EPL

Coronavirus: Premier League to restart on June 17 - reports

By Sports Desk May 28, 2020

The Premier League season will resume on June 17, according to widespread reports, with Manchester City hosting Arsenal and Aston Villa taking on Sheffield United.

Those Wednesday fixtures, the first of the 92 remaining in a season that has been interrupted by the coronavirus pandemic, represent games in hand for the four teams involved..

Once completed, each of the 20 Premier League clubs will have played 29 games.

A full round of matches will then take place the following weekend, as Liverpool - with a 25-point lead at the top - aim to secure their first top-flight title in 30 years.

The Premier League hopes to complete the campaign by or on August 2, with the FA Cup final potentially taking place the weekend after.

No matches have been played in the Premier League since March 9 due to the COVID-19 outbreak, which caused the suspension of sport across the globe.

A total of 12 people have tested positive for coronavirus after 2,752 tests across the league.

However, with teams having returned to contact training this week, the Premier League – following a shareholders meeting on Thursday – is poised to confirm a restart date for the competition.

Football in Germany has already got back under way, with three rounds of Bundesliga fixtures having been played behind closed doors.

LaLiga has been granted permission to restart in the week commencing June 8, while Serie A clubs are awaiting the green light from the Italian government to resume next month.

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    Manchester United star Bruno Fernandes insisted he does not need to be rested after coming off the bench to secure FA Cup victory over rivals Liverpool.

    Fernandes was among the substitutes in Sunday's 3-2 FA Cup fourth-round triumph at Old Trafford, where he was introduced in the second half and scored the match-winning 78th-minute free-kick.

    The Portugal international has now scored 28 goals for United in all competitions since his debut in February 2020 – more than any other player for a Premier League club.

    Fernandes has helped rejuvenate United, who have gone from struggling to qualify for the Champions League to topping the Premier League table through 19 matches in 2020-21.

    But Fernandes dismissed claims he is tired, saying: "Tired? With 26 years old I can't be tired. If I'm tired now, when I arrive at 30, 32, I will not play.

    "I will play one game in five [days] so, no, I'm not tired."

    Fernandes, who dropped out of the starting line-up for Donny van de Beek against Liverpool, added: "Of course the coach knows what is better for the team and he chose to play with Donny to give some freshness to the team.

    "I think it's fair enough because Donny is training really well, he's been important for us and will be more and more important in the future."

    Former Sporting CP captain Fernandes is determined to lead United to silverware, following three semi-final appearances last season in the Europa League, FA Cup and EFL Cup.

    Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's United, who last won the Premier League in 2012-13, also lost in the semi-finals of this season's EFL Cup.

    "I don't conform with [the idea that] losing games is normal stuff," said Fernandes. "For me, losing is not normal so my mentality comes from that, you know? I always was like this. I don’t like to lose, so maybe the mentality is more like I don't like to lose.

    "Also playing whatever it is, when I was playing with my friends, my brother, my neighbours, I never wanted to lose, I want to win every time. This mentality will be with me for the rest of my life, I think."

    United – two points clear of neighbours Manchester City, who have a game in hand – face Sheffield United on Wednesday, are through to the FA Cup fifth round and will meet Real Sociedad in the Europa League last 32.

    Fernandes said: "I came to the club because I knew this is a club who wants to win everything. So you have to be confident, you have to trust your team-mates, you have to trust yourself, and you have to believe.

    "And I will believe until it's not possible. Like when I see someone get the trophy before me [only] then I will [have] lost my belief."

  • Mourinho has no doubt over Bale fitness in all-action FA Cup display Mourinho has no doubt over Bale fitness in all-action FA Cup display

    Gareth Bale impressed in a scoring display during Tottenham's 4-1 FA Cup win at Wycombe Wanderers, with Jose Mourinho insisting he has no worries over the Wales star's fitness.

    Bale returned to Spurs on loan from Real Madrid in September but an initial knee problem delayed his second debut and he has largely existed on the periphery of Mourinho's plans in the Premier League.

    He was once again called into cup action at Adams Park and produced an all-action performance, equalising after Fred Onyedinma put the Championship's bottom club ahead against the run of play.

    Mourinho still had to call for the cavalry from the bench as Wycombe withstood a second-half onslaught.

    Harry Kane and Son Heung-min both went close, but fellow substitute Tanguy Ndombele finished superbly for a late brace after Harry Winks' cool chip gave Spurs an 86th-minute lead.

    Faltering Premier League champions Liverpool are next on the agenda for Tottenham and Mourinho suggested Bale had done his prospects of adding to a solitary top-flight start this term no harm at all.

    "He looked good, taking on players, scored the goal," he told a post-match news conference.

    "I never felt that he could not play 90 minutes, I never felt I had to take him off.

    "The Championship is a good level. That is good. I am happy."

    If Bale is concerned over whether he can make himself a fixture in Mourinho's first XI, he should look no further than Ndombele.

    The former Lyon midfielder was not always trusted when the ex-Chelsea boss replaced Mauricio Pochettino last term, but he is now a player on top form and oozing confidence, as his late salvo emphatically showed.

    "He is very creative. He's one of these players who can break the balance [of a game]," Mourinho told BT Sport.

    "They tried to get him man-against-man. Number 18 [Curtis Thompson] was man-against-man with him.

    "But he is always the kind of player who can break that. If, on the top of that, he can score a goal for us, even better."

  • Guardiola 'so optimistic' Aguero can still have a big say for City this season Guardiola 'so optimistic' Aguero can still have a big say for City this season

    Manchester City are not ready to put a date on Sergio Aguero's return to action, yet Pep Guardiola expects the club's record goalscorer to "help us in the decisive moments" this season.

    Aguero underwent meniscus surgery last June and then saw a hamstring injury hamper his initial comeback in October.

    These issues have limited the 32-year-old to just nine appearances in all competitions this season, which have yielded two goals.

    Aguero also had to self-isolate earlier in January when he was set for an outing in the FA Cup and last week revealed he had tested positive for coronavirus.

    Into the final six months of his City contract, Guardiola is keen to have Aguero back available, although he detailed how the striker was laid low by the effects of COVID-19.

    "The important thing is when we text him during the first three, four days, he struggled, he felt so tired, but today he sent a message to the backroom staff to say he feels much better," Guardiola said ahead of Tuesday's trip to West Brom.

    "Now he needs to test negative and abide by the protocols, and then start to come back here and move and see how he feels, day by day.

    "I cannot tell you [when he will be back], I don't know how he will react in the first days when we start to train."

    There have been only three starts for Aguero this term, with his pitch time a meagre 260 minutes overall.

    The Argentina international has scored with both of his shots in the Champions League but failed to register in the Premier League, having four efforts across five outings and passing up a big chance with his only shot on target against Newcastle United.

    A contract extension remains on the agenda, though, and Guardiola sees Aguero rediscovering the scoring touch that has so far brought 256 goals in 316 games for City, netting with 19 per cent of his attempts.

    "I don't know when he is coming back, February or March, but I'm so optimistic that he will give us until the end of the season some good, good months," Guardiola said. "I'm so optimistic.

    "He is going to help us in the decisive moments, to give us the goals and the difference that we need. I'm so confident it's going to happen."

    In 2018-19, as Vincent Kompany entered the final months of his contract, the former City captain put long-term injury troubles behind him to play a key role in their most recent title success.

    Guardiola was asked if the plan was for Aguero to have a similar impact and replied: "Hopefully. Hopefully it's going to happen.

    "But at the same time, Vincent had an incredible quality; after being two months injured in the gym, he can go out and play one training session and play incredibly well.

    "Sergio doesn't know if he has this quality to immediately go out and do it. He needs the special sharpness and the first steps for this quality to score a goal, but it depends on him.

    "At the end, we'll see him in the training session and on the pitch and it's easy to realise if he's fit or not.

    "But hopefully he can help us with the special quality he has. That's why he is one of the best strikers ever - not just in England, all the time in football history."

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