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.

Italy women’s team awarded for ’emancipating’ female game

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ROME (AP) The Italy women’s national soccer team was awarded the Foreign Press Association’s Invictus award Monday for promoting and “emancipating” the female game in the country with its run to the World Cup quarterfinals.

[ MORE: Sheffield United beat Arsenal with stellar defensive display (video) ]

Head coach Milena Bertolini and forward Barbara Bonansea were given the award during a ceremony at the Rome-based association.

With soccer dominated by men in Italy and few opportunities for girls, Bertolini recounted how she had to dress up as a boy to play as a kid.

“Now things are changing, thanks to the Italian federation’s school programs,” Bertolini said.

Bertolini and Bonansea lamented that female players are still not considered professionals and therefore are not permitted to earn more than $33,500 per year by Italian law.

“It’s not about the money, it’s a question of rights,” said Bonansea, who also plays for Italian champion Juventus.

[ MORE: Referee officials explain VAR decision on Rashford goal ]

While Italy’s men’s team is a four-time World Cup champion, the women had not played in a World Cup for two decades and entered as a prohibitive underdog during its opening match against Australia in France in June. But the Azzurre came back from a goal down for a 2-1 win courtesy of Bonansea’s two scores , with her second coming in the fifth minute of stoppage time.

“That goal shaped our World Cup, both in terms of results and in terms of promoting women’s soccer in Italy,” Bertolini said. “The strong emotions on the field were transmitted to everyone who was watching. I still get goosebumps now just thinking about that goal.”

The Azzurre went on to win their group then beat China in the first knockout round before losing to eventual finalist the Netherlands.

In a country of 60 million people, a total of more than 20 million spectators watched Italy’s five matches on RAI state TV, setting audience records for women’s soccer game after game.

The Invictus award is dedicated to “promoting the positive effects of sports in terms of integration and emancipation by the vulnerable sections of society.”

UCL preview: Spurs desperate for a win; Man City host Atalanta

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By the end of the week, we’ll be at the halfway point of the UEFA Champions League group stage, and while some Premier League clubs (Manchester City and Liverpool) are currently in rather strong positions, a couple others (Tottenham Hotspur and Chelsea) have some serious work to do to rescue their respective campaigns.

[ MORE: Sheffield United beat Arsenal with stellar defensive display (video) ]

Tottenham’s start to the group stage has gone about as poorly as it could have done, considering the positions in which they’ve found themselves early in games. Going from 2-0 up to a 2-2 draw away to Olympiacos was bad enough, but going from 1-0 up to a 7-2 home defeat to Bayern Munich was the real demoralizer.

Now, last year’s UCL runners-up find themselves third in the group with just one point. However, Mauricio Pochettino‘s side is set for a back-to-back home-and-away with (presumed) doormat Red Star Belgrade, beginning Tuesday when the Serbian side visits the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium.

Spurs will continue to be without goalkeeper Hugo Lloris following his dislocated elbow, while midfielders Christian Eriksen and Giovani Lo Celso are back in full training and expected to be available for selection. Tanguay Ndombele was only involved as a second-half sub during Spurs’ draw with last-place Watford over the weekend, so he is likely to return to the starting lineup.

[ MORE: Referee officials explain VAR decision on Rashford goal ]

Man City, meanwhile, are coming off a 2-0 victory over Crystal Palace and feeling a renewed sense of PL title contention after Liverpool dropped their first points of the season. While a domestic three-peat is undoubtedly high on the list of priorities for Pep Guardiola‘s side, it’s probably safe to assume that breaking though in the UCL is the main objective for 2019-20. Since Guardiola took over at the Etihad Stadium, City have reached the quarterfinals twice and the round of 16 once. Under the direction of Manuel Pellegrini, City reached the semifinals the season before Guardiola’s arrival.

Outside of long-term knees injuries to Aymeric Laporte and Leroy Sane, City have a clean bill of health.

Tuesday’s full UEFA Champions League schedule

Atletico Madrid v. Bayer Leverkusen — 12:55 p.m. ET
Shakhtar Donetsk v. Dinamo Zagreb — 12:55 p.m. ET

Tottenham Hotspur v. Red Star Belgrade — 3 p.m. ET
Manchester City v. Atalanta — 3 p.m. ET
Galatasaray v. Real Madrid — 3 p.m. ET
Juventus v. Lokomotive Moscow — 3 p.m. ET
Brugge v. Paris Saint-Germain — 3 p.m. ET
Olympiacos v. Bayern Munich

The 2 Robbies podcast: Man United 1-1 Liverpool; Struggles in North London

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Robbie Earle and Robbie Mustoe review the key results from Matchweek 9 in the Premier League focusing on Manchester United and Liverpool’s 1-1 draw at Old Trafford (0:50). The chaps also discuss Manchester City’s win at Crystal Palace (16:50), Arsenal’s defeat at Sheffield United (23:25), Tottenham’s draw at home to Watford (35:25) and debate who currently is the 3rd best team in the Premier League (42:05). Finally, the guys name their under-appreciated performances of the weekend (50:50).

To listen to more lively conversations and passionate debate from Robbie Earle and Robbie Mustoe, subscribe to The 2 Robbies Podcast on Apple Podcasts or anywhere you listen to podcasts.

Click here for The 2 Robbies archive ]

Follow them on Twitter @The2Robbies

FA Cup qualifier to be replayed after team walks off for racist abuse

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LONDON (AP) The FA Cup qualifying match between Haringey Borough and Yeovil Town that was abandoned following racist abuse will be replayed next week.

[ MORE: Sheffield United beat Arsenal with stellar defensive display (video) ]

The Football Association said Monday that the match will be replayed from the start on Oct. 29 at Haringey’s home ground.

Saturday’s game saw the players walk off in the 64th minute, shortly after Yeovil had gone 1-0 up via a penalty. Haringey officials said after the game that its Cameroonian goalkeeper Valery Pajetat and defender Coby Rowe had both been targeted by racial abuse by visiting fans.

London police said they had arrested two men, age 23 and 26, on Monday on suspicion of racially aggravated common assault in connection with the incident.

[ MORE: Referee officials explain VAR decision on Rashford goal ]

The FA said: “Following the incident in the original tie and the two arrests already made, the FA’s investigation is ongoing. We are continuing to work with the relevant authorities on our investigation into the matter.”

The winner of the game will advance to the first round of the FA Cup.