Spurs face title test, wounded Liverpool host leaders Leicester

Spurs face title test, wounded Liverpool host leaders Leicester
Liverpool’s striker Sadio Mane competes with Manchester City’s midfielder Rodri during a recent Premier League match. (AFP)
Short Url
Updated 21 November 2020

Spurs face title test, wounded Liverpool host leaders Leicester

Spurs face title test, wounded Liverpool host leaders Leicester
  • Jurgen Klopp’s squad ravaged by injury as Premier League returns after the international break

LONDON: Tottenham’s title credentials face a thorough examination when they host Manchester City as the Premier League returns on Saturday after the international break.

Spurs are just a point behind early pacesetters Leicester, but only three points separate the top six, with Chelsea and Aston Villa also having the chance to claim top spot for a few hours at least when they face Newcastle and Brighton respectively.
With the final international fixtures of the year done and dusted, a grueling winter schedule of club football awaits for England’s top-flight with nine rounds of league matches before Jan. 2.
Defending champions Liverpool are already bearing the brunt of the hectic schedule as Jurgen Klopp’s squad has been ravaged by injury ahead of Leicester’s trip to Anfield.
Tottenham enjoyed a couple of hours at the top of the table for the first time in over three years prior to Leicester’s victory over Wolves before the international break.
Jose Mourinho’s men are unbeaten in seven league games, with the form of Harry Kane and Son Heung-min raising hope they could win the league for the first time in 60 years.
However, those title aspirations will be put to the test with City, Chelsea, Arsenal, Liverpool and Leicester to come in their next six games.
City are languishing down in 10th, six points off the top but with a game in hand. A return of just 12 points from their opening seven games of the season is by far their lowest since Pep Guardiola arrived in Manchester five years ago.
Yet, after a difficult start caused by the lack of a pre-season, injuries, COVID-19 cases and a difficult run of fixtures, the trip to Tottenham will also be an indicator as to whether City have turned the corner.
Guardiola’s men are unbeaten in nine games in all competitions, but have unusually struggled for goals, scoring just once in each of their last five league games.
The lack of a natural striker for much of the campaign due to injuries to Gabriel Jesus and Sergio Aguero has been a significant handicap.
But Guardiola, who penned a two-year contract extension on Thursday, could have both Jesus and Aguero to choose from for the first time this season at the weekend, while Ferran Torres is full of confidence after scoring a hat-trick against Germany in Spain’s 6-0 win on Tuesday.
Already rocked by the long-term injury to Virgil van Dijk, Liverpool’s defensive resources were further depleted over the international break with Joe Gomez ruled out for the remainder of the season.
Trent Alexander-Arnold is out for a further two weeks, while Jordan Henderson is an injury doubt after picking up a muscle strain on international duty.
Top scorer Mohamed Salah will also be missing for Leicester’s visit after testing positive for coronavirus while in Egypt.
Despite the disruption, the Reds could go back top of the table with victory on Sunday should Spurs not beat City.
But there is a huge opportunity for former Liverpool boss Brendan Rodgers to become the first man to lead a visiting side to a league win at Anfield since April 2017 with no such injury concerns for the high-flying Foxes.
Jamie Vardy’s retirement from England duty means the Premier League’s joint top goalscorer has had two weeks off, while Rodgers could have full-backs Ricardo Pereira and Timothy Castagne back from injury.
United’s victory at Everton ensured the two-week break was not filled with more speculation over manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s future.
But in a topsy-turvy season for United, there are no guarantees Solskjaer’s team will build on that win even when West Brom visit Old Trafford looking for their first win of the season.
United have not won at home in the Premier League for six matches and have already lost as many games at Old Trafford as they did in all of last season.
West Brom should be the perfect visitors with Slaven Bilic’s men taking just three points from their opening eight games.
But the Baggies have won three and drawn one of their last five visits to Old Trafford.


Postponed Tokyo Olympics to cost extra $2.4bn

Updated 04 December 2020

Postponed Tokyo Olympics to cost extra $2.4bn

Postponed Tokyo Olympics to cost extra $2.4bn
  • The extra costs come as officials work to build enthusiasm for the first Games postponed in peacetime,
  • Tokyo 2020 said an additional $1.5 billion would be needed for operational costs related to the delay

TOKYO: The coronavirus-delayed Tokyo Olympics will cost at least an extra $2.4 billion, organizers said Friday, with the unprecedented postponement and a raft of pandemic health measures ballooning an already outsized budget.
The extra costs come as officials work to build enthusiasm for the first Games postponed in peacetime, insisting the massive event can go ahead next year even if the pandemic is not under control.
But more spending, on top of the previous budget of about $13 billion, could further harden public opinion in Japan, where polls this year showed a majority of people think the Games should be postponed again or canceled together.
“Whether it’s seen as too much or that we have done well to contain the costs, I think it depends on how you look at it,” Tokyo 2020 CEO Toshiro Muto told reporters.
“We have done all we can to earn the public’s understanding,” he added.
Tokyo 2020 said an additional $1.5 billion would be needed for operational costs related to the delay, with another $900 million in spending on coronavirus countermeasures.
The dollar figures are calculated at an exchange rate of 107 yen, and the total is around $2.56 billion at today’s rate. The costs look set to rise further, with Tokyo 2020 saying it would also release an additional $250 million in “contingency” funds.

The new spending swells a budget that was set last year at around $13 billion, and will add to disquiet about the cost of the Games after an audit report last year argued the national government was spending significantly more than originally planned.
The extra costs will be split between Tokyo, the organizing committee and the national government. The International Olympic Committee will not be chipping in, but has agreed to waive its sponsor royalty fee for the first time, organizers said.
The unprecedented decision to delay the Games has thrown up a plethora of extra costs, from rebooking venues and transport to retaining the huge organizing committee staff.
And with organizers committed to hosting the Games even if the pandemic remains a threat, extensive safety measures will be needed.
Tokyo 2020 this week released a 54-page plan they said would make it possible to hold the Games, including restrictions on athletes touching and fans cheering, and an infection control center in the Olympic Village.
Organizers have tried to scale back elements of the Games, offering fewer free tickets, scrapping athlete welcome ceremonies and making savings on mascots, banners and meals, but so far they have cut just $280 million in spending.
And on Thursday, they said 18 percent of Olympic tickets sold in Japan will be refunded, with domestic fans demanding their money back on about 810,000 of the 4.45 million tickets sold in the country.


Organizers hope to now resell those tickets, and demand for seats at the Games was high before the pandemic.
But enthusiasm has since waned, with a poll in July revealing that just one in four people wanted to see the event held in 2021, and most backing either further delay or cancelation.
Tokyo 2020 President Yoshiro Mori said the spending plan was carefully considered and he hoped people would accept it.
“If you have a drink, you could say your glass is half-full, or half empty. It depends on how you look at it,” he told reporters.
“There’s a rationale behind this plan. I hope the Japanese people will understand it.”
Tokyo 2020’s final price tag has been hotly disputed, with an audit report last year estimating the national government spent nearly 10 times its original budget between 2013-2018.
Organizers countered that the estimate included items not directly related to the Games.