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.

Premier League weekend friendlies: Man Utd-Inter, PL Asia Trophy

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This weekend in Premier League preseason friendlies sees Liverpool taking on a pair of top European foes, while four PL foes trade blows in Shanghai.

Man City and Wolves move on from significant defeats of Newcastle and West Ham, who in turn will face each other on Saturday.

You can watch Saturday’s Premier League Asia Trophy matches between Wolves and Man City, and Newcastle versus West Ham here on NBC Sports Live.

Meanwhile, Manchester United will tangle with Romelu Lukaku-chasing Inter Milan on Saturday (and, no, the Belgian striker won’t be in uniform).

There’s also a sneaky good match-up of Watford and Bayer Leverkusen in Austria on Saturday, while Sunday’s light docket has Spurs facing Matthijs de Ligt and Juventus in Singapore.

Friday
Borussia Dortmund v. Liverpool (Notre Dame, Indiana)

Saturday
Girona v. Bournemouth
Arsenal
v. Fiorentina (Charlotte)
Fulham v. Brighton and Hove Albion
Cheltenham Town v. Leicester City
Crewe Alexandra v. Burnley
Port Vale v. Burnley
Bromley v. Crystal Palace
Man City 
v. Wolves (Shanghai)
Inter Milan v. Manchester United (Singapore)
Newcastle United v. West Ham (Shanghai)
Northampton Town v. Sheffield United
Preston North End v. Southampton
Watford 
v. Bayer Leverkusen (Austria)

Sunday
Shrewsbury Town v. Aston Villa
Liverpool 
v. Sevilla (Boston)
Juventus v. Spurs (Singapore)

PL friendly wrap: Pukki leads Norwich past Schalke

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London sides went 0-2, while three other Premier League sides won ahead of Friday night’s friendly between Liverpool and Borussia Dortmund in Indiana.

[ MORE: Algeria wins AFCON ]

The wins included defeats of Schalke and Monaco, while Brighton and Hove Albion topped lower league Crawley Town.

Schalke 1-2 Norwich City

Teemu Pukki had a goal and an assist, giving hope that the Championship goal collector can bring his game to the Premier League.

Pukki’s 13th minute goal was assisted by Man City loanee Patrick Roberts, and the Finn later assisted Moritz Leitner‘s winner.

Rabbi Matondo scored Schalke’s only goal, and American midfielder Weston McKennie was neither with the starters nor the bench.

Everton 1-0 Monaco

Seamus Coleman scored and Maarten Stekelenburg stopped a penalty as the Toffees handled their Ligue 1 opposition in Switzerland.

Kawasaki Frontale 1-0 ChelseaRECAP

Leandro Damaio scored the lone goal as Chelsea had plenty of chances to win in Christian Pulisic‘s debut. The American came off the bench for the final 25 minutes in Japan.

Nottingham Forest 1-0 Crystal Palace

Albert Adomah scored the lone goal in a win for the Championship side.

Brighton and Hove Albion 1-0 Crawley Town

New signing Taylor Richards‘ late penalty kick was enough for the Seagulls to get a result at home. The Man City midfielder arrived on Thursday.

Liverpool v. Borussia Dortmund (Notre Dame, Indiana) — 8 p.m. ET

Algeria wins Africa Cup of Nations

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In the words of a Missouri-born rapper, you only get one shot. In Algeria’s case in the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations, that was true and it was all the Desert Foxes needed to claim their first AFCON title since 1990 with a 1-0 defeat of Senegal on Friday at Cairo International Stadium in Cairo.

Baghdad Bounedjah’s wildly-deflected second minute shot was enough to give Algeria its second AFCON crown.

Senegal out shot Algeria 11-1 on the day, but Sadio Mane and Co. couldn’t find their way over the goal line.

One-time Man City and Southampton player Djamel Belmadi has now managed an AFCON winner and a Gulf Cup of Nations champion (Qatar, 2014).

[ MORE: Ballon d’Or w/o Messi, Ronaldo? ]

Bounedjah’s wild rip after a cut-in from the left bounded into the air and looped into the far corner. Senegal goalkeeper Amigo Gomis made it look more odd with his befuddlement (Scramble, my guy!).

Referee Neant Alioum’s ruling of a penalty to Senegal after Ismaila Sarr’s rip hit the arm of Adlene Guedioura was overturned when review showed the Algeria midfielder’s arm was at his side.

We mean, was this going to be the goal that won Africa’s most important tournament? Yep.

Ajax seals El Tri’s young star Alvarez for $17M

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Ajax has developed a ton of youngsters, and now has a pair of CONCACAF starlets in the fold for 2019-20.

A day after selling Matthijs de Ligt to Juventus for a reported $84 million, the Dutch side has delivered on reports that it wanted Edson Alvarez.

That puts the 21-year-old Mexican defender/defensive midfielder in the Eredivisie side with 18-year-old Dutch-American defender Sergino Dest.

While Dest has yet to break into the full USMNT, playing in the U-20 World Cup this summer, Alvarez already has 28 caps and five goals for El Tri.

He’ll bring a relative wealth of experience from Club America, and Ajax could use him to help offset the sale of Frenkie de Jong to Barcelona. While Alvarez has played a lot of center back in Liga MX, he’s been used at defensive midfielder by Tata Martino with the national team.

The reported fee is $17 million, according to Goal.