English Football Extends Shutdown Till April 30

File photo

 

The shutdown of English football was extended until at least April 30 on Thursday after the Premier League and English Football League (EFL) held crisis meetings.

“We’ve collectively agreed that the professional game in England will be further postponed until no earlier than Thursday 30 April,” said a joint statement by the English Football Association, Premier League, EFL, players and managers’ bodies.

UEFA’s decision to postpone Euro 2020 for 12 months earlier this week could allow games to be completed over the summer if strict restrictions on travelling and mass gatherings to halt the spread of COVID-19 are lifted in time.

The leagues still hope to finish the season once play can be restarted rather than accepting the current standings as final or declaring the campaign null and void.

“We’re united in our commitment to finding ways of resuming the 2019-20 football season and ensuring all domestic and European club league and cup matches are played as soon as it is safe and possible to do so,” added the statement.

Even if play can commence in early May, that could mean matches stretching beyond the June 30 goal UEFA agreed on for finishing the season on Tuesday.

The end of June is when many players’ contracts and loan deals expire.

However, the English authorities are putting no limit of when the 2019/20 season must be finished by.

“The FA’s Rules and Regulations state that ‘the season shall terminate not later than the 1 June’ and ‘each competition shall, within the limit laid down by The FA, determine the length of its own playing season’.

“However, The FA’s Board has agreed for this limit to be extended indefinitely for the 2019/20 season in relation to Professional Football.”

– Off-season break scrapped? –

One option could see the end of the 2019/20 and beginning of the 2020/21 come together with no time for an off-season break.

“Players may need to get their summer break in now before we finish what was the 19/20 season and roll it right into the 20/21 season without a break,” Brighton striker Glenn Murray told AFP.

“Everyone loves sport, everyone loves watching football but I really think the right decision was made in bringing it to a halt.

“At this moment in time it’s pretty irrelevant, people’s health is first and foremost. Once we get over this crisis we can look at sport and getting the Premier League and Football Leagues back in action.”

The sudden shutdown, though, could have long-lasting consequences for many lower league clubs worrying if they will even be able to survive the next couple of months with no income from gate receipts.

A £50 million ($58 million) short-term relief package was announced by the EFL to help stricken clubs on Wednesday.

However, there has so far been no bailout from the Premier League to ensure those further down the pyramid survive.

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: Premier League ‘May Not Finish’, Says FA Chief

 

Football Association chairman Greg Clarke has reportedly told the Premier League he does not believe the domestic football season will be completed because of the coronavirus pandemic.

The Premier League suspended all fixtures at an emergency meeting on Friday. Matches in the English Football League, FA Women’s Super League and Women’s Championship are also on hold.

“It was unanimously decided to suspend the Premier League with the intention of returning on 4 April, subject to medical advice and conditions at the time,” the Premier League said in a statement.

Clarke said at the meeting that he did not think it was feasible for the season to be completed, according to a report in the Times.

The virus is not expected to peak in Britain for many weeks, raising doubts over an early April re-start for the Premier League.

The Times said it is understood that Brighton and Hove Albion chief executive Paul Barber also questioned the brevity of the suspension.

Richard Masters, the Premier League chief executive, is reported to have said it would at least allow time to consider the potential consequences and debate the possible solutions.

The decision was taken after Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta and Chelsea winger Callum Hudson-Odoi tested positive for COVID-19.

Arteta welcomed the move to put the season on hold.

“Feeling better already,” he tweeted. “We’re all facing a huge & unprecedented challenge.Everyone’s health is all that matters right now.”

Liverpool are 25 points clear at the top of the Premier League with nine games remaining, chasing their first English top-flight title for 30 years.

If results had gone their way this weekend they could have wrapped up the title at Everton on Monday but manager Jurgen Klopp said he supported the move to suspend football.

He said in a club statement: “If it’s a choice between football and the good of the wider society, it’s no contest. Really, it isn’t.”

Financial hit 

Football clubs at all levels face enormous losses if the season is not completed.

One senior figure in broadcasting told the Times: “The commercial reality for the Premier League and (European governing body) UEFA is that if they don’t complete their seasons then they are in breach of their broadcasting contracts.

“You would have broadcasters from all around the world saying, ‘In that case we are not paying for the season.’ For the Premier League you are talking around £3 billion ($3.7 billion) income a year from overseas and domestic TV rights. There would also be financial implications if the competitions were squeezed so fewer matches were played.”

Football finance expert Kieran Maguire told the BBC that clubs, especially in the lower divisions, would be hit hard by the disruption.

“I think many clubs are going to struggle significantly,” he said. “Many clubs are surviving on a match-to-match basis and are reliant on the loyal few thousand turning up.

“We have to consider the staff at clubs, they are reliant on the income they get from football clubs to pay their own bills as well.”

The Premier League clubs are reportedly due to meet again next Thursday.

There are matches taking place on Saturday in the National League — the fifth tier of English football — but a number of games have been postponed, including the Yeovil v Barnet fixture.

“We currently have four staff that are showing symptoms of COVID-19 who are following government advice and self-isolating,” Barnet said in a statement.

“As a consequence, we have taken measures to put all first-team staff into self-isolation.”

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

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

Super-Sub Lacazette Boosts Arsenal’s Euro Hopes Against West Ham

Arsenal's French striker Alexandre Lacazette celebrates after scoring the opening goal of 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 French striker Alexandre Lacazette celebrates after scoring the opening goal of the English Premier League football match between Arsenal and West Ham at the Emirates Stadium in London on March 7, 2020. Ian KINGTON / AFP

 

Alexandre Lacazette came off the bench to keep Arsenal in the hunt for a Champions League place as his late strike survived a VAR review to seal a vital 1-0 win against West Ham on Saturday.

Mikel Arteta’s side struggled to find any momentum for long periods at the Emirates Stadium and could easily have been behind before Lacazette settled a scrappy London derby.

The French striker turned in Mesut Ozil’s header with 12 minutes left, but it took several minutes before VAR finally confirmed the German was onside when he laid on the goal.

Arsenal’s third successive Premier League win lifted them within five points of fourth placed Chelsea, who face Everton on Sunday.

Earning a Champions League berth still looks a long-shot for Arsenal, especially after this uneven display.

But the Gunners, who face Manchester City on Wednesday, are unbeaten in their last eight league games and showed commendable spirit to make the late breakthrough.

West Ham have lost five of their last seven league games and, with only one win in their past nine, they are destined for a nervous finish to the season as they battle to avoid relegation.

Arteta admitted this week that only a victory against West Ham would keep their Champions League bid alive.

He got his wish, but only just.

There was no pre-match handshake between the teams following the Premier League edict to ditch the ritual over coronavirus fears.

Listless for long periods, Arsenal didn’t look too keen on any contact once the game started either.

Granit Xhaka carelessly surrendered possession to Jarrod Bowen, whose long-range drive slipped through Bernd Leno’s grasp onto the near post.

West Ham should have gone ahead when Michail Antonio raced onto Pablo Fornals’ pass, but with the unmarked Sebastien Haller screaming for the ball, the winger could only send a woeful delivery yards behind him.

Pablo Mari, on loan from Flamengo, was making his Premier League debut at the heart of Arsenal’s defence alongside David Luiz, while Greek centre-back Sokratis was used out of position at right-back.

But Arteta’s reshuffled rearguard were easily exposed by Mark Noble’s pin-point pass and Leno did well to get down quickly at the feet of Haller after the West Ham striker moved menacingly towards goal.

Lacazette impact

West Ham’s enterprising opening was nearly undone when Sokratis thumped his close-range header onto the bar from Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang’s cross.

There were still plenty of holes for David Moyes’ men to exploit and only a shocking miss from Antonio stopped them scoring just before half-time.

Issa Diop climbed above Aubameyang and headed Noble’s corner to Antonio, who somehow managed to screw wide from just two yards.

For the first time in over a year, Arsenal had failed to record a shot on target in the first half of a home league game.

They finally tested Lukasz Fabianski when Eddie Nketiah darted onto Bukayo Saka’s pass and flicked his shot at the Hammers keeper.

West Ham remained a threat and it took a superb save from Leno to deny Antonio’s close-range header from Haller’s flick.

Arteta sent on Lacazette in place of Nketiah for the final 30 minutes and his arrival turned the game.

He saw his appeal for a penalty rejected by VAR after Angelo Ogbonna appeared to haul him down.

But Lacazette broke the deadlock with his ninth goal of the season in the 78th minute.

Aubameyang’s shot deflected off Declan Rice and looped to Ozil, whose header found Lacazette for a clinical close-range finish.

A lengthy VAR review prolonged the agony for West Ham before it was finally ruled that Ozil was onside when he set up Lacazette.

Haller almost snatched an immediate equaliser but his effort was pushed away by Leno as Arsenal held on.

 

AFP

UPDATED: Relegation-Threatened Watford End Liverpool’s Unbeaten Run

Watford’s Senegalese midfielder Ismaila Sarr (2R) scores the team’s first goal during the English Premier League football match between Watford and Liverpool at Vicarage Road Stadium in Watford, north of London on February 29, 2020. JUSTIN TALLIS / AFP

 

 

English Premier League leaders Liverpool ended their unbeaten run after they fell to 19th-placed rivals Watford on Saturday.

The match, which was Liverpool’s 28th league game, ended 3-0 in favour of The Hornets.

Coach Jurgen Klopp’s side recorded their first defeat of the season after winning 26 of their last 27 league matches with one draw.

The match had ended in a goalless draw in half time before Ismaila Sarr’s double and Troy Deeney’s strike, all in less than 20 minutes, dashed Liverpool’s hopes of winning the title unbeaten unlike ‘The Invisibles’ of 2003-04 season.

It was the first time the Champions League title holders would fall to a defeat in the Premier League since January 2019.

PHOTOS: Watford’s Moments In 3-0 Triumph Over Liverpool

Despite the loss, Klopp’s men still enjoy a 22-point lead at the top of the table, although their sluggish return from a two-week winter break earlier in February was finally punished.

 

The Big Win

After single-goal victories over struggling Norwich and West Ham either side of a Champions League defeat at Atletico Madrid, Liverpool were thrashed by a relegation-threatened side at Vicarage Road.

A 55-point gap separated the sides before kick-off, but the out-of-sorts visitors failed to muster even a single effort on goal in the first 45 minutes.

Gerard Deulofeu’s dipping effort just did not come down in time as it landed on the roof of the net before he teed up Abdoulaye Doucoure, who saw his shot deflected behind by Virgil van Dijk.

Deulofeu then had to be stretchered off with a nasty looking knee injury that seems certain to end his season.

Watford’s heads did not drop without one of their most dangerous players, though, as only Alisson Becker’s fleetness of foot allowed the Brazilian international to save from Deeney deep into first-half stoppage time.

Andy Robertson’s driven effort finally forced Ben Foster into a save early in the second half, but just as Liverpool were beginning to build up a head of steam, they were stung by two quick strikes by Sarr.

Firstly, the Senegalese beat Robertson to Doucoure’s low cross to stab home at the near post.

Six minutes later, Sarr had too much pace for a flat-footed Liverpool defence as he raced onto Deeney’s through ball and showed fantastic composure to lift the ball over the advancing Alisson.

Sarr also had a big part to play in Watford’s third as he pounced on a short passback and had the vision to pick out Deeney, who lofted the ball nonchalantly over Alisson to make it 3-0.

Watford had thrown away a lead in three of their last four Premier League games to fall back into the bottom three.

But they never looked in any danger of doing so again as they moved back out of the relegation zone on goal difference.

Sarr should even have had a famous hat-trick with his final touch as he curled wide when one-on-one with Alisson.

However, that was the only gloss missing from a glorious night for Watford as Liverpool remain four wins away from the title.

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 United Beat Watford, Climb To Fifth In Premier League

Manchester United’s Portuguese midfielder Bruno Fernandes (R) challenges Watford’s English midfielder Will Hughes (L) during the English Premier League football match between Manchester United and Watford at Old Trafford in Manchester, north west England, on February 23, 2020.
Paul ELLIS / AFP

 

Bruno Fernandes opened his goalscoring account at Manchester United on Sunday as Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side climbed to fifth place in the Premier League table with a 3-0 win against lowly Watford.

United have struggled for consistency all season but the victory at Old Trafford lifts them to 41 points, just three behind fourth-placed Chelsea.

Midfielder Fernandes, bought by Solskjaer last month to add creativity and drive to United’s midfield, scored from the penalty spot shortly before half-time and Anthony Martial and Mason Greenwood also found the net.

While United are looking upwards, Nigel Pearson’s Watford are in deep trouble, just one place off the bottom of the table after taking just two points from their past five games.

As it stands, fifth place could be enough to earn a Champions League spot because second-placed Manchester City have been banned from Europe’s elite competition for two seasons, pending an appeal.

United, who beat top-four rivals Chelsea on Monday, took the lead three minutes before the interval with their first Premier League goal at Old Trafford since January 11.

Ben Foster pulled down Fernandes in the box and Martin Atkinson pointed to the spot. The Portuguese midfielder picked himself up to convert the penalty.

Watford thought they were level shortly after half-time only to see Troy Deeney’s goal ruled out by VAR for a handball by Craig Dawson.

The home side doubled their lead just before the hour mark. Foster saved Martial’s initial shot but the ball came back to the French forward and he lofted the ball over the head of the goalkeeper and into the net from a tight angle.

Greenwood found some space and fired home via the crossbar to put United 3-0 up with 15 minutes remaining.

Old Trafford had earlier fallen silent to remember Harry Gregg, a hero of the Munich air disaster in 1958, who died last week.

Liverpool are Premier League champions in all but name while Manchester City are firmly entrenched in second place and third-placed Leicester have a cushion despite recent wobbles.

But just 10 points covers nine clubs from Chelsea in fourth place all the way down to Southampton in 12th.

Despite their mini-revival, United have a tough run of fixtures coming up, with games against Everton, Manchester City, Tottenham and Sheffield United.

AFP

Premier League: Ighalo Makes United Squad For Chelsea Clash

 

Odion Ighalo will be in the Manchester United squad for the Premier League clash with Chelsea next Monday despite missing a training camp in Spain due to fears he could be denied re-entry into Britain if restrictions against the outbreak of Coronavirus are tightened.

The 30-year-old Nigerian international striker joined United on loan until the end of the season on deadline day last month from Chinese club Shanghai Shenhua.

The British government called the novel coronavirus a “serious and imminent threat”, and said anyone with the disease can now be forcibly quarantined if they are deemed a threat to public health as the number of cases in Britain doubled to eight.

The death toll from the coronavirus outbreak surged past 1,000 on Tuesday.

Most cases overseas have involved people who had been in Wuhan, the quarantined central Chinese city where the virus emerged late last year, or people infected by others who had been at the epicentre.

United said Saturday in a statement that Ighalo had been left out of the Spain squad to avoid any potential problems related to the killer virus on re-entry to Britain.

However, United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer told the club’s website Ighalo will be in the squad for a match that could have a crucial bearing on who finishes in the top four this term and qualifies for the Champions League next season.

“Yeah, he is going to travel with us,” said Solskjaer.

“We will just see his fitness work this week and I think we will get him sharp.

“We want to integrate him as quickly as we can because, of course, he is desperate to play for us.”

Ighalo, who has played his club football in China for the past three years after joining Changchun Yatai from Watford, was signed as emergency cover for the injured Marcus Rashford.

Chelsea presently occupy the fourth and final Champions League spot and are six points clear of eighth-placed United.

The other three Champions League places look destined for Liverpool, Manchester City and third-placed Leicester, who have a 10 point advantage over fifth-placed Sheffield United and a game in hand to boot.

AFP

Richarlison Fires Everton Into Premier League Win Against Palace

Everton’s Brazilian striker Richarlison (3rd L) celebrates after scoring their second goal during the English Premier League football match between Everton and Crystal Palace at Goodison Park in Liverpool, north-west England on February 8, 2020. Everton won the game 3-1. AFP

 

Everton moved up to seventh and within five points of the Premier League top four as their resurgence under Carlo Ancelotti continued with a 3-1 win over Crystal Palace on Saturday.

Bernard, Richarlison and Dominic Calvert-Lewin scored the goals for the Toffees, who have won five and drawn two of eight league games since the Italian took charge in December.

At the other end of the table, Palace are looking over their shoulders at the relegation zone.

Roy Hodgson’s men still have a six-point lead over the bottom three but have not won in eight games and just once in the league since early December.

Bernard gave the hosts a deserved first-half lead with a thumping finish from Theo Walcott’s cross to the back post.

However, Palace were gifted a route back into the game six minutes into the second half thanks to another error from Everton goalkeeper Jordan Pickford.

The England number one’s place at Euro 2020 is under debate and he let Christian Benteke’s shot slip underneath his body as the Belgian striker registered his first goal of the season.

Just as Everton were wobbling, though, a moment of magic from Richarlison swung the game back in their favour seven minutes later.

The Brazilian stormed onto Calvert-Lewin’s flick-on to carry the ball from just inside the Palace half and past Gary Cahill before placing his shot into the far corner.

The same two players were involved when Everton sealed the points two minutes from time as Richarlison’s header from a corner came off the bar and Calvert-Lewin turned home his 13th goal of the season.

AFP