EPL

Tottenham-Arsenal clash rearranged for May as pair tussle for Champions League

By Sports Desk April 04, 2022

The north London derby between Arsenal and Tottenham has been rearranged for Thursday, May 12, the Premier League has confirmed.

The Gunners caused a stir in the middle of January when they successfully appealed for their clash at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium to be postponed, citing a COVID-19 outbreak within their squad.

The league opted to reschedule for a later date, despite Arsenal – who had injury problems, Granit Xhaka suspended and four players at the Africa Cup of Nations – reporting just one positive coronavirus test.

Questions were raised over the legitimacy of the postponement, with Spurs announcing they were "extremely surprised" at the decision, and Antonio Conte reminded Mikel Arteta he had not forgotten the call-off in March when the Spaniard bemoaned scheduling issues.

Nevertheless, the fixture will take place on the penultimate week of the season, just 10 days before the conclusion of the Premier League, and could decide who secures the final Champions League spot.

Tottenham overtook their local rivals on goal difference on Sunday with a 5-1 thrashing of Newcastle United, but Arsenal can reclaim fourth spot with victory at Crystal Palace on Monday.

Even after the visit to Selhurst Park, Mikel Arteta's Gunners will still have a game in hand on Conte's top-four chasers.

However, the rearranged derby has also brought more changes to the schedule of Arsenal, who will now face Leeds United on Sunday, May 8 and Newcastle on Monday, May 16 either side of the Spurs clash.

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    Ellis Simms ended Maidstone’s FA Cup fairytale as his first-half hat-trick helped fire Coventry into the quarter-finals.

    The striker’s treble and Fabio Tavares’ late double sent the Sky Blues into the last eight for the first time since 2009 after a 5-0 win.

    It was a disappointing climax to the Stones’ historic Cup run, which had seen them win seven ties – including knocking out Barrow, Stevenage and Ipswich – to become the first team outside the top five divisions to reach the fifth round since Blyth Spartans in 1978.

    George Elokobi’s National League South side became heroes following their fourth-round win at Portman Road but there was never any danger of a repeat at Coventry.

    The Sky Blues were determined to avoid suffering the same fate as their Championship rivals, with Mark Robins’ men rampant from the start and 2-0 up inside 15 minutes.

    Haji Wright forced Lucas Covolan into early action before Simms fired them into a ninth-minute lead.

    Reiss Greenidge’s loose pass was seized on by Liam Kelly and he found Kasey Palmer to slip in Simms, who confidently beat Covolan.

    The striker then netted his fourth goal in four games six minutes later, again combining with Palmer to drill in a low angled effort from 15 yards.

    Maidstone, who lost 2-0 to Aveley on Saturday to leave them eighth in National League South, were outclassed and outgunned.

    A rare Liam Sole effort dropped over but the visitors were contained by their hosts, who had moved into cruise control following Simms’ brace.

    As their pace dropped, so did the amount of chances although Tavares dragged wide from 25 yards, until Simms completed his hat-trick 10 minutes before the break.

    Again Palmer was the creator when his first-time volley from 35 yards caught out Covolan and the goalkeeper could only parry it into the path of Simms, who rammed in from four yards.

    It was game over and half-time substitute Callum O’Hare went searching for another four minutes after the restart only to shoot straight at Covolan.

    The goalkeeper turned Palmer’s strike away just after the hour and gathered Josh Eccles’ shot but the game had already begun to lose momentum.

    Yet Coventry still found time to score twice late on through Tavares.

    The midfielder rifled in from Matty Godden’s pass with two minutes left before he followed up in stoppage time to net after Covolan parried Godden’s effort.

  • Proud Lilywhites has no plans to quit as it celebrates 10th anniversary Proud Lilywhites has no plans to quit as it celebrates 10th anniversary

    Proud Lilywhites, Tottenham’s official LGBTQI+ supporters’ group, has changed lives and the law since its inception a decade ago, and has no plans to call it a day any time soon.

    Tuesday marks the organisation’s 10th anniversary and co-founder Chris Paouros acknowledged an early aim was to “put ourselves out of business” by improving equality in football and changing homophobic attitudes.

    The achievements of the group include helping a member seek asylum in the UK and contributing towards the Chelsea rent boy chant being deemed a homophobic hate crime, with this past month full of activities to celebrate their milestone.

    Recent men’s and women’s matches with Wolves and Aston Villa respectively were dedicated to Proud Lilywhites’ 10th anniversary with the club’s 62,850-seater stadium lit up in rainbow colours and again on February 15 when a celebration event was held at the ground, with first-teamers Ben Davies and Ellie Brazil in attendance.

    “Walking down the High Road (before Wolves), I can’t even begin to tell you how I felt,” Paouros told the PA news agency.

    “I come from Seven Sisters way and seeing the stadium saying celebrating 10 years of Proud Lilywhites, it almost took my breath away and I feel emotion now talking about it.

    “We just made up this thing 10 years ago and thought this is a good idea!

    “As a LGBTQI+ fan, you don’t always feel football is for you. And I always say that feeling when the ball is about to hit the back of the net and everyone rises in unison, you don’t get that anywhere else. For that reason I don’t want to deny that for anybody.”

    Proud Lilywhites’ celebration event was attended by several key allies with Spurs’ executive director Donna-Maria Cullen, Troy Townsend of Kick It Out, Women in Football’s Jo Tongue and Olympic gold-medallist Helen Richardson-Walsh all addressing the three-figure audience, while symbolically Ledley King was also present.

    Ex-Tottenham captain King has supported the group since the beginning after being in its first ever photo ahead of a Europa League clash with Dnipro on February, 27 2014.

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    A post shared by Tottenham Hotspur (@spursofficial)

    The wheels in motion for Proud Lilywhites started weeks before that launch event at the Dnipro fixture when Paouros and five others held a meeting at White Hart Lane with then-supporters’ liaison officer Jonathan Waite to set out the group’s formation.

    In the Bill Nicholson Suite, Proud Lilywhites declared its three key principles would be community, education and campaigning and with it the pathway to changing lives and the law had been set.

    Later that year Proud Lilywhites put up its rainbow-coloured flag at White Hart Lane for the first time, which has been the catalyst for fans like group co-chair Lee Johnson to give football a second chance.

    Paouros added: “When we first put a flag up at White Hart Lane, there was a huge hoo-ha about it.

    “Now it is a permanent fixture and people are proud of it. You can say it is just a symbol to say you are inclusive, but actually that flag has brought so many people back to the game.”

    The homophobic rent boy chant – aimed at Chelsea, their players and fans – had forced Johnson away from football, but the Crown Prosecution Service in 2022 recognised it as a homophobic hate crime after Proud Lilywhites alongside Chelsea Pride co-chair Tracy Brown gathered evidence through victim impact statements to ensure the law was changed.

    Proud Lilywhites also works alongside Kick It Out to provide fan education, but a real source of pride revolves around helping a now-committee member to be granted asylum in the UK.

    “One of our members, she is a committee member now, was seeking asylum in this country for persecution for her sexual orientation,” Paouros explained.

    “And as you know if you seek asylum, you have to prove it and how on earth do you prove your sexual orientation? It is unthinkable.

    “However, in 2016 or 2017, we did a stall before the north London derby where we made rainbow rock sweets, talked about Proud Lilywhites. She helped and it was photographed.

    “So, that evidence of helping with the stall along with a letter we wrote supporting her case meant she was granted asylum and it is one case, but I am really proud of that.”

    There are countless other examples of Proud Lilywhites’ impact with the group recently singled out for praise by Angharad ‘Haz’ James upon her departure from the women’s team, while Ashleigh Neville described it as “amazing” earlier this month.

    Proud Lilywhites has twice been recognised at the Football v Homophobia awards and was the fourth LGBTQI+ football group to form in England. Now it is one of more than 50 linked to the Pride in Football network, which it helped form.

    However, the group’s work is far from over with homophobic abuse targeted at Proud Lilywhites on social media earlier this month, which means a one-time assertion no longer rings true.

    “We’ve always said we want to put ourselves out of business and not be in a position where we’re doing this forever, but Donna (Cullen) said, ‘Do you really? Because look at all these people who love being part of this group’. There is something in that because it’s about how you bring people together to feel a sense of community,” Paouros conceded.

    “Last year we saw an increase in homophobic chanting and abuse in professional football.

    “So, we need to encourage a culture of reporting that doesn’t feel like people being grassed up.

    “While we are not safe on our phones, not safe on our streets and while football can sometimes send us signals that we don’t belong, the Proud Lilywhites remains a beacon for the positive change fans can make alongside committed clubs like Spurs to ensure football really is for everyone.”

  • Oscar Bobb extends deal at Manchester City until 2029 Oscar Bobb extends deal at Manchester City until 2029

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    The Norway international, 20, has made 16 appearances so far this season, scoring twice – including the last-minute winner in the 3-2 victory at Newcastle last month.

    “I am very proud and honoured to have signed my new contract with City,” said Bobb, whose previous deal was set to expire in 2026.

    “It is an incredible environment and the best possible place to be for a young player.

    “I have already learnt so much from (manager) Pep (Guardiola), his coaching staff and my team-mates. To know I am going to be here at the club until 2029 means everything to me.

    “Now I just want to focus on continuing to further my development and to work as hard as I can every day to try and help the club achieve more success.”

    City’s director of football Txiki Begiristain feels there is plenty more to come from Bobb, whose first senior goal came on his full Champions League debut against Red Star Belgrade in December.

    “Oscar is blessed with superb natural talent and technique and has already established himself as a very important member of the squad,” Begiristain said on the club’s website.

    “He is an exciting young player who is always hungry to learn and who takes on board all the advice and guidance Pep and the coaching staff provide him with.

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