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Spurs could have the deadliest attack in the league with Gareth Bale, Harry Kane and Son Heung-min

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spurs could have the deadliest attack in the league with gareth bale harry kane and son heung min

When Gareth Bale finally received his hero’s welcome back to Tottenham, it left fans drooling at the prospect of the Welshman picking up where he left off.

After seven years of experience in the bank at Real Madrid, the Welshman has all the tools he needs to forge a success on his return to north London. A state of the art training ground, a new £1billion stadium, one of the most famous managers of all time – and two forwards ready to form a deadly trio with him. 

Bale is in line for his second debut against West Ham on Sunday, and if everything goes to plan Jose Mourinho will have the luxury of deploying him alongside Harry Kane and Son Heung-min – an attacking unit that could be the best the Premier League has to offer. On paper at least.

Harry Kane and Son Heung-min are preparing to form an attacking trio with Gareth Bale

The addition of the Welshman could give Spurs some frightening firepower

Harry Kane and Son Heung-min (left) are gearing up to form an attacking trio with Gareth Bale

Of course, they’ve got some way to go before proving that. Liverpool’s attacking force of Sadio Mane, Roberto Firmino and Mohamed Salah tore defenders to pieces en route to a barnstorming Premier League triumph last season. 

Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola, on the other hand, might also argue that Raheem Sterling, Sergio Aguero and Kevin de Bruyne cannot be rivalled by any team on the planet when all are on song.

But if Mourinho gets this one right, he could have something special on his hands indeed. And the pressure is already on – former boss Harry Redknapp has tipped the trio to fire them to the Premier League title while former icon Dimitar Berbatov admits they’re a ‘frightening’ prospect.

Jose Mourinho has put emphasis on counter-attacking this season, which could play an important role in how the three players shape up

Jose Mourinho has put emphasis on counter-attacking this season, which could play an important role in how the three players shape up

Should all three be passed fit for Sunday’s derby, it will be fascinating to see how they sync together and we may have already seen the groundwork laid down for their set-up.

Kane’s role at Tottenham has been evolving constantly since he announced himself on the top-flight scene in 2014. In his breakthrough season of 2014-15 he was pretty much everywhere. He dropped into the holes, harrying and hustling high up the pitch and scoring from a number of different positions under Mauricio Pochettino’s gegenpress system. 

Later on we saw him pushing up more and focusing on being a goal-getter, but since the arrival of Mourinho, there have been clear indications the Portuguese boss is eyeing a different role for his star man. His six assists this season – more than his four goals – are an anomaly, but no coincidence. 

A virtuoso display against Southampton saw him sitting much deeper – almost as a false nine – picking out Son Heung-min time after time and providing the plucky South Korean star with four goals at St Mary’s as Spurs romped to a 5-2 win.

The England forward has been dropping slightly deeper, turning creator for his team-mates

The England forward has been dropping slightly deeper, turning creator for his team-mates 

He already has a connection with Son on the pitch, with 24 goal combinations between them

He already has a connection with Son on the pitch, with 24 goal combinations between them

A look at Harry Kane's average position in the last two seasons shows how Jose Mourinho has asked him to drop deeper into midfield as a more creative outlet

A look at Harry Kane’s average position in the last two seasons shows how Jose Mourinho has asked him to drop deeper into midfield as a more creative outlet

Kane’s average position, as illustrated by SofaScore, shows he drops as far down as the centre circle at times this season. Mourinho has asked him to get more involved in the midfield since he took over last November – but he now looks to be getting to grips with his role.     

We know a Jose Mourinho side likes to hit teams on the counter attack, and it worked a treat in their last game as they inflicted another heavy defeat on Manchester United. Kane, who scored twice and grabbed an assist, sat deeper again at Old Trafford, with Son and Erik Lamela pushing higher up and to stretch their backline. 

Kane could continue to drop deeper, with Bale slotting in on the right and pushing up high with Son to stretch defences

Kane could continue to drop deeper, with Bale slotting in on the right and pushing up high with Son to stretch defences 

Son, who also nabbed a brace, has developed a special relationship on his own with Kane. The pair have the most goal contributions between two players in the top-flight since 2015 with 24. In the Southampton game Kane became the first player to assist four goals to the same team-mate. When Bale is infused into this team, Mourinho needs to ensure he adds to that relationship – not take away from it.  

In the old days, Spurs fans would cry out: ‘He plays on the left’ whenever their beloved Welshman was deployed elsewhere, but he’ll likely slot into that right wing slot occupied by Lamela last time out – another outlet for Kane to pick out. 

His pace combined with Son can give defenders a real handful on the counter. 

Bale's versatility will be crucial and he still has enough pace to cause the opposition problems

Bale’s versatility will be crucial and he still has enough pace to cause the opposition problems

He played in a number of positions for Real Madrid and enjoyed a spell behind the striker

He played in a number of positions for Real Madrid and enjoyed a spell behind the striker 

The 31-year-old’s ability to play anywhere in an attacking four plays into Mourinho’s hands, and gives Spurs some fluidity. Bale’s ‘coming of age’ season in 2012-13 – his last for Tottenham before his £85m move to Madrid – saw him play behind the striker a handful of times. He’s done it for Los Blancos on a number of occasions too, particularly under Rafa Benitez, who sought to use his speed to push forwards from deep and exploit gaps in midfield.

We know that Bale is an able goalscorer, often playing as a centre-forward for Wales, but he’s capable of swinging in an expert delivery and has the vision to unlock defences. 

As he pushes into his thirties, his ability to perform gut-bursting runs will start to fade, so the possibility of him interchanging with Kane as the deep-lying forward should be explored too. 

Bale is capable of switching with Kane as a centre-forward and dropping deep into the holes

Bale is capable of switching with Kane as a centre-forward and dropping deep into the holes

Kane's role under Mourinho has changed and his goal rate could be impacted as a result

Kane’s role under Mourinho has changed and his goal rate could be impacted as a result 

It will allow Kane to push up with the pacey Son at times and ensure his scoring rate doesn’t take too much of a hit. The England captain is chasing down Alan Shearer’s all-time Premier League goal record of 260 and he’s still 114 off that landmark.

Spurs have been trying to tease Bale’s return by showing off pictures of him in training and clips of him curling shots into the top corner. But let’s not forget, this is a player whose confidence has taken a major dent. 

Cast out by Zinedine Zidane, slammed by the media, unappreciated by the fans. It might not click for him straight away at Tottenham, and his fitness record leaves a lot to be desired. He played the full 90 for Wales in early September, then picked up a knee injury, an issue which kept him out for long spells last season. 

There aren't many strike pairings in better form than Kane and Son, which can only help Bale

There aren’t many strike pairings in better form than Kane and Son, which can only help Bale

Spurs suffered terrible luck with injuries last season, losing Kane for four months, while Son also sat out for a chunk of the campaign. The club’s medical team will be keen to avoid similar with Bale given his track record – and to avoid the wrath of Mourinho as he looks to get his new front three to gel together.

It can take time for players to develop an understanding, so no one should expect fireworks straight away. But there is an undoubtable potential for greatness and Mourinho’s counter-attack system could be the key to unlocking it. 

We’ve had MSN for Messi, Suarez and Neymar, BBC for Bale, Benzema and Ronaldo. All of the pieces are falling into place for BKS to dominate next.   

This post first appeared on dailymail.co.uk

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Aston Villa 0 Leeds 3 LIVE REACTION: Patrick Bamford scores brilliant HAT-TRICK to stun hosts at Villa Park

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aston villa 0 leeds 3 live reaction patrick bamford scores brilliant hat trick to stun hosts at villa park
BLOG ASTON VILLA VS LEEDS UNITED LIVE 3

ASTON VILLA take on Leeds in a match between two sleeping giants who can be very pleased with their Premier League starts.

Villa have won all four of their opening matches including an incredible 7-2 defeat of champions Liverpool.

  • Kick-off time: 8pm
  • TV/ live stream: BT Sport Box Office

Follow ALL of the latest updates below…

This post first appeared on thesun.co.uk

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Aston Villa 0 Leeds 3: Patrick Bamford scores brilliant 19-minute hat-trick to stun in-form hosts

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PATRICK BAMFORD fired a sensational second-half hat-trick as Leeds wiped the floor with a sorry Aston Villa.

The 27-year-old striker struck three times in the space of 19 minutes to stun Dean Smith’s in-form side.

Bamford scored a sensational hat-trick to stun Aston Villa

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Bamford scored a sensational hat-trick to stun Aston VillaCredit: AFP

Bamford converted a rebound for his first before firing home from 20 yards for his second.

He saved his best for last with an amazing curler into the top corner 15 minutes from full-time.

More to follow. Refresh for updates.

This post first appeared on thesun.co.uk

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How Italy’s biggest teams have started the new Serie A season in the most open title race in years

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how italys biggest teams have started the new serie a season in the most open title race in years

The Premier League is not the only season to have started brightly as the 2020-21 Serie A season looks to be as open as ever before. 

Juventus‘ quest to win 10 Scudetto titles in a row is hitting a snag as Andrea Pirlo struggles to sort out his best side, while AC Milan are showing signs of a solid revival after they stunned Inter Milan in the Derby della Madonnina over the weekend. 

Antonio Conte’s Inter have invested well but started poorly, while last season’s surprise packages Lazio and Atalanta have showed promise but had mixed fortunes. 

Sportsmail takes a look at the state of play in Italy following the opening four matches of the season… 

Juventus' quest to win 10 Scudetto titles in a row is hitting a snag as Andrea Pirlo (R) settles in

Juventus' quest to win 10 Scudetto titles in a row is hitting a snag as Andrea Pirlo (R) settles in

Juventus’ quest to win 10 Scudetto titles in a row is hitting a snag as Andrea Pirlo (R) settles in

Inter Milan

Antonio Conte is running out of excuses at Inter Milan. After being convinced by the Europa League runners-up to stay on as manager, his side was constructed just how he requested in the transfer market.

One of the biggest investments over the summer was full back Achraf Hakimi, who joined in a £35million deal from Real Madrid. However, the Moroccan is showing defensive lapses in a back line that has already shipped eight goals in four matches. 

The defence is becoming a clear weak spot for Conte’s Inter, despite heavy investment in their back line during the window.  Their other defensive signing, Aleksandr Kolarov from Roma, is deemed as too attacking for the left centre back role and often gets caught out on the break.

Antonio Conte is running out of excuses after his Inter side lost the Milan derby on Saturday

Antonio Conte is running out of excuses after his Inter side lost the Milan derby on Saturday

Antonio Conte is running out of excuses after his Inter side lost the Milan derby on Saturday

Achraf Hakimi was a big investment for Inter Milan over the summer but has unimpressed

Achraf Hakimi was a big investment for Inter Milan over the summer but has unimpressed

Achraf Hakimi was a big investment for Inter Milan over the summer but has unimpressed

Both Hakimi and Kolarov were nowhere to be seen in the first half of their 2-1 defeat by AC Milan on Saturday, as Zlatan Ibrahimovic gave Inter’s arch rivals a two-goal lead. 

This time last season, Conte side registered three clean sheets in their opening four matches last term, with the likes of Antonio Candreva and Ashley Young providing stability in the wing-back areas.  

Now the Italian coach needs to change his defensive structure if he wants to mount a Serie A title challenge.

Aleksandr Kolarov (left) is another new defensive addition who has struggled so far

Aleksandr Kolarov (left) is another new defensive addition who has struggled so far

Aleksandr Kolarov (left) is another new defensive addition who has struggled so far

There’s also the problem of Christian Eriksen at Inter, who is slowly turning into a flop at the San Siro club. 

The Danish midfielder is a slow player with flair, with Conte preferring fast and physically strong middle men in his 3-5-2 set-up. 

The 28-year-old is getting game time at Inter, but every time Eriksen enters the pitch he suffers with the pace of Italian football. 

With a £9million-a-year salary, he is not justifying his hefty wage packet. 

Christian Eriksen (right) is also struggling to start matches under Conte this season

Christian Eriksen (right) is also struggling to start matches under Conte this season

Christian Eriksen (right) is also struggling to start matches under Conte this season

Juventus

Under the young stewardship of Andrea Pirlo, Juventus are still a work in progress and the Old Lady are suffering from a true tactical identity. 

In his first three matches in charge, Pirlo has changed the Juventus formation three times, between a 3-5-2, 3-4-1-2 and a 3-4-3 set-up. 

The Juventus coach is asking for a quick and relentless style of progressive passing but his players are taking their time to get to grips with this.  

Andrea Pirlo has played different formations in first three matches in charge of Juventus

Andrea Pirlo has played different formations in first three matches in charge of Juventus

Andrea Pirlo has played different formations in first three matches in charge of Juventus 

Furthermore, Pirlo cannot decide who forms the best partnership in midfield which is leading to disjointed performances, such as the back-to-back draws against Roma and Crotone. 

New signing Weston McKennie started the first two games alongside Frenchman Adrien Rabiot, but their lack of presence in the defensive side of the roles was clear to see in the 2-2 draw against Roma last month – so much so that Rabiot was sent off for two yellow cards. 

Pirlo opted to play £75million Arthur and Rodrigo Bentancur against Crotone, but the new midfield pair didn’t do much better as Juventus slipped up with a 1-1 draw against the newly-promoted side. 

Pirlo started then dropped midfielders Adrien Rabiot (middle) and Weston McKennie (right)

Pirlo started then dropped midfielders Adrien Rabiot (middle) and Weston McKennie (right)

Pirlo started then dropped midfielders Adrien Rabiot (middle) and Weston McKennie (right)

The new Juventus coach must fix this obvious problem in midfield if he wants to guide his side to a 10th Serie A title in a row. 

Another issue for Pirlo to deal with is how to fit in Paulo Dybala, who has been an unused substitute for all three of Juventus’ league games this season. 

Last season’s Serie A MVP runs the risk of being exiled by the new Juventus head coach, just like Massimiliano Allegri did when he was in charge at the Turin club. 

Last year's Serie A MVP Paulo Dybala (left) has also failed to play a single minute under Pirlo

Last year's Serie A MVP Paulo Dybala (left) has also failed to play a single minute under Pirlo

Last year’s Serie A MVP Paulo Dybala (left) has also failed to play a single minute under Pirlo

Youngsters Dejan Kulusevski and even the raw Manolo Portanova have been preferred to Dybala since the start of the season, putting serious doubt as to whether the forward will sign a new five-year deal at Juventus. 

However, Cristiano Ronaldo’s recent coronavirus diagnosis could allow the Argentinian attacker to return to the line-up, starting in the midweek Champions League clash with Dynamo Kiev. 

AC Milan

The Rossoneri are now one of only two teams, along with Aston Villa, in Europe’s top five leagues who are yet to drop a point this season.

Milan currently lead the Serie A table and while talk of a title challenge seems a little premature, there is certainly a case to warrant discussion of a top-four challenge.  

To think that the club nearly replaced Stefano Pioli for Ralf Rangenick earlier this year, but some excellent form at the back end of last season led to Paolo Maldini sticking with his current option – and boy is it paying off.  

AC Milan, who beat Inter in the derby, now lead Serie A after four wins from four this season

AC Milan, who beat Inter in the derby, now lead Serie A after four wins from four this season

AC Milan, who beat Inter in the derby, now lead Serie A after four wins from four this season

Milan nearly dismissed head coach Stefano Piolo (above) but rightly stuck with the manager

Milan nearly dismissed head coach Stefano Piolo (above) but rightly stuck with the manager

Milan nearly dismissed head coach Stefano Piolo (above) but rightly stuck with the manager

The former Fiorentina, Inter and Lazio manager proves to be the best man to handle Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s interesting character. An over-reliance on the Swede used to be a problem at Milan – but not anymore. 

The Swedish forward used very strong words to define his great impact on Serie A and the Milan derby win over the weekend. 

‘Milan has no king, Milan has a God,’ said the 39-year-old, who is acting like he’s 29 looking at the way he runs and fights on the pitch.

AC Milan rely on Zlatan Ibrahimovic (above) for goals and he scored twice in the Milan derby

AC Milan rely on Zlatan Ibrahimovic (above) for goals and he scored twice in the Milan derby

AC Milan rely on Zlatan Ibrahimovic (above) for goals and he scored twice in the Milan derby

Defender Simon Kjaer is also one of the high-performers in this Milan side and has surprised many in Serie A despite being 31 years of age. The Danish central defender is reliable and aggressive and is calm at the back for Milan. 

Hakan Calhanoglu is one of the star midfielders in Pioli’s side, and is also becoming one of the leaders on the pitch after years of being the up-and-coming middle men in European football.   

Despite the faultless start, there are some negative aspects to the current Milan squad – one of them is inexperience. 

Simon Kjaer (left) has been a surprise high-performer for the Rossoneri this season

Simon Kjaer (left) has been a surprise high-performer for the Rossoneri this season

Simon Kjaer (left) has been a surprise high-performer for the Rossoneri this season

Pioli’s side have the lowest average squad age in the league (23.6 years), as Milan try to emulate how Arsenal have acted in the past 15 years by promoting youth players to cut costs. 

Milan are, of course, run by chief executive Ivan Gazidis, who oversaw matters at the Emirates Stadium during Arsene Wenger’s reign.  

Yet the youthfulness in the AC Milan squad could damage their chances in Serie A this season.    

Napoli

Gennaro Gattuso’s side were given a 3-0 forfeit loss and a one-point deduction for failing to turn up against Juventus before the international break.

It is a great shame for Napoli, as they probably would have beaten Andrea Pirlo’s Serie A champions if form is anything to go by. 

The southern Italian side rose to prominence under Maurizio Sarri but were in relegation form under Carlo Ancelotti. But Gattuso is performing better than either manager so far as his 4-2-3-1 attacking style is bringing the best out of his forward players. 

Gennaro Gattuso (right) is creating a new era at Napoli as they have started the season well

Gennaro Gattuso (right) is creating a new era at Napoli as they have started the season well

Gennaro Gattuso (right) is creating a new era at Napoli as they have started the season well

This Napoli side seems to have entered a time machine and rebirthed the ‘Sarriball’ that earned the Italian coach a move to Chelsea in 2018. 

Back then, Napoli had Gonzalo Higuain and Jose Callejon, now the likes of Victor Osimhen and Hirving Lozano are the new star men up front.  

Osimhen and Lozano starred over the weekend as Napoli blitzed Atalanta 4-1, with all of their goals coming in the first half.  

Strikers Victor Osimhen (left) and Hirving Lozano (right) fired Napoli to a 4-1 win over Atalanta

Strikers Victor Osimhen (left) and Hirving Lozano (right) fired Napoli to a 4-1 win over Atalanta

Strikers Victor Osimhen (left) and Hirving Lozano (right) fired Napoli to a 4-1 win over Atalanta

At the back, David Ospina is the defensive leader while Kalidou Koulibaly and Kostas Manolas are a reliable partnership for the Partenopei. 

Meanwhile, Chelsea outcast Tiemoune Bakayoko is proving to be the perfect replacement for Allan, who jumped ship to join Ancelotti at Everton.

Atalanta

Gian Piero Gasperini’s men were the talk of Serie A last season as they were the league’s top scorers and also reached the Champions League quarter-finals. 

But following the damning defeat by Napoli last weekend, is the magic coming to an end?

It’s not all bad for the Bergamo side, who were up there with AC Milan as one of the teams with a 100 per cent record going into the weekend’s fixtures, but there are some areas of concerns to look at. 

Gian Piero Gasperini is trying to take Atalanta to the next level after a good season last term

Gian Piero Gasperini is trying to take Atalanta to the next level after a good season last term

Gian Piero Gasperini is trying to take Atalanta to the next level after a good season last term

Papu Gomez (right) was a key player for last season's Champions League quarter-finalists

Papu Gomez (right) was a key player for last season's Champions League quarter-finalists

Papu Gomez (right) was a key player for last season’s Champions League quarter-finalists

Atalanta’s players look tired after a daunting season which saw them progress deep into European territory last term, while talisman Papu Gomez is now 30-years-old and could be starting to decline. 

Meanwhile, back-up goalkeeper Marco Sportiello is proving to be error-prone as he steps in for the injured Pierluigi Gollini. His latest error came when he failed to claim Giovanni Di Lorenzo’s early cross which allowed Lozano to tap home for the opening goal. 

Meanwhile, new midfield signing Fabio Depaoli has been a disappointment so far, though Atalanta do have striker Josip Ilicic back after an extended period back while Aleksei Miranchuk and Sam Lammers have some time to gel into the side. 

Lazio

Before the coronavirus hiatus in March, Lazio were the best team in Serie A and were closing in on a shock title. 

Yet Simone Inzaghi’s side have been on a downward curve since then and now lie in 15th place with just one win all season so far.

The Serie A club have had a difficult run of fixtures to begin the campaign, having faced Atalanta and Inter Milan in their opening four games, but this is not looking like the Lazio side that wowed Italian football last term. 

Lazio lost 3-0 to Sampdoria over the weekend and have just won one game all season so far

Lazio lost 3-0 to Sampdoria over the weekend and have just won one game all season so far

Lazio lost 3-0 to Sampdoria over the weekend and have just won one game all season so far

Lazio’s success over the past few seasons has been based on not changing the squad too much in order for Inzaghi to create a well-drilled side. However, this team is in desperate need of freshening up as they are becoming too predictable for their opponents.

It’s not without a lack of trying, Lazio tried to bring in the likes of Olivier Giroud, Diego Godin and David Silva, who snubbed the Serie A side for Real Sociedad over the summer, but all of their targets failed to come to fruition. 

On top of this, Sergej Milinkovic-Savic and Luis Alberto are struggling for form, while Ciro Immobile’s goals have dried up at the start of this Serie A campaign. 

Simone Inzaghi's side need freshening up and are becoming too predictable at present

Simone Inzaghi's side need freshening up and are becoming too predictable at present

Simone Inzaghi’s side need freshening up and are becoming too predictable at present

Roma

They say Rome wasn’t built in a day. But the signing of Pedro from Chelsea is helping AS Roma revive their top-four chances this season. 

Under the new ownership of the Friedkin family and straight off the back of a 5-2 win over Benevento, there is much to be pleased about for the Giallorossi.

Pedro’s arrival on a free transfer has been a welcome addition to the squad and he has scored twice in his opening four games for the club. 

New winger Pedro (right) and Edin Dzeko (middle) are creating a positive environment at Roma

New winger Pedro (right) and Edin Dzeko (middle) are creating a positive environment at Roma

New winger Pedro (right) and Edin Dzeko (middle) are creating a positive environment at Roma

The Spaniard is forming a dymanic front three with Henrikh Mhkitaryan and Edin Dzeko, who has overcome the disappointment of not joining Juventus this summer by netting two goals in three games to start the current campaign. 

With Chris Smalling set to come into the side following his permanent move from Manchester United, Paulo Fonesca is on the verge of creating a harmonious atmosphere at the Stadio Olimpico. 

This post first appeared on dailymail.co.uk

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