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Spurs players ready for ‘people upstairs’ to invest, starting with Eriksen

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Tottenham Hotspur players see the writing on the wall: their massive, and continued, overachievement is at risk of being undone by the club’s decision makers if they don’t get on board and back the first team this summer.

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Danny Rose has called upon the hierarchy, with Daniel Levy chief among them, to start moving in that direction by re-signing Christian Eriksen to a new contract this summer. Eriksen, whose contract is set to expire next summer, is reportedly one of the first names on Real Madrid’s shopping list. Rose is adamant that losing the Danish playmaker would be a crippling blow for the team, as tends to be the case when he’s not playing — quotes from the Guardian:

“It’s obviously vital [that Eriksen re-signs]. If you look over the five years that the manager’s been here, Christian has played the most games and that says a lot. When Christian doesn’t play, there are questions that we don’t look the same. He links everything up for us. The lads in the changing room trust the people upstairs to hopefully get him to sign.”

Mauricio Pochettino has clearly been brilliant in leading a young squad to the brink of a fourth straight top-four finish while also guiding Tottenham to the Champions League semifinal next week, when they’ll face Ajax for a chance to compete in club soccer’s premier fixture. Yet, it all feels so tenuous after the club’s hierarchy elected to make not a single signing last summer or in January.

[ KLOPP: Whatever happens in title run-in, Liverpool will have “no regrets” ]

Injuries have ravished a thin squad, which was only exacerbated by post-World Cup fatigue for so many players, but Pochettino has found a way to make it work. Moussa Sissoko and Harry Winks became a formidable midfield duo against all odds, while Son Heung-min has ascended to superstardom. These are bold rolls of the dice which came up Spurs. That’s no way to operate a club at the highest level, though, and Rose knows it.

“We have every possible foundation at the club — the training ground, the stadium now, the fanbase, the players. But it’s not just the foundations that attract players and make players want to stay. It’s out of the players’ control. We just have to trust that the people upstairs are going to do whatever they see fit to help us make that next step. We know that our manager is a winner. He demands the best from us and he wants to win something, as well. So while everybody is on the same page, we can just look forward to next season and see what it brings.”

Then again, this time last year had most bystanders, this writer included, thinking the exact same thing — “They have to bring in reinforcements, because there’s no way Pochettino can string this thing together with bubble gum and shoelaces for another year” — and here we are, with Spurs 180 minutes from the Champions League final and and four points clear of fifth-place Arsenal with three games left to play.

It’s a different story altogether, though, when an influential member of the team like Rose comes out and says so plainly what everyone else is thinking. Because if he’s thinking it and saying it publicly, everyone else in the locker room is thinking it, too.

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.