Red card for virus as Saudi Pro League returns with Riyadh derby

Red card for virus as Saudi Pro League returns with Riyadh derby
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Updated 03 August 2020

Red card for virus as Saudi Pro League returns with Riyadh derby

Red card for virus as Saudi Pro League returns with Riyadh derby
  • Season restarts after 144-day absence with safety measures, spectator bans

JEDDAH: The most popular rivalry in the Saudi Pro League (SPL) will take center stage as Al-Nassr host Al-Hilal on Wednesday, with safety precautions to allow the safe return of football in the Kingdom.

The eagerness for football’s return will be highlighted when players arrive fully kitted at King Fahd Stadium, ready to take to the pitch for the Riyadh derby on Wednesday night.
The kit rule is one of a string of new measures put in place during every league game to ensure the safe return of the country’s most popular sport, as players and coaches prepare for the SPL after a 144-day absence with a full round of fixtures starting on Tuesday and Wednesday.
Fans are unable to attend games due to social distancing rules, while other regulations have been put in place behind the scenes ahead of the season resuming on Tuesday night.
Players would usually arrive at stadiums on team buses, but these will now be reduced to smaller convoys with staggered team arrivals. Players will turn up in their kit ready to take straight to the pitch to warm up ahead of the game in order to avoid large numbers in changing rooms.

HIGHLIGHTS

• Players to arrive ‘match ready’ in warm-up kits.

• Limited number of players allowed in changing rooms at one time.

• Stadiums continuously disinfected.

About 30 precautions are being implemented across match days aside from spectator bans, with all clubs and players agreeing to rules set out by the SPL and Ministry of Sport.
Arrival points at stadiums will be spread out for teams and staff, while a maximum of five players will be allowed in changing rooms at one time.
While a lot of work has gone into the safety preparations behind the scenes, players will also avoid shaking hands or hugging on the pitch. Dugouts will be restricted to nine coaching staff and substitutes, with others seated in the stands while wearing masks.
On match days, stadiums will be disinfected, including changing rooms, corridors, advertising and even corner flags, with the league ensuring safety standards are maintained during the remaining eight rounds of fixtures.
Fans will not be allowed in stadiums but can still get behind their team and show their support through the SPL’s #OurLeagueIsBack digital campaign, which encourages supporters to share messages and join the conversation online.
Take part on Twitter at @SPL, Instagram at SaudiProLeague, Facebook at SaudiProLeague.SPL and by using the hashtag #OurLeagueIsBack.


Southampton dump holders Arsenal out of FA Cup

Southampton dump holders Arsenal out of FA Cup
Arsenal’s midfielder Thomas Partey vies with Southampton’s midfielders Stuart Armstrong and James Ward-Prowse during Saturday’s match. (AFP)
Updated 24 January 2021

Southampton dump holders Arsenal out of FA Cup

Southampton dump holders Arsenal out of FA Cup
  • Arsenal found their feet in the second half and Fraser Forster was forced to make a sharp save with his feet to keep out Eddie Nketiah’s deflected shot after a pass from Nicolas Pepe

SOUTHAMPTON: Southampton dumped FA Cup holders Arsenal out of the competition on Saturday, winning 1-0 courtesy of a Gabriel own goal to set up a fifth-round meeting with Wolves.
The much-changed Gunners, who have won the competition a record 14 times, fell behind midway through the first half and could not find a way back.
Ralph Hasenhuttl fielded a strong side at St. Mary’s, with Danny Ings returning after a hamstring injury and a positive coronavirus test alongside former Arsenal forward Theo Walcott.
Mikel Arteta made seven changes from their 3-0 Premier League win against Newcastle on Monday.
Southampton, who had never previously beaten Arsenal in the FA Cup, were the brighter team in the first half in the winter sunshine on England’s south coast.
James Ward-Prowse rattled the crossbar from a swerving corner and Che Adams forced a fine save from Arsenal goalkeeper Bernd Leno.
Southampton got the reward their positive approach deserved in the 24th minute.
Mohamed Elneny gave away possession on the edge of his own box and the ball was worked to Kyle Walker-Peters on the right side of the Southampton attack.
The defender drilled it across the six-yard area and it was inadvertently turned in by Gabriel — the first time rejuvenated Arsenal had conceded since December 26 against Chelsea.
Ward-Prowse then struck a shot from distance that sailed wide and Ings hit a fierce volley that was blocked by Hector Bellerin.
Arsenal found their feet in the second half and Fraser Forster was forced to make a sharp save with his feet to keep out Eddie Nketiah’s deflected shot after a pass from Nicolas Pepe.
Arteta threw on forward Alexandre Lacazette to bolster his attack as Arsenal pinned Southampton back.
Lacazette was inches away from getting on the end of a teasing cross by fellow substitute Bukayo Saka as the minutes ticked away but Arsenal could not find an equalizer.
The exit will be a bitter disappointment for Arsenal, who have won the FA Cup four times in the past seven seasons — in sharp contrast to their toils in the Premier League.
Arteta’s side will return to Southampton for a league meeting on Tuesday, aiming to continue their fine recent run that has lifted them to 10th in the table.