Borussia Dortmund
2:00 AM UTC May 23, 2018
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 By Nick Miller

Paul Pogba proves his worth, Ings' wait is over, Tottenham's troubles

The ESPN FC panel delve into Tottenham's inability to hold leads in important games following their FA Cup semifinal defeat against Man United.
Mark Ogden and Dan Kilpatrick discuss Tottenham's continual lack of silverware as Manchester United knock them out of the FA Cup semifinal.
Manchester City showed no signs of slowing down after securing the title, as the Premier League champions thrashed Swansea City.
Stoke City took the early lead from Badou Ndiaye's strike, but couldn't hold on as Burnley's Ashley Barnes leveled the score in the 2nd half.

The weekend review has praise for Paul Pogba and Danny Ings, while it was a case of "same old Tottenham".

Goal of the weekend

What was nice about Kevin De Bruyne's goal against Swansea was the little look before it. Having collected the ball 35 yards out, De Bruyne's instinct was to look for a pass (to add to the 1,015 others City attempted), glancing to the left for a colleague, sticking to the plan. But then, it was as if he thought "Nah, never mind the plan, we've won the league, I'm hitting this." And hit it he did, with the power of a tracer bullet, right into the corner.

Assist of the weekend

If ever you wanted a distillation of Paul Pogba's best qualities, it was in his brilliant assist for Alexis Sanchez's goal against Tottenham. A beautiful combination of strength and delicacy, firstly doing what maybe a handful of midfielders in the world could in muscling Mousa Dembele off the ball, before doing what maybe a handful of midfielders in the world could in picking out Sanchez between two Tottenham defenders.

The Venn diagram that covers the former and the latter group of midfielders is pretty small. For all his frustrations, Pogba is a player to be cherished and appreciated.

Repetition of the weekend

"We can't keep doing this," said Dele Alli, almost in tears after Tottenham meekly surrendered in the second half of their FA Cup semifinal against Manchester United, their eighth defeat at this stage in a row and another season under Mauricio Pochettino without tangible reward. Alli probably won't agree with the notion that Tottenham's success cannot be judged only be trophies, even if that argument has some degree of merit.

Because the clock is ticking. It's an unpopular notion among Spurs fans that their star players might want to play for another team, one that can double/treble their wages -- or, mad as this might sound, win titles -- but it's going to happen. Toby Alderweireld will leave this summer, maybe Danny Rose too. They might be able to absorb those two departures, but they won't be able to with others -- and you know which ones -- so easily.

Tottenham have a window. They have an excellent team with a terrific manager. If those stars leave, with a new stadium to pay for, don't expect Daniel Levy to spend the money required to directly replace them. If they can't win a trophy with this team, when will they? They can't keep doing this.

Tottenham fell short in the FA Cup after a dispiriting defeat to Manchester United.
Tottenham have lost their last eight FA Cup semifinals in succession.

Saving grace of the weekend

Of the possible combinations for the FA Cup final, Manchester United vs. Chelsea is the least interesting. The others would have at least provided something new, given that Tottenham and Southampton have only two final appearances between them in the last 30 years: United and Chelsea, by comparison, have 19 in the same period.

But the one thing that might make it worth tuning in is another round between Jose Mourinho and Antonio Conte. "There's not a problem between him and me," offered Conte, unconvincingly. There most certainly is, and this final will be all the spicier for it.

Strange farewell of the weekend

It's impossible not to have some sympathy with Arsene Wenger, particularly when he said some protests from Arsenal fans in the latter days of his tenure were "hurtful", serving as a reminder about the human impact of such things.

But at the same time those fans -- at least the ones who didn't cross the line into mindless, historically ignorant abuse -- shouldn't feel guilt-tripped into thinking they were wrong. As Graeme Souness said on Sunday, Wenger was lucky to stay as long as he did, and didn't relinquish his position earlier because he didn't want to leave, not for the wider good of Arsenal. Those fans were right to protest, and shouldn't be made to feel bad for, in Wenger's words, not giving "the image of unity" that he wanted.

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger during the Premier League  match at the Emirates Stadium London.
Arsene Wenger shocked football by announcing he is leaving Arsenal.

Celebration of the weekend

If you didn't get a little damp around the eyes after Danny Ings swept his first goal in 931 days for Liverpool, you might want to check your pulse. The absolute relief of a man who has endured such a horrific time roared out of him, and the way his teammates mobbed him tells you what a popular figure he is at Anfield. Nice one, Danny.

Excuse of the weekend

The weird thing about Jurgen Klopp complaining about the dryness of the Hawthorns grass, after Liverpool had chucked away a two-goal lead, was he had absolutely no need to offer up such an absurd excuse.

Drawing 2-2 with the Premier League's bottom team was obviously annoying, but in the wider scheme of things it didn't really matter. This is a team who will qualify for next season's Champions League, and with a semifinal in this season's edition in mind Klopp played a second-string defence against West Brom. There might be wider problems with Liverpool's mentality and ability to hold on to a lead, but in isolation surely most will understand the reasons for these two dropped points.

Klopp is an entertaining man and an excellent manager: perhaps it's because of these two things that he gets away with saying frankly silly stuff like this.

Striker of the weekend

After Mohamed Salah, who's the most in-form striker in the Premier League? Harry Kane? Nope. Sergio Aguero? Guess again. Romelu Lukaku? Wrong. It's Ashley Barnes, whose bundled effort against Stoke was his sixth strike in the last eight games.

A dark horse candidate for England's World Cup squad then? Not if Austria have anything to do with it: Barnes qualifies for the Austrians through a grandparent, and has made one appearance for the under-20s.

Nick Miller is a writer for ESPN FC, covering Premier League and European football. Follow him on Twitter @NickMiller79.


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