Revitalised Leicester Ready To ‘Attack’, Says Rodgers

Leicester City’s Northern Irish manager Brendan Rodgers (R) celebrates with Leicester City’s English striker Jamie Vardy after winning the English Premier League football match between Leicester City and Burnley at King Power Stadium in Leicester, central England on September 20, 2020. (Photo by Laurence Griffiths / POOL / AFP)

 

Brendan Rodgers said Leicester were “ready to “attack the season again” after two wins from their opening two Premier League matches eased the pain of a disappointing end to last season.

The former champions are top of the table on goal difference after beating Burnley 4-2 on Sunday.

It was the 100th victory for Rodgers in the Premier League in his 210th game — Alex Ferguson, Kenny Dalglish and Kevin Keegan are the only British managers to have reached the landmark in fewer matches.

Leicester lost out on a Champions League spot on the final day of the last campaign after a poor run when football resumed following the coronavirus shutdown.

“It (starting well), was always going to be important because there can be a hangover, if you don’t address it,” said Rodgers.

“But we spoke about it in our short pre-season period and felt ready to move on.

“The players have good motivation, they’ve scored seven goals in two games and it shows we’re ready to attack the season again.”

Sunday was the first time Leicester had ended the day at the top of the table since they won the title in 2015/16, but the Northern Irishman said it was far early to describe them as potential challengers.

“It’s only two games. After 10 games you start to get an idea of where the league is at,” said Rodgers. “We’re not even thinking about that (a sustained challenge).

“We’re looking to develop the team and the experiences of last season, both in the league and the cup, will really enrich us.

“Whatever way it finished last season we still had a fantastic season to finish where we did (fifth).”

AFP

Five Things We Learned From The Premier League’s Return

mane-sadio
Mane celebrates one of his goal in the game. Photo: [email protected]

 

The Premier League began with a bang this weekend as Liverpool launched their title defence with a pulsating 4-3 win over new boys Leeds.

Arsenal and Leicester both recorded impressive 3-0 victories but Jose Mourinho was left fuming after he tasted defeated on the opening day of a league campaign for the first time in his career.

Big-spending Chelsea eased to a 3-1 win at Brighton, but Blues goalkeeper Kepa Arrizabalaga made another blunder.

AFP Sport picks out five things we learned from the opening weekend of the season.
‘Special’ Leeds a welcome addition

The return of Leeds to the Premier League after a 16-year absence, and with the mercurial Marcelo Bielsa at the helm, was highly anticipated and it did not disappoint.

The new boys were two minutes away from taking points off the champions until Mohamed Salah completed his hat-trick from the penalty spot to ensure Liverpool emerged victorious at an empty Anfield.

“Leeds are special,” said Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp, in the knowledge that other title contenders will struggle to beat Bielsa’s men this season.

As the scoreline suggests, improvements will be needed at the back but Leeds will remain true to Bielsa’s philosophy in trying to impose themselves on the opposition and on the evidence of their opening salvo, there should be no fear of dropping back down to the second tier.

Sensible VAR

The biggest surprise of the Premier League’s return came with the lack of controversy caused by VAR as new interpretations of how to use the technology largely led to more sensible decisions.

Southampton’s Kyle Walker-Peters saw a red card downgraded to a yellow after referee Jon Moss came to the sidelines himself to assess a replay.

Newcastle’s Jeff Hendrick was not penalised after the ball struck his arm, which was by his side, during the Magpies’ 2-0 win at West Ham thanks to a more generous interpretation of the handball rule for defenders.

Arsenal show top-four promise

Mikel Arteta’s Arsenal have made a habit of upsetting the odds, defeating Manchester City and Chelsea on their way to winning the FA Cup last season and beating Liverpool twice in recent months.

Those victories were earned through defensive discipline and a threat on the counter-attack, with Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang the main dangerman.

Before Saturday’s trip to Fulham there were questions over how the Gunners would deal with sides who would not open up against them but Arteta’s men responded with an emphatic 3-0 win at Craven Cottage.

New signing Willian had a major role to play in all three goals, scored by Alexandre Lacazette, Aubameyang and another debutant, Gabriel Magalhaes, as Arsenal laid down a marker in their bid to finish in the top four.

Ancelotti gets the better of Mourinho

Everton and Tottenham both turned to multiple Champions League-winning coaches in the middle of last season to revive their fortunes, but both will be judged on what they achieve this season.

On the opening weekend, Carlo Ancelotti got the better of Jose Mourinho as Everton won away from home against traditional top-six opposition for the first time since 2013.

New signings Allan and Abdoulaye Doucoure gave the Toffees the dynamism and grit they have badly missed in recent seasons in midfield, while James Rodriguez showed glimpses of the quality that once made him one of the world’s most in-demand players.

Spurs, by contrast, look lacklustre, with Mourinho labelling his players “lazy” out of possession and showing little sign of halting their slide since reaching the Champions League final just over a year ago.

Kepa blunders again

As Chelsea goalkeeper Kepa Arrizabalaga allowed Leandro Trossard’s long-range shot to slip through his weak attempted save, Blues boss Frank Lampard must have had a familiar sinking feeling.

Despite Trossard’s equaliser for Brighton, Lampard’s expensively revamped side went on to win 3-1.

But since he joined Chelsea in 2018, Kepa has conceded 19 Premier League goals from outside the area — more than any other keeper.

The Spaniard, the world’s most expensive keeper, was dropped by Lampard twice last season after a series of costly blunders.

Although Kepa started the new campaign in the team, he might not have his place for much longer as a move for Rennes’ Edouard Mendy is reportedly close to completion.

AFP

Golden Boot: Salah, Vardy, Aubameyang In Hot Race For Topscorer

Liverpool's Egyptian midfielder Mohamed Salah celebrates after he scores his team's fourth goal during the English Premier League football match between Liverpool and Southampton at Anfield in Liverpool, north west England on February 1, 2020. Paul ELLIS / AFP
Liverpool’s Egyptian midfielder Mohamed Salah celebrates after he scores his team’s fourth goal during the English Premier League football match between Liverpool and Southampton at Anfield in Liverpool, north west England on February 1, 2020.
Paul ELLIS / AFP

 

 

While the Premier League title has already been won by Liverpool in record time, the battle to finish as the top-flight’s leading scorer is set to go down to the wire.

Liverpool’s Mohamed Salah could add the Golden Boot to his Premier League winners’ medal, but he has work to do to catch Leicester’s Jamie Vardy, who sits top of the goal charts with four games left.

Arsenal’s Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang is also in contention to get his hands on the prize after sharing it with Salah and Sadio Mane last season when the trio each scored 22 goals.

Southampton’s Danny Ings is the dark horse after an unexpectedly prolific campaign.

Jamie Vardy

With 22 league goals to his credit so far this term, Vardy is in pole position to take the prize, especially after rediscovering his peak form over the last week.

Vardy failed to score in Leicester’s first four games after the coronavirus hiatus, but the 33-year-old netted twice against Crystal Palace to pass 100 Premier League goals and struck again at Arsenal.

“He’s a legend here for the rest of his time at the club, it’s just what he adds to that status over the rest of his career,” Leicester boss Brendan Rodgers said after Vardy became the 29th player to join the Premier League 100-goal club.

Winning the Golden Boot would be another landmark moment for Vardy, who has defied the odds throughout his remarkable rise from non-league journeyman to Premier League champion four years ago.

Vardy’s next opportunity to increase his grip on top spot comes against lowly Bournemouth on Sunday.

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang

The Arsenal forward has scored three times in his last three appearances to move into second place in the goal race.

Aubameyang has netted 20 times this season, his prolific form increased Arsenal’s desire to get the Gabon international to extend a contract that expires at the end of next season.

The 31-year-old is yet to agree a new deal amid reported interest from Barcelona and Paris Saint Germain.

His value to Arsenal comes not just in his goals but in his ability to play wide on the left as well as up front.

Sunday’s north London derby at Tottenham and a home game against Liverpool in their following game give Aubameyang a chance to put pressure on Vardy when the spotlight is brightest.

Mohamed Salah

Having won the Golden Boot in 2018 and finished in joint first place last year, the Liverpool forward needs a late goal spree to make it three successive seasons on top of the leaderboard.

Salah’s brace in a 3-1 win at Brighton on Wednesday took him to 19 goals and, with Liverpool chasing a new Premier League points record, the Egyptian is likely to remain in the team even with the title won.

With nine assists this season, compared to four for Vardy, two for Aubameyang and two for Ings, the 28-year-old all round value to Liverpool is arguably higher than any of his Golden Boot rivals.

Next up for Liverpool is Saturday’s clash with Burnley followed by games against Arsenal, Chelsea and Newcastle to round off a memorable campaign that could finish on a high for Salah on a personal note as well.

Danny Ings

The Southampton striker bagged his 19th goal of the season in Thursday’s 1-1 draw at Everton.

After a blistering run during the winter, the goals had dried up a little for Ings, but the 27-year-old has been back in predatory form since the restart.

Ahead of Monday’s trip to Manchester United, Ings’ four goals in his last five matches have underlined the former Liverpool forward’s case for a possible England call-up when international football resumes.

First, Ings will focus on becoming the first Golden Boot winner to play for a club outside the Premier League’s ‘big six’ since Sunderland’s Kevin Phillips in 1999-2000.

 

 

-AFP

Arsenal Boss Arteta Bemused By VAR Role In Nketiah’s Red Card

 

 

Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta said he does not understand VAR after its role in the red card for young Gunners forward Eddie Nketiah’s in Tuesday’s 1-1 draw with Leicester. 

Nketiah was sent off seconds after coming on when his late lunge on James Justin was deemed worthy of a sending-off by referee Chris Kavanagh after he came to the side of the pitch to review the incident.

“In the last year I have never seen a referee check any images,” Arteta told Sky Sports.

“I do not understand the rules. But I can do nothing now.”

In January this year, the Professional Game Match Officials Limited, the body that manages elite referees, said referees should start using pitchside monitors for red card decisions where it is felt they should have the final say.

Following that advice Southampton’s Moussa Djenepo was red-carded by Graham Scott after he used the monitors to review a foul in the 1-0 defeat by Newcastle on March 7.

Arteta felt there was no consistency and a Leicester player should have been sent off in the closing minutes of the first half.

“It can be a red card but then Leicester have to play with 10 men,” said Arteta.

“For an incident that happened between the 40th and 45th minute, it has to be a red card as well.”

Arteta is the latest manager to question VAR with Chelsea’s Frank Lampard, Everton’s Carlo Ancelotti and Jose Mourinho of Tottenham Hotspur calling for a review of the rules at the season.

The draw left Leicester fourth and still in the running for a Champions League place while Arsenal are seventh.

 

 

-AFP

Ten-Man Arsenal Held By Leicester After Vardy Strike

Arsenal's Argentinian goalkeeper Emiliano Martinez (C) dives to block a shot from Leicester City's English striker Jamie Vardy (R) during the English Premier League football match between Arsenal and Leicester City at the Emirates Stadium in London on July 7, 2020. Michael Regan / POOL / AFP
Arsenal’s Argentinian goalkeeper Emiliano Martinez (C) dives to block a shot from Leicester City’s English striker Jamie Vardy (R) during the English Premier League football match between Arsenal and Leicester City at the Emirates Stadium in London on July 7, 2020. Michael Regan / POOL / AFP

 

Jamie Vardy salvaged a much-needed point for Leicester in their quest to claim a place in next season’s Champions League in a 1-1 draw at Arsenal on Tuesday dominated by VAR reviews.

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang’s strike gave the Gunners a well-deserved first half lead, but Arsenal were reduced to 10 men for the final 15 minutes when substitute Eddie Nketiah was shown a straight red card after a lengthy VAR review.

Leicester made the most of the man advantage as Vardy slotted home from Demarai Gray’s cross, but also had a nervous wait before the goal was awarded as VAR checked for offside.

Despite the late rally, Leicester have now won just once in six games since the restart to the season and drop to fourth after Chelsea won 3-2 at Crystal Palace earlier on Tuesday.

Manchester United can close to within one point of the Foxes if their scintillating form continues at Aston Villa on Thursday.

Arsenal’s own chances of a top-four finish appear gone as they remain nine points adrift in seventh.

But after a poor start to English football’s restart with back-to-back defeats at Manchester City and Brighton, there were more promising signs from Mikel Arteta’s men as his reign at the Emirates begins to take shape.

Bukayo Saka has flourished since Arteta replaced Unai Emery in December and the 18-year-old was again at the heart of an excellent first 45 minutes from Arsenal.

Saka created the opening goal as he latched onto a defence-splitting pass from the outstanding Dani Ceballos and teased Jonny Evans into falling over his own feet before laying Aubameyang’s 20th Premier League goal of the season on a plate.

But for Kasper Schmeichel in the Leicester goal, the hosts would have been out of sight before half-time as the Danish number one produced an incredible low save to deny Alexandre Lacazette in between further smart stops from the French striker and Saka.

After weathering the Arsenal storm, Leicester felt aggrieved not to go in level at half-time when Kelechi Iheanacho was penalised for a soft foul before he tapped in Vardy’s cross and this time VAR offered no assistance to the visitors.

Iheanacho was denied by Emiliano Martinez, who produced another impressive performance in the Arsenal goal since stepping in for the injured Bernd Leno, before Vardy failed to connect properly with a great chance.

Arsenal were far less potent as an attacking force after the break, but Lacazette’s frustrating night in front of goal was rounded off when he did turn in from David Luiz’s flick-on only to be flagged offside.

Seconds after Lacazette was replaced by Eddie Nketiah, the Gunners were down to 10 when the young striker’s late lunge on James Justin was deemed worthy of a red card by referee Chris Kavanagh after he came to the side of the pitch to review the incident.

Rodgers immediately threw on an extra attacking option in Gray and his cross was the service Vardy had been seeking all night as turned home to regain his two-goal advantage over Aubameyang in the race for the Golden Boot.

 

AFP

Chelsea Win Holds Off Rampant Man Utd In Race For Premier League Top Four

Chelsea's Spanish defender Cesar Azpilicueta (L) and Watford's English mifielder Tom Cleverley after the English Premier League football match between Chelsea and Watford at Stamford Bridge in London on July 4, 2020. (Photo by MATTHEW CHILDS / POOL / AFP) /
Chelsea’s Spanish defender Cesar Azpilicueta (L) and Watford’s English mifielder Tom Cleverley after the English Premier League football match between Chelsea and Watford at Stamford Bridge in London on July 4, 2020. (Photo by MATTHEW CHILDS / POOL / AFP) /

 

 

Chelsea held on to their place in the Premier League’s top four by bouncing back to beat Watford 3-0 on Saturday after Manchester United briefly powered past with a 5-2 rout of struggling Bournemouth.

Third-placed Leicester also got back on track with Jamie Vardy reaching 100 top-flight goals in a comfortable 3-0 win against Crystal Palace, while Arsenal dealt a blow to Wolves’ Champions League chase by winning 2-0 at Molineux on Saturday.

United’s fearsome front four of Marcus Rashford, Anthony Martial, Bruno Fernandes and Mason Greenwood, who netted twice, were all on the scoresheet as Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s men hit five goals in a home Premier League game for the first time since 2011.

“Confidence is sky high. You get energy and confidence by performances and results and we are getting that at the minute,” said Solskjaer, who is feeling the benefits of a 16-match unbeaten run.

“I have enjoyed the last few games to be honest and it is healthy. You don’t age as quickly!”

Bournemouth are moving fast in the other direction as they remain second bottom and the Cherries’ defensive problems were quickly exposed after they took a shock 16th-minute lead through Junior Stanislas.

Greenwood got the comeback started as he smashed home from Fernandes’s pass before Rashford, from the penalty spot and Martial, with a stunning shot into the top corner, scored their 20th goals of the season,

“Mason is one of the best if not the best finisher I have worked with and seen,” added Solskjaer. “He is so calm. He knows where to finish if it is on the training ground, here or in his garden at home.”

Bournemouth were given hope when Josh King scored from the spot after Eric Bailly handled inside his own box just four minutes after coming on as a half-time substitute.

But there was no stopping Solskjaer’s men going forward and Greenwood restored their two-goal cushion with another powerful drive, this time on his weaker right foot, before Fernandes then capped another influential display with a fine free-kick.

Chelsea shrugged off a shock 3-2 defeat at West Ham in midweek with a routine win at Stamford Bridge.

Olivier Giroud was recalled up front and repaid Frank Lampard with a smart finish to break the deadlock before Willian’s penalty made it 2-0 before half-time.

Ross Barkley added the third in stoppage time to move Chelsea back two points ahead of fifth-placed United.

A third defeat in four games since the restart leaves Watford still just one point above Bournemouth and Aston Villa in the battle to beat the drop.

Arsenal kept their hopes of European football next season alive moved by ending Wolves’ eight-game unbeaten run in impressive fashion to move up to seventh.

Bukayo Saka celebrated signing a new long-term deal this week by hooking in the opener just before half-time and Alexandre Lacazette came off the bench to seal all three points for Mikel Arteta’s men four minutes from time.

“Every game you have no margin for error, we know that we try to win every game,” said Arteta of Arsenal’s top-four chances.

Defeat leaves Wolves five points behind Chelsea.

 

100 up for Vardy

Arsenal face Leicester next on Tuesday, but the Foxes go into that game with a much-needed confidence boost after a first win in five games.

Leicester have struggled to score goals of late, but were helped back to winning ways by some calamitous Palace defending for Kelechi Iheanacho to open the scoring and Vardy to tap into an empty net for his Premier League century.

Vardy struck again in characteristic fashion in stoppage time, sprinting in behind before dinking the ball over the advancing Vicente Guaita.

“To get the two goals and the three points is all you can ask for,” said Vardy. “We know it’s down to us. We are in this position on merit and we have to keep going. If we play like that between now and the end of the season, we will pick up a quite a few points.”

Norwich manager Daniel Farke conceded his side are heading for relegation after Leandro Trossard fired Brighton nine points clear of the relegation zone with a 1-0 win at Carrow Road.

The Canaries are seven points from safety with five games remaining after losing all five games following the coronavirus hiatus.

“It was more or less our last chance to get back in the mix,” said Farke.

“After a few losses, we don’t have the right to make any fighting messages or to make any unrealistic claims.”

 

 

-AFP

Leicester Need To ‘Reset Mentally’ To Qualify For Champions League – Rodgers

Leicester City's Northern Irish manager Brendan Rodgers reacts after the English Premier League football match between Everton and Leicester City at Goodison Park in Liverpool, north west England on July 1, 2020. PETER POWELL / POOL / AFP
Leicester City’s Northern Irish manager Brendan Rodgers reacts after the English Premier League football match between Everton and Leicester City at Goodison Park in Liverpool, northwest England on July 1, 2020. PETER POWELL / POOL / AFP

 

Brendan Rodgers says Leicester need to “reset mentally” to stay in charge of their Champions League destiny after their slump continued with a 2-1 loss at Everton.

The Foxes remain third in the Premier League but are fading, claiming just two points from their three games since the Premier League resumed.

They were fortunate fourth-placed Chelsea failed to take advantage, also losing on Wednesday, but in-form Manchester United and Wolves are just three points behind with six games to play.

“I know we have a very young group, a young squad that is developing, but if you want to consistently compete at the very top end of this table it is a mindset,” said Leicester boss Rodgers.

“I think we have shown over the course of the season we have got the talent but there is no doubt that we have to have a reset mentally if we are going to go and achieve what we want to achieve.”

Rodgers said his team were still in a “fantastic” position.

“We have been terrific for a lot of the season,” he said. “Our level has been high and somehow we need to work our way back to that.”

Everton took an early two-goal lead at Goodison Park through Richarlison and Gylfi Sigurdsson, who scored from the penalty spot.

Kelechi Iheanacho pulled one back for Leicester after the break but the visitors could not find an equaliser despite applying plenty of pressure.

For Everton it was a result that maintained their late charge for a Europa League spot. With seven points from their past three games, Carlo Ancelotti’s side have seventh place in their sights.

Everton defender Michael Keane felt beating Leicester was a declaration of intent.

“We want to get into Europe and this was a must-win,” said Keane.

“I don’t think we showed our full quality on the ball,” he added. “But the game was all about the result and we’ll take that all day.”

 

AFP

Schmeichel Saves Penalty As Leicester Draw With Brighton

Leicester City's Danish goalkeeper Kasper Schmeichel (R) jumps and saves a penalty hit by Brighton's French striker Neal Maupay (L) during the English Premier League football match between Leicester City and Brighton and Hove Albion at the King Power Stadium in Leicester, central England, on June 23, 2020. ANDREW BOYERS / POOL / AFP
Leicester City’s Danish goalkeeper Kasper Schmeichel (R) jumps and saves a penalty hit by Brighton’s French striker Neal Maupay (L) during the English Premier League football match between Leicester City and Brighton and Hove Albion at the King Power Stadium in Leicester, central England, on June 23, 2020. ANDREW BOYERS / POOL / AFP

 

Kasper Schmeichel was Leicester’s hero on Tuesday after the Denmark goalkeeper saved Neal Maupay’s penalty in his side’s goalless draw with Brighton.

Schmeichel came to Leicester’s rescue when he plunged to his right to stop Maupay’s spot-kick early in the first half at the King Power Stadium.

That was the highlight of a patchy performance from third-placed Leicester in boss Brendan Rodgers’ 50th game in charge.

The Foxes are now four points clear of fourth-placed Chelsea and nine ahead of fifth placed Manchester United in the race to qualify for the Champions League.

Brighton move six points clear of the relegation zone, but Maupay’s miss denied them a second successive victory after the French striker scored the winner against Arsenal on Saturday.

Just 24 hours after a ‘White Lives Matters’ banner organised by Burnley fans flew over their match against Manchester City, both teams at the King Power maintained the trend of taking a knee before kick-off in solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement.

Brighton gave first Premier League starts to Tariq Lamptey, 19, and Alexis Mac Allister, 21, making Graham Potter’s starting line-up the youngest the Seagulls had ever fielded in the Premier League.

Leicester were held to a 1-1 draw at Watford in their first game back from the coronavirus hiatus on Saturday, with Ben Chilwell’s 90th minute strike cancelled out by Craig Dawson’s stoppage-time equaliser for the hosts.

The only drama came early this time and it was another of Brighton’s youngsters, 20-year-old Aaron Connolly, who unlocked the Leicester defence in the 14th minute.

Racing onto Aaron Mooy’s long pass, Connolly muscled his way ahead of Leicester defender James Justin, who responded to the threat by clipping the forward in the penalty area.

The penalty was confirmed after a VAR review, but Schmeichel came to Leicester’s rescue as he dived to his right to save Maupay’s strike.

It was a miss that might have drawn a few smiles from the Arsenal players Maupay accused of lacking “humility” after a stormy clash that saw the forward accused of deliberately injuring Gunners keeper Bernd Leno.

Connolly caused more problems for the Leicester defence with a nimble turn and shot that forced a last-ditch block from Caglar Soyuncu.

Brighton keeper Mat Ryan nearly gifted Leicester a goal when he threw the ball behind him by mistake as he attempted a roll out, only avoiding huge embarrassment by scrambling to save at Jamie Vardy’s feet.

Soyuncu headed wide from close-range after Wilfred Ndidi’s shot deflected into his path.

On a scorching hot summer evening, neither team could establish much rhythm and the lack of intensity that has been so noticable since the Premier League returned made for another tepid encounter.

Leicester were dominating possession but their top scorer Vardy was held in check as he chased his 100th Premier League goal.

Vardy did have a penalty shout in stoppage-time when his header struck Lewis Dunk’s arm, but Leicester’s appeals were in vain.

 

AFP

Leicester Players Showing Symptoms Of Coronavirus – Rodgers

Leicester City’s Northern Irish manager Brendan Rodgers reacts following the English Premier League football match between Crystal Palace and Leicester City at Selhurst Park in south London on November 3, 2019. Ben STANSALL / AFP

 

A number of Leicester players have shown symptoms of coronavirus and have been “kept away from the squad”, manager Brendan Rodgers said on Thursday.

As it stands, a full Premier League programme is scheduled for this weekend, with third-placed Leicester due to travel to struggling Watford on Saturday, despite widespread cancellations of matches across Europe.

The game between Manchester City and Arsenal on Wednesday was postponed as a “precautionary measure” after Olympiakos owner Vangelis Marinakis tested positive for coronavirus.

Leicester boss Rodgers, quoted on the club’s official Twitter feed, said at his pre-match press conference that disruption would be a “shame” but public health was more important than football.

“We’re guided by football and federations,” he said. “We have to press on with our work and prepare as normal.”

“The game is all about the players and the fans,” he added. “If you have one of those not there, it’s obviously not the same.”

Several Arsenal players are in self-isolation after Marinakis contracted coronavirus but they are expected to return to training on Friday.

Marinakis met several Arsenal players when the Gunners hosted the Greek side in a Europa League match last month.

Serie A in Italy, the European country worst hit by the virus, has already suspended its matches until April 3 while France’s Ligue 1 will continue its season but without spectators.

Real Madrid went into quarantine on Thursday after a member of the club’s basketball team tested positive for the virus and La Liga announced Spain’s top two divisions will be suspended for at least two weeks.

AFP

Leicester Manager Confident Vardy Will End Goalless Run

Leicester City’s Northern Irish manager Brendan Rodgers awaits kick off in the English Premier League football match between Wolverhampton Wanderers and Leicester City at the Molineux stadium in Wolverhampton, central England on February 14, 2020. Oli SCARFF / AFP

 

Leicester manager Brendan Rodgers is confident Jamie Vardy will end his current drought and reach a century of Premier League goals.

The former England forward, 33, has scored 97 times in the top-flight but has failed to find the net in nine matches in all competitions.

Rodgers, whose side travel to bottom side Norwich on Friday, said he had no worries about Vardy’s recent poor for form.

“It is only a matter of time before he gets back to scoring goals again,” he said. “He doesn’t look like the nervous type to me.”

Vardy found the net in eight successive matches from mid-October through to early December but has just one goal in his past 12 games.

“Sometimes you get a run like it,”  Rodgers said. “Probably when he came back from his (glute) injury (in late January) he was maybe not quite up to speed.

“But I thought against Manchester City (in Saturday’s 1-0 home defeat), you saw the return of that running power and speed.

“I have no doubt he will get the goals and beyond that. You don’t force it, you don’t put the pressure on, he knows that is his job. As long as he is contributing, then I’m fine.”

Vardy’s drought has coincided with Leicester’s inconsistent form since mid-December. They have collected just 15 points from the past 36 on offer.

Former Celtic boss Rodgers said his side, third in the Premier League table, could not afford to rely on Vardy’s goals.

“You have threats from various parts of the team, and for long periods of this season we had a central threat with Jamie, and other guys were working hard, and they started to contribute, but it’s dried up a little bit,” he said.

“It’s a team responsibility. The strikers are important, but there are other things.

“Look at Roberto Firmino at Liverpool — he’s scored 10, but you look at his influence in the team and what he gives and allows to the other players.”

AFP

FA Cup: Iheanacho Fires Leicester Into Next Round

Brentford's English goalkeeper Luke Daniels (R) saves at the feet of Leicester City's Nigerian striker Kelechi Iheanacho (2nd L) during the English FA Cup fourth round football match between Brentford and Leicester City at Griffin Park in west London on January 25, 2020. DANIEL LEAL-OLIVAS / AFP
Brentford’s English goalkeeper Luke Daniels (R) saves at the feet of Leicester City’s Nigerian striker Kelechi Iheanacho (2nd L) during the English FA Cup fourth round football match between Brentford and Leicester City at Griffin Park in west London on January 25, 2020.
DANIEL LEAL-OLIVAS / AFP

 

Leicester edged into the FA Cup fifth round as Kelechi Iheanacho’s early goal sealed a 1-0 win at second-tier Brentford on Saturday.

Brendan Rodgers’ side are chasing a trip to Wembley on two fronts and they took the next step in the FA Cup after surviving a hard-fought fourth-round clash in west London.

Flying high in the Premier League, third-placed Leicester could be set for a memorable end to the season.

Leicester, who have never won the FA Cup, are hoping to reach the final for the first time since 1969.

In the League Cup, they are through to the semi-finals and head to Aston Villa in the second leg on Tuesday after being held to a 1-1 draw in the first match at the King Power Stadium.

Rodgers made nine changes from Wednesday’s Premier League win over West Ham, with only Caglar Soyuncu and Ayoze Perez remaining in the starting line-up for Leicester’s first meeting with Brentford since 1993.

Kasper Schmeichel, Youri Tielemans and James Maddison were on the bench, while Jamie Vardy was sidelined by a glute injury suffered against West Ham.

Despite Vardy’s absence, it took Leicester just four minutes to go ahead when Nigerian striker Iheanacho met James Justin’s cross with a clinical close-range finish.

It was Iheanacho’s seventh goal in 12 appearances this season — and his ninth in nine FA Cup starts — proving he can be an able deputy for Vardy while the 17-goal star is sidelined.

Dennis Praet and Hamza Choudhury had shots blocked as Leicester pushed for killer second, while Demarai Gray almost caught out Bees keeper Luke Daniels with a low free-kick.

Brentford, chasing promotion from the Championship, were looking to reach the FA Cup fifth round in successive seasons and they pushed hard for an equaliser.

Emiliano Marcondes fired just wide before Dominic Thompson forced a finger-tip save from Danny Ward.

Ward preserved Leicester’s lead in the closing stages with a superb save to keep out Luka Racic’s overhead kick from the edge of the area.

In a tense finish, Brentford’s Bryan Mbeumo had a goal correctly ruled out for offside as Leicester held on.

 

AFP

Burnley On The Rise As Westwood’s Late Strike Stuns Leicester

Burnley’s English midfielder Ashley Westwood (R) shoots past Leicester City’s Danish goalkeeper Kasper Schmeichel (C) to score their second goal to take the lead 2-1 during the English Premier League football match between Burnley and Leicester City at Turf Moor in Burnley, north west England on January 19, 2020. Oli SCARFF / AFP

 

Burnley fought back to boost their bid for Premier League survival as Ashley Westwood’s late goal clinched a 2-1 win over Leicester on Sunday.

Sean Dyche’s side trailed to a first-half goal from Burnley-born Harvey Barnes at Turf Moor.

But Chris Wood equalised after half-time before Burnley keeper Nick Pope saved a penalty from Jamie Vardy.

Burnley’s impressive revival was completed 11 minutes from full-time when Westwood fired home to end their run of four successive league defeats and move them five points clear of the bottom three.

It was the perfect way to mark Dyche’s 300th game as Burnley boss after seven defeats from their previous nine games had plunged them into the relegation battle.

Leicester’s surprise home defeat against Southampton last weekend knocked them out of second place and this was another setback for Brendan Rodgers’ suddenly spluttering team.

The Foxes remain third despite a fourth loss in their last six league matches

Leicester’s cause wasn’t helped by the absence of rested England left-back Ben Chilwell amid talk of a potential move to Chelsea during the January transfer window.

Within the first minute, a simple long ball headed on by Vardy unhinged the Burnley defence and Barnes cut inside to test Pope.

Burnley’s effort couldn’t be faulted but at first they lacked composure and quality in the final third.

Westwood found Wood in space but his low strike drifted wide, then Jay Rodriguez shot straight at Kasper Schmeichel from long-range.

Leicester deservedly took the lead in the 33rd minute.

With Burnley appealing in vain for a foul by Dennis Praet on Jack Cork, Leicester stole possession and Barnes raced into the penalty area.

Vardy cleverly made a run that distracted James Tarkowski and Barnes stepped past Ben Mee to drill a cool finish under Pope for his third goal of the season.

Wood couldn’t finish off Cork’s tempting cross as Burnley failed to score a first half goal in 11 successive league games.

Vardy nearly doubled Leicester’s lead soon after the interval with a stinging strike following a vibrant attack from the visitors.

But Burnley kept plugging away and Wood headed over from a good position six yards out.

It was a warning Leicester failed to heed and New Zealand striker Wood made them pay in the 56th minute when he tapped in his ninth league goal of the season after Schmeichel pushed Mee’s header into his path.

Rodgers’ side had a golden opportunity to retake the lead when Mee’s foul on Barnes gave them a penalty.

Vardy stepped up to take it after a lengthy VAR check, but Pope dived to his left to make a fine save.

Pope stood tall to deny Vardy again when Leicester’s leading scorer broke through on goal.

Vardy’s misses proved fatal as Burnley won it in the 79th minute.

Charlie Taylor’s cross wasn’t cleared by Jonny Evans and Westwood pounced with a close-range finish that left Leicester shell-shocked.