Arsenal’s Petr Cech: Time for Tottenham to win trophies

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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.

The 2 Robbies: Alexis/Mkhitaryan transfer saga and more

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Robbie Mustoe and Robbie Earle recap all the key stories from the latest Premier League Saturday fixtures including Manchester City’s 3-1 win over Newcastle (0:20), Chelsea’s 4-0 victory at Brighton (10:15) and the latest on the Alexis Sanchez/Henrikh Mkhitaryan saga after wins for Arsenal and Manchester United (19:00). Plus, a closer look at the bottom of the table and thoughts go out to James McCarthy after his serious injury against West Brom (29:00).

Join Earle & Mustoe on The 2 Robbies Football Show, Saturdays at 5pm ET. Listen on the NBCSports Radio App and call 855-323-4622 in the U.S. for lively passionate debate.

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Video: Stoke’s Imbula scores stunner on loan at Toulouse

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Stoke City supporters know the name Giannelli Imbula, and perhaps they’ll be clamoring for the Frenchman to return to the bet365 Stadium if he can score more goals like this.

[ MORE: PL Roundup — Top three all victorious; Gunners thrash Palace ]

The holding midfielder is currently on loan with Ligue 1 outfit Toulouse, and for the first time this season, Imbula opened his goalscoring account in some fashion.

Right on half-hour mark, Imbula unleashed a left-footed strike from nearly 40 yards out to give Toulouse the lead over Montpellier (below).

Imbula joined Stoke during the 2015/16 PL season, and has made 26 appearances for the Potters in his time with the club, prior to his loan to France.

Willian proves he’s Chelsea’s x-factor against Brighton

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There’s a considerable difference when watching a Chelsea team that plays with and without one of its Brazilian influences in the attacking part of the field.

Willian — who first debuted for the Blues back in 2013 — hasn’t always managed to be a regular starter for Chelsea, whether it was Jose Mourinho, Guus Hiddink or current manager Antonio Conte at the helm, though.

[ SOURCES: Jack Harrison expected to join Stoke City this winter ]

The 29-year-old plays with considerable flair, something that certainly isn’t uncommon amongst many players that have grown up in Brazil.

At times Willian’s overconfidence is a significant blessing, and at others it can be considered a curse, however, the former Corinthians player’s presence is something that Chelsea needs now more than ever.

That was on display on Saturday during the side’s 4-0 win at Brighton, a match in which Chelsea dominated from start to finish with Willian on the pitch. While the performance cannot solely be attributed to the attacking midfielder’s showing, it’s easy to argue that the Blues midfielder is becoming the club’s biggest x factor — one that can determine the outcome of a match.

Just look six minutes into the match, when the Blues put together one of the best team goals you’ll see in a match this year (or any year for that matter), which of course, was started and finished by none other than Willian.

What stands out about the play isn’t the brilliant slicing shot into the near post corner by the veteran playmaker, but instead the confidence that Willian exudes and brings to a Chelsea lineup that has plenty of talent to be considered one of the best teams in England and all of Europe.

After all, Conte’s group is just a season removed from winning the Premier League and still sits inside the top three in the world’s top league.

Then, there’s the Blues’ third goal against Brighton, which was set up by a smart, and instinctive, through ball played into the path of Eden Hazard by Willian (below).

Even though Hazard ends up with a ton of time on the ball to make his next decision, which was ultimately to cut inside on his preferred right foot, the run by Willian towards the end line dragged a defender away from the Belgian international — allowing the sequence to progress.

Arguing Willian’s importance isn’t a knock on Hazard — a world-class player in his own right — or Alvaro Morata, who has had the intolerable task of replacing a key player like Diego Costa.

Instead, it simply shows that Chelsea has a plethora of talent, and that some of the club’s attacking struggles throughout the 2017/18 season can be chalked up to Willian being left out of the starting XI on a regular basis.

[ MORE: Sergio Aguero continues to display brilliance for Man City ]

The Brazilian international has scored eight goals and added seven assists this season in all competitions for the Blues, despite only starting 19 matches.

The mind of manager Conte is an ever-changing one, so maybe Willian still doesn’t get the starting nod on an every week basis, but just by watching the team’s performance at the Amex Stadium it’s quite hard to argue against the player being on the field as much as possible.

Premier League Preview: Southampton vs. Tottenham

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Southampton will host Tottenham Hotspur on Sunday (Watch live, 11 a.m. ET on NBCSN and online via NBCSports.com) with both sides hoping to pick up three points for very different reasons.

The Saints are currently in the midst of a fierce relegation battle through 23 matches, and sit in 18th place in the Premier League, while Spurs are hoping challenge for a top-four position.

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Mauricio Pellegrino‘s Southampton could get defender Maya Yoshida back in time for Sunday’s match, however, the side will be without Charlie Austin once more, who is currently nursing a hamstring injury.

Meanwhile, a number of key figures will miss the match for Tottenham, including goalkeeper Hugo Lloris and Harry Winks. Also, Danny Rose and Toby Alderweireld remain sidelined with injuries, although the latter is expected to be back soon.

What they’re saying

Mauricio Pellegrino on state of the Saints: “We are not happy with our position but in three or four weeks’ time everything can change. It’s part of our competition. I feel in our team the spirit is really good and everybody is conscious about what we need. I receive these messages from players every day, and we have to convert these feelings into stats.”

Mauricio Pochettino on potential January moves: “To be honest it will be difficult. At some point you always dream but not too much exciting [is happening]. If it happens, it happens. If not, then it doesn’t happen. We are happy with the squad.”

Prediction

Harry Kane is firing at an absurd rate recently, and Southampton’s current form is worrisome to say the least. With just four wins all season, it’s hard to imagine the Saints coming out in front in their clash. Southampton 0-3 Tottenham