Here we go. It’s North London derby week, ladies and gents.
Arsenal host Tottenham Hotspur on Saturday at the Emirates Stadium (Watch live, 7:30 a.m. ET on NBCSN and online via NBCSports.com) with the Gunners winless against Spurs in their last six Premier League clashes against their fierce rivals.
Speaking ahead of the encounter — this is the first NLD since Tottenham finished above Arsenal for the first time in 21 league seasons — Arsenal’s Petr Cech has ramped up the pressure on Spurs to deliver on their promise.
Has there been a power shift in North London from Arsenal to Tottenham?
“No I don’t think so. There is always one odd year where things can change, but the most important thing for us is competing against the other teams for the Premier League title and for the glory. We are not competing against Tottenham Hotspur,” Cech told Sky Sports. “Two years ago when we finished above them we were disappointed because we didn’t win the title. Our target is to win the title and be successful during the season, not necessarily looking at what Tottenham are doing.”
“They’ve been there in the last few years so now I think they have to make sure they win something to show the progression. Success is ultimately winning trophies. We were under pressure the last couple of years, people talking about winning trophies, obviously we are disappointed not to have won the title but we won FA Cups. Although the season was not always what we wanted, we always had a trophy at the end of it.”
Wow. This is the definition of shots fired.
Not many Arsenal players have had a nibble of this magnitude over the past few years with Tottenham’s noisy rise up the Premier League fueled by Harry Kane, Dele Alli and Christian Eriksen, plus Mauricio Pochettino is getting plenty of plaudits for his high-pressing tactics while Arsene Wenger and his players are lambasted for finishing outside the top four last season, the first time they’d done so in 20 years.
Does Cech have a point? I think even the most ardent Spurs fan will agree that he does.
Nobody remembers the team who finished second, like Tottenham did last season in the PL, or the team who finishes runners up in the League Cup or FA Cup. It is time Tottenham won their first trophy since 2008 (the League Cup) and they’re at least showing signs of promise in the UEFA Champions League where they’ve stormed past Borussia Dortmund and Real Madrid to make the Round of 16.
But the only way they can edge themselves away from that list of great English teams to not win anything (see: United, Newcastle and United, Leeds) is by picking up some silverware.
I wrote about this very topic just a few weeks ago following Spurs’ defeat at Manchester United in the Premier League. Tottenham must pick up a piece of silverware this season to not only rubber-stamp how good they are but also entice players to remain and Pochettino to stay beyond next season when they move back to White Hart Lane.
As Cech said, even Arsenal have won the FA Cup in three of the past four seasons despite their much-maligned displays under Wenger.
When we flick through the history books in 20 years to come, this Tottenham team may not come up in conversation unless they win something. That’s a fact. If they do it will be something along the lines of “do you remember that team Spurs had? Wow. How did they not win anything?”
Given Tottenham’s individual talent and play as a collective unit over the past two seasons, that kind of dialogue in the future would be a travesty.