Antonio Conte hailed the killer instinct of his bloodthirsty Tottenham front three after a clinical 4-0 win at Aston Villa boosted hopes of Champions League football next season.

Son Heung-min hit a hat-trick, taking him to 17 Premier League goals for the season, and winger Dejan Kulusevski was also on target at Villa Park.

Harry Kane had two assists, meanwhile, as Tottenham's front three ran Villa ragged in the second half.

Son has the most goals in the Premier League this season when penalties are removed from the count, given none of his strikes have been spot-kicks. Mohamed Salah's league-leading 20-goal haul includes five penalties.

Villa finished the game with a higher expected goals figure than Tottenham, 1.71 to Spurs' 1.02. That reflected the golden chances Villa spurned, particularly in the first half when Danny Ings, Ollie Watkins and Philippe Coutinho all threatened.

The statistic also spoke of Tottenham's ability to sniff a half chance and snatch a goal, which is something that delights Conte.

Earlier defeats for Arsenal and Manchester United meant Tottenham had a great opportunity to tighten their grip on fourth place, and Conte said: "We have to look to ourselves. I said this to our players: a strong team, a big team, doesn't depend on the others.

"We have to understand the moment when you have to kill your opponent. Today was an important moment, especially because of other results. It was good for us, but it was good because we won. If you don't win, the result of the other teams is not useful.

"The players know very well what I said. The winner has to feel when there is blood, the blood of your opponent, and then you have to kill your opponent.

"I think we are working very hard in many aspects. I'm lucky because I have a group of players that deserve the best because they show me great commitment, great behaviour every day.

"They want to improve, and to get these kind of results in a short time makes me very happy because I know that they are very happy."

Tottenham have won six of their last seven games in the Premier League, after a previous rocky spell of results.

They have seven games remaining, including a big derby against Arsenal next month and a trip to title hopefuls Liverpool.

Tottenham appear to be growing all the time, and being able to set aside a sketchy opening 45 minutes, when Son's early goal gave them a lead they scarcely deserved by the break, showed a particular quality that pleased Conte.

Son, Kane and Kulusevski were unaffected by the battering Tottenham had taken, and came out for the second half determined to stamp a greater mark on the game.

"I think that the task of the coach is to try to exploit the characteristic of the players, to put the players in the best situation," Conte told Sky Sports.

"I think this formation is sweet for the characteristics of these players, and it is working very well. We're starting to work about the details. This is very important because don't forget that I arrived in November, not in pre-season. I think we have grown in an important way, and now we're showing that it's tough to play against us."

Son also spoke of the dynamic between the front three. Since Kulusevski's Premier League debut on February 9, only Kane (13) and Son (12) have been involved in more goals in the competition than the former Juventus winger (nine), taking all teams into account.

"It's all about understanding," said Son. "The first time we played together it wasn't perfect. We're still not perfect, but we improve every single day and enjoy playing together."

Son Heung-min hit a blistering hat-trick as Tottenham stamped their authority on the race for fourth place with a 4-0 win at Aston Villa.

Boosted by Arsenal's earlier defeat to Brighton, Tottenham moved three points past their north London rivals after a clinical second-half effort at Villa Park showed Antonio Conte's team at their best.

All the momentum, for now, is with Spurs, and they led from the third minute when Son fired in off the left post.

Harry Kane helped to create the second for Dejan Kulusevski and also set up Son to stretch the visitors' lead to 3-0, before Kulusevski fed Son to fire in his third of the game.

Tottenham snatched a fortuitous lead when a wayward Kane strike hit Villa defender Matty Cash and bounced kindly to Son, whose finish in off the left upright was exquisite.

Jacob Ramsey went close to an equaliser after waltzing through the Spurs defence and forcing Hugo Lloris to save well. Lloris pushed away a long-range effort from John McGinn, before Danny Ings failed to make a firm connection on a volley.

Ings then missed Villa's clearest opening of the first half when he bundled wide after Ollie Watkins headed Ramsey's cross into his path.

Villa were to pay for those misses in the second half, with Kulusevski doubling Tottenham's lead with a classy strike across Emiliano Martinez after a headed assist from Kane.

Son made it 3-0 in the 67th minute, with Kane nodding Cristian Romero's long pass into the path of the  forward, who made no mistake after running beyond the Villa defence.

The hat-trick strike came in the 72nd minute when Son played the ball to Kulusevski on the right before making his way infield and finding space just behind the penalty spot to sweep in.

Tottenham were so rampant that Ashley Young resorted to hacking down Kane with a late challenge, leaving the England striker hobbling. Young was booked, as was Kane for a lunge at Leon Bailey in the closing moments, a rare misstep.

Steven Gerrard says Harry Kane does not need to join another team to find happiness, as it would mean more to win a trophy with Tottenham than any other club.

Kane stayed at Tottenham for the 2021-22 campaign, despite asking to leave the north London side after Manchester City made a bid reportedly in excess of £100million.

Following a slow start to the season, which many put down to his failure to seal a move away, the England skipper has regained top form since mid-December.

Indeed, since December 19, Kane has scored 14 goals and assisted five more in all competitions.

Over that timeframe, only Kylian Mbappe (20) and Karim Benzema (24) have been directly involved in more goals than Kane's 19 among players from Europe's top five leagues.

Despite the 28-year-old's impressive form in the second half of the season, Tottenham will end the campaign without any silverware as Kane's wait for a trophy goes on.

But Gerrard, who spent all but one season of his 18-year playing career with boyhood side Liverpool, hopes to see his compatriot stay at Tottenham for a while longer yet.

"I admire his loyalty to Tottenham and, of course, I'm sure it's been tempting for him on many occasions to go and take one of those options," said Aston Villa boss Gerrard.

"The Spurs fans should enjoy him and admire the loyalty he's given them. You can see a guy who is desperate for success with Tottenham and I have a lot of admiration for that.

"He might still have the chance to achieve a couple of things in his career which might mean more to him with Tottenham than anyone else because of what they have given him."

Gerrard, who came close to swapping Liverpool for Chelsea in 2005, added: "That's what it boiled down to with me. 

"The decision was, yes I could go to three or four teams in a foreign country or a couple domestically who maybe have a better chance of winning.

"But winning something with your team - the one you love and the supporters you love - I think that will mean more to him for the rest of his life than a short-term fix."

While clearly a fan of Kane, Gerrard will hope the in-form striker has a quiet day on Saturday when Villa host Tottenham in the Premier League.

Kane has scored in all three of his away league meetings with Villa for Spurs and could become the second player after Romelu Lukaku to net in four on the spin against them.

Ahead of the contest at Villa Park, Gerrard revealed his regret at not being able to play alongside Kane, who made his England debut a year after Gerrard's final cap.

"I wish I had the opportunity to play with him; you always want to play with top players," Gerrard said.

"The way he plays would have helped my game to the next level, and I've got enough confidence and belief in the way I played, I might have been able to help him. 

"I played with world-class players with England, and unfortunately, I never got the chance to play with him.

"He's the perfect captain for England right now, a world-class player and with the way he carries himself on and off the pitch."

After a number of false dawns since Alex Ferguson's retirement from coaching, Manchester United are reportedly looking to make a splash with Erik ten Hag.

West Ham's Declan Rice has emerged as one of Europe's premier defensive midfielders and is seen as a key piece in a potential rebuild.

According to reports, this off-season might be the time West Ham and Rice's representatives look to cash in.

 

TOP STORY – UNITED TO MAKE RECORD PLAY FOR RICE

Manchester United are ready to break their transfer record and make him a marquee signing under new boss Erik ten Hag, according to 90Min.

It is understood West Ham made an offer to extend Rice's contract last year, but ultimately, the Hammers would be unable to compete with likely wage offers elsewhere.

For Rice, United appear willing to break their transfer record set in 2016 for Paul Pogba, a midfielder who has never really found a set position or provided a return on sizeable investment.

They would face stiff competition from Manchester City and Chelsea, who are also keen on the 23-year-old England international.

 

ROUND-UP

Manchester United are preparing a deal to sign Leeds United and England midfielder Kalvin Phillips, per the Manchester Evening News.

Brazil are willing to offer Manchester City manager Josep Guardiola a substantial salary to follow on from Tite as the country's national team manager, according to Marca.

Everton boss Frank Lampard has the confidence of club owner Farhad Moshiri and the board, despite the Toffees' relegation battle, the Daily Mail reports.

– The Athletic has reported RB Leipzig and Croatia defender Josko Gvardiol has emerged as a target for Tottenham .

It's matchday 32. No midweek games and precious points to pick up in the run home.

It's that time of the year when the unconventional pick can define one's season. Who dares wins, in other words.

With that in mind, let Stats Perform lead you by the hand with Opta data as we pick four players who might just give you those precious extra points in the latest Premier League gameweek.

VICENTE GUAITA (Leicester City v Crystal Palace)

The last time Leicester were kept scoreless at home by Crystal Palace in the Premier League was in December 2017, when Claude Puel was still manager of the Foxes.

In 2022, however, only Alisson and Ederson have kept more clean sheets than Vicente Guaita in the Premiership, with Guaita's four coming in his last five appearances.

Of the seven highest rankings in the Premier League for clean sheets in the new year, Guaita also has the third-highest percentage of shots saved at 75.86 per cent.

REECE JAMES (Southampton v Chelsea)

Despite the nature of their Champions League defeat to Real Madrid, against Southampton this weekend, it is almost a certainty that Chelsea will have the bulk of possession.

As a consequence of how Thomas Tuchel's side plays, Chelsea's wingbacks are very prominent in and around the penalty area.

Among Premier League defenders this season, no player has scored more goals than Reece James this season, while Antonio Rudiger is also second.

CHRISTIAN ERIKSEN (Brentford v West Ham)

Needing to back up from Thursday's tussle in the Europa League against Lyon, West Ham could be vulnerable.

Brentford's Christian Eriksen has either scored or assisted in his last two Premier League games for the Bees, while the Dane last did so in three consecutive Premier League appearances in April 2019. 

In three Premier League starts for Brentford this season, they have won all three games, and Eriksen has completed the most passes (111) in those games, played the most passes into the penalty area (26) and created the most chances (five).

HARRY KANE (Aston Villa v Tottenham)

Tottenham are starting to find their rhythm under Antonio Conte, even despite March's 3-2 defeat to Manchester United, and Harry Kane remains as pivotal as ever.

No player in the Premier League has contributed to more goals in 2022 than Kane, with eight goals and five assists over that period.

Kane has also been involved in a goal in each of his last six Premier League appearances, and only between July and November 2020 (eight games) has he been on a longer streak.

Manchester City remain the likely Premier League champions and are on course to pip weekend opponents Liverpool to the title as the race reaches its home straight.

The top two each have eight games remaining and the first comes on Sunday when they go head-to-head at the Etihad Stadium in what many are billing a title decider.

That is hyperbole of course, but for City it is the last time they will face a team currently in the top five, so by that logical reasoning it is the game where they are most likely to slip up.

Arsenal are the team likeliest to snatch fourth place and a Champions League ticket for next season, while at the foot of the table it is almost too close to call between Everton and Burnley for the third relegation place, with Leeds United now standing just a 12.2 per cent chance of sliding down to the Championship.

Stats Perform AI analysis has given us a strong sense of how the standings might look come the season's final whistle on Sunday, May 22, but the figures also show us there remains plenty to play for.

PEP TO WIN THE TITLE BATTLE AGAIN?

Pep Guardiola's City head into the crucial contest with a one-point advantage over a Liverpool side who have been closing the gap since trailing by 14 points on January 15, albeit with Jurgen Klopp's Reds having played two fewer games at that time.

It is clear this remains a title race that could yet go either way, but City stand a 65.6 per cent chance of carrying off the trophy for a second season in a row, with Liverpool, their lone rivals for silverware, having a 34.4 per cent opportunity.

Diego Simeone described City as "an extraordinary rival" after Atletico Madrid's 1-0 defeat at the Etihad Stadium on Tuesday, and the second leg of that Champions League tie follows three days after the Liverpool game.

City's Premier League opponents for the remainder of the campaign will then be, in order: Brighton (home), Watford (home), Leeds United (away), Newcastle United (home), West Ham (away) and Aston Villa (home), with a trip to Wolves also to be arranged for a date to be confirmed.

Liverpool, also with Champions League commitments and an FA Cup semi-final against City to come, have what looks a more daunting Premier League run-in after this weekend, beginning with two huge Anfield games: Manchester United (home), Everton (home), Newcastle (away), Tottenham (home), Aston Villa (away), Southampton (away), Wolves (home).

They are 64.7 per cent likely to finish as runners-up, the Stats Perform prediction shows, and 0.9 per cent likely to be caught by Chelsea for second place. City are 0.3 per cent likely to throw it away and finish third. Now that would be some story.

Of all teams in the top flight, third-placed Chelsea are the most likely to finish in their current position. That is calculated as a 94.5 per cent probability.

GO FOURTH AND PROSPER?

The last Champions League qualifying berth is the prize that looks to be a slug-off between north London rivals Tottenham and Arsenal, who will meet in a May 12 derby.

Both sit on 54 points heading into this weekend, with Tottenham fourth for now but Arsenal having played one fewer game.

Momentum could change considerably, but for now Arsenal are predicted to have a 59.1 per cent chance of taking fourth spot, with Tottenham given a 31.9 per cent shot (50.8 per cent to be fifth).

Who else might take fourth and secure the riches that come with Champions League involvement? Well, Chelsea are reckoned to have a 4.0 per cent prospect of slipping there (and a 0.3 per cent chance of nose-diving to fifth), while Manchester United are three points adrift of Spurs and the Gunners, sitting in seventh ahead of a weekend trip to struggling Everton, and are given a 4.2 per cent hope of finishing so high.

That would be a massive boost to United's next boss, but it remains a slim hope. In fact, United's most likely finishing position, according to the predictor, is sixth place (46.1 per cent).

Former Red Devils boss David Moyes has probably seen his West Ham side's hopes of a top-four finish slip away. The Hammers are also just three points behind Tottenham and Arsenal but have played more games than both and are given a trifling 0.7 per cent chance of coming home fourth.

GOING DOWN WITH THE NORWICH?

The Canaries of Norwich are so far down the relegation pit of despair they can surely smell Championship gas. They stand a 1.3 per chance of survival, and are 81.3 per cent likely to finish rock bottom.

Second-bottom Watford are given an 18 per cent chance of staying up by the predictor, and home games against Leeds, Brentford, Burnley, Everton and Leicester City mean that door to survival should be considered just slightly ajar.

Leeds could yet plummet, but if Norwich and Watford are the likeliest two sides to exit the Premier League, then Burnley and Everton are the two most obviously jostling to avoid joining them.

For now, after a bruising 3-2 defeat at Burnley on Wednesday, Everton are rated 49.4 per cent shots to finish inside the bottom three, compared to 53.2 per cent for Sean Dyche's Clarets.

It is knife-edge stuff, hardly the end of the table where Frank Lampard is at his most comfortable.

Come the final day, Lampard's Everton might need something from a trip to Arsenal, who in turn might need points in that fourth-place battle.

HOW THE NUMBERS ARE WORKED OUT

Stats Perform's League Prediction model simulates the outcomes of the remaining matches to estimate the likelihood of teams finishing in each position.

The model estimates the probability of each match outcome (win, draw or loss) from the latest available betting market odds data or, when not available, by using an internal win probability model that is powered by historical team strengths.

Based on these probabilities, the results of the remaining matches can be simulated. The outcome of the season is simulated 10,000 separate times in order to estimate the likelihood of each team finishing in each league position.

Tottenham head coach Antonio Conte insists he will keep pushing the "fantastic" Harry Kane to improve and be the best striker in the world.

Kane claimed March's Premier League Player of the Month award after playing a direct role in half of his side's goals last month, finding the net four times and recording two assists.

The England international followed that up with another assist in the 5-1 rout of Newcastle United last time out, the 20th Premier League goal he has created in his last 63 appearances, as many as he managed in his first 211 outings in the competition.

The Spurs talisman also moved level with Bobby Charlton in last month's internationals, with Kane just four away from Wayne Rooney's record 53 goals for England.

Conte reiterated his praise for Kane ahead of a trip to Aston Villa on Saturday as he discussed the importance of the 28-year-old, who he feels can still develop.

"I think he deserves an important position in the world of football," Conte said of his star striker at a pre-match news conference on Thursday.

"I think Harry also he has the right age to show that he can be one of the best, best in the world and in history. He's already in history because he's scored a lot of goals for the club and the national team. He's of the right age to consolidate this and be one of the best.

"He's not typical in that he's a number nine and number 10. We try to exploit this characteristic.

"We are talking about a fantastic player. It's very difficult to improve him but we're trying to work and push him to the top ambition, to be the best striker."

Spurs sit fourth in the league – above Arsenal on goal difference but Mikel Arteta's side have played a game fewer than their north London rivals – and Conte believes his side are developing after spending more time working with them.

"I've had more days to work with the team and this is important," he added. "Don't forget I came in in November and didn't have the same time as other managers with pre-season and the players you wanted to sign in the summer.

"It's important for me to have more time to spend with my team to improve the physical and technical aspects."

Matt Doherty is one of those to improve under Conte, with the wing-back on target against Newcastle as eight Spurs players recorded either a goal or an assist in a single Premier League game for just the second time, and the Italian hailed the former Wolves man.

"Matthew is the typical player that is showing big improvement," he continued. "If you remember at the start he didn't play a lot with me because at that moment I think he didn't deserve to play.

"Then he worked very hard. He is a really good guy and in every training session you see the desire and the will to improve himself.

"He has a great mentality, many times when players don't play a lot they go down mentally. Instead he has shown me to be strong and shown me 'I do what you want, I am going to improve and when I am ready I want to play'.

"He has shown me that not with talking, but with attitude and behaviour. He is playing very well and with great confidence and I am very happy for him. It's a good example for everyone."

Dele Alli must power through the mental barrier to rediscover his form for Everton otherwise his wasted potential will be a "tragedy", according to Toffees great Neville Southall.

England international Alli ended a seven-year spell with Tottenham to move to Goodison Park in January, with the midfielder signing a two-and-a-half-year deal in what was reported as an initial free transfer.

Everton will reportedly be obliged to pay £10million for the midfielder after he makes 20 appearances and subsequent performance-based add-ons may take the eventual figure as high as £40m.

The 25-year-old is yet to find his feet on Merseyside, while a torrid run of form has left Everton just one point above the relegation zone after earning only 12 points since the start of October.

However, former Toffees goalkeeper Southall told Sky Sports News on Monday how talented Alli could be if Frank Lampard can help him regain his confidence.

"It's difficult. He's obviously not ready. There's something in his head that he can't get through the barrier, that means he can't get on the pitch or there's something missing at the moment," he said of Alli.

"It takes some people a long time. If Dele Alli gets back to being Dele Alli, he'll be a bargain. If Dele Alli doesn't come back, it'll be a tragedy. It'll be a tragedy for the lad, and that's all I'm concerned about, is that he finds himself and his happiness and that will show on the pitch.

"At the moment he looks reasonably happy but he's not played for such a long time, it's a difficult choice for Frank Lampard, does he put him in, risk an injury, is he 100 per cent fit?

"He's certainly not match fit, so for me it's about maybe not using him and getting him ready for next season, give him a break from the pressure, and he comes back and is what he is because everyone needs Dele Alli when he's at it."

Alli is yet to start for his new club in the Premier League, making six appearances as a substitute for his 169 minutes, while he does not have a goal or assist to his name.

He has created five chances this season for Everton from his limited opportunities on the pitch, which is in stark contrast to his best seasons at Spurs.

Alli's best campaign in north London came in 2016-17, when he scored 22 goals in 50 appearances across all competitions, averaging a goal every 182 minutes. He followed that up with 29 direct goal involvements (14 goals, 15 assists) in the 2017-18 campaign.

That ensured a prominent role for Alli at the 2018 World Cup, where England reached the semi-finals, and former manager Mauricio Pochettino went as far as describing him as the best young player in the world.

Lampard will be hoping he can tap into that potential as Everton battle the drop, with their next fixture coming at home to Manchester United on Saturday.

Xavi's rebuild at Barcelona has had to take place with tighter purse strings than you might usually expect.

The club that reportedly spent a combined €275million on Ousmane Dembele and Philippe Coutinho in the same season are now on the hunt for a new winger, and Raphinha seemingly fits the criteria.

Whether they can convince Leeds to sell for a price that suits all parties will apparently be made clear in the next few weeks.

 

TOP STORY – BARCA EYE RAPHINHA

Talks have commenced for Raphinha's potential move from Leeds United to Barcelona, per Nicolo Schira.

Raphinha's agent, former Barcelona and Chelsea star Deco, has been in contact with the Catalan giants since early March, but the Brazilian winger's €70m release clause has been a roadblock for the cash-strapped club.

The Blaugrana remain the preferred destination for the 25-year-old, who has tallied nine goals and three assists in 28 appearances for embattled Leeds.

It is reported Barcelona will try to come up with an acceptable package for the Premier League club in the coming weeks.

 

ROUND-UP

– The Manchester Evening News is reporting Paris Saint-Germain have made an offer to Manchester United's Paul Pogba, as he enters the final months of his contract.

– Tottenham and England striker Harry Kane would consider an offer from Manchester United before weighing up his long-term future, according to The Athletic.

Manchester City are hopeful of agreeing a new contract with 21-year-old England midfielder Phil Foden, per 90min.

– Despite interest from Liverpool and Manchester United, Ronald Araujo's agent has disclosed to ESPN that a new long-term deal with Barcelona is imminent.

Christian Eriksen has been in sparkling form since returning to action with Brentford following his cardiac arrest at Euro 2020.

Inter allowed Eriksen to end his contract after the Denmark international was unable to play in Serie A after having a cardiac device implant fitted, allowing the Bees to sign him on a six-month deal.

Eriksen has since scored for both club and country, and his form has some familiar faces swirling.

 

TOP STORY – TOTTENHAM WANT ERISKEN REUNION

With his return to health, and some form, Tottenham want to bring Eriksen back to the club where he made a name for himself in England.

Eriksen departed from Ajax in 2013, and would spend seven seasons with Spurs, scoring 69 goals in 305 appearances, before signing with Antonio Conte's Inter in Serie A.

As luck would have it, Conte is now the man in charge at Tottenham, and The Daily Mail is reporting he would like to bring Eriksen back on a free transfer when his contract expires at the end of this season.

Spurs will have some competition, though, as it is also reported that Manchester United will be seeking the Dane's services.

 

ROUND-UP

– The Liverpool Echo is reporting that Jurgen Klopp is "happy" with the fact that Mohamed Salah and "decisive parties" are talking to each other regarding a contract extension at Liverpool.

– If Salah was to leave the club, FourFourTwo is reporting that Liverpool will explore replacing him with Paris Saint-Germain superstar Kylian Mbappe – while according to RMC Sport, a third "mystery team" has entered the race for Mbappe, with Real Madrid also circling.

– Real Madrid will be offering out Eden Hazard on loan for the 2022-23 season, according to AS.

– Union Berlin's Nigerian striker Taiwo Awoniyi will fetch a price of £25million if Newcastle, West Ham or Southampton want to prise him away, per Bild.

– The Daily Mirror is reporting that Newcastle could offer England midfielder Kalvin Phillips a contract worth £120,000 per week to lure him away from Leeds United.

Wayne Rooney would be "delighted" if Harry Kane surpasses him as England's record goalscorer, but hopes it happens before the 2022 World Cup.

Kane matched Bobby Charlton on 49 goals for the Three Lions when he struck the winner against Switzerland on March 26.

However, Gareth Southgate chose to rotate his squad for last week's meeting with Ivory Coast at Wembley.

England cruised to a 3-0 win, with Kane coming on in the 62nd minute, though the Tottenham striker did not score.

Rooney was stunned the forward, who he labelled as "one of the best players the Premier League has seen", did not start against Ivory Coast, as he believes it would be better for England if Kane breaks the record prior to the World Cup, which starts in November.

"I'd be delighted for him," Rooney said on Sky Sports. "I was so surprised he didn't play against Ivory Coast.

"I think for him, for Gareth as well, he should try and get that record before the World Cup so it doesn't become a distraction, so I would have played him to try and get that record before the World Cup comes along, so there's no distraction on it."

The Derby County boss was also asked if Kane, who he also called a "genuine, nice, humble guy" will go on to surpass Alan Shearer as the Premier League's record goalscorer. The 28-year-old is currently 82 short of the haul of 260.

 

"I think he gets it, I think he beats Shearer. He's young enough to do that, if you look at his numbers, he'll have no problem," Rooney said.

Kane turned in a star performance in Spurs' thrashing of Newcastle United on Sunday. He provided one assist, but was involved heavily as Antonio Conte's team moved into the top four.

After a slow start to the season, Kane now has 12 league goals and six assists, and Rooney is thrilled to see how the forward has developed his game, in particular under Conte.

"When you get a bit older you lose that sharpness but I don't think it’s the case with Harry," Rooney added. 

"I think over the last couple of seasons, he has been dropping deeper, and I think this is the first time it looks like it's worked on. If you look every time the ball is played into him, Tottenham have got players sprinting and that allows him to use his quality. He can do both. He can play as a nine, a 10, he's an incredible player.

"I think Harry Kane of three, four years ago, all he's thinking about goals. Now he's thinking goals and assists.

"I've been there, I used to love assisting goals, so I know he wants to get the goalscoring record but I think he wants to get the assist record as well and he's capable of doing it.

"He's not old, he's a fairly young lad, I don't think his speed will have gone, I think he's done that on his own back but what Conte's done is he's gone in and worked on it. If you look at the reaction of the other players, they know he can deliver that pass. It's almost like [Francesco] Totti at Roma, he'd come deep and they'd have runners going beyond him.

"The one thing I think he needs to do a bit more is go and join in, once he's played the pass, because if it comes into the box he's the one player you want to be on the end of it."

Kane has assisted 40 goals in the Premier League; his first 20 assists were spread across his first 211 appearances in the competition, while his last 20 have come in his last 63 matches.

The north London derby between Arsenal and Tottenham has been rearranged for Thursday, May 12, the Premier League has confirmed.

The Gunners caused a stir in the middle of January when they successfully appealed for their clash at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium to be postponed, citing a COVID-19 outbreak within their squad.

The league opted to reschedule for a later date, despite Arsenal – who had injury problems, Granit Xhaka suspended and four players at the Africa Cup of Nations – reporting just one positive coronavirus test.

Questions were raised over the legitimacy of the postponement, with Spurs announcing they were "extremely surprised" at the decision, and Antonio Conte reminded Mikel Arteta he had not forgotten the call-off in March when the Spaniard bemoaned scheduling issues.

Nevertheless, the fixture will take place on the penultimate week of the season, just 10 days before the conclusion of the Premier League, and could decide who secures the final Champions League spot.

Tottenham overtook their local rivals on goal difference on Sunday with a 5-1 thrashing of Newcastle United, but Arsenal can reclaim fourth spot with victory at Crystal Palace on Monday.

Even after the visit to Selhurst Park, Mikel Arteta's Gunners will still have a game in hand on Conte's top-four chasers.

However, the rearranged derby has also brought more changes to the schedule of Arsenal, who will now face Leeds United on Sunday, May 8 and Newcastle on Monday, May 16 either side of the Spurs clash.

Antonio Conte labelled Dejan Kulusevski a "great signing for the present and for the future" after his superb start to life in the Premier League continued in Tottenham's 5-1 win over Newcastle United on Sunday.

The Sweden international was a January deadline day arrival from Juventus and has made a strong early impression in the Premier League, recording his fifth assist in the emphatic victory.

Having also scored twice in that period, Kulusevski has helped lift the attacking burden from Harry Kane and Heung-Min Son since arriving.

"We are talking about a player that I know very well, because he played in Italy," Conte said. "He started to play with Atalanta, then Atalanta [sent] him on loan to Parma, and he played in Serie A, and he played in a fantastic way.

"We are talking about a player who is only 21 years old, and he has to continue to play this way, because he's strong physically, big engine, he's good technically.

"I think for Tottenham this is a great signing for the present and for the future. We are talking about really, really strong."

In addition to Kulusevski, Rodrigo Bentancur arrived from Juventus on deadline day this year and the two have blossomed under Conte at Spurs.

The Tottenham boss believes the two signings have helped them fill a positional need and find balance.

"I said that with these two players despite that we lost four players in January, with these two signings we made this squad more complete, with more balance," Conte said.

"I think that it's very important in football to have a clear idea, and to have a good vision. Because in this way, the situation is more simple."

Fourth in the Premier League, Tottenham will travel to face Aston Villa this Saturday.

Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta is not willing to be drawn into mind games with Tottenham counterpart Antonio Conte and is instead focused on getting the most out of his players.

Conte last week stated that Spurs would require "a miracle" to finish fourth place in the Premier League.

Tottenham increased the pressure on Arsenal by hammering Newcastle United 5-1 on Sunday to leapfrog their north London rivals into the final Champions League qualification spot.

However, the Gunners are only behind Tottenham on goal difference and have two games in hand, the first of those coming away at Crystal Palace on Monday.

Conte's comments were perceived as being psychological tactics ahead of a potentially tense run-in that will see the fierce rivals do battle in a rescheduled game.

But Arteta, who was named Manager of the Month for March, is only interested in deploying such tactics internally.

"I don't know if we are favourites [for the top four]," Arteta said. "That is a question for [Conte]. 

"But what we want to do is very clear and the perception of what people think is not going to change it."

When asked if he is a manager who wants to engage in mind games, Arteta replied: "I do it more with my players, I think.

"I do it more with the players, if I have to, to get what I want from them. I can't tell you how I do it because they will know what they are doing and that is the whole point!"

Arsenal have won six of their past seven games ahead of their trip to Palace, who are managed by Gunners midfield legend Patrick Vieira.

Arteta's side have won each of their past five away top-flight matches, which is their best run since a streak of eight in a row between March and September 2013.

That is a remarkable turnaround following their worst start to a Premier League campaign when losing their first three games, and Arteta is confident his young squad can maintain their form.

"There is nothing different; they have already been dealing with [the pressure] for weeks," he said. 

"This is a conversation we have had now for over six to eight weeks, so they have already been through that and have responded really, really well.

"There is nothing new because they have already been doing it and capable of doing it."

Arsenal have lost just one of their past 16 away league games against Palace (W8 D7), though that defeat did come in a Monday game back in April 2017 (3-0).

James Maddison's importance to Leicester City is of little debate, but the Foxes are considering selling the playmaker.

Though the 25-year-old's sole senior England cap came in 2019, he has provided 13 goals and eight assists in 41 appearances across all competitions this season.

However, Maddison's sale might be required to facilitate the Foxes strengthening in other areas.

 

TOP STORY – MADDISON SALE TO FUND LEICESTER REVAMP

Leicester are weighing up the prospect of Maddison's sale in order to make new signings, the Daily Mail has reported.

Manager Brendan Rodgers wants three new additions to propel the Foxes up the Premier League following a season in which they have plateaued.

Leicester will reportedly back Rodgers, but the impact of coronavirus on their finances would likely mean outgoing as well as incoming transfers, and Maddison holds one of the higher market values at the club.

The 25-year-old's £50million price tag would provide serious flexibility in the transfer market, while the club also has to make decisions on Caglar Soyuncu and Youri Tielemans.

ROUND-UP

–  Barcelona want to confirm a contract extension for Ronald Araujo , who has received an offer from Manchester United, according to Sport, but the 23-year-old has viewed this club's pursuit of Antonio Rudiger and Andreas Christensen with caution.

–  Arsenal and Tottenham are keen to sign Lautaro Martinez , but Inter will only sell if they meet a transfer demand in excess of €80million (£67.3m), per Calciomercato.

– The Sun is reporting Newcastle are preparing a £20million offer for Brighton and Hove Albion goalkeeper Robert Sanchez, while also showing interest in Watford's Ismaila Sarr.

–  Manchester United target Manuel Akanji wants to leave Borussia Dortmund at the end of the season and is considering a move to the Premier League, according to Sport1.

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