Arteta seeks clarity over Covid rules as Premier League goes on alert

Arteta seeks clarity over Covid rules as Premier League goes on alert
Arsenal’s manager Mikel Arteta has called for clarity over Covid-19 postponement rules after Premier League sides were told to return to emergency protocols to limit the spread of the virus. (AP)
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Updated 10 December 2021

Arteta seeks clarity over Covid rules as Premier League goes on alert

Arteta seeks clarity over Covid rules as Premier League goes on alert
  • Sunday's match between Brighton and Tottenham is off as fears rise over the potential impact of the surging Omicron
  • "I think it is because you don't know when you have to play and when you don't," Arteta said

LONDON: Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta has called for clarity over Covid-19 postponement rules after Premier League sides were told to return to emergency protocols to limit the spread of the virus.
Tottenham’s Europa League Conference game with Rennes on Thursday was postponed after Spurs reported that eight players and five members of staff had tested positive.
Sunday’s match between Brighton and Tottenham is also off as fears rise over the potential impact of the surging omicron variant on the English top flight.
Yet Arsenal’s Premier League match at Brentford on the opening weekend of the season, which they lost 2-0, went ahead despite four of Arteta’s squad testing positive.
Asked if he wanted league chiefs to set a threshold for the number of cases that would trigger a postponement, Arteta said on Friday: “I’m saying that would be really helpful, yes.”
“I think it is because you don’t know when you have to play and when you don’t and we have some examples about that,” he added on the eve of Arsenal’s home game against Southampton.
“The decision has to be made first of all to protect the players and the environment, this is the first thing. Afterwards obviously we need to maintain certain criteria so all the clubs are competing and we can all compete in the same conditions.”
The Premier League has written to its 20 clubs returning training ground protocols to “emergency measures.”
It followed an announcement this week by British Prime Minister Boris Johnson that the government was tightening virus restrictions in England.
The UK as a whole has had more than 10 million confirmed cases of coronavirus and over 146,000 people have died from the virus, one of the highest tolls in Europe.
Norwich manager Dean Smith, whose side lost 3-0 to Tottenham last week, faces a nervous wait to find out if any of his players will be ruled out of Saturday’s Manchester United clash because of a positive test result.
“We have got a couple of knocks and have got a couple of Covid-related issues that we are waiting on results for this morning,” Smith said.
“(They are) just feeling a little bit unwell, not likely to be linked to the game last week with Tottenham. It is just in general, I think (like) with the whole nation, (we are) holding our breath at the moment.”
Rules had been relaxed at Premier League clubs with high vaccination rates, allowing players to remove masks indoors and use their original dressing room, but they are now returning to the emergency measures.
“We will try to be as cautious and careful as possible and do all the things,” said Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp.
“It might be an extra test per week. With Champions League games we get tests twice a week anyway — now we’ll probably get tested three times a week, which I’m completely fine with.”
Clubs have also been advised to limit social interactions, meaning Christmas parties are likely to be off the table.
Manchester City’s training ground was shut down by an outbreak of cases just under a year ago.
City manager Pep Guardiola said his players were still on “alert” to prevent a similar outbreak at the busiest time of the year for Premier League clubs, with six rounds of fixtures scheduled to take place between this weekend and January 3.
“The concern is always here — the variant or the pandemic is still in society,” he said.
“We follow the protocols. Everyone is alert. What happened with other clubs can happen here, absolutely. Wear masks, social distance, be careful.”


Salah and Son share Premier League Golden Boot

Salah and Son share Premier League Golden Boot
Updated 14 sec ago

Salah and Son share Premier League Golden Boot

Salah and Son share Premier League Golden Boot
  • South Korea’s Son netted twice in Tottenham’s 5-0 win at Norwich to move to 23 goals — one clear of Salah, but the Egypt forward struck late in Liverpool’s 3-1 win at home to Wolves

LONDON: Mohamed Salah and Son Heung-min shared the Premier League Golden Boot on Sunday after both forward scored on the final day of the season.
South Korea’s Son netted twice in Tottenham’s 5-0 win at Norwich to move to 23 goals — one clear of Salah, but the Egypt forward struck late in Liverpool’s 3-1 win at home to Wolves.
Manchester United’s Cristiano Ronaldo finished third with 18 goals in his first season back in the Premier League.
Salah’s goal was ultimately in vain as Jurgen Klopp’s team finished one point behind Manchester City, who scored three goals in five minutes to beat Aston Villa 3-2.
Tottenham’s win secured a fourth-place finish, meaning they qualify for next season’s Champions League.
Son, 29, said it was “incredible” to have the award.
“I can’t believe it,” he told the BBC. “I got really emotional. I dreamed of it as a child. Literally it’s my in hands. I can’t believe it.
“Until my goal I was really frustrated that I missed big chances. I told the players I missed the easiest chances and scored one of the toughest ones.
“I didn’t give up. I wanted to score today. The team helped me a lot at half-time. They wanted to help me, you could see it today.”
Spurs manager Antonio Conte was delighted to see club and individual ambitions realized with the rout of the Canaries at Carrow Road.
“This was our target,” he told the BBC.
“First to get in the Champions League but then when there was a chance to help Sonny reach the top scorer, we enjoyed it,” the Italian added.
“I have seen his team-mates try to help him. The award is for Son but it’s for the whole team. They helped him reach this big achievement.”


AC Milan win first Serie A title since 2011

AC Milan win first Serie A title since 2011
Updated 23 May 2022

AC Milan win first Serie A title since 2011

AC Milan win first Serie A title since 2011
  • Fans partied in Milan and poured onto the pitch in Reggio Emilia as the ‘Rossoneri’ returned to the top of the Italian game after years of poor teams and financial problems since their last league crown in 2011

MILAN: AC Milan won their first Serie A title in 11 years on Sunday after beating Sassuolo 3-0 in Reggio Emilia to snatch the crown from local rivals Inter Milan.
Needing just a point to claim the Scudetto Milan swept their hosts aside thanks to an Olivier Giroud brace and another from Franck Kessie in the first half in front of an army of away fans at the Mapei Stadium.
Stefano Pioli’s Milan finished two points ahead of Inter, who beat Sampdoria 3-0 at the San Siro.
Fans partied in Milan and poured onto the pitch in Reggio Emilia as the ‘Rossoneri’ returned to the top of the Italian game after years of poor teams and financial problems since their last league crown in 2011.
Milan were imperious in winning their sixth match on the bounce and securing a title which for long tracts of the season looked like Inter’s to lose.
They were helped by a hat-trick of assists from exciting winger Rafale Leao, who has come of age this season and is reportedly a summer target for Paris Saint-Germain.
Giroud has struck some of the most important goals of Milan’s charge to the title and again showed why he is the man for the big occasion in the 17th minute.
He was in the right place at the right time to sweep Leao’s low pass through Andrea Consigli’s legs and send the massed ranks of Milan fans wild.
Sassuolo immediately wilted in the face of a Milan onslaught and practically handed Giroud the chance to net an almost identical second just after the half-hour mark.
Leao was again the provider, this time robbing the ball from Gian Marco Ferrari before rolling another low pass over for Giroud, who lashed in his 11th of the season and made it party time in the stands.
And it was another poor mistake from a Sassuolo player four minutes later which allowed Milan to relax and enjoy the celebrations kicking off around them.
This time it was Maxime Lopez who was robbed by Rade Krunic, with Leao bursting this time down the right and cutting back for Kessie, who smashed in the third to sign off in perfect fashion ahead of his move to Barcelona as a free agent in the close season.
The second half was dedicated to the Milan celebrations and despite some spirited Sassuolo play it was only a matter of time before the away side sealed the title for a 19th time.
Inter fans packed the San Siro in the hope that their team would pounce on a Milan slip-up but it was they who had more problems breaking the deadlock against a Samp team with nothing to play for.
A bubbling atmosphere slowly dissipated as news of Milan’s goals came in and there was also frustration at Inter’s inability to make the most of their clear dominance.
As so often this season it was Ivan Perisic who took matters into his own hands, calmly finishing into the bottom corner with his left foot after being nicely set up by a rampaging Nicolo Barella.
From there Samp gave up the ghost and two goals in as many minutes from Joaquin Correa just before the hour ensured Inter would finish with a win.
Home fans applauded their team off the pitch despite what must have been a painful way to lose their Serie A crown, with the hardcore in the Curva Nord chanting coach Simone Inzaghi’s name in a show of faith which is likely to be shared by the club.
After the title was decided on the last day the relegation battle is also going down to the wire with Salernitana and Cagliari fighting to avoid playing in Serie B next season.
Salernitana sit just outside the drop zone, two points ahead of Cagliari, ahead of their respective matches with Udinese and Venezia.


Newcastle ease to final day win, sending Burnley down 

Newcastle ease to final day win, sending Burnley down 
Updated 22 May 2022

Newcastle ease to final day win, sending Burnley down 

Newcastle ease to final day win, sending Burnley down 
  • Callum Wilson double enough to claim three points despite second half rally from the Clarets
  • Magpies finish season outside top half on goal difference, having been bottom at Christmas

NEWCASTLE: With emotions high and Premier League survival, for some, at stake, Newcastle United’s game-changer Callum Wilson showed the coolest head at Turf Moor to consign Burnley to the Championship and continue the Magpies’ meteoric rise.

A double either side of half time took the United striker’s personal tally to eight goals for the season, and Newcastle’s points to 49, not bettered since 2011/12, when Alan Pardew’s side just missed out on Champions League qualification.

And it is up, rather than down, where Eddie Howe can look, as his team finished the campaign in 11th place, a remarkable feat given they were bottom when he was handed the reins by majority owners, the Public Investment Fund of Saudi Arabia.

A second half rally by the Clarets threatened a survival bid as Maxwell Cornet netted, but it was not to be for the hosts, and the second tier awaits.

With so much at stake for so many on the final day, albeit bar a few million in prize money for the Magpies, head coach Howe could not be criticized for his pre-match selection at Turf Moor.

Fabian Schar was only able to make the bench following his head knock against Arsenal, after just two days out on the training pitches at Benton. In came club captain Jamaal Lascelles to cover.

Elsewhere, Kieran Trippier was handed a start, his first since February, in place of Emil Krafth, who himself was unfortunate to miss out after a fine run of form.

The atmosphere was electric, but the home side looked nervy — and it showed in their play, as United took absolute control from very early on.

Dan Burn and Lascelles repelled any direct balls from Burnley, their Premier League trademark, while Sean Longstaff showed his dominance in the middle.

United were forced into a first-half rejig as Joelinton went off with what looked like quite a nasty leg injury — and that might well put an end to any immediate Brazil national team call ups for Newcastle’s player of the season.

Nineteen minutes was all it took for Wilson to come to the party, albeit as survival hope wreckers.

Trippier’s expert set-piece delivery had the Burnley backline all at sea and, as Longstaff looked set to nod back into the danger area, Nathan Collins inexplicably stuck out a fist — in an act only a day like this can inspire — to punch away.

After a look at the VAR monitor, the referee pointed to the spot and Wilson, who did everything but score against Arsenal, made no mistake from the spot, sending Nick Pope the wrong way.

That strike popped a balloon at Burnley, one they would struggle to refill.

The loss of Joelinton had seen a slight adjustment from the usual 4-3-3, to a more unusual 4-2-3-1, and while Miguel Almiron dropped into impressive pockets of space, the home side did begin to get a foothold.

However, on the hour, their task, if difficult before, became a whole lot harder as Wilson and United made it two-nil.

A break down the left from the unusually quiet Allan Saint-Maximin, normally red hot against the Clarets, saw him cross for Wilson at the back post.

In total control, it would not be unlike United to leave the door open a touch for the opposition.

And just nine minutes later Cornet cracked home to reduce the deficit, after Martin Dubravka had parried his original effort.

Cue an onslaught, as Lascelles and Matt Targett were forced into goal line clearances.

Injuries and goals at Leeds, however, took this match away from Burnley, and so too it lessened the bite in their own game as United ended up seeing it out with minimal fuss.

With the three points, United ended the season just outside the Premier League top half on goal difference.

No one could have predicted this. A battle to beat the drop looked certain, a destiny already mapped out. But in the end it was not even close.

As one chapter ends, a new one begins, ready to be crafted by Howe and his players, who will no doubt be stronger in depth of quality come August, when the 2022/23 campaign kicks off.


Man City retain Premier League title with dramatic late comeback

Man City retain Premier League title with dramatic late comeback
Updated 22 May 2022

Man City retain Premier League title with dramatic late comeback

Man City retain Premier League title with dramatic late comeback
  • Ilkay Gundogan came off the bench to score twice with Rodri also on target as Pep Guardiola’s men held off Liverpool’s title charge to win the league by a point

MANCHESTER: Manchester City retained the Premier League title in the most dramatic of fashion as they hauled themselves back from 2-0 down to beat Aston Villa 3-2 with three goals in the final 15 minutes on Sunday.
Ilkay Gundogan came off the bench to score twice with Rodri also on target as Pep Guardiola’s men held off Liverpool’s title charge to win the league by a point.
In scenes remiscent of the first of City’s now six league titles in 11 seasons when Sergio Aguero scored a 93rd minute winner to deny Manchester United the title on goal difference, the champions produced a remarkable comeback at the Etihad.
Goals from Matty Cash and former Liverpool favorite Philippe Coutinho looked set to gift the Reds the title.
Jurgen Klopp’s men did their job by also coming from a goal down to beat Wolves 3-1 at Anfield, but City’s rescue act ensured Liverpool’s bid for an unprecedented quadruple is over.
Gundogan started the comeback as he headed in Raheem Sterling’s cross at the back post.
Rodri then side-footed home from outside the box and Gundogan completed the fightback by tapping home Kevin De Bruyne’s cross at the back post.
Guardiola said before the game he wanted no repeat of Aguero’s legendary late strike a decade ago.
But the Calatan was the most relieved man in Manchester as he sealed the 10th league title of his coaching career in just 13 seasons.
Fans swarmed onto the pitch to celebrate at full-time and the crossbar at the goal where City scored all of their goals was snapped under the weight of supporters sitting on it.


‘Maybe it was good to lose,’ says Jabeur after French Open shock

‘Maybe it was good to lose,’ says Jabeur after French Open shock
Updated 22 May 2022

‘Maybe it was good to lose,’ says Jabeur after French Open shock

‘Maybe it was good to lose,’ says Jabeur after French Open shock
  • The sixth-seeded Tunisian crashed out to Poland’s 56th-ranked Magda Linette 3-6, 7-6 (7/4), 7-5
  • Jabeur came into the event with a season-leading 17 wins on clay in 2022 and with the prestigious Madrid title under her belt

PARIS: Tunisia’s Ons Jabeur suffered a shock French Open first round exit on Sunday but admitted: “Maybe it was good to lose.”
The sixth-seeded Tunisian crashed out to Poland’s 56th-ranked Magda Linette 3-6, 7-6 (7/4), 7-5.
The 27-year-old was seen as a potential champion in Paris, despite never having previously got past the fourth round.
Jabeur came into the event with a season-leading 17 wins on clay in 2022 and with the prestigious Madrid title under her belt and a runners-up spot in Rome against world number one Iga Swiatek in Rome.
However, she was undone Sunday by 47 unforced errors in the two hour 28-minute match.
“Obviously I was expecting better but we say maybe something happens bad because there is something good happening in the future,” said Jabeur.
“Hopefully the grass season, hopefully Wimbledon, I don’t know, but it’s definitely a great time to reflect and to see what’s going to happen next.”
“So maybe it was a good thing to lose today. I would rather say this and be really tough with myself than waste all the good energy that I got from Madrid and Rome.”
Jabeur said she was not happy to see that she was starting proceedings on Court Philippe Chatrier on the opening day of the tournament, the first French Open with full crowds since 2019 after a pandemic-affected two years.
“Well, honestly, I wasn’t happy to play on a Sunday at 11,” she added.
“I’ve got quite a peculiar relationship with this court, I like it and I don’t like it at the same time.”
Linette had lost to Jabeur in the third round in 2021 having stunned an injury-hit top seed Ashleigh Barty in her previous match.
“I just tried to stay focused after the first set and tried to make her uncomfortable. I was happy to fight for every single point,” said Linette who needed treatment on a leg injury after dropping the first set.
“I shifted my attention to play faster and my racquet speed was faster than in the first set.
“I wanted to put her in the situation where she couldn’t move me around as much.”
Linette, a quarter-finalist on clay at Charleston and Strasbourg this year, next faces either 2020 French Open quarter-finalist, and weekend Rabat champion Martina Trevisan of Italy or Britain’s Harriet Dart for a spot in the last 32.