Crystal Palace Appoint Vieira As New Manager

(FILES) In this file photo taken on October 22, 2020 Nice’s French coach Patrick Vieira is seen prior the UEFA Europa League Group C football match Bayer 04 Leverkusen v Nice at the BayArena stadium in Leverkusen, western Germany. (Photo by Marius Becker / POOL / AFP)

 

Crystal Palace announced former Arsenal captain Patrick Vieira as the club’s new manager on Sunday, following a prolonged search for a successor to Roy Hodgson.

Vieira, who won three Premier League titles as a player with the Gunners, has had mixed results in charge of New York City and Nice in his two previous managerial jobs.

The Frenchman, who also won the World Cup and European Championship with his country, is highly regarded in England for his stellar playing career under Arsene Wenger at Arsenal.

“Crystal Palace Football Club are delighted to confirm the appointment of Patrick Vieira as its new manager for the next three seasons,” Palace said in a statement.

The Eagles have been searching for a new boss since Hodgson announced in May he would step down at the end of last season when his contract expired.

Vieira has a busy few weeks ahead, with a host of Palace players also out of contract and just six weeks until the Premier League season starts with a trip to European champions Chelsea.

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“I am really excited to have this opportunity to return to the Premier League, and manage this great football club, as we begin a new chapter together,” said Vieira.

“It is a project that is really appealing to me, having spoken a lot with the chairman and sporting director about their ambition and plans for the whole club, including the academy.

“The club has fantastic foundations in place after many years in the Premier League, and I hope we can make further improvements and continue to drive the club forward.”

In his four seasons in charge, former England boss Hodgson managed to keep Palace out of the relegation battle.

However, there was a desire at the club to freshen up the ageing squad he had assembled with a younger manager.

“I’m delighted and excited that Patrick has agreed to join Crystal Palace as our manager following successfully learning his trade at the City Group, and experiencing positive managerial spells at New York City and then Nice, who he led to the Europa League,” said Palace chairman Steve Parish.

“We have a lot to do to prepare in the coming weeks and I look forward to working closely with Patrick and (sporting director) Dougie (Freedman) in bringing in some new faces to help us all to a successful season.”

AFP

Brentford Promoted To Premier League For First Time In 74 Years

Brentford won promotion to the Premier League for the first time in 74 years on May 29, 2021.
Brentford won promotion to the Premier League for the first time in 74 years on May 29, 2021.

 

Brentford were promoted to the Premier League for the first time in 74 years on Saturday as they beat Swansea 2-0 in a Championship play-off final worth around £180 million ($255 million) to the winners.

Thomas Frank’s side completed their fairytale rise thanks to first-half goals from Ivan Toney and Emiliano Marcondes at Wembley.

Swansea’s Jay Fulton was sent off midway through the second half to put the result beyond doubt in what is widely regarded as football’s single most lucrative game.

After decades stuck in lower league obscurity, unfashionable Brentford will be one of the smallest clubs ever to play in the top tier.

In just their second season at the new Brentford Community Stadium, the Bees will welcome the likes of Manchester City, Manchester United and Liverpool to west London.

The riches earned from the victory will be transformative for Brentford, who have finally erased the painful memories of their wretched play-off past.

Beaten by Fulham in last season’s Championship final, Brentford had failed to earn promotion in all nine of their play-off appearances before this term.

No team had lost more play-off finals than Brentford’s four, but Frank had insisted the bad omens would count for nothing.

The Bees boss was proved right as he became the first Danish coach to win a Football League promotion.

“It’s unbelievable, I’m so proud,” Brentford’s Swedish captain Pontus Jansson said.

“It’s been a hard year but we’re finally there. This year we had a very strong group and we believed in it from day one.”

Brentford’s rise has captured the imagination of neutrals after they spent 59 out of 60 seasons in the third or fourth tiers before reaching the Championship in 2014.

They have climbed well above their traditional status thanks to innovative owner Matthew Benham.

Benham has introduced an analytics-influenced approach overseen by two directors of football, ensuring the club make the most of their resources, which are meagre in comparison with the Championship’s wealthier teams.

Prolific Toney

Fittingly, it was Championship top scorer Toney who put Brentford on course for the top-flight for the first time since 1947.

Toney, signed from third tier Peterborough last year, fired Brentford to a third-place finish despite the close-season sales of star forwards Ollie Watkins and Said Benrahma to Aston Villa and West Ham respectively.

Now the 25-year-old, rejected by Newcastle as a youngster, will get the chance to show he can thrive in the Premier League.

Six of Brentford’s team started last season’s final and they quickly seized the initiative in their bid for redemption.

In front of a crowd of 11,689, including with 5,000 fans admitted from each club following the easing of lockdown restrictions, Brentford took the lead in the 10th minute.

Bryan Mbeumo made a clever run behind the Swansea defence to reach Sergi Canos’s superb pass into the penalty area, prompting Freddie Woodman to race off his line and crash into the Brentford striker.

Referee Chris Kavanagh pointed to the spot and Toney stepped up to slot the penalty past Woodman for his 33rd goal of the season.

Brentford weren’t going to sit on their lead and a blistering counter-attack produced their second goal in the 20th minute.

Breaking from their own penalty area, Frank’s men caught Swansea out of position as Mbeumo picked out the over-lapping Mads Roerslev.

Roerslev’s cross was perfectly measured for Marcondes and he guided a clinical finish past Woodman from 12 yards.

Toney was inches away from his second goal moments later when his dipping volley hit the bar and bounced clear off the line.

Shell-shocked Swansea were so out of sorts they didn’t manage a single shot on target in the entire game.

And when Fulton saw red in the 65th minute for a crude foul on Mathias Jensen, it was only a matter of time before Brentford could start their promotion party.

AFP

Tuchel’s Chelsea Can Take ‘Confidence’ From Wins Over Man City

Chelsea’s German head coach Thomas Tuchel gives a post match interview after the English FA Cup final football match between Chelsea and Leicester City at Wembley Stadium in north west London on May 15, 2021. – Leicester won the FA Cup for the first time in the club’s 137-year history as Youri Tielemans’s sensational strike beat Chelsea 1-0 in front of 22,000 fans at Wembley. (Photo by Nick Potts / POOL / AFP)

 

Chelsea manager Thomas Tuchel said on Monday his side can approach this weekend’s Champions League final against Manchester City with confidence after recent victories against Pep Guardiola’s Premier League winners.

The Blues will face City in Porto on Saturday after securing a top-four finish in the English top-flight despite a 2-1 defeat at Aston Villa.

Tuchel outfoxed Guardiola in last month’s FA Cup semi-final before inflicting a rare home league defeat on City but his side have lost three of their past four games in all competitions.

The German, who replaced Frank Lampard in January, said reaching the top four after to Sunday’s loss at Villa Park was an “outstanding achievement” and his players were now having a short mental break.

“I want them to be here on Wednesday full of joy because this is maybe one of their most exciting weeks in their whole life as professional players,” he said.

Tuchel, whose Paris Saint-German side were beaten last year by Bayern Munich in the Champions League final, said the recent victories against City had proved they were beatable.

“I think it helped us to bond, to grow and to arrive with a lot of self-confidence,” he said.

“Manchester City are the benchmark. They are the champions.

“They are the benchmark in Europe and in this league and we are the guys who want to hunt them and want to close the gap.”

“The experience helped,” he added.

“It gives you not an advantage but it helps us to arrive with confidence, to be well aware of what is needed to have a chance to beat them.”

Tuchel said he was worried his side had lost three of their past four matches in all competitions, including the FA Cup final against Leicester, but said they were playing well.

“It concerns me because it always concerns me when we lose and this is not so easy to get a grip on these losses because the data we produce, the statistics we produce, the performances we produce, do not indicate that it’s necessary or even logical to lose,” he said.

“We simply have not been lucky enough in these games. We maybe didn’t push it too much or whatever and we’re looking for reasons but we cannot deny we had good performances,” he added.

Tuchel said goalkeeper Edouard Mendy had shown “huge improvement” in his battle to be fit for the final in Porto after suffering a rib injury following a collision with the post in the Villa defeat.

“He’s made a huge improvement in the management of pain,” said the Chelsea boss.

“So we need a further update on Wednesday but we hope to have him back in training.”

AFP

Kane Wants To Leave Spurs – Reports

In this file photo taken on February 28, 2021, Tottenham Hotspur’s English striker Harry Kane reacts after failing to score during the English Premier League football match between Tottenham Hotspur and Burnley at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium in London. Tottenham striker Harry Kane has told the club he wants to leave at the end of the season, according to reports on Monday, May 17.
PHOTO: MATTHEW CHILDS / POOL / AFP

 

Tottenham striker Harry Kane has told the club he wants to leave at the end of the season, according to reports on Monday.

Kane is unhappy at Tottenham’s lack of progress this season and is willing to leave after 12 years with the north London side, according to Sky Sports.

The England captain reportedly wants his future resolved before the delayed Euro 2020 starts on June 11.

Kane’s contract with Tottenham has another three years to run and chairman Daniel Levy is known to be a tough negotiator, which could ruin the 27-year-old’s hopes of a quick resolution.

Tottenham refused to be drawn into debating Kane’s future in public as they focus on their final two Premier League games, with Europa League qualification in their sights.

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“We won’t be commenting – our focus is on finishing the season as strongly as possible. That’s what everyone should be focused on,” a club spokesman said.

Premier League champions Manchester City, Manchester United and Champions League finalists Chelsea have all been mooted as likely suitors for Kane, who has scored 32 goals in all competitions this term.

Paris Saint-Germain, managed by Kane’s former Tottenham boss Mauricio Pochettino, and Spanish giants Real Madrid have also been linked with the striker.

Kane, a product of the club’s youth academy, has scored 220 goals in 334 total appearances for Tottenham, establishing himself as one of the world’s best forwards.

But he sparked speculation about a potential move earlier this season when he said it was “hard” to talk about his future.

He has regularly spoken about his desire to win trophies, but is yet to land one with Tottenham, who are without major silverware since the 2008 League Cup.

During Kane’s time in Spurs’ first team, they have lost in the 2019 Champions League final against Liverpool and been beaten in two League Cup finals, including this season’s against Manchester City

Tottenham are currently without a permanent manager following Jose Mourinho’s dismissal last month.

With caretaker boss Ryan Mason in charge, Tottenham will qualify for the Europa League if they win their final two games of the Premier League season.

AFP

Smith Rowe Scores As Arsenal Beat Chelsea

Arsenal’s English midfielder Emile Smith Rowe celebrates with teammates after scoring his team’s opening goal during the English Premier League football match against Chelsea at Stamford Bridge in London on May 12, 2021. Shaun Botterill / POOL / AFP

 

Arsenal dented Chelsea’s bid to finish in the Premier League’s top four as Emile Smith Rowe punished Jorginho’s blunder to seal a 1-0 win on Wednesday.

Midfielder Jorginho was guilty of a woefully misplaced back-pass that ended with Gunners youngster Smith Rowe slotting home early in the first half at Stamford Bridge.

Thomas Tuchel’s home side were bereft of quality in the final third as they succumbed to only a third defeat in their 26 matches in all competitions.

The Blues remain in fourth place, but their bid to qualify for next season’s Champions League via a top-four finish is now on a knife-edge.

They sit six points clear of fifth-placed West Ham, who have a game in hand, and seven ahead of sixth-placed Liverpool, who could be the biggest threat with two games in hand.

Chelsea’s tepid display was hardly ideal preparation for their attempt to win the first trophy of Tuchel’s reign in  Saturday’s FA Cup final against Leicester at Wembley.

Beaten for the first time in six league games, Chelsea’s final two top-flight matches against the Foxes and Aston Villa next week now take on extra significance.

That will deny Tuchel the chance to rest players before the Champions League final against Manchester City on May 29.

Eighth-placed Arsenal’s first league double over Chelsea since 2003-04 was a rare bright spot in a turbulent season.

Gunners boss Mikel Arteta is fighting to persuade the Arsenal hierarchy to keep faith with him after their lacklustre Europa League semi-final exit against Villarreal.

Arsenal’s English midfielder Emile Smith Rowe (L) vies with Chelsea’s Spanish defender Cesar Azpilicueta during the English Premier League football match at Stamford Bridge in London on May 12, 2021. Catherine Ivill / POOL / AFP

 

The Spaniard insists his side “have made progress in many areas” this season, even though are likely to miss out on European football for the first time since 1995-96.

Against that troubled backdrop, beating in-form Chelsea was evidence that Arteta may yet to be able to revive Arsenal’s fortunes.

 

– Tenacious Arsenal –

Keeping one eye on the FA Cup final, Tuchel made seven changes from the side that won at Manchester City on Saturday.

Kai Havertz was one of those restored to the line-up and the German forward wasted a golden opportunity to put Chelsea ahead.

Havertz alertly caught Pablo Mari in possession near the halfway line when the Arsenal defender tried to take an extra touch rather than clear.

Sprinting through on goal, Havertz had just Bernd Leno to beat but fired high over the bar.

Arsenal made the most of that escape to take the lead thanks to Jorginho’s gift in the 16th minute.

Smith Rowe notched his first Premier League goal against West Bromwich Albion on Sunday and the 20-year-old’s second may prove to be one of the easiest he ever scores.

Jorginho carelessly failed to check where Kepa Arrizabalaga was positioned before passing well away from the Chelsea keeper from the edge of the area.

Kepa scrambled to claw the ball off the line, but Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang pounced and teed up Smith Rowe to tap into the empty net.

Mason Mount was denied when he ran onto Havertz’s pass and saw his shot turned away by Leno.

Chelsea kept creating but couldn’t find the final touch, with Christian Pulisic heading over from close-range after Kurt Zouma’s effort fell to him.

The Blues had lost their last eight league games at Stamford Bridge when trailing at half-time, last winning from that position in 2013.

Tuchel’s men dominated possession but Arsenal defended with a tenacity that eluded them for much of the season.

Pulisic thought he had equalised when he bundled home from Havertz’s flick on the hour, but the goal was correctly ruled out by VAR for offside.

Chelsea were inches away from equalising in the last minute when Zouma’s header was tipped onto the bar by Leno before Olivier Giroud’s follow-up cannoned off the woodwork.

Man City Eye Title Glory As United Face Aston Villa

Manchester City’s English midfielder Raheem Sterling (3rd L) celebrates with teammates after scoring the opening goal of the English Premier League football match between Manchester City and Chelsea at the Etihad Stadium in Manchester, north west England, on May 8, 2021.
Shaun Botterill / POOL / AFP

 

Manchester City will be crowned Premier League champions if their arch rivals Manchester United lose at Aston Villa on Sunday, while Brighton blew a chance to secure their survival in a dramatic 2-1 defeat at Wolves.

Pep Guardiola’s side missed a chance to seal the title when they lost 2-1 against Chelsea at the Etihad Stadium on Saturday, but Marcos Alonso’s late winner will only temporarily delay their celebrations.

City are 13 points clear of second placed United, who have five games left including their trip to Villa Park.

United play three times over the coming week — against Villa, Leicester and Liverpool — and a defeat in any of those matches would seal the title for City before the leaders next play at Newcastle on Friday.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side would love to keep City waiting for the title as long as possible.

The Europa League finalists also want to wrap up a second place finish, which would be their highest end of season position in the Premier League since Solskjaer took charge in December 2018.

But City have turned the title race into a procession since the new year and it is only a matter of time before they are crowned English champions for a third time in four seasons.

Pep Guardiola’s team have enjoyed a remarkable revival after a spluttering start to the season.

After a 1-1 draw at home to West Bromwich Albion in mid-December, City had won just five of their opening 12 Premier League games and started their next match at Southampton 11 points adrift of defending champions Liverpool.

It was the worst start of Guardiola’s managerial career, but since a transformative 3-1 victory at Chelsea on January 3, City have left their rivals trailing in their wake.

That was the start of a run of 18 successive wins in all competitions, a record sequence for an English top-flight club.

They have also won their last 18 away games in all competitions, also a record a team from England’s top tier.

City’s achievements have been even more impressive given the issues posed by a frantic fixture list amid the coronavirus pandemic.

– Brighton rocked –

In Sunday’s early game at Molineux, Brighton took the lead after 13 minutes when Lewis Dunk headed in Pascal Gross’ corner.

Graham Potter’s side needed a victory to be sure of avoiding relegation.

But Brighton captain Dunk was sent off in the 53rd minute after he pulled back Fabio Silva as the Wolves forward raced through on goal.

Wolves made the most of their numerical advantage in the 76th minute as Adama Traore fired home after exchanging passes with Silva.

Brighton were unable to hold on and Morgan Gibbs-White won it for Wolves in the 90th minute with a fine finish for his first Premier League goal.

Adding to Brighton’s woes, French striker Neal Maupay was sent off for foul and abusive language after the final whistle.

The Seagulls are 10 points above the relegation zone, with third bottom Fulham, who have four games left, playing Burnley on Monday.

Later, fifth-placed West Ham host Everton as they bid to close the gap on fourth-placed Leicester.

The Hammers, making an unexpected charge for Champions League qualification, are five points behind Leicester, who lost to Newcastle on Friday.

Troubled Arsenal, who crashed out of the Europa League against Villarreal on Thursday, face second-bottom West Bromwich Albion in Sunday’s final game.

West Brom, 10 points from safety with four games left, will be relegated if they lose at the Emirates Stadium.

Chelsea Beat Man City To Delay Premier League Title Party

Chelsea's Spanish defender Marcos Alonso (2nd R) shoots to score their late winner during the English Premier League football match between Manchester City and Chelsea at the Etihad Stadium in Manchester, north west England, on May 8, 2021. Chelsea won the game 2-1. Laurence Griffiths / POOL / AFP
Chelsea’s Spanish defender Marcos Alonso (2nd R) shoots to score their late winner during the English Premier League football match between Manchester City and Chelsea at the Etihad Stadium in Manchester, north west England, on May 8, 2021. Chelsea won the game 2-1.
Laurence Griffiths / POOL / AFP

 

Chelsea forced Manchester City to put their Premier League title party on hold on Saturday, winning 2-1 to boost their own chances of a top-four finish in a dress rehearsal for the Champions League final.

Raheem Sterling gave the home side the lead just before half-time at an empty Etihad Stadium but Hakim Ziyech levelled and Marcos Alonso bundled in the winner in the dying seconds.

City could be crowned champions before they play again. Second-placed Manchester United face three matches before Guardiola’s men are next in action, against Newcastle on Friday.

The point lifts Chelsea into third spot, six clear of fifth-placed West Ham with just three games to go.

Thomas Tuchel’s in-form team ended City’s dreams of a historic quadruple by beating them in the FA Cup semi-final last month and they once more proved tricky opponents.

City, who have a huge 13-point advantage over second-placed Manchester United, are certain to win their third Premier League title in four years but must now wait for it to be confirmed.

Pep Guardiola made nine changes from the side that saw off Paris Saint-Germain in the second leg of the Champions League semi-final in midweek, with Ederson and Ruben Dias the only players to keep their places.

Chelsea made five changes following their triumph over Real Madrid.

The home side dominated possession in the early stages, with Ferran Torres firing over after a thrust down the right and Benjamin Mendy shooting wide.

Raheem Sterling was booked in the 12th minute after catching Timo Werner with his studs but the punishment could have been worse.

Werner had the ball in the net just after the half-hour but he was well offside and Sterling had a shot at the other end but clear-cut chances were at a premium.

Ziyech tested Ederson in the City goal as the half-time break neared but moments later the home side were ahead.

Gabriel Jesus shrugged off Andreas Christensen to break into the area. He squared, looking for Sergio Aguero. The Argentine’s touch was poor but Sterling was on hand to tuck home.

City should have been 2-0 in first-half stoppage time but Aguero paid the price for attempting a Panenka penalty that was easily saved by Edouard Mendy, drawing the ire of Guardiola.

Jesus won the spot-kick when he was bundled over by Billy Gilmour.

Chelsea fightback

As the second half wore on the visitors started to establish a foothold and they equalised just after the hour when Rodri lost possession on the halfway line.

Chelsea broke down the right and Cesar Azpilicueta picked out Ziyech just outside the area. The Moroccan drilled a low shot into the bottom corner.

Guardiola threw on Ilkay Gundogan and Phil Foden for Torres and Aguero as his side went in search of the win.

Chelsea substitute Callum Hudson-Odoi had the ball in the net with about 10 minutes to go but the goal was ruled out for a marginal offside.

The finish was frantic. Sterling had a penalty appeal turned down and Alonso then grabbed a last-gasp winner after an assist from Werner.

Tuchel has transformed Chelsea’s fortunes since replacing Frank Lampard at Stamford Bridge in January, losing just two matches on his way to the FA Cup final and Champions League final.

Their remaining three league matches are against Arsenal, Leicester — their FA Cup final opponents — and Aston Villa but they will now be strongly fancied to qualify for the Champions League for the third season in a row.

 

AFP

 

Man United Fans’ Protest Went ‘Too Far’, Says Solskjaer

Supporters protest against Manchester United’s owners, inside English Premier League club Manchester United’s Old Trafford stadium in Manchester, north west England on May 2, 2021, ahead of their English Premier League fixture against Liverpool.  AFP

 

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer said the anti-Glazer protest that forced the postponement of Manchester United’s clash against Liverpool went “too far” but reiterated his call for supporters’ voices to be heard.

Anger at American owners the Glazers, who took charge of the club in 2005, spiked after their recent attempt to join the breakaway European Super League.

Thousands of protestors descended on Old Trafford demanding change before Sunday’s scheduled Premier League match against arch-rivals Liverpool.

Around 200 fans got into the stadium and invaded the pitch, while another group made their frustrations clear at the team hotel in Manchester.

Solskjaer, speaking on Wednesday for the first time since the chaotic scenes, said it had been a difficult day for United, who had wanted to beat Liverpool “for the fans”.

“That’s the players’ focus, that’s my focus but, as I said before the game, we have to listen,” he said ahead of Thursday’s second leg of his side’s Europa League semi-final with Roma in Italy.

“We have to hear the fans’ voice. It’s everyone’s right to protest, it has to be in a civilised manner, though. It has to be in a peaceful manner.

“Unfortunately, when you break in, when police officers get injured, scarred for life, that’s too far.

“That’s one step too far. When it gets out of hand like this, it’s a police matter. It’s not about showing your opinions anymore.”

Police patrol outside the stadium after a supporter’s protest against Manchester United’s owners, outside English Premier League club Manchester United’s Old Trafford stadium in Manchester, north west England on May 2, 2021. Oli SCARFF / AFP

 

A police spokesman said on Tuesday that six officers were injured as flares were let off and bottles thrown, with one sustaining a fractured eye socket and another a facial wound.

A 28-year-old man was charged with a number of offences including throwing fireworks and use of threatening behaviour outside the Lowry Hotel.

Roma clash

United, seeking their first silverware since 2017, beat Roma 6-2 in the first leg at home and are almost certain to reach the final, where they will play Arsenal or Villarreal.

Solskjaer, whose team have stumbled four times at the semi-final stage over the past two seasons, said he would maintain a “laser focus on the football”, with talk of more protests from angry fans.

“My job, my focus has to be on the results, but you don’t really need to be a rocket scientist to see that we have challenges and frictions and things that have to be dealt with within communication,” the Norwegian said.

“Other individuals than me of course have started already, discussing with the fans, communicating with fan groups, which is going to be massive for us going forward.

“I think the players have done terrific to be where they are. I would be sad if all the good work the players have done is disrupted, so our focus is on playing well and getting through to a final now.”

United co-chairman Joel Glazer has apologised for the Super League debacle saying “we got it wrong”.

Asked whether the owners should speak directly to supporters, Solskjaer said: “I’ve been communicating with the owners. I’ve got an apology, personally.

“They’ve apologised to the fans that this came out. I know that there is communication between other individuals than me and the fans.”

AFP

Premier League Fans To Return For Final Two Matchdays


ATTILA KISBENEDEK / AFP

 

Fans will return to Premier League stadiums for the season’s final two rounds of fixtures later this month, subject to the UK government’s expected easing of lockdown restrictions.

Under the government’s roadmap out of lockdown, crowds of up 10,000 or 25 percent of capacity will be permitted from May 17.

As a result, the Premier League has altered its fixture schedule to ensure that each of the 20 teams gets the opportunity to host at least one home match with a crowd.

The UK has given more than 34 million people a first vaccine dose with case numbers and hospitalisations from coronavirus falling.

Bar a short-lived experiment with maximum crowds of 4,000 in areas with low Covid-19 rates in December, the entire 2020/21 English season has been played behind closed doors.

“The Premier League has today confirmed that the final two Matchweeks of the 2020/21 season will be limited to home fans, subject to the Government easing lockdown restrictions in the United Kingdom,” the Premier League said in a statement on Wednesday.

“Matchweek 37 will now be played on 18-19 May, with the final matches of the season kicking off at 16:00 BST (1500GMT) on Sunday 23 May as planned.”

No away fans will be allowed to ease operational challenges, but the English top-flight clubs are hopeful of a return to full stadiums for the start of next season.

“Fans have been greatly missed at Premier League matches and this marks a key step towards full stadiums, including away fans, from the start of the 2021/22 season,” added the statement.

A series of test events have already been held as supporters slowly return to watching live sport in Britain.

Leicester’s FA Cup semi-final win over Southampton hosted 4,000 fans at Wembley last month, while double that number saw Manchester City lift the League Cup on April 24.

A crowd of 21,000 will see the FA Cup final between Leicester and Chelsea on May 15.

Wembley is also set to host eight matches at Euro 2020 with at least 25 percent capacity.

There is hope the crowd for the Euro semi-finals and final could rise to 50 percent capacity at the 90,000 seater home of English football with a further easing of restrictions expected across England on June 21.

-AFP

Handball Premier League To Begin In October

A file photo of players during a match. Photo: HFN

 

The Handball Federation of Nigeria (HFN) has announced that the kick-off date and venue of the fourth edition of the Premier League.

A statement by the Federation noted that the event would commence on October 8 at the Moshood Abiola National Stadium in Abuja, the nation’s capital.

It added that the National Under 12/15 Handball Championship would take place from August 20 to 29 in Sokoto State.

The Federation also announced that the National Division One League would take place from July 9 to 17 2021 in Benin City, Edo State.

The National Division One League is the platform where teams compete to gain promotion to the Prudent Energy Handball Premier League.

According to the statement, the teams who were relegated in the 2020 Handball Premier League are not eligible to participate in the Division One League.

Players who participated in the Prudent Energy Handball Premier League 2020 would also not be allowed to feature in the National Division One League.

The league, since its inception in 2018, has been a useful tool for talent discovery and development of the sport in the country.

Last year, Safety Shooters won the men’s title while Adorable Angels produced a stunning performance to win the women’s crown.

EPL: Leno Howler Helps Everton Defeat Arsenal

Arsenal's German goalkeeper Bernd Leno (2nd R) watches after deflecting the ball into his own het for an own-goal during the English Premier League football match between Arsenal and Everton at the Emirates Stadium in London on April 23, 2021. Michael Regan / POOL / AFP
Arsenal’s German goalkeeper Bernd Leno (2nd R) watches after deflecting the ball into his own het for an own-goal during the English Premier League football match between Arsenal and Everton at the Emirates Stadium in London on April 23, 2021.
Michael Regan / POOL / AFP

 

An own-goal from Arsenal goalkeeper Bernd Leno handed Everton a 1-0 Premier League win on Friday as around 2,000 fans protested against Gunners owner Stan Kroenke outside the Emirates Stadium.

With both sides chasing places in Europe next season, it was Carlo Ancelotti’s side who came out on top with a first win in seven games.

German keeper Leno turned a Richarlison cross into his own goal in the 76th minute to give the Toffees victory.

Arsenal supporters had gathered outside the ground demanding Kroenke stand down after the club’s attempt to join the doomed Super League project.

The result left Everton in eighth place, three points off the Champions League places.

Arsenal are ninth, nine points off the top four.

 

AFP

10-Man Leeds Beat Manchester City 2-1

Leeds players celebrate at the end of the English Premier League football match between Manchester City and Leeds United at the Etihad Stadium in Manchester, north west England, on April 10, 2021. (Photo by Rui Vieira / POOL / AFP)

 

 

Manchester City suffered just a fourth Premier League defeat of the season as 10-man Leeds United shocked the runaway leaders thanks to Stuart Dallas’s double in a 2-1 win at the Etihad on Saturday.

Dallas opened the scoring three minutes before half-time, but hope of a famous win for Marcelo Bielsa’s men seemed to have disappeared when captain Liam Cooper was shown a straight red card in first-half stoppage time.

The visitors withstood a City bombardment until Ferran Torres equalised 14 minutes from time.

But Leeds still summoned the energy to pose a threat on the counter-attack and gained their reward when Dallas slotted below Ederson.

Bielsa’s first win in five meetings against Pep Guardiola propels Leeds to ninth in their first season back in the English top flight for 16 years.

Guardiola paid for heavily rotating his side with Wednesday’s Champions League quarter-final, second leg, against Borussia Dortmund clearly his priority.

City still enjoy a 14-point lead at the top of the Premier League and need just 11 points from their remaining six matches to guarantee a third title in four years.

But Manchester United could close the gap to eight points should the Red Devils win their two games in hand, the first of which is away to Tottenham on Sunday.

A two-minute silence was held before kick-off in honour of Prince Philip, who died aged 99 on Friday.

Once the action got underway, City noticeably missed Kevin De Bruyne, Ilkay Gundogan, Riyad Mahrez, Phil Foden and Ruben Dias, who were among the stars left on the bench by Guardiola.

Raheem Sterling’s presence in what was largely a second string side is a reflection of how the England international has fallen down the pecking order in the past few weeks.

Sterling did not even get on as a substitute in the first leg against Dortmund and did little to further his case for selection in midweek by slicing a great chance wide from Fernandinho’s cut-back.

Leeds had wasted a number of promising attacks with their final ball, but found the finishing touch on 43 minutes.

Patrick Bamford teed up Dallas to strike low in off the inside the post.

The visitors’ joy was short-lived. Just four minutes later they were a man down.

Cooper played the ball first before crashing into Gabriel Jesus, but referee Andre Marriner upgraded a yellow card shown to the Leeds’ captain to a red after reviewing the incident on the pitch-side screen.

Bamford was immediately sacrificed for more defensive cover in Pascal Struijk as Leeds battened down the hatches.

City were camped inside the Leeds half for almost the entire second-half, but were largely reduced to long-range efforts as Illan Meslier saved from Oleksandr Zinchenko, Fernandinho and Joao Cancelo.

Gundogan and Foden were introduced to bring more spark to City’s attack, but De Bruyne was surprisingly left in reserve for the full 90 minutes.

Torres finally made City’s dominance pay with a first-time finish after Fernandinho picked out Silva inside the area.

Yet, Leeds still went in search of a winner.

Raphinha outpaced Fernandinho, but was denied by a brilliant tackle by Brazilian compatriot Ederson.

Leeds’ approach was rewarded in stoppage time when Dallas galloped clear down the middle of a vacant City defence to slot home.

 

 

Leeds United’s French goalkeeper Illan Meslier (R) shakes hand with Manchester City’s Brazilian midfielder Fernandinho (L) after the English Premier League football match between Manchester City and Leeds United at the Etihad Stadium in Manchester, north west England, on April 10, 2021. (Photo by Rui Vieira / POOL / AFP)

 

 

 

Leeds players celebrate at the end of the English Premier League football match between Manchester City and Leeds United at the Etihad Stadium in Manchester, north west England, on April 10, 2021. (Photo by Tim Keeton / various sources / AFP)

 

 

Leeds players celebrate at the end of the English Premier League football match between Manchester City and Leeds United at the Etihad Stadium in Manchester, north west England, on April 10, 2021. (Photo by Michael Regan / various sources / AFP)

 

 

Leeds players celebrate at the end of the English Premier League football match between Manchester City and Leeds United at the Etihad Stadium in Manchester, north west England, on April 10, 2021. (Photo by Rui Vieira / POOL / AFP)

 

 

Leeds United’s Northern Irish midfielder Stuart Dallas (C) celebrates with team mates after scoring a goal during the English Premier League football match between Manchester City and Leeds United at the Etihad Stadium in Manchester, north west England, on April 10, 2021. (Photo by Michael Regan / POOL / AFP)