‘Get into a UFC ring, I’ll see how brave they are’: Ange hits back at aggressive players as Spurs march on
Ange Postecoglou’s Spurs have kept the pace at the top of the Premier League after a stunning second half blitz saw them turn a 1-0 half time deficit to Brentford into a 3-2 win.
Tottenham’s players seemed particularly inspired after visiting striker Neal Maupay had riled them up by imitating Spurs star James Maddison’s trademark celebration, just one of several flashpoints between players.
When Brennan Johnson scored the second goal of the turnaround, he did the same celebration back to mock Maupay – and Ange reprimanded his team for getting involved in the nonsense and losing focus from the game.
“I hope not because that’s exactly what I’m talking about,” he said in response to a post-match question about the celebrations.
“I’m not a fan of it, I don’t like the whole bravado, pushing people around. If you’re that brave about things, my players and their players, get into a UFC cage and I’ll see how brave they are.
“We’re out there to play football. And that’s what I want our guys to do, focus on playing football.
“And they shouldn’t get motivated by things that aren’t really that important to us. Like I said, we got sucked in first half. Second half was much better.”
Maddison, however, was less conciliatory.
“I said to him, he probably hasn’t scored enough goals of his own in the last few years, so he had to copy my celebration,” he said of Maupay.
Maddison also added that he thought Spurs were still part of the title race despite sitting eight points back from Liverpool, who hammered Chelsea 4-1.
“I don’t think the gaffer wants to put a limit on it, there’s no ceiling because there’s more chance of something special happening,” said the England midfielder.
“We’re three points behind second place, so let’s not put a ceiling on it, let’s take it game by game. We could go on a run, if you don’t believe something special can happen, then nothing can ever happen.”
At Anfield, youngster Conor Bradley registered his first Liverpool goal along with two assists as the Premier League leaders thumped Chelsea 4-1 to go five points clear at the top.
The 20-year-old right-back fired into the bottom corner in the 39th minute to double the Reds’ lead having earlier provided the pass that led to Diogo Jota’s opener midway through the first half.
After Darwin Nunez sent a penalty against the post in first-half stoppage-time – one of four times he hit the woodwork – the advantage was extended in the 65th minute when Dominik Szoboszlai headed in from Bradley’s cross.
Christopher Nkunku replied before Luis Diaz wrapped things up for Jurgen Klopp’s men as they made it 15 league matches unbeaten in their first top-flight outing since the German coach’s announcement he is to step down at the end of the season.
A miserable evening for Mauricio Pochettino’s Chelsea ended a three-match winning run as they stayed 10th.
Manchester City, who have played a game fewer than Liverpool, returned to second place with their fourth league victory on the bounce – beating struggling Burnley 3-1 at the Etihad Stadium.
Julian Alvarez netted twice on his 24th birthday and Rodri also got on the scoresheet before top-scorer Erling Haaland made his comeback from injury as a 71st-minute substitute.
Ameen Al-Dakhil netted a stoppage-time consolation for second-bottom Burnley as Pep Guardiola’s treble-winners went above Arsenal on goal difference.