ll have the break, come back and we’ve got another tough run.”
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