EPL: Liverpool Left To Wait And Wonder After Virus Strikes

Liverpool’s German manager Jurgen Klopp gestures from the sidelines during the English FA Cup fourth round football match between Shrewsbury Town and Liverpool at the Montgomery Waters Meadow Stadium in Shrewsbury, north-west of Birmingham in England on January 26, 2020. Anthony Devlin / AFP

 

Liverpool could have been crowned Premier League champions on Monday for the first time in a generation at the home of local rivals Everton. Instead, the stadium will be silent.

Jurgen Klopp’s team would have needed Manchester City to lose to Burnley on Saturday to have given them a chance to seal the deal at Goodison Park.

Regardless of whether it would have happened on Monday or over the coming weeks, Liverpool’s first top-flight title for 30 years was a mere formality.

But now fans are wondering when, or even if, they will be crowned champions after the coronavirus laid waste to the global sporting calendar.

The message coming from Liverpool is that there are more important issues than football to talk about, even with the club tantalisingly close to glory.

“I’ve said before that football always seems the most important of the least important things,” Klopp said in a statement on Friday.

“Today, football and football matches really aren’t important at all.

“If it’s a choice between football and the good of the wider society, it’s no contest. Really, it isn’t.”

Klopp’s stance won him the support of World Health Organisation chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, who thanked him for his “powerful message”.

Liverpool supporters, desperate to reclaim their position at the pinnacle of the English game, agree with their German manager, saying the pandemic overshadows football.

Supporters’ union Spirit of Shankly is focusing on the damaging fallout from the COVID-19 virus.

“In talks with @lfc we asked for assurances that non-playing staff will not lose their pay as a consequence of shifts being cancelled,” it said in a statement.

“We also need to keep in mind those most vulnerable. Cancelling football games means (foodbanks) will be hit hard.”

– Deserving winners –

Liverpool have stumbled in recent weeks, knocked out of the Champions League by Atletico Madrid and dumped out of the FA Cup by Chelsea.

But they have been peerless in the Premier League, leaving their rivals in their wake to race 25 points clear of defending champions Manchester City.

With Alisson Becker in goal, Virgil van Dijk marshalling the defence and their devastating front three of Roberto Firmino, Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane, Klopp’s men have been irresistible.

Paul Hayward, writing in the Daily Telegraph, said Liverpool should be crowned champions for the 19th time even if no more games are played.

“If a season ends too soon, its natural winning line is the point it reached before the halt was called: emphatically so, 29 games into a 38-match campaign, which is a respectable distance,” he wrote.

“‘Voiding’ the 2019/20 football season would be nonsense,” he added. “Handing over the trophy at any point where clubs were forced to give up would feel morally correct.”

Brighton and Hove Albion chief executive Paul Barber said if the season were to be “frozen” it would be unjust on Liverpool.

“Everybody in the game appreciates what a fantastic season they’ve had and what a wonderful team they are,” he told the BBC.

“But equally it would be unjust for teams to be relegated when there are still eight, nine, ten games to play of the Premier League.”

But West Ham vice-chairman Karren Brady said if the fixtures could not be completed, the only fair solution would be to declare the season “null and void”.

Writing in the Sun, Brady, whose club are just two places above the relegation zone, said: “Who knows who would have gone down or come up if the games have not actually been played in full?

“A huge blow to Liverpool, who might be robbed of their first title in 30 years.”

Nobody knows when football will return but, when it finally does, many in the game hope Liverpool are given the chance to complete their long journey back to the top.

AFP

Van Dijk Fears Liverpool Will Win Title In Empty Stadium

Liverpool’s Dutch defender Virgil van Dijk acknowledges supporters during the English Premier League football match between Liverpool and Huddersfield at Anfield in Liverpool, north west England on April 26, 2019. Oli SCARFF / AFP

 

Virgil Van Dijk fears Liverpool will be forced to celebrate their first English title for 30 years in an empty stadium as a result of coronavirus chaos.

All Premier League games have been postponed until at least April 3 due to the spread of the global pandemic.

Premier League chiefs are set to meet on Thursday to discuss if it will be possible to continue the season and, if so, in what format.

Games could be played behind closed doors, which would mean Liverpool, who are 25 points clear of second placed Manchester City, winning the title without their fans being present.

That is a depressing prospect for Liverpool defender Van Dijk.

“If we won it in an empty stadium and the fans weren’t there, I’d be gutted for them,” he told several British newspapers on Sunday.

“Obviously, if there are no fans at Anfield, then it will be a bit of a blow. No one wants to play games without the fans.

READ ALSO: Liverpool Vs Atletico Madrid: It Doesn’t Feel Right Losing – Klopp Admits

“Until a decision is made on how we go on from here, then we just have to deal with it. But when it happens, we are still bringing the title to our fans, definitely.”

Liverpool could have wrapped up the title on Monday with a win at Everton if Manchester City were beaten by Burnley on Saturday, but both those games were postponed, along with the rest of the Premier League programme.

Some have suggested the season should be scrapped for safety reason, which would leave Premier League chiefs to decide if Liverpool should be given the title even though the campaign did not reach its scheduled 38-game conclusion.

Sport is expected to be subjected to further restrictions next week, with British Prime Minister Boris Johnson reportedly ready to announce a ban on major public gatherings.

The sporting programme has once again been decimated on Sunday, although the Super League match between Castleford and St Helens, the All England badminton Championship and Olympic boxing qualifiers are still going ahead in Britain.

AFP

Coronavirus: Arsenal Vs Manchester City Game Postponed

Players wait on the pitch while a VAR (Video Assistant Referee) review is conducted before awarding a goal to Arsenal during the English Premier League football match between Arsenal and West Ham at the Emirates Stadium in London on March 7, 2020.
Ian KINGTON / AFP

 

Arsenal’s game at Manchester City set for Wednesday has been postponed after players from the London club were quarantined, making it the first Premier League football fixture to be called off because of coronavirus.

Arsenal said players and four staff had been isolated at their homes after coming into contact with the owner of Greek club Olympiakos, Vangelis Marinakis, who has since tested positive for COVID-19.

“We are strictly following the government guidelines which recommend that anyone coming into close contact with someone with the virus should self-isolate at home for 14 days from the last time they had contact,” an Arsenal statement said.

“As a result, the players are unavailable for tonight’s (Wednesday’s) match against Manchester City and the Premier League has decided the game should be postponed.”

A picture shows the pitch and stands ahead of the English FA Cup fifth round football match between Portsmouth and Arsenal at Fratton Park stadium in Portsmouth, southern England, on March 2, 2020. Adrian DENNIS / AFP

 

The first postponement in the Premier League, which has a huge worldwide following, follows widespread disruption to football and other sports across the globe.

Arsenal were knocked out of the Europa League by Olympiakos on February 27. Marinakis, owner of the Greek club and English side Nottingham Forest, announced on Tuesday that he had tested positive for the coronavirus.

But Arsenal said the players and staff, who met Marinakis after the game at the Emirates Stadium, will return to work on Friday ahead of Saturday’s trip to Brighton.

“The medical advice we have received puts the risk of them developing COVID-19 at extremely low,” it added.

The Premier League called the move a “precautionary measure” and said there were no plans to postpone any other games.

Arsenal’s opponents on Saturday struggling Brighton tweeted that their game was still on.

“Albion’s match against Arsenal this Saturday remains scheduled to go ahead as planned, in line with government advice, and following consultation with the Premier League and medical advisors. #BHAFC,” they tweeted.

Football’s Serie A and all other sports have been put on hold in Italy, while the top two divisions in Spain and France will be played in empty stadiums for at least the next two weeks.

UEFA’s Champions League and Europa League have also been both forced to arrange matches behind closed doors as the epidemic spreads.

Olympiakos host Wolverhampton Wanderers in Athens this week in the Europa League, in one of the last-16 games that will be played in front of an empty stadium.

Wolves manager Nuno Espirito Santo has joined a number of managers, including Liverpool’s Jurgen Klopp, in voicing disquiet at being asked to play without fans.

“If we have to go we will. But we don’t agree — we’re not happy to go,” he told Sky Sports.

“Behind closed doors doesn’t make sense,” he added. “We’re pretending to live a normal life when things aren’t normal.”

Wednesday’s postponement could also frustrate Premier League leaders Liverpool, as a defeat for Manchester City would have taken Liverpool to the brink of their first top-flight title in 30 years.

AFP

Man United Beat Man City In Premier League Cracker

Manchester United’s French striker Anthony Martial (1st-R) celebrates scoring his team’s first goal during the English Premier League football match between Manchester United and Manchester City at Old Trafford in Manchester, north west England, on March 8, 2020. Oli SCARFF / AFP

 

Manchester United completed a first Premier League double over Manchester City for 10 years as Anthony Martial and Scott McTominay punished two errors from visiting goalkeeper Ederson for a 2-0 win at Old Trafford on Sunday.

The victory keeps United hot on the heels of Chelsea for a top-four finish in the Premier League just three points behind the Blues in fifth place, which could be good enough for Champions League football next season.

Outgoing English champions City are banned from European football for the next two years pending an appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport, and on this display seem to already be concentrating on completing a treble of cup competitions this season.

A seventh league defeat of the campaign for City means Liverpool are now just a maximum of two wins away from claiming a first league title in 30 years.

City dominated possession early on, but lacked their normal potency without the injured Kevin De Bruyne as United created the better chances on the counter-attack.

The January signing of Bruno Fernandes has been key to United’s 10-game unbeaten run and the Portuguese’s first impact in the game put Daniel James through, but the Welshman fired too close to Ederson.

Martial also allowed the Brazilian to make a comfortable save with a clear sight of goal after outmuscling Fernandinho.

City’s defensive deficiencies have allowed Liverpool to streak 25 points clear. But it was an uncharacteristic error from Ederson that gifted United the lead.

Fernandes was the creator again with a scooped free-kick to pick out the Frenchman and his shot squeezed under Ederson’s right hand and crept in at the near post.

 VAR overlooks penalty shout 

Confidence was now flowing through United as Fernandes headed wide at the end of an excellent team move before Fred was controversially booked for diving when he appeared to have been taken down inside the area by Nicolas Otamendi.

United fans were frustrated VAR did not intervene on that occasion and when it did early in the second half, City were nearly the beneficiaries.

Sergio Aguero was flagged offside long before he fired past David de Gea, but the Argentine was only fractionally off when the move was reviewed.

Moments later Ederson escaped gifting another goal as a routine backpass rolled under his foot and the former Benfica stopper needed to produce a last-ditch tackle on Martial to deny United breathing space.

City then slowly started to up the pressure. Phil Foden’s long-range drive forced De Gea into a fingertip save.

Raheem Sterling then could not stretch to get a good connection on Riyad Mahrez’s cross and De Gea got down well to deny Gabriel Jesus.

However, where United may have buckled earlier in the season, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s men held firm to record a third win in four meetings with City this season.

McTominay sealed the three points deep into stoppage time when he strode onto a wayward throw by Ederson to steer the ball into an unguarded net.

AFP

Guardiola Wary Of Man United Recent Form Ahead Of Derby Clash

Manchester City’s Spanish manager Pep Guardiola gestures on the touchline during the English FA Community Shield football match between Manchester City and Liverpool at Wembley Stadium in north London on August 4, 2019. Adrian DENNIS / AFP

 

Pep Guardiola says Manchester City will face the “best” Manchester United team of the season in Sunday’s derby as they prepare to go head-to-head for the fourth time this season.

The 3-0 win over Derby in the FA Cup on Thursday made it nine matches unbeaten across all competitions and 22 goals scored for United, although City are also in top form after five straight wins.

City boss Guardiola said Ole Gunnar Solskjaer was having a positive influence on his team.

“From what I’ve seen in videos of their games, the players follow him (Solskjaer),” he told his pre-match press conference on Friday.

“I saw the commitment they had and it’s getting better. Now it is their best moment of the season.”

United’s upturn has coincided with the arrival of Bruno Fernandes for an initial £47 million ($61 million) from Sporting Lisbon.

The Portugal international has made and scored goals and he has had a galvanising effect at the club.

“Sometimes the big players can make a good influence,” said Guardiola. “He is an exceptional player and that is why Man United bought him.”

 Away wins 

All three derbies so far this season have been won by the away side, with United twice victorious at the Etihad and City winning 3-1 at Old Trafford in the first leg of the League Cup semi-final.

But Guardiola has won all three of his league derbies at Old Trafford.

United were described by Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp as defensive earlier in the season but that is not a view shared by the City boss.

“It doesn’t look like that from what I have seen,” he said. “I watched their recent games and they were incredibly aggressive and that will happen at Old Trafford.

“In some games they defended but I watched them at Goodison and they played a good game (the 1-1 draw at Everton last Sunday).”

The title has effectively gone for City, with Liverpool needing just four wins to wrap up the Premier League, while United, in fifth place, are embroiled in a battle for a Champions League spot.

Second-placed City are 15 points ahead of their cross-city rivals but Guardiola is not buying the theory that Sunday’s meeting matters more to United.

“When we believe it’s more important for them, we are going to lose,” he said.

“We have to have belief, that is so important. I’ve never played a game thinking about points or whether it is more or less comfortable. Every game we play, we try to win.”

Guardiola is hopeful that Kevin De Bruyne will be available to play at Old Trafford.

The Belgian injured his back in the League Cup final win over Aston Villa last week and did not feature in the FA Cup win at Sheffield Wednesday on Wednesday.

AFP

Man City Must Maintain ‘Big Club’ Mentality – Guardiola

Manchester City’s Spanish manager Pep Guardiola celebrates on the pitch after the English League Cup final football match between Aston Villa and Manchester City at Wembley stadium in London on March 1, 2020. – Manchester City won the game 2-1. (Photo by Glyn KIRK / AFP)

 

Pep Guardiola urged his Manchester City squad to maintain their hunger for more trophies after picking up the eighth of his four-season reign with a third consecutive League Cup.

City have more cup success in sight as they travel to Sheffield Wednesday in the FA Cup fifth round on Wednesday and lead Real Madrid 2-1 after the first leg of their Champions League last 16 tie.

Guardiola has now won 29 trophies in his managerial career after similarly successful spells at Barcelona and Bayern Munich and he wants City to match the demands of those European giants going forward.

“I learnt in the big clubs I was at before, and in their history, when they win a trophy they go and take a shower, and they are thinking in that moment about the next one,” said Guardiola on Tuesday.

“It is so nice what we have done in that competition in the last three years but in this game we have another final.

“Away in the FA Cup is always difficult because of how important this competition is for the clubs in this country. We can go through to the quarter-finals and that is what we have to do.”

READ ALSO: Man City Retain League Cup After Aston Villa Win

The appointment of Guardiola has accelerated City’s rise to the top of the English game after Roberto Mancini and Manuel Pellegrini also won Premier League titles backed by the billions spent by the club’s Abu Dhabi-based owners.

Sunday’s success was City’s 11th major trophy since ending a 35-year wait for silverware by winning the 2011 FA Cup under Mancini.

“There is a lot of effort behind this,” added Guardiola. “The most important thing was the league when Roberto Mancini was here. It changed the mentality of the club.

“The first one is always the most difficult one and Roberto Mancini and his people and players did it, then other people came after them and continued the process.”

Injuries have helped halt City’s attempt at a third straight Premier League title as they trail runaway leaders Liverpool by 22 points.

Leroy Sane has missed most of the season due to a cruciate ligament injury suffered in the Community Shield in August.

The German winger is now back in training, but Guardiola will not rush him back to feature in midweek.

“He is not ready. (After) six months, (it) needs a process. When you start (back training) you feel good but still it is not (right), especially confidence,” said Guardiola.

“He is doing the normal steps to come back but maybe it will be easier to play in the Premier League, which we don’t have chance to win, than in this cup competition. We need to be incredibly focused all the way through.”

AFP

Landmark Man City Win In Madrid Vindicates Guardiola

Manchester City’s Spanish manager Pep Guardiola holds a press conference at the Santiago Bernabeu stadium in Madrid on February 25, 2020, on the eve of the UEFA Champions League football match against Real Madrid CF. JAVIER SORIANO / AFP.

 

Manchester City’s European ban means they are under enormous pressure to win the Champions League this season and they are one step closer after arguably their greatest result in the competition at Real Madrid.

Nothing is won yet, not even after City’s 2-1 victory in the first leg of the last-16 tie at the Santiago Bernabeu on Wednesday, as Pep Guardiola was keen to point out.

Real, who been European champions a record 13 times, have a history of dramatic comebacks

However, City’s first-ever victory against one of Europe’s traditional giants in the knockout stages of the Champions League was vindication for Guardiola.

“For us to win at the Bernabeu is a great satisfaction for us,” said the City boss. “It is incredible to be able to win here for us because we are not used to doing these things.

“We hope it will help us in the future to believe in ourselves and to be able to go to any stadium and play the way we have.”

Guardiola said earlier this week City’s two-year Champions League ban, pending appeal, imposed by UEFA for breaching financial fair play rules, would not act as a spur for his players.

But it was on the minds of travelling fans in the Spanish capital, who were singing against European football’s governing body from almost the first minute.

The Catalan is now the visiting coach with most victories at the Bernabeu, with six. But he would have been first in line for criticism had another surprise team selection gone wrong.

Guardiola has re-written the record books domestically in his four seasons in England, but has never progressed beyond the Champions League quarter-finals with City.
– Guardiola tactics –

The decision to leave Sergio Aguero, Raheem Sterling, Fernandinho and David Silva on the bench, push Gabriel Jesus into an unfamiliar role wide on the left and often leave the creative force of Kevin De Bruyne isolated up front could easily have backfired.

City were trailing 1-0 when Sterling was introduced from the bench 17 minutes from time.

The England attacker’s presence pushed Jesus and De Bruyne into more natural roles and within five minutes they combined as Jesus headed home the equaliser.

A Sterling burst then lured Dani Carvajal into an ill-timed lunge to concede a penalty. De Bruyne stepped up to convert and City could have put the tie to bed with more chances in the closing stages.

“It was arguably Sterling’s 17-minute cameo that turned the game, rising from the bench like a sharp stone from a catapult, aimed directly and devastatingly at Real’s defence, playing a part in both goals,” wrote The Times newspaper.

Guardiola succeeded in protecting a defence that has often been exposed in the Premier League, with Real restricted to three shots on target.

“This was the famous night for Manchester City when they took it to Real Madrid and stuck it to UEFA,” added The Times.

Guardiola, known for his obsessive attention to detail, has been accused of overthinking when the stakes are ramped up at the sharp end of the Champions League.

It is nine years since the second of his European Cup wins as coach of Barcelona but this time he could revel in how his detailed preparations paid off.

“We had 10 days off in England and in these 10 days I watched the maximum number of Madrid games I could. I make my decisions as a result of what they do,” said Guardiola.

“We decided to play without a striker for the way they defend. They defend so aggressive, man-to-man on the goal kicks, so high and when this happens you have to make the pitch wide.

“I’m pretty sure (Zinedine) Zidane and his people are going to look at what we have done and the second leg is going to be different.”

Guardiola will undoubtedly have his own plan and City still have much to do to finish the job.

But they will always have the Bernabeu win and it is for nights like this they fought so hard to bring Guardiola to Manchester in the first place.

AFP

Man City Appeal UEFA Ban

 

Manchester City’s Spanish manager Pep Guardiola reacts during the English Premier League football match between Manchester City and Manchester United at the Etihad Stadium in Manchester, north west England, on December 7, 2019. Lindsey Parnaby / AFP

 

Manchester City’s appeal against their two-year European ban has been officially registered by the Court of Arbitration for Sport, CAS announced on Wednesday.

The Premier League club have vowed to fight the sanction imposed by UEFA on February 14 for breaching financial fair play regulations.

Although CAS did not indicate a time-frame for the appeal process, it is expected to take several months.

In a statement, CAS said: “The Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) has registered an appeal filed by Manchester City football club against the Union of European Football Associations (UEFA).”

City face losing hundreds of millions of pounds in prize money, TV revenue, gate receipts and sponsorship income should their appeal against the ban fail.

Last week City Football Group CEO Ferran Soriano said the club hoped to have their appeal heard by CAS before the start of next season’s Champions League.

He said UEFA’s charges against the club of overstating their sponsorship revenue between 2012 and 2016 and failing to cooperate with an investigation were “simply not true.”

AFP

Man City Cruise To Victory Against West Ham

Manchester City’s Belgian midfielder Kevin De Bruyne (C) celebrates with teammates after scoring their second goal during the English Premier League football match between Manchester City and West Ham United at the Etihad Stadium in Manchester, north west England, on February 19, 2020.
Anthony Devlin / AFP

 

Manchester City cruised to a 2-0 win over West Ham on Wednesday as Pep Guardiola’s side returned to action for the first time following the club’s shock two-year ban from European competitions.

Goals from Rodri and Kevin De Bruyne lifted City’s spirits as they cemented their hold on second place in the Premier League.

The Champions League and Europa League suspension for alleged financial fair play regulations drew a furious response over the weekend from City supporters who have long believed UEFA hold an agenda against their Abu Dhabi-owned club.

Yet the attendance at the Etihad Stadium for the visit of David Moyes’ struggling side was disappointing, with approximately 10,000 empty seats greeting the two sets of players before kick-off.

READ ALSO: British Footballer Fashanu To Be Inducted Into Museum Hall of Fame

That may have been due, in part, to the fact the fixture was rescheduled from its original date 10 days earlier due to storms.

Live TV coverage and gridlocked early evening Manchester traffic also did not help supporters arrive in good time for a fixture in which their team was seeking to close the 25-point gap to leaders Liverpool.

It was a curiously subdued atmosphere, therefore, rather than the expected frenzied demonstration of anti-UEFA rhetoric.

There were a couple of home-made banners proclaiming “UEFA Cartel” and “UEFA Mafia”, as well as chants of adulation praising City owner Sheikh Mansour and boss Guardiola.

There were also taunts to UEFA that “we’ll see you in court” and crude songs aimed at the governing body.

But not until Rodri headed City into a 29th-minute lead did City fans become truly animated as their team maintained their complete dominance against the visitors.

It is fair to say, however, that there will be a very different atmosphere when City next play at the Etihad in the Champions League, with Real Madrid the visitors on March 10 in the last 16-second leg.

Combative Attitude

City’s chief executive Ferran Soriano was clearly in a combative mood when discussing the approach to their latest confrontation with UEFA.

“The fans can be sure of two things. The first one is that the allegations are false,” said Soriano, who confirmed the club will take the matter to the Court of Arbitration for Sport.

“And the second is that we will do everything that can be done to prove so.”

Guardiola was equally defiant when asked to comment on the suspension before kick-off.

“The first moment was impacted but after a few hours we cannot control, we support the club 100 percent,” he said.

A second-half goal from De Bruyne at least ensured that City returned from the winter break, and five days of controversy, with the minimum of fuss.

However, it promises to be events in European law courts, rather than a football pitch, that has a greater impact on the club over the coming months.

AFP

City May Sack Me If I Don’t Beat Real, Says Guardiola

Manchester City’s Spanish manager Pep Guardiola reacts during the English Premier League football match between Manchester City and Manchester United at the Etihad Stadium in Manchester, north west England, on December 7, 2019. Lindsey Parnaby / AFP

 

Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola said he could be sacked if he fails to beat Real Madrid in the last 16 of the Champions League.

Guardiola has won five major trophies in three seasons at the Etihad, but a failure to progress beyond the quarter-finals of the Champions League has been the big disappointment of his reign.

Guardiola’s side trail Liverpool at the top of the Premier League by a mammoth 22 points this season with their campaign now set to be judged on how they fare in Europe.

“I want to win the Champions League. I dream (of it) and I will enjoy preparing for the games against Madrid,” Guardiola told Sky Sports.

“If we don’t beat them, OK, come the chairman or the sports director and say, ‘It’s not good enough, we want the Champions League, I’m going to sack you.’

“I don’t know (if this would happen). It has happened many times and could maybe happen.”

Guardiola has a contract at the Etihad until the end of next season.

After four years at Barcelona and three in charge of Bayern Munich, he is expected to fulfil his deal and enter the fifth season at one club for the first time in his managerial career.

But the Catalan coach also hit back at the suggestion that the success or failure of a season should only be measured in trophies.

“We give a bad, bad message for the new generation, for our kids, to just count the winner, the trophies to winning,” added Guardiola.

“You say the season is a disaster but if you win the Champions League it will be exceptional. Why? It is difficult to win.

“If you don’t, we can say in more than 100 years of history (there) were 100 failure seasons for Manchester City. That is not true.”

AFP

Liverpool Escape FA Action For Alleged Hack On Man City Scouting System

(FILES) In this file photo taken on January 6, 2007 Liverpool football fans call for justice for the 96 victims of the Hillsborough football disaster in 1989 during Liverpool vs Arsenal English FA Cup football match at Anfield, Liverpool. 
Paul ELLIS / AFP

 

The English Football Association (FA) has closed an investigation into allegations that employees of Liverpool hacked into Manchester City’s scouting system.

The incident stretches back to 2013 when Liverpool are alleged to have hacked a player database used by City scouts.

Reports last year stated that the case between the two clubs had been settled for a £1 million ($1.3 million) compensation payment by Liverpool, but that they never accepted any liability or wrongdoing.

“The FA has carefully considered the evidence it received in this matter, including information provided by both clubs involved, and has decided not to progress the investigation,” the FA said in a statement on Friday.

“This is due to a number of factors including the age of the alleged concerns and the settlement agreed by the two clubs involved.”

READ ALSO: Sterling To Miss Man City Clash Against West Ham

The case has heightened the tension between the clubs as they battle for supremacy in the Premier League.

Liverpool are romping towards a first league title in 30 years as they hold a 22-point lead over City, who beat them to the title by just one point last season.

City’s team bus was also attacked by Liverpool fans ahead of a Champions League quarter-final won by the Reds in 2018.

And Raheem Sterling was suspended for one match by England manager Gareth Southgate for an altercation with Liverpool defender Joe Gomez when they met up for international duty a day after a bad-tempered 3-1 defeat for City at Anfield.

AFP

Sterling To Miss Man City Clash Against West Ham

Manchester City’s English midfielder Raheem Sterling (L) goes down with an injury during the English Premier League football match between Tottenham Hotspur and Manchester City at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium in London, on February 2, 2020.
Ben STANSALL / AFP

 

Manchester City winger Raheem Sterling will miss Sunday’s Premier League clash against West Ham and could face a race to be fit for their Champions League showdown with Real Madrid after suffering a hamstring injury.

Sterling limped off during Sunday’s defeat at Tottenham and the club have confirmed the injury will sideline the England international this weekend.

“Raheem Sterling will miss our game against West Ham this weekend after scans revealed he has suffered damage to his left hamstring. Everyone at City wishes @sterling7 a full and speedy recovery,” City said on their Twitter account.

READ ALSO: Neymar, Mbappe Antics And Possible Title Derailment

City manager Pep Guardiola will hope Sterling’s absence is not much longer than the West Ham game as his side gear up for a hectic schedule.

They travel to top-four rivals Leicester on February 22 and then head to Spain to face Real in the Champions League last-16 first-leg four days later.

City would also want Sterling to be available for the League Cup final against Aston Villa on March 1.

The 25-year-old, who came off in the 84th minute against Tottenham, is one of City’s top goalscorers this season with 20 in all competitions.

Sterling has only missed two Premier League matches this season, where he was an unused substitute.

AFP