Arsenal Beat 10-man Tottenham, Iheanacho Hat-Trick Inspires Leicester

Tottenham Hotspur’s English striker Harry Kane (R) shoots at goal from a free-kick as the defensive wall jumps in the closing minutes of the English Premier League football match between Arsenal and Tottenham Hotspur at the Emirates Stadium in London on March 14, 2021. Arsenal won the game 2-1. Julian Finney / POOL / AFP

 

Arsenal came from behind to beat Tottenham 2-1 for a first north London derby win in three years, as Kelechi Iheanacho’s hat-trick moved Leicester into second in the Premier League with a 5-0 thrashing of managerless Sheffield United on Sunday.

Spurs also lost Son Heung-min to a hamstring injury on a costly afternoon for their hopes of a top-four finish, but Jose Mourinho’s men did not deserve anything more for an overly conservative approach at the Emirates.

Arsenal’s afternoon did not start well with captain Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang dropped to the bench for a breach of discipline, reportedly after turning up late for the squad’s pre-match meeting.

Mikel Arteta’s men did not miss their skipper as they dominated early on with Emile Smith Rowe’s effort crashing back off the crossbar.

Erik Lamela was introduced to replace Son early on and the Argentine opened the scoring in sensational style as he wrapped his left foot around his right to fire into the bottom corner with a ‘Rabona’ finish.

Cedric Soares hit the post as Arsenal almost hit back immediately and the hosts finally got their reward just before half-time when Martin Odegaard’s shot deflected in off Toby Alderweireld for his first Premier League goal.

Alexandre Lacazette captained the Gunners in Aubameyang’s absence and also took the Gabon international’s duties from the penalty spot after the French striker was brought down by Davinson Sanchez inside the area.

Lacazette sent his international teammate Hugo Lloris the wrong way from the spot to claim a much-needed win to keep Arsenal’s slim hopes of finishing in the top four alive.

Arteta’s side are now 10 points behind fourth-placed Chelsea with a game in hand, while Spurs remain six points behind the Blues in seventh.

Lamela turned from hero to villain with two unneccessary yellow cards to be given his marching orders 15 minutes from time.

Despite their numerical disadvantage, though, Tottenham’s best spell came with 10 men as Harry Kane had a goal ruled out for offside before the England captain hit the post, and Sanchez’s follow-up effort was cleared off the line by Gabriel Magalhaes.

Arsenal’s Spanish manager Mikel Arteta (C) celebrates with his players at the final whistle during the English Premier League football match between Arsenal and Tottenham Hotspur at the Emirates Stadium in London on March 14, 2021. Arsenal won the game 2-1. Julian Finney / POOL / AFP

Foxes on the hunt

Leicester showed no mercy to bottom-of-the-table United in the visitors’ first match since Chris Wilder’s departure on Saturday.

Wilder, who led United from third-tier League One to the Premier League, left by mutual consent after several days of speculation about his future.

The Blades, managed by interim boss Paul Heckingbottom, look destined for relegation, 14 points from safety with only nine games left.

Nigerian striker Iheanacho opened the floodgates in the 38th minute at the King Power Stadium with a close-range finish from Jamie Vardy’s pass after a flowing move.

Leicester City’s Nigerian striker Kelechi Iheanacho (2nd L) shoots to score the opening goal past Sheffield United’s English goalkeeper Aaron Ramsdale (R) during the English Premier League football match between Leicester City and Sheffield United at King Power Stadium in Leicester, central England on March 14, 2021. Alex Pantling / POOL / AFP

 

Iheanacho’s third goal in his last three games was followed by Ayoze Perez’s fine strike from the edge of the area in the 64th minute.

Vardy was the provider again for Iheanacho’s second before the former Manchester City man completed his treble with a 25-yard blast past Aaron Ramsdale.

Ethan Ampadu’s own goal from Vardy’s effort in the 80th minute sealed the rout for Brendan Rodgers’ side.

Manchester United can move back into second when they host Champions League-chasing West Ham later at Old Trafford.

Leicester City’s Nigerian striker Kelechi Iheanacho (C) runs to celebrate scoring the opening goal past Sheffield United’s English goalkeeper Aaron Ramsdale (R) during the English Premier League football match between Leicester City and Sheffield United at King Power Stadium in Leicester, central England on March 14, 2021. MOLLY DARLINGTON / POOL / AFP

 

In the battle to beat the drop, Brighton edged three points clear of third-bottom Fulham with a game in hand by winning a frenetic south-coast derby 2-1 over Southampton.

Brighton took the lead through captain Lewis Dunk in the 16th minute.

Southampton drew level in the 27th minute when Dunk could only help Ryan Bertrand’s header into the path of Che Adams, who volleyed home at the far post.

But Brighton went back in front in the 56th minute as Leandro Trossard produced a fine finish from Danny Welbeck’s lay-off.

AFP

Man Utd Face AC Milan In Europa League Battle Of Recovering Giants

 

Manchester United and AC Milan meet in the Europa League last 16 on Thursday in a battle of European royalty, with both clubs showing signs of revival.

With 10 Champions League titles between them, United and Milan were once feared across Europe for their swashbuckling play and financial muscle.

But both clubs have lost their lustre in recent years, making their first meeting since 2010 an intriguing affair.

In a sign of the drop in standards at Old Trafford and the San Siro, the 11th encounter between two of the world’s most historic teams will be their first outside the Champions League knockout stages.

United, 20-time English champions, have not won the Premier League since Alex Ferguson’s last season in charge in 2013.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side are unlikely to end that drought this season as they trail leaders Manchester City by 11 points with 10 games left.

Sunday’s impressive 2-0 win at City was a sign United are at least heading in the right direction at last after losing their way under several of Ferguson’s successors.

Calling for United to build on that success, Solskjaer praised his side’s energy levels.

“We are going to do everything we can to keep the performance levels up every day,” he said.

“I feel we are a better team to 12, 16, 18 months ago. We have improved massively. We are more robust, resilient and there is more personality in the team. That is what I like.”

The most recent of Milan’s 18 Serie A titles came in 2011, with a sixth-place finish last term earning a return to Europe after a one-season absence.

That was a small step in the right direction for Milan, who have not played in the Champions League since 2014.

Ibrahimovic return?

Milan’s gradual improvement under boss Stefano Pioli has taken them to second in Serie A this term.

The seven-time European champions are six points behind leaders Inter Milan — a 3-0 defeat against their city rivals in February was a significant blow to their title aspirations.

Trying to restore their domestic dominance is the first goal for United and Milan on a long journey they hope will eventually lead them back to the Champions League summit as well.

Winning the Europa League would be another welcome sign of better days to come.

Milan have never reached the final of the competition but their striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic was a United player when the English giants won the Europa League in 2017.

Ibrahimovic has missed Milan’s past two games due to a muscle injury, but Pioli hopes the 39-year-old Swede will be fit for an Old Trafford return.

“He is better… he will have another examination to see how his recovery is going, we hope he can recover by Thursday,” Pioli said.

United will face another familiar face in full-back Diogo Dalot, who is on loan at Milan, with UEFA rules allowing players to face their parent clubs.

Old Trafford holds happy memories for Milan, who beat Juventus there in the 2003 Champions League final, but their record in England against English hosts shows just one win in 17 matches.

While United’s Milan showdown is the tie of the round, there are several teams in action elsewhere who also harbour genuine hopes of winning the tournament.

Tottenham, in a rich vein of form since Gareth Bale’s revival, host Croatia’s Dinamo Zagreb, while Roma meet Ukrainian champions Shakhtar Donetsk.

Arsenal face Olympiakos at the same venue where they came from behind to beat Benfica in the previous round — the last-32 second-leg was staged in Greece due to coronavirus concerns.

Fresh from winning the Scottish title for the first time since 2011, Steven Gerrard’s Rangers travel to Slavia Prague and four-time European champions Ajax host Switzerland’s Young Boys.

Prince Philip Moved Back To London Hospital To Recover

(FILES) In this file photo taken on July 22, 2020 Britain’s Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh takes part in the transfer of the Colonel-in-Chief of The Rifles at Windsor castle in Windsor. Queen Elizabeth II’s 99-year-old husband Prince Philip has undergone a successful heart procedure, Buckingham Palace said on March 4, 2021 after he was transferred to a cardiac unit in London.
Adrian DENNIS / POOL / AFP

 

Queen Elizabeth II’s 99-year-old husband, Prince Philip, was on Friday moved back to a private London hospital after a successful heart procedure, Buckingham Palace said, raising hopes for his recovery.

The Duke of Edinburgh, who turns 100 in June, was transferred from the state-run St Bartholomew’s Hospital to King Edward VII’s Hospital in central London.

“The duke is expected to remain in the hospital for continuing treatment for a number of days,” royal officials said in a statement.

A yellow and green National Health Service (NHS) ambulance with tinted windows was seen driving away from Barts, as it is known, at about lunchtime on Friday.

Philip had been brought to the hospital near St Paul’s Cathedral in a similar vehicle, with police and royal protection officers blocking the views of waiting photographers and camera crews.

The development came nearly three weeks after the former naval officer was first admitted to King Edward VII’s on February 16 after he reported feeling unwell.

He was taken to Barts on Monday for tests for a pre-existing heart condition.

He had an unspecified procedure on Wednesday, widely believed to be linked to a stent he had fitted in 2011 for a coronary blockage.

His lengthy stay in hospital has raised fears for his health, given his advanced age, but palace officials have been quick to stress it was not related to Covid-19.

The duke and the queen, who is 94, both received their first dose of the coronavirus vaccine in January at their sprawling Windsor Castle home west of London where they have been isolating for nearly a year.

– Interview row –
Prince Philip, who has been married to the queen for 73 years, is Britain’s longest-serving consort and has typically been in robust health throughout his long life.

But despite his latest medical scare, senior royals have been quick to reassure that he was on the mend.

Earlier this week, Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, who is married to Philip’s eldest son, Prince Charles, said he was “slightly improving”.

His youngest son, Prince Edward, said last week his father was itching to leave hospital.

But royal commentators have expressed concern about the effect of a tell-all interview by his grandson, Prince Harry, and his wife Meghan, due to be broadcast in the United States this weekend.

Harry, 36, and Meghan, 39, stepped down from royal duties last year, in part due to intrusive media coverage, and moved to North America.

Pre-broadcast clips of the interview with US chat show queen Oprah Winfrey have set off a storm of controversy in Britain, particularly Meghan’s claim that the royal family was peddling lies about them.

Meghan is also reportedly facing an internal palace investigation into claims that she bullied royal household staff during her time in Britain.

She has accused them of character assassination and pushing a “wholly false narrative”, with the row prompting calls for the interview to be rescheduled because of Prince Philip’s health.

Man Utd Frustrated By Penalty Row In Chelsea Stalemate, Bale Stars For Spurs

 

Manchester United were left frustrated by a VAR penalty controversy in their 0-0 draw at Chelsea, while the revitalised Gareth Bale struck twice in Tottenham’s 4-0 rout of Burnley on Sunday.

Second-placed United had hoped to close the gap on Manchester City with a victory at Stamford Bridge.

But instead they now sit 12 points behind the Premier League leaders as their title hopes fade following a run of one win from four games.

Chelsea boss Thomas Tuchel is unbeaten in nine matches in all competitions since replacing the sacked Frank Lampard, but the stalemate was a blow to his team’s top-four challenge.

The fifth-placed Blues are one point behind fourth-placed West Ham and four ahead of sixth-placed Liverpool, who visit Sheffield United in Sunday’s late game.

Neither side could claim they deserved to win in a game of few clear-cut chances.

The biggest talking point came in the first half when United’s appeal for a penalty was rejected by referee Stuart Attwell after he consulted the pitchside monitor when Callum Hudson-Odoi appeared to handle in a challenge with Mason Greenwood.

After five defeats in their previous six league games, Tottenham eased the pressure on Jose Mourinho with a significant contribution from Bale, who made just his third league start of the season.

The Wales forward’s most impressive display since his season-long loan move from Real Madrid gave him four goals in his last four appearances.

Bale, who had clashed with Tottenham boss Mourinho over his fitness earlier in February, took just 68 seconds to score with a clinical close-range finish from Son Heung-min’s cross.

In the 15th minute, Bale’s superb long pass picked out Harry Kane’s run and the England captain’s shot deflected off James Tarkowski for his 22nd goal of the season.

Lucas Moura netted with a predatory finish after Sergio Reguilon’s cross was deflected into the Brazilian’s path by Tarkowski in the 31st minute.

Bale, in his second spell with Tottenham after leaving for Madrid in 2013, scored again with a cool strike from Son’s 55th-minute pass.

Tottenham are up to eighth, six points behind the top four with a game in hand.

“Sometimes you (the media) like to say things that are not really true but there is not one single manager in the world that doesn’t play Gareth Bale if Gareth Bale is in very good condition,” Mourinho said.

“There is not one, but now he is better than ever. It’s not just about the two goals he scored, it’s fundamentally about his physical performance.”

Arsenal down Leicester

Arsenal delivered a hammer blow to Leicester’s faint hopes of winning the title with an impressive 3-1 win.

Mikel Arteta’s side fell behind to Youri Tielemans’ early goal at the King Power Stadium, but David Luiz equalised and Alexandre Lacazette’s penalty gave Arsenal the lead.

Nicolas Pepe’s second-half goal sealed the Gunners’ second win in their last six league games and their first success at a team in the Premier League’s top three since 2015.

Leicester remain in third place and trail City by 13 points with 12 games remaining.

After Thursday’s shock Europa League exit against Slavia Prague, it was a week to forget for Leicester manager Brendan Rodgers.

With Arsenal stuck in mid-table, Arteta has prioritised winning the Europa League as his side’s only hope of qualifying for next season’s Champions League.

Having picked his best team for the come-from-behind win against Benfica in the last 32 second leg on Thursday, Arteta left Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Bukayo Saka on the bench after the long trip back from the neutral venue in Greece.

After the gamble paid off, Arteta said: “Coming into this game I was concerned. They’re one of the most dangerous teams in the league to play once you go behind against them.

“The reaction was terrific, the team looked really mature.”

Third-bottom Fulham are three points from safety after a 0-0 draw at Crystal Palace.

Kane’s Return Lifts Mourinho As Spurs End Losing Streak

 

Harry Kane returned from injury to ease the pressure on Jose Mourinho as the Tottenham striker inspired a 2-0 win against West Bromwich Albion on Sunday.

Mourinho’s side had lost their previous three Premier League games to put their top four hopes in peril.

Revitalised by Kane’s earlier than expected return from an ankle problem suffered against Liverpool, Tottenham got back to winning ways just when the under-fire Mourinho needed it most.

Kane had missed the last two games, but he made up for lost time by opening the scoring in the second half at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium.

Kane’s 20th goal in all competitions this season took him to 208 goals in 317 Tottenham appearances — level in joint second place alongside Bobby Smith in the club’s all-time scoring list.

The England captain’s milestone goal was followed by a Son Heung-min strike moments later that killed off West Brom.

Amid criticism of Mourinho’s negative tactics and talk of rifts with several players, there is a long way to go before seventh-placed Tottenham are completely back on track.

Only three wins from the last 12 league games before this weekend — the same sequence that saw Mourinho’s predecessor Mauricio Pochettino sacked — had left the Portuguese coach in the spotlight.

But, in the midst of Mourinho’s winter of discontent, this was a small step in the right direction as snow flurries swirled around frozen north London.

Thursday’s defeat against Chelsea condemned Mourinho to consecutive home league defeats for the first time as a manager.

– Classy Kane –
In the circumstances, second bottom West Brom were ideal opponents for Tottenham to end their dismal decline.

Kane showed the class that Tottenham miss in his absence when he spun away from his marker and delivered a pin-point pass that Son couldn’t convert.

Inevitably at the heart of all Tottenham’s best moments, Kane was inches away from opening the scoring, taking Serge Aurier’s pass in stride and firing just wide.

There was a little sign of rustiness when Kane shot wide from Son’s pass, but he was back involved moments later when his blocked effort was nearly scrambled in by Lucas Moura.

Shifting Lucas’s pass into his right, Kane looked more like his old self when he unleashed a fierce strike that Sam Johnstone pushed away.

Johnstone made an even better save to keep out Aurier’s close-range diving header.

After being outplayed for the entire first half, West Brom’s Mbaye Diagne threatened to give the visitors a shock lead when his header almost squirmed away from Tottenham keeper Hugo Lloris.

Kane’s defence-splitting pass sent Son racing through on goal, but again Johnstone rescued Albion with a good stop.

Tottenham’s incessant pressure finally paid off in the 54th minute as Kane beat the offside trap to collect Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg’s pass before guiding a low shot into the far corner.

Four minutes later, Son wrapped up the points after a rapier thrust from Mourinho’s men.

Taking Kane’s lay-off, Lucas ran from deep inside his own half to the Albion area and picked out Son, whose clinical finish took him to 17 goals in all competitions this term.

AFP

Assange Faces UK Court Ruling On Extradition To US

Wikileaks founder Julian Assange speaks on the balcony of the Embassy of Ecuador in London./AFP

 

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange faces a UK court ruling on Monday over whether he should be extradited to the United States on espionage charges for publishing hundreds of thousands of secret documents online.

District Judge Vanessa Baraitser is due to give her decision at the Old Bailey court in central London from 1000 GMT, in a case that has become a cause celebre for media freedom.

Assange, 49, faces 18 charges in the United States relating to the 2010 release by WikiLeaks of 500,000 secret files detailing aspects of military campaigns in Afghanistan and Iraq.

The extradition hearing follows over a decade of international legal controversies surrounding the Australian publisher.

Monday’s court decision is subject to appeal, meaning legal proceedings in the country could still continue before any possible extradition.

If convicted in the United States, Assange could be jailed for up to 175 years.

Before the ruling, both Germany and a UN rights expert expressed concern over the human rights and humanitarian problems presented by the extradition.

Assange suffers from a respiratory condition that makes him more vulnerable to Covid-19, which has infected several inmates at the high-security prison in southeast London where he has been held.

Defence witnesses called during the hearing said Assange’s history of depression meant he would be a suicide risk if sent to the United States and locked up in a maximum-security prison.

He has also complained of hearing imaginary voices and music during his detention.

Clear message

Kristinn Hrafnsson, editor-in-chief of WikiLeaks, told AFP on Sunday that he was “almost certain” the court will rule against Assange.

“We’ve seen such bias in the proceedings, there have been so many violations against Julian in the proceedings, that unfortunately I’m almost certain that the decision tomorrow will be that he should be extradited.”

In an earlier statement, he said that “the mere fact that this case has made it to court, let alone gone on this long, is an historic, large-scale attack on freedom of speech”.

United Nations special rapporteur on torture Nils Melzer has urged US President Donald Trump to pardon Assange, saying he is not “an enemy of the American people”.

“In pardoning Mr. Assange, Mr. President, you would send a clear message of justice, truth, and humanity to the American people and to the world,” he wrote in December.

“You would rehabilitate a courageous man who has suffered injustice, persecution, and humiliation for more than a decade, simply for telling the truth.”

The prospect of a possible pardon from the outgoing US leader has gained ground following a slew of pardons granted to a number of Trump’s political allies.

The UK hearing in February last year was told Trump promised to pardon Assange if he testified Russia hacked into the computer servers of the Democratic National Committee (DNC) during the 2016 election campaign.

WikiLeaks later published the emails, which proved politically damaging to his Democratic rival Hillary Clinton before the vote.

Stella Moris, Assange’s fiancee and the mother of his two young sons, has appealed to Trump directly. “The people want you to pardon Assange. Please listen,” she wrote on Twitter on Thursday.

In court, his lawyers have argued the charges against him are political while outside supporters have mounted a noisy daily vigil.

Baraitser will have to decide whether the US request for extradition is compatible with human rights.

Washington for its part claims Assange helped intelligence analyst Chelsea Manning to steal the documents before exposing confidential sources around the world.

After Sweden first issued an arrest warrant for Assange in 2010 over allegations of sexual assault, he sought asylum in Ecuador’s embassy in London, where he remained from 2012 until 2019.

In April 2019, Ecuador, by then ruled by right-wing President Lenin Moreno, revoked his citizenship.

The following day, British police dragged Assange out of the embassy, having been informed that his asylum had been withdrawn. He was arrested by British police for breaching his bail terms.

The earlier Swedish assault investigation against him was later dropped due to lack of evidence.

Gibraltar Still Hanging After Brexit Deal – Spain PM

Spain’s Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez speaks to the press as he arrives at the EU headquarters’ Europa building in Brussels on December 10, 2020, prior to a European Union summit.
JOHN THYS / POOL / AFP

 

Madrid and London have yet to reach agreement on the status of Gibraltar, Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez said Thursday after Britain and EU finally sealed a Brexit trade deal.

The easy flow of people and goods across the border from Spain which underpins the economy of Gibraltar, a tiny British territory on the southern tip of the Iberian Peninsula, risks ending when Britain leaves the EU at midnight on December 31.

“Spain and the United Kingdom are continuing dialogue to reach an accord on Gibraltar,” Sanchez said on his Twitter account after hailing the accord between Brussels and London.

Madrid, London and Gibraltar have been working out the status issues separately from the 10 months of Brexit trade negotiations that finally ended Thursday’s deal.

“For us… the clock is still ticking,” said Gibraltar government chief Fabian Picardo, while adding that he was “optimistic that we will be able to finalise that agreement.”

The enclave is entirely dependent on imports to supply its 34,000 residents, and each day some 15,000 people cross into Gibraltar from Spain every day to work, accounting for half of the territory’s workforce.

Without an accord, the movement of goods between Gibraltar and Spain will be subject to customs procedures from January 1, with unwanted economic consequences.

READ ALSO: UK-France Border To Stay Open At Christmas 

Picardo told AFP late last month that Gibraltar was considering joining the visa-free Schengen area — which Britain has never been part of — to avoid this hurdle.

“We are looking for an accord that will allow maximum fluidity,” he said.

Spain ceded Gibraltar to Britain in perpetuity in 1713 following a military struggle, but Madrid has long wanted it back.

In 2013, a dispute over an artificial reef in waters claimed by both sides sparked a war of words that triggered months of gridlock at the border after Spain intensified checks, which ended only after Brussels stepped in.

Tighter COVID-19 Rules Kick In For London As Cases Mount

People queue to enter a novel coronavirus COVID-19 walk-in testing centre in Walthamstow in north east London, on December 15, 2020. (Photo by Tolga Akmen / AFP)

 

London on Wednesday moved into the highest level of coronavirus restrictions in an effort to control rising infection rates, dealing another blow to hospitality venues before Christmas.

The British capital’s move into “Tier 3” means theatres, pubs, restaurants will have to close, although takeaway food outlets can still operate.

People cannot now socialise with anyone not from their household or support bubble, but can meet in groups of up to six in public places outside.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock warned on Monday that London had seen a “sharp rise” in daily cases and hospital admissions.

“This action is absolutely essential, not just to keep people safe but because we have seen early action can prevent more damage and longer-term problems later,” he told parliament.

Cases were doubling every seven days in some areas, he said, sounding a more downbeat note after hopes of a breakthrough were raised last week with the start of a vaccination programme.

Concerns have also been raised about higher rates of infection among secondary school children aged 11-18, leading to increased testing in the worst-hit areas in and around London.

READ ALSO: WHO Urges Use Of Masks During Christmas Celebration

England only emerged from a four-week lockdown earlier this month, and the government introduced a targeted regional system of tiers to try to cut infection rates.

London had been placed in “Tier 2”, which means non-essential shops and services can open, but it currently has one of the highest infection rates in the country.

Under Tier 3, essential shops and hairdressers can still stay open, as can schools but not indoor entertainment venues.

– Christmas plans –

The government is under pressure to review its Christmas plans, under which there will be a five-day relaxation in the rules to allow free travel and for up to three households to meet.

The British Medical Journal (BMJ) and the Health Service Journal (HSJ) on Tuesday warned the plan could lead to the state-run National Health Service (NHS) being overwhelmed.

“We believe the government is about to blunder into another major error that will cost many lives,” the BMJ and HSJ said in their second joint editorial in a century.

“Rather than lifting restrictions over Christmas as currently planned, the UK should follow the more cautious examples of Germany, Italy and the Netherlands,” they said.

Government minister Steve Barclay said “all things were kept under review” and urged people to “do the minimum” if they visit family over the holidays.

London’s vibrant hospitality sector has been devastated by the virus regulations, and will now feel more pain as it is forced to close in the run-up to Christmas, normally it busiest time.

Britain’s unemployment rate hit its highest level in four years as a result of the pandemic, rising to 4.9 percent in the three months to the end of October, official statistics indicated.

More than a third of the 819,000 job losses since the start of the UK pandemic in March were in the hospitality sector.

Parts of the counties of Essex, Kent and Hertfordshire, which border London, also entered Tier 3 on Wednesday.

A full review of the restrictions for each English region will take place later on Wednesday.

Britain has been one of the worst affected countries in the pandemic, registering nearly 65,000 deaths from just under 1.9 million positive cases, according to government figures.

UK, EU Resume Crunch Brexit Talks In London

(FILES) In this file photograph taken on January 29, 2020, British members of the European Parliament from the Group of the Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats pose for a group picture wearing scarves depicting the European Union and the Union Jack flags at The Europa Building in Brussels. (Photo by JOHN THYS / AFP)

 

Britain and the European Union resumed crucial negotiations in London on Monday for a post-Brexit free trade deal, with time running short and both sides saying major obstacles remain.

EU chief negotiator Michel Barnier arrived in the British capital late Sunday before another week of talks with his UK counterpart David Frost, as they scramble to find an agreement.

Britain formally left the bloc in January but remains bound by most of its rules until the end of the year under the terms of its divorce.

Parliaments in London and Brussels need time to ratify any deal struck, leaving scant time for the two sides to find a compromise on key outstanding issues.

These include establishing rules for competition between British and European companies, oversight mechanism and fishing rights.

Barnier said on Twitter the keys to unlocking the door to a deal were “respect of EU autonomy and UK sovereignty” alongside “robust guarantees of free and fair trade” and “stable and reciprocal access to markets and fishing opportunities”.

In a weekend phone call, Prime Minister Boris Johnson and European Commission chief Ursula von der Leyen acknowledged big differences must be bridged after two weeks of “intense” meetings ended last Wednesday.

Von der Leyen vowed both negotiating teams would “continue working hard” while Johnson said they would “redouble efforts to reach a deal”.

However, neither side has indicated yet that they are willing to make the compromises needed for a breakthrough.

Observers have said an agreement is needed by mid-November to allow for ratification.

– ‘Sensible approach’ –

Britons voted to end decades of EU economic and political integration in 2016 but implementing Brexit has proved immensely difficult ever since.

After finally agreeing initial divorce terms last year, the two sides began fraught negotiations over a future free trade deal.

They had predicted a draft would need to be finalised by mid-October in order to be ratified by the EU and UK parliaments before the end of the year.

But the coronavirus pandemic strained the already ambitious timetable, while the most divisive issues have stalled the talks for months.

Without a deal, Britain would leave the EU single market and customs union on January 1, triggering immediate and significant barriers to cross-Channel trade and business.

London and Brussels still insist they would prefer to avoid the economic disruption that this would entail.

Environment Secretary George Eustice offered a glimmer of hope that the UK could be ready to show more flexibility over EU access to British waters for fishing crews.

“We’ve always been open to doing a sensible approach looking particularly at agreements that might span a couple, three years for instance,” he told Sky News.

Britain has been reported to be holding out for annual talks over fisheries access.

“Controlled access to our waters has always been a red line for us in these negotiations,” Eustice added.

– ‘Pause for thought’ –

A so-called no-deal Brexit could complicate the situation on the island of Ireland, and its politically-sensitive border between UK-ruled Northern Ireland and EU member Ireland.

London is currently pushing controversial legislation through parliament to regulate its post-Brexit trade with Northern Ireland that would unilaterally rewrite the EU divorce treaty and breach its terms.

Brussels has already initiated legal action over the draft law, which British lawmakers in the upper chamber House of Lords will vote on later Monday.

Meanwhile leading Democrats in the United States, including Irish-American President-elect Joe Biden, have warned a US-UK trade deal could be compromised if the island becomes a “casualty” of a “no-deal” Brexit.

Irish Foreign Minister Simon Coveney said Monday that Biden’s election could lead London to “pause for thought” and “ensure that the Irish issues are prioritised”.

“Joe Biden is a real friend of Ireland,” Coveney added, noting he had stressed “the need to prevent a hard border at any point in the future linked to Brexit policy and Brexit negotiations”.

AFP

Chelsea Cruise As Werner’s Penalty Double Sinks Rennes

 

Frank Lampard praised Jorginho’s professionalism after the Italian gave penalty duties to Timo Werner as Chelsea powered to a 3-0 win against 10-man Rennes in the Champions League on Wednesday.

Werner netted twice from the spot before half-time at Stamford Bridge after Rennes defender Dalbert conceded both penalties.

Dalbert was sent off after the second penalty and Chelsea made the most of their numerical advantage to score again through Tammy Abraham early in the second half.

Werner has taken over from Jorginho as Chelsea’s penalty taker after the midfielder’s recent misses and Lampard was pleased with the way he handled the change.

“It was not an easy decision, because Jorginho has been pretty faultless for us,” Lampard said.

“Timo came in and scored one in our last European game. I had a conversation with Jorginho and his answer was perfect for a professional. He doesn’t care who takes them, he just wants us to score.

“Timo is the taker at the moment, and he took them emphatically, so I’m happy.”

Lampard’s side are top of Group E with seven points after three games and look well set to qualify for the last 16.

Chelsea have started a Champions League campaign with three consecutive clean-sheets in the group stage for the first time since 2009-10.

As well as keeping five successive clean-sheets in all competitions for the first time in 10 years, banishing the defensive problems that ailed them earlier this season, the Blues have scored 10 goals in their last three games.

The combination of a well-drilled defence and a potent attack is a welcome sight for Lampard, who has been working overtime to find the right formula after spending over £200 million ($259 million) on new signings in the close-season.

“Those stats and runs are great, but you cannot come off them at all, so that is why I am pleased we saw it through to the end of the game,” Lampard said.

“We deserved it. We are working as a collective and we have to keep that base.”

Chelsea are unbeaten in seven games in all competitions and Lampard’s only concern was the absence of Kai Havertz, who was left out of the squad after going into self-isolation following a positive coronavirus test.

Penalty controversy

Werner opened the scoring in the 10th minute.

His deft touch induced a rash tackle from Dalbert just inside the area, winning a penalty that the German striker calmly converted.

Dalbert’s disastrous day was complete in the 41st minute when he stuck out a foot to block Abraham’s shot and diverted it onto his arm.

After a video review, the penalty was awarded and Dalbert was dismissed for his second booking.

It was a harsh decision, but Werner lashed the spot-kick high into the roof of the net for his seventh goal of the season.

Werner, a close-season signing from Leipzig, has now been directly involved in 13 goals in his past 14 appearances in the Champions League.

Chelsea went for the kill after half-time and Jorginho’s defence-splitting pass found Abraham, whose shot was blocked by Alfred Gomis.

Abraham got his goal anyway in the 50th minute, meeting Reece James’ cross with a close-range finish for his third goal of the season and his first since September.

Werner nearly notched his hat-trick from James’ cross, but Damien Da Silva cleared away from the striker as he prepared to pull the trigger.

Gomis made a good save to deny Olivier Giroud in the closing stages, but Chelsea had already done enough damage.

Chelsea keeper Edouard Mendy, who joined from Rennes in September, was rarely tested against his old club.

Mendy did make one good save to keep out Jeremy Dokumade’s strike in the final moments, giving the Senegal international six clean-sheets in his last six appearances.

UK Says US Ties Will Go ‘From Strength To Strength’ Whoever Wins

File: Britain’s Prime Minister Boris Johnson. (Photo by Paul ELLIS / POOL / AFP)

 

 

Britain on Wednesday insisted its close partnership with the United States was in safe hands whoever comes out on top of the tumultuous presidential election while noting disaccord over the Paris climate pact.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson, a populist ally of President Donald Trump, stayed up into the night to follow the results coming in, according to a Downing Street spokesman.

But Johnson refused to be drawn in parliament when grilled about the Republican’s premature claim of victory and his intention to ask the Supreme Court to halt the vote counting.

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps came closer to breaching UK neutrality over the election, in discussing Britain’s support for action on climate change as it prepares to host a major UN summit next year.

“One can imagine that one of those candidates would be more enthusiastic (on climate policy) as president than the other,” he told ITV News, referring to Democrat Joe Biden.

Former prime minister Theresa May noted that the election dispute coincided with Trump’s decision to pull the United States out of the Paris climate accord taking effect on Wednesday.

“We will soon know who will be the next US president. But, sadly, today also marks the US leaving the Paris accord — the world’s foremost attempt to build consensus on climate change,” she tweeted.

“Whoever is elected has an immense responsibility to help tackle our planet’s greatest challenge.”

Britain is due next year to convene the UN’s COP 26 climate summit, and Johnson’s spokesman said the government was looking forward to a “successful hosting” of the multinational meeting, which has been delayed by the coronavirus pandemic.

“Obviously we’ve made clear to the US administration throughout this process that we remain firm supporters of the Paris Agreement,” the spokesman told reporters.

He added that the transatlantic relationship would “go from strength to strength whichever candidate wins the election”.

“Across trade, security, intelligence, defence, innovation and culture, few countries do more together.”

For his part, Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said: “I’m not worried about the relationship.”

“The contours of the opportunities and the risks always shift a little bit, but that needs to be set against the context of this bedrock and this wider set of interests which are so strong,” he told Sky News.

Raab also downplayed concerns expressed by Biden over the UK’s plans for Northern Ireland after its Brexit divorce from the European Union.

Backed By Stormzy, Cambridge Bids To Woo Black Students

 

Going to Cambridge had always been a dream for Matthew Omoefe Offeh, one of a growing number of black students who are slowly reshaping the elite university’s racial mix, helped in part by rapper Stormzy.

The 18-year-old from Luton, north of London, has just started an engineering course at Cambridge’s Magdalene College, which traces its roots to 1428 and whose illustrious alumni include the 17th-century diarist Samuel Pepys.

Offeh has benefited from Target Oxbridge, a free coaching programme that looks to open up Oxford and Cambridge to more working-class and minority students.

Oxford and Cambridge are the two oldest and most prestigious British universities, synonymous with educating the sons and daughters of the establishment from Britain and around the world.

“Some people think that they won’t fit in, that Cambridge isn’t a place for black students,” Offeh told AFP.

“If you show your passion for your subject and your ability to do it, then you should be fine,” he said.

Offeh is among 137 black undergraduates who started at Cambridge this academic year — a 50-percent increase on last year and a huge jump on 2015, when the number was a paltry 38.

The increase has brought the proportion of black undergraduates in this year’s intake to 4.6 percent. That compares to 3.3 percent of black people in the overall population, according to the last census in 2011.

“That’s the highest figure we have ever had,” said Professor Graham Virgo, senior pro-vice chancellor at the university.

“We’ve been working very hard to encourage more black students to apply… we have known that black students are under-represented in the university,” he said.

– Breaking glass ceilings –
UK universities have been criticised for a lack of diversity and opportunities for black and minority ethnic (BAME) students and staff.

In June at the height of the Black Lives Matter protests, Britain’s first BAME female cabinet minister Valerie Amos said there was “deep structural and systemic discrimination” in higher education.

Cambridge postgraduate student Nia-Cerise Conteh has tweeted about her experiences of physical and verbal assaults.

On a BBC documentary aired this month called “Being Black at Cambridge”, she described being racially abused by a university staff member on a train.

Depressed at a lacklustre response from the university, she had thought of dropping out, but said through tears: “I’m fighting for every other black person who I know, who needs to occupy these spaces.

“Black people need to know that they need to get here so that we can pave the way for others. And we need to break that glass ceiling,” Conteh said.

Cambridge said it took all such incidents seriously, and urged any affected students to come forward.

The university’s intake has traditionally favoured pupils from wealthy private schools over inner-city state establishments.

But it has tried to encourage those from less well-off backgrounds to apply with information campaigns, scholarships and outreach on social media.

Grime music star Stormzy launched a scholarship in 2018 to support black students at Cambridge who cannot afford the annual tuition fees of about £9,000 (nearly $12,000 or 10,000 euros) and the living costs.

Initially Stormzy proposed the scheme to Oxford, which he says turned him down. This year, he is offering two Cambridge scholarships worth £18,000 ($23,000 or 19,000 euros).

“Clearly that’s been really important for those students. But also, it’s really raised the profile” of the university among potential applicants, Virgo said.

– ‘Decolonise’ libraries –
Wanipa Ndhlovu is in her third year studying law at Trinity College, Prince Charles’ alma mater and the grandest of all the university’s constituent colleges.

She said the growth in numbers of black students at Cambridge had been visible.

“The change from my first and my second year was really, really substantial,” the 20-year-old told AFP. Looking at younger year groups, she felt “it’s much easier for them to integrate”.

Ndhlovu was born in Zambia and said she had experienced the same kind of “micro aggressions and ignorance” at Cambridge as growing up in York, northern England.

She admitted to being overwhelmed by Cambridge’s imposing buildings, and worried that she would not meet anyone who was like her.

The killing by police of George Floyd in the United States, which sparked the wave of Black Lives Matter protests across the world, “brought to my attention again that there’s so many people who, no matter what I do, no matter what I achieve, just won’t see me as equal”.

Virgo said he has met many students who want university authorities to take action in light of the protests.

That meant ensuring “their voice is heard in the classroom, what we study — and we really are looking at our curriculum to make sure that black voices and black experience is reflected”.

The university’s response also includes a programme to “decolonise” its vast central library, to try to diversify and widen its collections.