Jose Mourinho is preparing for Tottenham's Premier League clash against Aston Villa to go ahead as scheduled on Wednesday.

After a significant coronavirus outbreak, Villa used youth players in a 4-1 FA Cup loss to Liverpool on Friday.

The outbreak has put their hosting of Spurs at risk, but a postponement would create more fixture chaos for Tottenham.

After a 5-0 FA Cup win over Marine on Sunday, Mourinho was asked when Tottenham's next game would be and the Spurs head coach responded: "Wednesday."

"No-one has told me any different that I am not going to play so tomorrow morning we'll start preparing that game," he added.

"The same Tuesday, unless we're told different."

Spurs are fourth in the Premier League table, four points behind Liverpool and Manchester United.

Callum Hudson-Odoi once again impressed Frank Lampard as the winger pushed his case to play more regularly with a starring role in Chelsea's FA Cup triumph over Morecambe. 

The arrival of high-profile signings Kai Havertz, Timo Werner and Hakim Ziyech during the previous transfer window increased competition for places in Chelsea's attack - and Hudson-Odoi has often found himself stuck on the fringes.

However, Lampard made room for all four players in his starting XI for Sunday's third-round tie at Stamford Bridge, with the hosts running out comfortable 4-0 winners.

Hudson-Odoi certainly seized his opportunity, scoring a goal and creating three chances. The England international completed 85.5 per cent of his passes and sent in seven crosses, four of which were rated as 'good' by Opta.

He has started just two Premier League games this season so far, though Lampard acknowledges the 20-year-old is doing everything right in his push to get consistent minutes.

"Callum is playing well. He's improving, he has improved and there is much more to come," the Chelsea boss told the media after the tie.

"For the goal today, it was a fantastic example of running and breaking the lines and ending up in the area like a striker, because that is what the modern winger does.

"He's making it [his case to get a run of games] now. Probably when fit, we have three natural wingers, maybe one or two others who can play in that position.

"There is always going to be times when I have to make decisions over selection, which means Callum might be in, or someone else may be in.

"But the way he is playing now absolutely at this minute means he's assisting, he scoring goals, he's a threat every time he plays. It makes me really happy, because today was definitely an uplift from Callum, there are more gears he can go through.

"He is another young player [at Chelsea] with a lot to come and we shouldn't expect too much, but when he's playing like he's playing now, it's good to expect more from him because he's showing a lot."

While Hudson-Odoi is pressing to feature for the first team, Fikayo Tomori could be on his way out of Chelsea.

The centre-back came on as a second-half substitute against Morecambe but Lampard confirmed afterwards that a loan move could happen in January - provided it is right for all parties.

On Tomori potentially leaving, Lampard said: "The situation is kind of open at the moment. There's a possibility he could go on loan to get games somewhere else.

"That would have to be the right solution for him and the club. It was part of my thinking in not starting him today, but giving him some minutes at the end. While we are looking at that, I want to make sure it's the right thing for him and the club.

"His attitude, while not playing so much recently with five or six centre-backs at the club, has been fantastic, in terms of working in training every day and how he is."

Chelsea boss Frank Lampard hopes Kai Havertz and Timo Werner will gain confidence from scoring in the FA Cup win over Morecambe.

Werner ended a goal drought of 827 minutes with the home side's second in a 4-0 triumph at Stamford Bridge on Sunday, Mason Mount having opened the scoring.

Havertz was involved in his fellow German's goal just before the break and went on to find the net himself against fourth-tier opposition, heading in a cross from Cesar Azpilicueta in the 85th minute.

The duo were part of a strong team selected by Lampard, who believes the big-money signings from the Bundesliga made a "nice little step" forward as they continue to adapt to life at Chelsea.

Discussing Werner, who had not scored for his club since a 4-1 win over Sheffield United on November 7, Lampard said: "I'm pleased for him.

"Strikers want to score goals and he's had plenty of near misses in those times. He's been getting in positions to score goals but they haven't been going in for him.

"I was pleased to play him today and get him confidence from scoring a goal. It wasn't easy, there wasn't space behind them because they defended so deep, but he gets his goal and moves onwards.

"It's important that we understand with both Timo and Kai that they are young lads coming into this league. Tough patches are normal coming into the Premier League - some of the greatest players that have graced it have found that at the beginning.

"That is a nice little step for both of them."

While Werner made way for Olivier Giroud in the 68th minute, Havertz played the full game, during which he completed 89 per cent of his attempted passes.

The former Bayer Leverkusen player also had two shots as he continues to build up his fitness after overcoming COVID-19, with Lampard insisting Chelsea fans must show some patience with the 21-year-old.

"There are numerous levels Kai can go up because of the potential of him as a player," Lampard told the media.

"Even in his short period at Chelsea he's been unfortunate in that he had COVID and suffered a bit in coming back from that.

"Today I saw him - and during the week in training too - looking stronger and fitter. There are levels to go up, but - again - we have to remain patient.

"He's come here with a huge amount of talent but has to get accustomed to the league, accustomed to the speed of the league, the pace of the league. We as a club must support him through that for the future, both him and Timo.

"It was a small step in a big picture, but a step made in a good way for both of them."

The victory means Chelsea have progressed in their third-round tie in every season since 1997-98, when they were eliminated by Manchester United.

Manchester City striker Sergio Aguero is in isolation after coming into contact with someone who tested positive for coronavirus.

Aguero was expected to feature in Sunday's FA Cup clash with Birmingham City at the Etihad Stadium after recovering from knee and hamstring problems.

However, he was not in the matchday squad, with Gabriel Jesus starting the 3-0 victory over the Championship side.

Manager Pep Guardiola later confirmed that 32-year-old Aguero is isolating despite returning a negative test for COVID-19.

"Unfortunately, he was in contact more than usual with one person who is positive," Guardiola said after the match. "He must isolate for a few days.

"I don't know exactly because he has been tested like all of us six times in the last 10-15 days so it is negative. Today I think he was negative too but the protocols says in some cases isolate, and in other cases we still play football.

"He was not able to play today."

Aguero, whose contract expires at the end of the season, has only made three starts for City in all competitions in 2020-21.

In his absence on Sunday, two goals from Bernardo Silva and another from Phil Foden secured City's place in the fourth round of the cup.

Guardiola's men return to Premier League action at home to Brighton and Hove Albion on Wednesday and host Crystal Palace next Sunday.

RB Leipzig defender Dayot Upamecano's long-term future appears uncertain, though there is a strong possibility he will end up in the Premier League.

The France international centre-back has emerged as one of Europe's most-promising defenders in recent seasons and is part of a Leipzig side that has conceded just 12 goals in 15 Bundesliga games this season.

Upamecano, 22, looks certain for a big-money move eventually, and although his next destination is unclear, he has plenty of admirers in England.

TOP STORY – CHELSEA TO RIVAL MAN UNITED FOR UPAMECANO

Chelsea are going through a difficult period as they sit ninth in the Premier League, and their options at centre-back do not appear to be entirely to Frank Lampard's liking.

While 36-year-old Thiago Silva and Kurt Zouma have become his preferred pairing, Lampard seems unconvinced by back-up options Antonio Rudiger, Andreas Christensen and Fikayo Tomori.

The Mail on Sunday reports Chelsea have joined the list of clubs lining up for Upamecano, who reportedly has a release of around €50million (£45m) in the new contract he signed last year.

But Chelsea will not expect a free run at Upamecano – the Manchester Evening News claims Manchester United retain an interest in him, with the Red Devils' centre-back options also far from impressive in 2020-21.

ROUND-UP

- Paul Pogba appears to be returning to form on the evidence of his recent displays, but how much longer will he remain at Old Trafford? The Daily Star believes Mauricio Pochettino has identified him as a key target at Paris Saint-Germain. Real Madrid and Juventus have also been linked.

- Declan Rice's future continues to be subject of speculation, with the Daily Mirror reporting he favours a return to Chelsea – whom he played for at academy level – over joining Manchester United.

- Lucas Torreira could be on the move again. Arsenal loaned the Uruguayan midfielder to Atletico Madrid at the start of the season, but he has featured only six times in LaLiga. Mundo Deportivo suggests he is being lined up by Fiorentina.

- Inter could be set to further increase their contingent of former Manchester United players. The Mirror says Jesse Lingard is the latest to be targeted by the Nerazzurri, who already have Romelu Lukaku, Alexis Sanchez, Matteo Darmian and Ashley Young on their books.

- M'Bala Nzola has been one of the revelations of the season in Serie A with promoted Spezia. Napoli are said to be keen on the striker, though CalcioMercato reports Newcastle United and West Ham are monitoring the situation as well.

Sunday's FA Cup encounter between Marine and Tottenham is the kind of clash that really captures the imaginations of supporters, as non-league meets Premier League.

Ordinarily such an occasion would mean a potentially vital cash influx for the smaller side, with match tickets selling out quicker than ever and TV crews descending on a modest ground in their droves.

While it won't be quite the same this time given the coronavirus pandemic, it still promises to be a special day for Marine, who have sold over 5,000 virtual tickets.

Playing in the Northern Premier League Division One North West, the eighth tier of the English football pyramid, Liverpool-based Marine will host a Spurs team that is used to competing in the Champions League.

It represents a whole new kind of challenge for the non-league side, though it is also an opportunity for the unlikeliest of 'giant killings'.

Ahead of the match, we looked at the Opta data behind contests between non-league sides and the titans of the Premier League.

THE SIZE OF THE TASK

'The magic of the cup' is that on a given day, any team could potentially beat any other, and that's surely the attitude Marine will want to take into the weekend.

Though, obviously the reality is rather more stark.

Since the Premier League's inception in 1992, only twice have non-league sides defeated top-tier opposition.

The first was in 2013 in the fourth round, as Luton Town claimed a 1-0 win over Norwich City.

It ended a run of 27 years since top-tier opposition had lost to a non-league side, with Altrincham having eliminated Birmingham City in 1986.

The only other occasion since then occurred in 2017, as Burnley lost 1-0 to Lincoln City, who made it as far as the quarter-finals.

There is also a coincidental link to that Norwich defeat with Sunday's contest – Spurs star Harry Kane was in the Canaries' side that day during an unsuccessful loan period at the start of his career.

Those two wins for non-league teams have come from 52 matches, with 42 unsurprisingly ending in victories for the top-flight sides.

SPURS EYE A HATFUL?

It won't come as a shock to learn there have been plenty of one-sided scorelines between non-league and Premier League sides.

West Brom have claimed the biggest win, as they defeated Gateshead 7-0 at this stage of the competition in January 2015 – the Baggies clearly weren't complacent on that occasion.

Manchester United and Arsenal have beaten non-league opposition heavily as well, the Red Devils winning 5-0 against Burton Albion in a 2006 replay, and the Gunners crushed Lincoln by the same score a month after their surprise win over Burnley four years ago.

Spurs' most straightforward win against a non-league side came in 1993, as they eased past Marlow 5-1.

Throughout the club's history, Spurs have met such lowly opposition 26 times in the FA Cup, losing five times.

Could Marine do the unthinkable and make it six? Assuming he features, that would make Kane the first player to lose to non-league opposition on two different occasions with Premier League clubs.

Pep Guardiola does not view himself as a deal maker with regards to any transfer ambitions Manchester City might have towards Lionel Messi.

Messi sought to end a career-long association with Barca in the aftermath of their humiliating 8-2 Champions League quarter-final loss to Bayern Munich, with City then widely viewed as the frontrunners for his signature.

However, Barcelona disputed Messi's assertion that a clause in his contract allowing him to leave for free at the end of the 2019-20 campaign remained valid, and the Argentina superstar stayed at Camp Nou.

Speaking to La Sexta at the end of last month, Messi pledged not to decide his future until the end of this season, while also outlining his "dream" of living in the United States.

This makes a deal involving a reunion with his old mentor Guardiola, plus an option to switch to City's MLS affiliate New York City, look theoretically attractive.

But speaking ahead of Sunday's FA Cup third-round clash against Birmingham City, the former Barca and Bayern boss refused to fan any flames of a potential transfer inferno.

"He is a player for another club, I'm sorry. Always I try to answer your questions but I'm not… he is a player from Barcelona," Guardiola said.

"About the transfer market, you know my opinion, it's about Txiki [Begiristain, City's director of football]. I don't like to talk about players who are not here or players maybe extending their contract.

"Always I believe the best way to talk about this is behind the scenes because my comments will not solve or break some deal, especially the players who are not here.

"I respect a lot all the players who play in other teams."

Guardiola did express a surprise contract wish when it came to the future of another international in his thirties.

Former England goalkeeper Scott Carson has spent the past season and a half on loan at City from Derby County, serving as an experienced third-choice option.

He is yet to play a minute of senior football for Guardiola - something that will not change this weekend after a positive coronavirus test - but the manager insists Carson's influence upon Ederson, Zack Steffen and the squad as a whole has been invaluable.

"One keeper who is so important for us is Scott Carson," he said of the 35-year-old. "He is like our captain behind the scenes.

"He is not noticed because he is the third keeper, but in the locker room he is another captain.

"It is so important and hopefully he can stay longer with us in the next years."

Frank Lampard accepts he is under pressure to turn around Chelsea's results and says he is not wanting any favours from owner Roman Abramovich.

Chelsea have lost four of their last six Premier League matches - as many defeats as they had in their previous 23 - with last week's 3-1 setback against Manchester City leaving them ninth.

The Blues have taken 26 points from their opening 17 league games of 2020-21, three points fewer than at the same stage last season. They have never finished higher than sixth after failing to amass more than 26 points at this stage of a campaign.

Amid reports that Abramovich is lining up candidates to replace Lampard if the barren run continues, the club's all-time leading goalscorer acknowledges he cannot rely on past success to keep him in the job.

"All I want to concentrate on is the job in hand. I can't control certain things - I certainly don't want to rely on anything in the past," Lampard said.

"All I can look at is what I see right now, and what I see right now is one month ago everything was rosy and now a month later - a very quick time - everyone is looking at it negatively.

"I have to be the one to look at it positively. I can't control outside of that. I felt huge support from this club coming back to manage them.

"My time as a player I felt huge support for 13 years. In the end I left because they wanted to move on to other things. I understand what football is. I understand the demands and expectations.

"I don't think I've earned the right for anything that takes me out of that equation. All I can do is be honest about how I see it. I understand there is work to be done here and I understand the position we're in.

"When you're young and have had a tough year, plus new players coming in this year that are expected to drop into the Premier League and produce at a young age, there is going to be challenges. That's all I've got to say. The rest is out of my hands."

Lampard won 11 major honours during his playing days at Chelsea, each of those trophies coming after Abramovich's takeover of the club in 2003.

"I have to sit here and say when the owner came into Chelsea all those years ago, it made my career," Lampard added.

"Maybe I would have gone on elsewhere, but fortunately I had an owner who came in and changed the face of the club. It changed my life. But that shouldn't give me any headstarts.

"I'm here and I think the job I done last year, to get us up to fourth with huge constraints, was a big positive for us. After that now I have to go again.

"I never thought it would be a straight line - I was aware of that coming into the season, particularly when I didn't have time to work with the players.

"I remember in my first year as a player here I was an average Premier League player, year two I got slightly better, year three better and so on.

"When I look at my players I see it like that. I can't jump out of that and dictate what others think - that's beyond me. I'm just here to coach the club as good as I can."

Chelsea can put their league struggles behind them on Sunday as they turn focus to the FA Cup and a third-round tie with Morecambe.

The Blues have progressed past this stage every season since 1997-98 but Lampard will not allow his players to take their fourth-tier opponents lightly in what will be the first ever meeting between the sides.

"I've been involved in games at Chelsea where we have struggled against certain opposition at times," Lampard said. "I know the feeling going into these games - we have to absolutely apply ourselves going into the game to get the right result.

"If we apply ourselves and our preparation is right then the execution is normally right because of the players we have.

"At the same time we need to realise lower-league teams will raise their game and see it as a huge occasion. They'll do anything they can to get a result.

"My players are very aware of that, and if they're not then I'll make sure they are. This is by no means going to be a comfortable afternoon."

Pep Guardiola does not view himself as a deal maker with regards to any transfer ambitions Manchester City might have towards Lionel Messi.

Messi sought to end a career-long association with Barca in the aftermath of their humiliating 8-2 Champions League quarter-final loss to Bayern Munich, with City then widely viewed as the frontrunners for his signature.

However, Barcelona disputed Messi's assertion that a clause in his contract allowing him to leave for free at the end of the 2019-20 campaign remained valid, and the Argentina superstar stayed at Camp Nou.

Speaking to La Sexta at the end of last month, Messi pledged not to decide his future until the end of this season, while also outlining his "dream" of living in the United States.

This makes a deal involving a reunion with his old mentor Guardiola, plus an option to switch to City's MLS affiliate New York City, look theoretically attractive.

But speaking ahead of Sunday's FA Cup third-round clash against Birmingham City, the former Barca and Bayern boss refused to fan any flames of a potential transfer inferno.

"He is a player for another club, I'm sorry. Always I try to answer your questions but I'm not… he is a player from Barcelona," Guardiola said.

"About the transfer market, you know my opinion, it's about Txiki [Begiristain, City's director of football]. I don't like to talk about players who are not here or players maybe extending their contract.

"Always I believe the best way to talk about this is behind the scenes because my comments will not solve or break some deal, especially the players who are not here.

"I respect a lot all the players who play in other teams."

Guardiola did express a surprise contract wish when it came to the future of another international in his thirties.

Former England goalkeeper Scott Carson has spent the past season and a half on loan at City from Derby County, serving as an experienced third-choice option.

He is yet to play a minute of senior football for Guardiola - something that will not change this weekend after a positive coronavirus test - but the manager insists Carson's influence upon Ederson, Zack Steffen and the squad as a whole has been invaluable.

"One keeper who is so important for us is Scott Carson," he said of the 35-year-old. "He is like our captain behind the scenes.

"He is not noticed because he is the third keeper, but in the locker room he is another captain.

"It is so important and hopefully he can stay longer with us in the next years."

Fernandinho is close to making a decision on his Manchester City future with a number of clubs interested in signing the midfielder, according to agent Giovanni Branchini. 

The 35-year-old is into the final six months of his deal at the Etihad Stadium having signed a one-year extension with the Premier League club in January 2020. 

Pep Guardiola revealed earlier this week that the Brazil international, who is in his eighth season with City, may move on at the end of the campaign. 

A return to Brazilian side Athletico Paranaense, where he started his career before moving to Shakhtar Donetsk and then City, has been touted. 

Branchini has confirmed that approaches have been made for his client and he is now weighing up what to do next. 

"We've received several proposals, good projects from Brazilian and European clubs for Fernandinho," he told Globo Esporte.  

"He's a phenomenal player and person. I believe it won't be long before he knows what decision he'll make.

"Everyone knows that Fernandinho has a great affection for Athletico and the board. I, too, have an excellent relationship with president Mario Celso Petraglia. 

"Conversations have always happened, but I can't go ahead and say that we talk about values, for example. It hasn't happened yet. 

"I confess that it's difficult to think of Fernandinho returning to Brazil and not playing for Athletico. But we have to wait - it's a difficult decision, which he has to make with his family." 

Fernandinho has been a regular for City since joining from Shakhtar for a reported £30million in June 2013, featuring more than 300 times in all competitions. 

That includes 15 outings this season, eight of which have come in the Premier League, albeit just three starts. 

He has made 57 passes into the final third during his league outings at a rate of 15.18 per 90 minutes, placing him behind only Jordan Henderson (16.31) and Pablo Hernandez (16.57) among players to have played at least at least six times. 

Only six players have played more passes per 90 minutes than Fernandinho's average of 84.94 - a metric topped by Liverpool skipper Henderson (97.99).  

City have won one, drawn one and lost one of the three league games Fernandinho has started this term for a win rate of 33.3 per cent, which rises to 58.3 per cent in the 12 games he has not been included in the XI.

Daniel James knows the pressure is on to seize any first-team opportunities he gets at Manchester United ahead of the FA Cup tie with Watford.

United host their Championship opponents in the third round on Saturday and James believes the competition retains a special place in the football calendar.

The Wales winger, who scored a famous FA Cup goal while he was at Swansea City against Brentford, is hoping to be involved at Old Trafford.

James impressed against Leeds United last month and was also in the team against Leicester City, but they were two of only five Premier League starts he has been handed this season.

Having featured in 33 Premier League games last season, he knows the competition for places at United is tougher this time around, with the club sitting level on points alongside champions Liverpool at the top of the table.

"I have been working hard in training every day and the manager knows I am ready when called upon," James said to United's website.

"I will just keep working hard in training and doing what I do.

"Being at this club, there is always going to be lots of competition and the forwards have been doing so well. 

"So it is about when I do get my opportunity, I have got to take mine. That is the way I have been looking at it. 

"I have not been playing as much so I have been able to do a lot more stuff in training, extra stuff, and I have to keep doing that and look at things I can improve and also work on the things I am good at.

"It [the FA Cup] means everything. Growing up, there have been some unbelievable games over the years.

"I was at Swansea when I watched Jesse Lingard's extra-time goal [for United in the final against Crystal Palace]. It is a special competition."

Asked about his memorable goal, the winger added: "It is a great memory and a special moment.

"There are not many times when the whole pitch is open. I just had to keep that composure and when it went in the back of the net, I knew it was a special goal."

Paris Saint-Germain are reportedly eyeing Manchester City forward Sergio Aguero.

Aguero, 32, is out of contract at the end of the season and his future with the Premier League giants is uncertain.

And PSG are apparently eyeing the forward.

 

TOP STORY – PSG EYE AGUERO

Mauricio Pochettino and PSG have Aguero in their sights on a free transfer at the end of the season, according to the Mirror.

Injuries have limited Aguero to just nine appearances in all competitions this season.

Aguero is Manchester City's all-time leading scorer with 256 goals.

 

ROUND-UP

- Linked with a move for Borussia Dortmund midfielder Julian Brandt, Arsenal may also be looking elsewhere. Bild reports PSG's Julian Draxler, who is out of contract at the season's end, is an alternative for the Premier League club.

- Also at Arsenal, Mesut Ozil seems set to leave the club. The Guardian reports the playmaker is in talks to join Fenerbahce on loan, but Arsenal do not want to pay any part of his salary if he moves to the Turkish giants.

- Lyon striker Moussa Dembele is again being linked with a switch. Goal reports Dembele is not interested in a move to West Ham, and Atletico Madrid are keen to land him. L'Equipe says Atletico want Dembele on loan.

- Kieran Trippier's ban has been put on hold pending an appeal, but his January reportedly could have been very different. TalkSPORT reports Manchester United were considering a bid for the defender, who was keen on a move, before his ban over betting rule breaches.

- Manchester United are apparently not chasing Moises Caicedo. Fabrizio Romano reports United, who were previously linked to Caicedo, will not sign the Independiente del Valle and Ecuador attacker, who is said to be the subject of a bid from Brighton and Hove Albion.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has underlined his desire to keep Donny van de Beek at Manchester United despite a difficult start to his Old Trafford career.

Since arriving from Ajax in a reported £40million deal in pre-season, the Dutchman has made just eight starts in total, with only two of those coming in the Premier League.

That lack of action prompted Van de Beek's boss at international level, Frank de Boer, to suggest this week that the midfielder might need to move on in January in order to strengthen his chances of featuring in the Netherlands' European Championship squad.

However, Solskjaer has reiterated his faith in the 23-year-old and revealed he will be handed a rare opportunity to start when United face Watford in the FA Cup on Saturday.

"I've answered this question so many times," the Norwegian said.

"There are so many examples of players needing a little bit of time – quality players. We have many players ourselves and there are other clubs with examples. Sometimes it takes time. You don't expect people who care for him to be quiet at times, especially when they want the best for them.

"Donny is going to play tomorrow. There's another chance for him. Yes, I've spoken to him and reiterated and made him aware how much we rate him. But he'll play tomorrow, and that's a good chance to kick on."

One player who could be set for a January departure from Old Trafford is Timothy Fosu-Mensah.

The 23-year-old, who is out of contract at the end of the season, has made just three appearances this term, including one start.

And Solskjaer is open to the idea of allowing him to move on should the right offer arrive.

"I'm not sure if Tim is going to stay or [if] he's going to take an option now," he said.

"He's not played enough, so of course he's been allowed to speak to clubs, with a view to leaving now in January. It's difficult when you've got good players, talented players, and you can't give them game time.

"He's now at the stage where he needs to go and play again.

"It might be [at the] end of January, or it might be in the summer that he finds somewhere else. So, he's working hard, Tim, he's ready for a move for any club that he feels ready for."

Jose Mourinho revealed Tottenham have managed to carefully "hide" their COVID-19 problems as he insisted Premier League chiefs must not let the season descend into chaos.

The Spurs manager is relishing the distraction of an FA Cup tie at Marine on Sunday, describing the competition as "absolutely beautiful" and promising to take a star-studded squad to face the minnows.

But Tottenham would be left in an "impossible situation", according to Mourinho, if next Wednesday's Premier League clash with Aston Villa is called off.

Villa have experienced a major outbreak of coronavirus cases and their first-team training facilities were closed ahead of Friday's cup clash with Liverpool.

Tottenham have already had a London derby with Fulham called off under similar circumstances, and fixtures are piling up.

Mourinho wants a solution to be found and appealed for "leadership" from league top brass, suggesting there should be ways found to allow games to go ahead.

"The only thing I can say is that since pre-season, we knew that eventually it would happen to us, to have difficult situations to manage and to play again with 14 players," Mourinho said.

"I think every club was mentally ready for it."

Mourinho pointed to his former club Chelsea fielding Petr Cech at under-23 level recently, with the veteran goalkeeper coming out of retirement in case he is needed in a crisis.

"Every club was mentally ready for an extreme situation of having a lot of players not available to play," said Mourinho.

"In our case, we didn't have that extreme situation yet but we had problems. We had problems that of course with the legal right that we had, we managed to hide it, to hide it in a way by not telling who was positive and who was not able to play.

"But we are also having our problems. But we always thought we would always play. I cannot say much more than that."

Tottenham, like all clubs, have not been obliged to identify players who have tested positive for COVID-19, which has allowed Mourinho to avoid cases being publicised.

Those affected must go into self-isolation, but it appears Tottenham are in a good way ahead of their trip to Marine.

Mourinho remembered facing lower-league sides during his coaching career, pointing out the day his Chelsea side lost 4-2 to Bradford City in the FA Cup fourth round, back in the 2014-15 season.

"The FA Cup is absolutely beautiful," he said. "That's why, even knowing that I would love to rest all my guys. I cannot do it. It's not about being afraid, it's about giving the guys what they deserve.

"I'm not taking everybody. But out of 20, I take 19 first-team players. so you can imagine how strong we go."

Mourinho promised he would even enter the Marine club raffle, which offers a top prize of managing the eighth-tier team in a pre-season friendly. With no gate receipts, Marine are understandably looking for other ways of monetising the glamour tie.

"I will buy a ticket. Even if I win, I cannot do it," Mourinho said. "I don’t think I will have conditions to do that, but the meaning of it yes, I will be buying it."

The Northern Premier League North West part-timers and Spurs will go down in the record books as having the biggest gap between each other in the pyramid in the history of the FA Cup when they meet at Marine Travel Arena.

Marine sit sixth in their section of the eighth tier of English football, while Tottenham are fourth in the Premier League, reached the final of the EFL Cup this week and remain in the hunt for Europa League glory.

Mourinho will demand victory, of course, and will be quietly testing his players' appetite for the romance of the game.

"This is just a match that can show me how much they love football," he added. "Nothing else."

Emile Smith Rowe has the "huge potential" to match the exploits of young England stars Phil Foden and Jadon Sancho, according to Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta.

The Gunners begin their FA Cup defence at home to Newcastle United on Saturday, buoyed by a sharp upturn in their Premier League form.

A dominant 3-1 London derby win over Chelsea on Boxing Day sparked an ongoing three-match winning run.

Smith Rowe was handed a starting berth in that game and has kept his place after impressing in the number 10 role, with the 20-year-old giving Arteta's team an overdue shot of creative intent.

In 2017, Smith Rowe was part of the England squad that won the U17 World Cup, with Foden named player of the tournament.

Sancho featured during the group stages before being called back to club action by Borussia Dortmund, and Arteta acknowledged the duo are ahead of Smith Rowe in their development.

"He has huge potential. He really wants it and he has the personality when he goes on the field to express and play the way he can play," said Arteta, who coached Foden and - more briefly - Sancho at Manchester City as part of Pep Guardiola's backroom staff.

"To do it in a consistent way is a different thing. The boys that you mentioned, they've done it. It's true that they're ahead in their development phase because they've played many more minutes and games in the last two seasons.

"But he is capable of doing that. Whether he's going to do it will depend on how he continues to develop, how he takes the chance that he has in front of him and how much we can help him to achieve that."

Underwhelming loan stints at RB Leipzig and Huddersfield Town in the past two years preceded a pre-season shoulder injury, but a player dubbed "The Croydon De Bruyne" by some Arsenal fans has shown he is ready to make up for lost time.

"A lot of things have happened to him in the past year," Arteta acknowledged. "He needs to establish himself here, he needs to be successful here, he needs to really find his role and his position in the team and in the club.

"That will help him to have clear path. We really believe in him. He needs to have no fear and go for it, because he has the quality."

That quality has certainly been to the fore this season, with Smith Rowe's four assists coming at a rate of one every 93.5 minutes across seven appearances in all competitions.

With the youngster in the side, Arsenal average 2.9 goals per game. The 4-1 Europa League triumph over Rapid Vienna – in which he scored – was one of six victories Smith Rowe has been involved in this term, amounting to a win percentage of 85.7 per cent that plummets to 40 in the 20 games he spent as a spectator.

It feels infeasible that Arteta will leave him out of such a large proportion of games again but the former Emirates Stadium skipper pointed towards the examples of Bukayo Saka and Gabriel Martinelli, who completed an exciting attacking midfield trident alongside Smith Rowe against Chelsea and Brighton and Hove Albion, when discussing how younger players must have their workloads managed.

That could mean some stints playing in different positions, as Saka has during his fledgling Arsenal career, although Arteta cannot deny the much-needed lift his breakthrough stars have given Arsenal, even as he tries to manage expectations.

"Sometimes a team is a little bit concerned and has some fear because of the results, because of the pressure," he added, before noting the impact through "enthusiasm" the younger members of his squad have had.

"I think they were really helpful because they were re-energising to the team. They pushed the team into a different direction and a different rhythm as well.

"But, of course, the young players need that solidity, experience and maturity that the older players bring. It's a good combination."

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