Manchester City will be looking to stretch their record winning run to 20 matches when they welcome fellow in-form side West Ham to the Etihad Stadium in the Premier League this weekend.

Pep Guardiola's men are 10 points clear at the summit and two of their players feature among our Opta-fuelled fantasy picks, along with a couple of Everton men on the back of last week's long-awaited derby win at Liverpool.

Manchester United, Tottenham and Leicester City players are also selected ahead of games against Chelsea, Burnley and Arsenal respectively.

 

EDERSON

There are many factors behind the leaders' winning run - not least an incredible defensive record, with goalkeeper Ederson more than playing his part.

The Brazil international has kept 15 clean sheets from 24 Premier League games this term, averaging one every 1.6 matches.

Only two keepers to have played at least 10 times have averaged fewer games per clean sheet across an entire season - Chelsea's Petr Cech (24 in 35 apps in 2004-05) and former Manchester United stopper Edwin van der Sar (21 in 33 apps in 2008-09).

JOAO CANCELO

Simply keeping out the opposition is not enough in the life of a modern day full-back, best epitomised by Cancelo at Man City.

On top of helping City to that formidable defensive record, he has also created the most chances (34) from open play among fellow Premier League defenders this season.

Cancelo may only have set up two goals in the top flight this season, but he has the highest number of expected assists (4.28) among defenders, just ahead of Manchester United's Luke Shaw (4.04).

 

LUCAS DIGNE

Carlo Ancelotti was delighted with the news Digne had signed a new long-term deal with Everton this week and little wonder given the full-back's impact on the side.

No Premier League defender has more assists than the 27-year-old's six this season - level with West Ham's Aaron Cresswell and one more than Andy Robertson and Shaw.

Since Digne's debut for Everton in August 2018, only Liverpool pair Robertson and Trent Alexander-Arnold (28) have assisted more goals than the Frenchman (17).

GYLFI SIGURDSSON

There was a point when Sigurdsson's time at Everton appeared to be up not so long ago, but the creative midfielder has more than proved his worth to the side of late.

He was been involved in six Premier League goals in 23 appearances this term - four goals and two assists - which is one more than he managed in 35 games last season.

That is a tally he will be confident of building on this gameweek, as the Iceland international has only scored more Premier League goals against Chelsea (six) than he has versus opponents Southampton (five).

 

MARCUS RASHFORD

In the week he celebrates the five-year anniversary since scoring twice on his United debut, Rashford takes on his favourite opponents in Chelsea.

The United academy product has scored five times against the Blues in all competitions and registered a couple of assists.

Only against Leicester City has he found the net as many times, while only against Newcastle United and West Ham (both seven) has he been directly involved in more goals.

HARRY KANE

If Rashford enjoys playing against Chelsea, the same is true of Kane against Tottenham's next opponents Burnley.

The England skipper has been directly involved in 10 goals in nine Premier League appearances against the Clarets, finding the net seven times and laying on three assists.

Burnley's defenders will not look forward to coming up against Kane, with Riyad Mahrez the only player to score against them more often (eight times) in their Premier League history.

 

JAMIE VARDY

Vardy's scoring record against the division's traditional top four is well known by now, particularly when it comes to facing Arsenal.

The Leicester striker has scored 11 goals in 12 previous Premier League appearances against the Gunners, including a late winner in the reverse fixture.

Those 11 strikes place Vardy behind only Wayne Rooney for goals scored against Arsenal in the competition, the United legend netting 12 times against the London club in his career.

Real Madrid, Manchester United, Barcelona, Manchester City, Chelsea and Juventus.

Europe's elite are lining up to sign Erling Haaland, but who will he join?

Whoever it is, Haaland is set to command a mammoth contract.

 

TOP STORY – HAALAND ASKING FOR LUCRATIVE DEAL

Borussia Dortmund star Erling Haaland wants a contract in the region of £78million (€90m) as speculation intensifies over his future, according to the Daily Star.

Haaland is a player in demand following his exploits for Bundesliga side Dortmund, linked with the likes of Real Madrid, Manchester United, Barcelona, Manchester City, Chelsea and Juventus.

The report claims Haaland wants a five-year deal worth around £300,000 (€346,000) per week.

 

ROUND-UP

- Should Kylian Mbappe leave for Madrid, Ligue 1 champions Paris Saint-Germain want to replace him with Tottenham star Harry Kane, claims the Mirror.

- Bild says Chelsea, Liverpool and United are interested in signing RB Leipzig defender Ibrahima Konate. His centre-back partner Dayot Upamecano is set to join Bayern Munich at the end of the season, having been linked with the Premier League's elite.

Liverpool are preparing a £40m bid for Brighton and Hove Albion defender Ben White, reports Football Insider. Jurgen Klopp is desperate to bolster his injury-hit defence amid a difficult 2020-21 campaign.

- The Daily Mail says United are considering a move for Everton youngster Jarrad Branthwaite. The 18-year-old defender has impressed since joining the Toffees.

Leipzig lead the race to sign Ajax sensation Brian Brobbey, according to Diario AS. United, Milan and Bayern have also been linked.

Milan and Inter target Odilon Kossounou – who plays for Club Brugge - is also wanted by Premier League duo Arsenal and Wolves, claims The Sun.

- Calciomercato reports Juventus are eyeing Leicester City winger Timothy Castagne, who arrived from Atalanta at the start of the season.

Jose Mourinho wants Harry Kane to "play every minute of every game" but says the Tottenham talisman was handed a rest on Thursday to manage his current fitness concerns.

Kane suffered an ankle problem in Spurs' defeat to Liverpool on January 28, and seemed set to miss several weeks, only to be brought back into the fold ahead of schedule to face West Brom on February 7.

It was a move which paid off, Kane scoring in a 2-0 win – Spurs' only league victory from their last five top-flight matches.

After coming on in the FA Cup defeat to Everton and playing against Manchester City last week, Kane did not travel to Budapest for the first leg of Spurs' Europa League round of 32 tie with Austrian side Wolfsberger on Thursday.

Tottenham did the job without their star forward, as Son Heung-min, Gareth Bale, Lucas Moura and Carlos Vinicius secured a 4-1 win and aggregate advantage heading into the reverse fixture.

"He knows I want to play him every minute of every game so it is never a question of a choice," Mourinho told a news conference when asked about Kane.

"I wanted to come here with the best team and the players to give us more opportunities to have a good result but he made the decision based on his feelings which was that to play in this game was a risk with the accumulation of minutes after the injury he had. 

"Myself and the medical department agreed with him, to give him this opportunity to take care of his condition. But I believe Sunday he will be okay and ready."

Kane is Spurs' joint top-scorer in the league this season – alongside Son – with 13 goals, while the England captain has also provided 11 assists.

He has created a total of 32 chances, second only to Son, while 29 of them have come from open play – six more than his South Korean team-mate.

Of the opportunities Kane has crafted for team-mates, 12 of them are big chances, once more a team-high, and his big chance conversion rate is 60 per cent.

Spurs did not miss him against Wolfsberger though, and one player to step up was Bale, who teed up Son's opener before adding a brilliant second.

It was the first time Bale has scored and assisted for Spurs in a match since April 2013, when he did so against Manchester City, and Mourinho – who took the 31-year-old off with just over an hour played – suggested the Real Madrid loanee could be in line for a third Premier League start of the season against West Ham on Sunday.

"One of the reasons why Gareth left the pitch by 64 minutes was to try to have him available for the next match because one of the things that is not easy in relation to his condition is the accumulation of minutes," said Mourinho.

"I believe he has a chance to play the match on Sunday."

Kylian Mbappe's future is in his own hands after showing the world what he is capable of while scoring a hat-trick in Paris Saint-Germain's 4-1 Champions League demolition of Barcelona.

With his contract in the French capital set to expire in June 2022, Mbappe ultimately has the choice of either signing a new deal or leaving his hometown team – and the World Cup winner has been non-committal so far.

Should the 22-year-old sensation decide to take his career abroad, there will be no shortage of suitors, with four European giants ready to swoop.

 

TOP STORY – LIVERPOOL, MANCHESTER CITY, REAL MADRID, JUVENTUS EYE IN-DEMAND MBAPPE

If PSG cannot persuade Mbappe to sign a long-term extension, they will not want to lose a world-class talent without a fee, so the Ligue 1 champions have placed a €200million (£173m) tag on his head, according to Le Parisien.

Le Parisien reports the price may not deter the Frenchman's admirers, who include Premier League rivals Manchester City and LiverpoolReal Madrid and Juventus.

While those clubs may want him, it is unclear if all of them would be able to afford Mbappe, who is set to make more than €30m per year gross on his next contract. Reports claim PSG will aim to price their Champions League rivals out of a deal.

Premier League action coincided with Valentine's Day this weekend and Southampton ended a long drought of a particular kind on the most romantic day of the year.

There was also an impressive scoring feat for an Arsenal striker to enjoy on February 14, as the Gunners sent the White Roses of Leeds United back to Yorkshire with their tails between their legs.

A Valentine's Day chocolate variety set was the only box Harry Kane got near this weekend after a tricky time of it against Pep Guardiola's Manchester City, as Ilkay Gundogan continued his remarkable run.

All the above feature in our quirky facts from the weekend's top-flight action!

SAINTS' VALENTINE'S CARD AND AUBA'S RETURN TO FORM

It's usually nice to receive a card or two on Valentine's Day – the only exceptions are if they're tokens of sympathy from your mother, or handed out to you by a referee.

Until this year, Southampton were the only Premier League side to play a match on Valentine's Day and not receive a card, but that changed when Graham Scott booked Oriol Romeu in Saints' 2-1 defeat to Wolves. Coincidentally, that was the Spaniard's 51st Premier League yellow card since the start of 2015-16, 11 more than any player.

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang had a rather more enjoyable Valentine's Day, however, as the Arsenal man scored his first Premier League hat-trick in their 4-2 defeat of Leeds United.

He joined Michael Owen and Matt Le Kissier, sorry, Le Tissier as the only players to net trebles in the Premier league on Valentine's Day.

GUNDOGAN GUNNING FOR GOALS

To say anyone predicted Ilkay Gundogan establishing himself as one of the Premier League's deadliest marksman would be a heinous lie… Yet, here we are – he is.

In fact, the German's form isn't bettered by anyone else across Europe's top five leagues in 2021, as his brace against Tottenham took him to nine goals since the turn of the year.

Andre Silva of Eintracht Frankfurt is the only player to match that haul across the same period, but his conversion rate is nothing compared to Gundogan's.

The City star, who has been playing a more advanced role lately, has converted 47.4 per cent of his shots since January 1 – among players to have scored at least five times this year, that is the fifth highest. It is a better record than those of Robert Lewandowski, Luis Suarez and Lionel Messi.

Given the rate he's going at, Gundogan may now have an eye on the all-time record for German players in a single Premier League season – Jurgen Klinsmann (20) and Uwe Rosler (15, both in 1994-95) are the only ones to score more than 11.

KANE FORCED TO THINK OUTSIDE THE BOX

It was another miserable outing for Tottenham at the weekend as their 3-0 loss at City consigned them to a fourth defeat in five Premier League games, as many as they had suffered in their previous 28.

Harry Kane endured a particularly frustrating day, as he was starved of service and found himself roaming as a result, hardly conducive to getting opportunities in the danger area.

In fact, he failed to touch the ball once inside the penalty area, which is practically unheard of for Kane.

It was only the fourth occasion of Kane failing to touch the ball in the box in a league game he started.

SAKA'S TEENAGE KICKS

Bukayo Saka has been a standout performer for Arsenal for quite a while, not just this season. However, in 2020-21 he has arguably taken his influence up a level.

He was a livewire against Leeds at the weekend, winning Arsenal's first-half penalty shortly after he was perhaps cruelly denied another by the VAR.

His performance further highlighted how much influence he has despite not turning 20 for more than six months – he is the youngest player in the Premier League this term to score five goals, be involved in at least seven goals, create 25 chances and complete 30 dribbles.

There has been plenty of talk recently about whether he will get himself into the England squad for the delayed Euro 2020 later this year – at the moment, you'd have to say he'd be unlucky to miss out.

Jose Mourinho believes Tottenham must be "perfect" to stop Manchester City racking up a 16th straight win on Saturday, and Harry Kane is poised for a key role.

City's last defeat in any competition came at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium in November, when Son Heung-min and Giovani Lo Celso struck to stun Pep Guardiola's visitors.

What has become a record-breaking run of wins for any English top-flight team began in December, and it appears City are charging towards the Premier League title following last Sunday's 4-1 thrashing of Liverpool.

Spurs led the way briefly before Christmas, but their season has unravelled and they enter the weekend in eighth spot, already 14 points behind City.

The 5-4 FA Cup defeat at Everton on Wednesday was another jolt and Mourinho's stewardship is again coming under scrutiny, with the head coach seeking an upturn in momentum.

Mourinho will usually dissect the post-match data of Tottenham's game, but when presented with the file from the Everton game he recognised it was too bleak an experience to relive.

"I opened and in two seconds I closed it immediately because I didn't want to go through it," he said on Friday.

"And I don't want even to share that with my players."

Among those players, Mourinho says Kane is fit and well. The England captain came off the bench early for Spurs in the second half at Everton, with his equaliser sending the game into extra time.

Mourinho had hoped Kane would only play a fleeting role at Goodison Park, having only returned from injury in last weekend's win over West Brom.

"He played 60 minutes or so, which he didn't want and I didn't want, but it was the game that pushed us in that direction, but no negative feelings after the game, just the normal stiffness. I believe he can start," Mourinho said.

It is hard to imagine Tottenham standing any chance against this rampant City side without Kane, who has scored the opening goal in more Premier League games than any other player this season (6).

Kane remains the main man, despite Son netting six goals in his past eight games against City across all competitions, with only Leicester City's Jamie Vardy (9) having scored more against the Etihad Stadium side since Guardiola was appointed.

The Kane-Son combination makes Spurs tick, and without one or the other, their threat diminishes.

Both have 13 league goals this season, with Kane also having 11 assists and Son six.

Tottenham have played two Premier League games without Kane this season, losing both times, so to have him absent against a side of City's stature would be asking for trouble.

"They're a very, very good team with a fantastic run of results, no doubts about that," Mourinho said. "It's always difficult to play against Man City. There is nothing new about it. They are probably now the biggest candidate to win the title which is not a big surprise.

"We beat them because we played so, so, so, so well in that match, and that's the only way any team can beat Man City."

Since that November defeat to Spurs, City have gone unbeaten in 14 Premier League games, winning 12 and drawing twice, conceding just three goals in that time.

"You make a defensive mistake and they'll kill you," Mourinho said. "You just look to the pragmatism of the numbers and what is Man City in this moment? It is a team that wins matches, it is a team that scores goals, and it is a team that doesn't concede goals.

"So when you play against a team with these very clear numbers, you know it is very difficult to stop them to score, because they score all the time, and you know it is difficult to score goals, because they don't concede.

"So you have to play a perfect match, like we did when we played them here at home.

"I don't see any weakness, that why I say to win the game we need to be perfect in every aspect and every minute because they are really a very strong team."

Bernard settled a topsy-turvy FA Cup thriller as Everton beat Tottenham 5-4 after extra time to claim a place in the quarter-finals.

The hosts were second best during the opening stages at Goodison Park, either side of falling behind to Davinson Sanchez's third-minute header, although Dominic Calvert-Lewin, Richarlison and Gylfi Sigurdsson – the latter from the penalty spot – were all on target in a crazy seven-and-a-half-minute spell.

Then it was time for Tottenham's comeback, with Erik Lamela reducing the arrears before half-time and Sanchez improbably poaching his second of the match.

Richarlison arrowed a high-quality finish beyond Hugo Lloris on the angle to convert Sigurdsson's brilliant 68th-minute throughball and, although Harry Kane had the desired effect from the bench to bring extra time, fellow substitute Bernard had the final word.

Tottenham's dominant start gave little indication of what was to come, with Lamela's header forcing a superb reaction stop from Robin Olsen, while Lucas Moura blazed the follow-up over.

Everton did not heed that warning and stood passively as Sanchez headed in Son Heung-min's corner.

Olsen was alert to deny Steven Bergwijn at close quarters after the half-hour mark and his team-mates soon turned the contest on its head.

Lloris kept out a dangerous Calvert-Lewin effort earlier in the half, despite a slight deflection off Ben Davies, but the England striker's sweetly struck 36th-minute effort on the end of Sigurdsson's clever flick proved too hot to handle.

Calvert-Lewin, who limped off early int the second half with a suspected hamstring injury, turned provider with a slick backheel of his own for Richarlison to smash in from the edge of the penalty area with similar venom.

Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg was culpable on the first goal and fouled Calvert-Lewin for Sigurdsson to make it 3-1 from the spot.

That could have been game over, but the defending remained generous and Lamela played a one-two with Son that Yerry Mina failed to cut out and finished with aplomb.

Mina's Colombia team-mate Sanchez prodded in when Olsen kept out Toby Alderweireld's 57th-minute header – Everton's set-piece defending again leaving plenty to be desired.

But there was only fine attacking at which to marvel when Sigurdsson and Richarlison combined, the Brazil forward whipping home a wonderful left-footed finish.

Abdoulaye Doucoure's goal-line clearance to deny Lamela a brace was in vain as Kane converted the latest fine Son cross with a diving header.

Another repeated theme decided matters in the seventh minute of extra time, when Sigurdsson produced an exquisite drag-back and chip for Bernard to lash past Lloris.

Jose Mourinho is adamant Dele Alli still has a role to play at Tottenham and he could return from injury in Wednesday's FA Cup clash with Everton.

Alli has not played for Spurs in any competition since the 5-0 cup win over non-league Marine on January 10, with the attacking midfielder suffering from a muscular injury.

Before that, the 24-year-old had fallen badly out of favour at Spurs, with his four Premier League appearances this term amounting to just 74 minutes.

He was strongly linked with a January exit, as Paris Saint-Germain – now coached by Mauricio Pochettino – were said to be interested, but a move never materialised.

Therefore he has been tasked with recapturing the form from his early days at the club – Alli's 63 top-flight goal involvements was bettered by only six players across his first three seasons in the Premier League.

He was proving a real weapon for Spurs in his role behind Harry Kane, and his 26 assists over the same period was the fifth highest in the division – Alli found such consistency despite being significantly younger than those he was competing with.

His Spurs career now appears to be at a crossroads, but Mourinho insists there is a way back for him.

"Dele trained yesterday with the team and well," Mourinho told reporters on Tuesday. "Long time away, couple of weeks no training with team and recovering.

"Can he play tomorrow? Well, he's not injured but I'm not sure he can. Can he help us? I believe he can. In terms of having Dele on the bench to come for a few minutes to try to help the team, is that possible? I have to speak with him but I believe he can."

When asked if anything had changed for him to sound optimistic for Alli, Mourinho said: "Nothing changed. He's not injured. He's not injured, he can train with the team.

"He went through a process of not training and trained with the sports science people and then jumped to team work, which he did yesterday for the first time.

"Nothing changed, what maybe changed is the speculation around him because in this moment everybody knows that he's a Tottenham player and he doesn't go to any place. So probably the end of the speculation will be the end of the questions.

"He can train and he can try to help the team because this is what we want. It's what we need. We need players to help the team. Hopefully he can do that.

"In a normal situation he wouldn't even be considered for tomorrow, but with the injuries we have with so many matches we have, maybe we have to accelerate his process and maybe we can.

"But of course, I want him to be fully on board and to agree and that depends on his feelings. But if he can be on the bench tomorrow and to come for 10 or 15 minutes to help the team, that would be good for us."

Kane returned from an injury of his own in the weekend win over West Brom, getting himself on the scoresheet, and Mourinho confirmed the England captain got through the 90 minutes with no major issues.

"No bad reactions, he played well as you could see. No problems, at least no big problems," Mourinho added. "Again, we need to go player by player, on two days between West Brom and Everton, we go player by player to have their feelings and discuss with them to see the best options.

"Of course, we want to go with a strong team [against Everton] but at the same time we don't want to create problems with the future of the players."

Jose Mourinho is confident Tottenham and Son Heung-min will have few problems when it comes to contract negotiations as he hailed the impact of Harry Kane in the 2-0 win over West Brom.  

Captain Kane had missed the previous two Premier League games – both defeats – after coming off injured at half-time in the 3-1 home loss to top-four rivals Liverpool last month.  

However, the England international was back in action on Sunday, opening the scoring for Spurs in the second half before Son added a second, putting the hosts in complete control.  

The duo have both contributed 36 per cent of Tottenham's league goals this season as they sit on 13 apiece, while Son is already just one shy of his best scoring campaign for the club, having managed 14 in 2016-17.  

The South Korea forward is under contract for several years to come and while the ongoing coronavirus pandemic makes it difficult for discussions to take place now, Mourinho is confident Spurs will look after the player when the "sun shines again in the world".  

"Son is not a problem, he has a contract still for a couple of years if I'm not wrong, maybe even three. I believe, just to wait for the right moment to do it," said Mourinho.

"Probably this situation with the world where we are, the COVID-19 situation, I don't think it's the right moment for players and clubs to discuss contracts with so many people losing jobs and not working and difficulties.  

"I believe that when the sun shines again for the world, I believe the club and Sonny they are going to arrive quite easily to a conclusion." 

Kane missed back-to-back 1-0 defeats against Brighton and Hove Albion and Chelsea after injuring both ankles against Liverpool. However, he made a rapid recovery to feature against West Brom, much to Mourinho's delight.  

The striker's 54th-minute goal takes him to 20 for a seventh successive season, while only Mohamed Salah (21), Erling Haaland (22), Cristiano Ronaldo (23) and Robert Lewandowski (27) have scored more in the top five European leagues this term.  

"The team depends a lot on him, we can't hide that," Mourinho said of Spurs' talismanic skipper.    

"It's the goals he can score, the assists he can make, the link play he has, that personality that the players can have and he is always an important influence for us.  

"Today I was promising I was not going to speak about individuals because I am so happy with the compromise of the players to win the game and close this negative series of three defeats, but with the question it is hard to run away from it. He is a very important player." 

Tottenham had 13 attempts and 65.6 per cent possession against relegation-threatened West Brom, as Sam Allardyce's men managed just one shot on target. 

"Of course, the result is the most important thing, especially when the team comes from three defeats," Mourinho said of the overall performance. 

"What really had an impact on me – it was not a surprise as I was expecting it – but what really made me happy was to see that commitment, that desire, that togetherness. It was very important. 

"I'm happy because of that. We did very good things in terms of the football we played but more importantly, for me, was the compromise everyone showed." 

Harry Kane marked his return from injury with a goal as Tottenham saw off West Brom 2-0 to snap a three-game losing run in the Premier League.

Spurs had slipped down to ninth after losing to Liverpool, Brighton and Hove Albion and Chelsea, but a much-improved display on Sunday has them back in top-four contention.

Jose Mourinho's men failed to score in the last two of those defeats without Kane in the side, but their returning talisman opened the scoring against a struggling West Brom side.

Son Heung-min was on the scoresheet four minutes later and Tottenham had no trouble in seeing out the victory as they recorded their first league double in this fixture since 2011-12.

Kane, a surprise inclusion in the line-up, fired into the side-netting from the edge of the box and then dragged wide with only Sam Johnstone to beat as his rustiness told early on.

The Spurs striker did at least manage to test Johnstone with an angled shot late in the first half and the West Brom goalkeeper was also equal to Serge Aurier's diving header.

Tottenham's failure to convert almost cost them when Mbaye Diagne headed Robert Snodgrass' cross on target for Hugo Lloris to produce a big save of his own.

But it took Spurs and Kane just eight minutes of the second half to find a breakthrough - the striker taking Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg's pass in his stride and firing past Johnstone.

Kane then played a part in Tottenham's swift second that was rounded off by Son's drilled strike after being played in by Lucas Moura.

Diagne had a couple of goals rightly ruled out for offside in the remainder of the game as West Brom, who now have one point from their past five matches, tried and failed to find a route back into the contest.

 

Tottenham head coach Jose Mourinho said his struggling and fatigued Spurs are feeling the absence of Harry Kane and their key attackers after he suffered a career first on Thursday.

Spurs crashed to a 1-0 defeat to London rivals Chelsea in Premier League action at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, where Jorginho's first-half penalty settled the contest.

It was another toothless display from Tottenham, who were without Kane, Giovani Lo Celso and Sergio Reguilon, while Dele Alli remains out of favour following a failed attempt to join Ligue 1 champions Paris Saint-Germain on loan prior to the transfer window closing.

Mourinho – in his 327th home league match – suffered back-to-back league defeats on home soil for the first time in his career, while Spurs were condemned to three successive Premier League losses for the first time since November 2012.

As Spurs languish in eighth position and seven points adrift of the top four, Mourinho bemoaned his absentees and a hectic fixture list.

"Well, [Sergio] Reguilon means something for our attacking football," Mourinho told reporters. "Harry Kane means something for our attacking football. Giovani Lo Celso again means something for our attacking football.

"A good Dele Alli that we don’t have yet but hope that we can have in the future means something for us. It's not just what they mean, they mean that we don't have many options to rotate players and we finish with people with some signs of fatigue because of the accumulation of matches because we don't have so many players to rest. 

"The second thing is confidence. The confidence levels are very, very important to play football. When a team doesn't have good results, a period when results are not good, you need that click back to go back to normality. So, for me it's a little bit like that."

On rebuilding confidence after losses to Liverpool (3-1), Brighton and Hove Albion (1-0) and Chelsea, Mourinho added: "Look, I think we did that after Brighton because for me the Brighton defeat is a defeat like this one, 1-0, the same way.

"We managed in the group to change some things and I believe the reflection of the second half means something for me and I believe for the group. I don't like to speak about Harry Kane and company but they mean something also for the confidence of the players. The reality is that since Liverpool half-time, that is very difficult for us to connect certain dynamics. We tried without [Carlos] Vinicius against Brighton.

"We tried today with Vinicius and two up. We tried in the second half with him as a target man and two wingers and a No.10. We're trying to go on the search but I saw togetherness.  

"It's not easy to see togetherness with bad results, defeats, difficulties, injuries. Togetherness is very easy to show when you're on a high and winning matches, when everything is amazing. But in difficult moments it's more difficult to see that togetherness but I saw that in the second half. No doubts for me."

Despite Tottenham's desperate and unsuccessful search for an equaliser against Chelsea, star loanee Gareth Bale was snubbed again by Mourinho.

Bale was left among the substitutes – the Wales international has only featured in 230 minutes of Premier League action this season, with just two of his six appearances coming as starts under Mourinho.

Asked about Bale – on a season-long loan from Madrid, Mourinho replied: "I'm doing my best; he's doing his best. Everybody is doing their best."

What a difference a year makes. Except in north London, where time has stood still.

It was a February midweek game in 2020 when Timo Werner ran Tottenham ragged and RB Leipzig should have won by a street, rather than just 1-0 in the Champions League.

There was no Harry Kane that night due to injury and Tottenham gave a lethargic performance until coming to life very late in the game.

As Jose Mourinho said that night: "What worries me is that these are our players for the next however many matches."

Well, Jose, it's not quite Groundhog Day (that was Tuesday), but where is the progress with Spurs?

A 1-0 home defeat to Chelsea means Mourinho has not won any of his last seven games against his old club, and for the first time in his career he has lost consecutive Premier League home games, with this setback following the 3-1 defeat to Liverpool.

With Kane injured and Tottenham largely clueless without him, it feels as though they are taking a mid-season break while the rest of the Premier League plays on.

"We are really in trouble," Mourinho added on the night of that Leipzig loss, and so here we are again.

Tottenham are eighth in the Premier League, chewed up and spat out by the big boys in the early season jostling after fleeting title talk, destined for mid-table obscurity barring a sudden upturn.

But Tottenham can never be obscure in mid-table because the target each season is far higher. They stand out from the crowd. People notice. You love to see it, rival fans would say.

And however much David Moyes deserves huge credit, it must be deeply dismaying for all concerned at Tottenham, including chairman Daniel Levy, for a Mourinho team to sit five points behind Moyes' West Ham, the stick du jour for beating big-spending London sides.

On a rain-soaked Tottenham Hotspur Stadium pitch, Eric Dier gave away the penalty that decided this game when he fell to the ground and performed some sort of postmodern wiggle on his backside, flicking his feet out this way and that in such a haphazard way that someone was bound to join him on the deck.

Werner, still searching for his mojo at Chelsea but lively enough here, was the man to be sent crashing and Jorginho powered a no-nonsense penalty past Hugo Lloris.

At half-time, BT Sport pundit Rio Ferdinand was merciless, the former England captain saying of Spurs: "There's no method ... I've not seen any patterns of play in this game.

"It just seems like a team that doesn't have any idea what they're doing when they have the ball."

Mourinho left Gareth Bale on the bench throughout, putting his faith in Carlos Vinicius having recently refused to entertain the idea of using his on-loan Real Madrid star as a striker.

Erik Lamela and Lucas Moura replaced Steven Bergwijn and Tanguy Ndombele midway through the second half as Spurs sought some spark.

Edouard Mendy produced a decent save to deny Lamela a 20-yard strike into the left corner, but there was scant little to appreciate about a Tottenham side who were out-shot 18-7 by their visitors.

Mason Mount was excellent and Werner almost added a second late on, smacking a fierce shot that looked like it would have stung Dier, who made the block.

But just like on his previous visit to this space-age stadium, one goal was enough for Werner's team.

Chelsea have a new boss in Thomas Tuchel and he has given them a 'bounce'. Tottenham have bounced under Mourinho in the past but now their football has gone flat. There is no bounce. There is no vibrancy. Three defeats in eight days, Kane out, and you sense there is no easy fix.

West Brom are the visitors on Sunday. If Tottenham fail again, there will be nowhere to hide for Mourinho.

Harry Kane's injury lay-off could be shorter than initially expected as Jose Mourinho suggested he should be back in time for the trip to Manchester City next week.

Kane injured both ankles in the 3-1 Premier League defeat to Liverpool at the end of January and was first thought to be facing "a few weeks" on the sidelines.

He missed the 1-0 loss at Brighton and Hove Albion last weekend and will also be absent when Thomas Tuchel's Chelsea visit Tottenham Hotspur Stadium on Thursday, plus Sunday's home game against West Brom.

But with Spurs set to face Everton in the FA Cup in a week's time and a daunting trip to in-form City three days later, Mourinho thinks Kane could be involved in at least one of those.

That would be a significant boost as well, given Spurs have won just 34.8 per cent of their 23 games across all competitions without Kane since the start of last season, compared to 52.4 per cent with him on the pitch.

"[He's making] good progress, he's happy with the progress and of course we're happy too," Mourinho said in Wednesday's pre-match news conference.

"I think it's not a very optimistic thing to say next week he should be playing, it will be just a consequence of his good evolution.

"So, we're happy. We were scared when it happened, but next week we play Everton and City at the weekend. I believe for one of these matches he should be back."

Attention soon turned to Dele Alli, as it has regularly in Mourinho's media conferences lately.

The England international did not leave Spurs in the January transfer window despite apparent interest from Mauricio Pochettino at Paris Saint-Germain, meaning he will once again have to turn his focus to forcing his way back into Mourinho's thinking.

It was under Pochettino's guidance that Alli initially exploded in the Premier League, with his 63 top-flight goal involvements bettered by only six players across the attacking midfielder's first three seasons in the division.

He was proving a real weapon for Spurs in his role behind Harry Kane, and his 26 assists over the same period was the fifth highest in the Premier League – Alli found such consistency despite being significantly younger than those he was competing with.

But his form began to suffer towards the end of Pochettino's time at the club, scoring just two goals before the Argentinian was sacked last season in November 2019, and he has made just four Premier League appearances this term that amount to 75 minutes of action.

Asked what Alli needs to do to save his Spurs career, an optimistic Mourinho said: "He needs to recover from his injury, return to training and have a fresh start, because last week he couldn't even train – so that's the most important thing.

"I had a good conversation with him yesterday [Tuesday], we spoke around this question that you asked me and I think we found very common ground. It's an important period of the season for the team and for him also. We need him. We need a good Dele Alli.

"We are just waiting for him to be back to a good normality. Dele, Kane, [Giovani] Lo Celso, we're talking about players that without all three we miss a little creation, some magic around the attacking areas.

"We had a conversation. Of course, a conversation doesn't put a player in great form but hopefully [it gives] the motivation he needs to be back for the team.

"We are in the Europa League, the Premier League and the FA Cup, although I don't believe he'll be back for that. I think when he's physically ready he'll be in a good frame of mind."

Brighton and Hove Albion ended a run of 14 Premier League home matches without a win as they overcame toothless Tottenham 1-0.

Shorn of Harry Kane, who suffered an ankle injury against Liverpool on Thursday, Jose Mourinho's side were second best for large periods of Sunday's encounter.

Indeed, bar two efforts from Spurs substitute Carlos Vinicius, Brighton had little trouble holding onto the lead given to them by Leandro Trossard's 17th-minute finish.

It came at the culmination of a slick team move befitting of Graham Potter's desired style of play, with Brighton not made to suffer for a late Aaron Connolly miss as they moved seven points clear of the bottom three.

Alexis Mac Allister has created two goals in his last three Brighton appearances and might have had another assist in the third minute when he teed up Pascal Gross, who prodded against the post.

With Spurs failing to get out of the blocks, however, Mac Allister and Gross combined to brilliant effect 14 minutes later – the latter racing onto the Argentine's neat throughball and squaring for Trossard to slot home.

The integral Mac Allister sent an acrobatic attempt just wide as Brighton probed for a second, with Steven Bergwijn then lashing across goal with Spurs' first attempt in the 30th minute.

In need of drastic improvement, Mourinho introduced Vinicius in place of Davinson Sanchez for the second half.

Vinicius was quickly involved as he saw a close-range header saved by Robert Sanchez, though Hugo Lloris had to be alert at the other end to deny Ben White.

Neal Maupay headed wide as Brighton threatened to turn the screw, though an excellent strike from Vinicius looked set to make them pay until Sanchez got across to make a fine stop.

Toby Alderweireld's magnificent block from what seemed a tap-in for Connolly kept Spurs' hopes alive, yet Brighton held on to seal a first home league win since they beat Arsenal in June.

Gareth Bale has reached "a crucial moment" in his second spell at Tottenham and must help the team soften the blow of losing Harry Kane, according to Jose Mourinho.

The on-loan Real Madrid forward has struggled to make a major impression this season with Spurs, starting only one Premier League game.

Taking into account four appearances as substitute, Bale has played a mere 170 minutes in the English top flight this season, scoring once and creating four chances.

Barring a turnaround in fortunes in the second half of the season, his switch looks set to go down as a disappointing gamble by the club.

Bale scored 42 goals and had 20 assists in 146 Premier League games across his first spell at the club, productivity which heralded a big-money move to Spain.

With Kane facing a lay-off after injuring his ankle in Thursday's 3-1 defeat to Liverpool, head coach Mourinho wants other players to "step up", starting from Sunday's game at Brighton and Hove Albion.

And asked whether Bale can do that, Mourinho said: "Yes, I hope so. He didn't play much [against Liverpool], he played 15 minutes with the team losing 3-1.

"But he played 90 minutes in the [FA] cup and that for him is a big impact for him, to play 90 minutes.

"It's a crucial moment for him, he's feeling better and better. When you lose a player of Harry's quality and dimension, the other guys have to step up and hopefully he can help us."

Bale's appearance in Monday's 4-1 cup win over Wycombe, a match in which he scored, was a signal that his fitness is returning, but Mourinho knows it will take a big effort from several players to fill the void created by Kane's setback, given the England captain is such a linchpin of the side.

"Harry Kane is Harry Kane, there are players in some teams that are not replaceable," Mourinho said.

Spurs were without a host of forwards for a time last season, with Kane and Son Heung-min particularly missed, and Mourinho was forced to field several makeshift line-ups.

Mourinho pointed to having Carlos Vinicius, Steven Bergwijn, Lucas Moura and Bale all available this time.

However, he stressed Bale could not be a like-for-like replacement for star man Kane, who has 12 Premier League goals and 11 assists this season.

Removing penalties, Kane has nine goals from an xG (expected goals) rating of 7.2, meaning he is exceeding what he might be expected to achieve based on his chances.

"I don't think Gareth is a striker and I don't think he likes to play as a striker," said Mourinho.

"It was something we spoke about when he joined us and he was very objective with me by saying that he doesn't feel he is a left winger, like he was before, or a number 10, like he was before too.

"The position he likes to play is the position where we are playing him every minute we are giving him, which is on the right side of attack.

"When Gareth plays, starting or coming from the bench, that's his position in our team."

Mourinho said Dele Alli, linked with a move to Paris Saint-Germain, is injured and would not be available for the Brighton trip.

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