Manchester United got there in the end. After a largely forgettable 120 minutes at Carrow Road, they will contest a record 30th FA Cup semi-final thanks to a 2-1 win over Norwich City, but victory failed to mask some of the problems facing Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.

United were particularly poor in what was a dire first half in the Norfolk sun. Neither side managed a single shot on target in the opening 45 minutes, with the match's creative players struggling to live up to expectations.

Those in red looked especially out of sorts.

Solskjaer had rung the changes, eight in total, from the side that cruised to a 3-0 win over Sheffield United in midweek.

While it was by no means a surprise to see Solskjaer make so many alterations – indeed, he highlighted pre-match there was only one difference to the team that took them into the quarter-finals – it brought to light some of the numerous issues with United's squad.

Odion Ighalo looked sharp up top, but in behind him there was precious little craft coming from Juan Mata and Jesse Lingard, the latter of whom produced no key passes in his 63 minutes on the pitch.

Both constantly wanted to come inside and abandon their wide berths, but neither could do so to any real impact.

Bruno Fernandes' presence in the starting XI will have raised some eyebrows from supporters. Why not take the opportunity to rest him for the Premier League run-in? But without him their lack of craft would have been startling, with his central partners Scott McTominay and Fred not necessarily renowned for their creativity.

At times it even seemed like Fernandes' team-mates became complacent, sitting back under the impression the talented Portuguese midfielder would do the business on his own. He couldn't.

As it happened, the opening goal came about through sheer fortune on United's part – Luke Shaw's cross taking a kind ricochet off a defender and falling for Ighalo, whose improvised finish continued his strong impact as a back-up striker.

But generally, United never looked a dominant force, or even particularly threatening, until deep into the second half when Marcus Rashford, Mason Greenwood and Paul Pogba were among those to come off the bench.

The latter's introduction came shortly after Todd Cantwell's well-taken 75th-minute equaliser, and Pogba and Anthony Martial looked the most effective of those to come off the bench.

In a week where United's distance from Premier League champions Liverpool was largely unspoken but still glaring, the performance of Solskjaer's initial chosen XI was apt.

The fact United needed to turn to so many of the manager's strongest XI against a Norwich side that is bottom of the Premier League and played all of extra-time a man down due to Timm Klose's sending off says everything of their depth in attack.

While they have made good strides with the additions of Fernandes and Ighalo, Martial and Rashford continue to improve and Greenwood boasts undoubted potential, beyond them and Pogba there is a lack of quality in depth.

Lingard, Mata and Andreas Pereira, who was an unused substitute on the day, have had little impact this season, while Daniel James – not in the squad this time – has often struggled to be influential when using his pace on the break is less of an option.

In the end, United's victory at Carrow Road had an air of inevitability about it – it was surely only a matter of time until their hopeful pumping of deliveries into the box would pay off against the 10 men, and eventually captain Harry Maguire was the one to turn home.

But the difficulty Solskjaer's fringe players had should serve as a warning and a reminder of where improvements are needed ahead of next season.

They aren't far off having an excellent starting XI, but there's little doubt their supporting cast needs improving significantly if they are to begin bridging the gap to Liverpool.

Captain Harry Maguire scored a late extra-time winner to secure Manchester United's place in the FA Cup semi-finals with a 2-1 victory at Norwich City.

United forward Odion Ighalo and Norwich midfielder Todd Cantwell scored with their respective sides' first shots on target as an entertaining second half followed a forgettable first.

Norwich took the contest to extra time despite seeing Timm Klose receive a straight red card in the 89th minute.

The game looked destined to be decided by penalties but Maguire popped up in the 118th minute to book United's place in the last four at Wembley.

 

 

Norwich City star Todd Cantwell took a knee in support of the Black Lives Matter movement after scoring against Manchester United in the FA Cup.

When he netted with a sublime long-range effort in the 75th minute of his side's quarter-final clash with United at Carrow Road, Cantwell took a knee and raised his clenched fist in a gesture of support.

While numerous high-profile players have taken a knee after scoring, the celebration of Cantwell, who is white, was significant.

His equaliser ensured the tie moved into extra-time after Odion Ighalo had put United ahead earlier in the second half.

Norwich and United players all took a knee together when the cup contest began, which has also been the case in all Premier League matches since the English top-flight's resumption.

Jesse Lingard is poised to return to action for Manchester United against Norwich City after recovering from illness, says manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.

United face Norwich at Carrow Road on Saturday with a place in the FA Cup semi-finals up for grabs.

Lingard has not played in either of United's two matches since the season resumed but is now back in contention, with Solskjaer labelling the 27-year-old as a "vital player".

"Jesse has come back after the lockdown with a smile on his face, loads of energy," Solskjaer said at his pre-match news conference.

"Unfortunately last week he fell ill for a couple of days. But we have done all the tests and he's fine now so he'll be involved against Norwich now.

"Hopefully he can kick on because he's scored vital goals for us and he is a vital player for us.

"So let's see what the future holds because at the moment he is looking really sharp and focused."

Another player to impress Solskjaer is right-back Aaron Wan-Bissaka, who is experiencing his first season with United after signing from Crystal Palace.

Having established himself as a solid defender, Wan-Bissaka is beginning to show what he can do going forward and set up the second goal of Anthony Martial's hat-trick in Wednesday's 3-0 Premier League win over Sheffield United.

"You saw an exceptional defender when I watched him last season, he had a couple of games especially against [Leroy] Sane against Man City and you think, 'Wow he's so hard to go past'," said Solskjaer.

"Then when we managed to sign him you get to know him, he's a shy boy, he wants to learn, he listens and he's providing more and more assists, create chances, crosses – it's in him, because he's been a winger.

"The best full-backs at the moment, sometimes they've been wingers before. We rely on them to go forwards with the way we want to play. I'm very pleased with his progress."

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer congratulated Liverpool on their Premier League title triumph, but he does not expect Jurgen Klopp's men to reign supreme for an extended period like Manchester United did under Alex Ferguson.

Liverpool's first top-flight title since 1990 was secured on Thursday, when second-placed Manchester City suffered a 2-1 defeat to Chelsea to leave them 23 points adrift of the Reds with seven games remaining.

Ferguson ended a 26-year wait for United when he led them to the Premier League title in 1992-93, which proved to be the first in a run of 13 championship successes in 21 seasons.

Solskjaer believes Liverpool deserved to finish top of the pile this term and that his players can learn from them, but he thinks it will be tricky for Klopp to establish a dynasty and an era of dominance in the Premier League.

"Well first of all any team that wins the Premier League deserves it and they deserve credit. It's a hard league to win so well done to Jurgen and his players," Solskjaer told a news conference to preview United's FA Cup quarter-final against Norwich City.

"For me, it's every time you see anyone else lift a trophy it hurts. So that's I reckon the feeling of everyone associated with Man United. Of course, we want to get back to winning ways and that's our challenge.

"Obviously, the run of titles we won under Sir Alex, I don't think that's going to be easy for anyone to emulate and copy.

"I think Sir Alex was a master of staying at the top, so for me our challenge is to make sure it doesn't go say 26 years until the next time we win it, or even more.

"We're going to do everything we can to shorten the distance or maybe even go past them."

Asked about the gap between Liverpool and United, he said: "I don't think it's time to say, or right to say, exactly how far you are behind. Of course, we are in a position now that we have to improve.

"We have to get into the Champions League, higher up in the league and start challenging for trophies. And that consistency and efficiency that they [Liverpool] have shown, that's a challenge for us as well.

"We know at our best we are very, very good and we have to do that whatever day it is. We've got to do it again and again. That's the challenge for our players going forward."

Southampton took a big step towards confirming Premier League survival in their first match back after the coronavirus suspension, winning 3-0 at a Norwich City side looking doomed to relegation.

Daniel Farke's men began the contest brightly, with Teemu Pukki and Todd Cantwell looking lively, but Saints soon took hold of proceedings and rarely looked like dropping points.

With the second half just three minutes old, Danny Ings – who hit the post before the interval – beat Tim Krul with a fine curling effort from just outside the box.

Southampton simply looked fitter all over the pitch at Carrow Road and it was 2-0 in the 54th minute.

Stuart Armstrong latched on to Ing's well-placed pass, cut on to his left foot and hit a fierce strike beyond the helpless Krul.

Former Canary Nathan Redmond sealed the win for Saints 11 minutes from time, darting past the Norwich defence and guiding a left-footed effort into the bottom-right corner.

The result takes Saints 10 points clear of the relegation zone, while Norwich remain five adrift at the bottom of the table, with those above them also having a game in hand.

Norwich City midfielder Marco Stiepermann has been cleared to return to training by the Premier League after testing positive for COVID-19.

Stiepermann was informed of a positive result on Friday and immediately self-isolated.

The 29-year-old, who has remained asymptomatic throughout the process, has since taken two further tests, both of which returned negative results.

Norwich are five points adrift at the bottom of the table and resume their Premier League campaign at home to Southampton on Friday.

A Norwich City player is one of two positive results in the latest round of coronavirus tests carried out by the Premier League.

Norwich issued a statement on Saturday confirming the situation at their club, with the unnamed individual to self-isolate for a period of seven days as per protocols ahead of a return to action.

The Premier League is scheduled to resume on Wednesday, as Aston Villa host Sheffield United and reigning champions Manchester City take on Arsenal.

Norwich, who played Tottenham in a friendly match on Friday, host Southampton at Carrow Road on June 19 in their first game back.

"Norwich City can confirm that one of its players has returned a positive test result following the recent round of COVID-19 testing," the club said.

"In line with the Premier League's protocols, the player will now self-isolate for a period of seven days before being tested again at a later date. The player must return a negative test result before being able to resume training.

"The club will not name the player in question and asks that his request for privacy and confidentiality are respected at this time."

In a statement, the Premier League revealed the two positive outcomes came from 1,200 tests carried out on players and staff at top-flight clubs on Thursday and Friday.

It takes the total number of cases in the competition to 16 since testing began in the middle of May.

"The Premier League can today confirm that on Thursday 11 June and Friday 12 June, 1,200 players and club staff were tested for COVID-19. Of these, two have tested positive from two clubs," the short statement read.

"The Premier League is providing this aggregated information for the purposes of competition integrity and transparency. No specific details as to clubs or individuals will be provided by the League and results will be made public after each round of testing."

Jose Mourinho believes it is "too risky" for Tottenham to play any more friendlies before they return to Premier League action.

Spurs enjoyed a training friendly with Norwich City on Friday - the action split into four 30-minute quarters - as players from both clubs try to quickly get back up to speed ahead of the restart.

Harry Kane, Moussa Sissoko, Son Heung-min and Steven Bergwijn - who were all injured prior to the coronavirus-enforced suspension to the 2019-20 season - were all involved.

Mourinho would ideally like to fit in another game before Friday's huge clash with his former club Manchester United, yet he is not prepared to gamble given Spurs' packed schedule upon the resumption.

"We are not going to have any more friendlies. We think it would be good, but it's too risky," Mourinho told the club's website.

"We are going to do a normal preparation week, starting on the Monday and going through to Friday. After that, we've two more days and then West Ham, so the next 10 days are going to be busy.

"We have to adapt to this new reality, which is what we've tried to do.

"We have to think that the points are there to fight for. With fans or without fans, the points are there on the pitch. Ourselves and United will have to fight for them."

Mourinho was pleased that his players were able to experience a match situation inside the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium without fans, as will be the case in the top flight due to COVID-19 restrictions.

"We needed minutes, we needed to know the feeling of playing here without our supporters and to have this training session with another Premier League team is the best thing," the Portuguese coach added.

Spurs face an uphill battle to qualify for next season's Champions League - they sit eighth in the table, seven points behind fourth-placed Chelsea with nine games remaining.

Over three months after the ball was last kicked, the Premier League is set to restart on June 17.

There have been major doubts over whether the 2019-20 season could be finished amid the coronavirus pandemic, but the action is set to resume in less than three weeks - subject to government approval.

Liverpool were cruising their way to becoming champions of England for the first time in 30 years when the campaign was halted and are poised to lift the trophy behind closed doors.

There may be no title race to look forward to, but it is all to play for in the battle to stay up and European qualification is there for the taking.

We look at the season so far and what is to come in a hectic schedule, with all but four teams having nine matches to play.

 

What is the state of play?

leading the defending champions - who have a game in hand - by a mammoth 25 points.

Watford are the only side to have beaten the European champions, who have had the champagne on ice for months and may have to play higher profile matches at neutral venues.

Norwich City, Aston Villa and Bournemouth are in the relegation zone, with Watford, West Ham and Brighton and Hove Albion also in danger of being consigned to the drop.

Bottom side Norwich are six points adrift of Watford and West Ham, who are only out of the bottom three on goal difference.

Fifth place will be good enough for Champions League qualification if City fail to overturn a ban from the competition and several sides are in the hunt to play in Europe's premier club competition.

Third-placed Leicester City look to be heading for the Champions League, while Chelsea are fourth and three points ahead of Manchester United.

Six points separate seven clubs from United down to Crystal Palace, with Sheffield United the surprise package and one of the stories of the season in seventh place.

 

What have been the big controversies?

A two-year Champions League ban imposed on City by UEFA for allegedly breaching Financial Fair Play rules in February rocked Pep Guardiola's side.

City have appealed against the verdict and June 8-10 is when the case will be heard at the Court of Arbitration for Sport, with concerns for Guardiola that he could lose key players if they are unsuccessful.

Tottenham's decision to sack Mauricio Pochettino came as a shock in November and the north-London club swiftly appointed Jose Mourinho as his successor.

It came as no surprise when Unai Emery was fired by Arsenal soon after Pochettino's departure, with the Gunners turning to Mikel Arteta to replace his fellow Spaniard.

 

Who had momentum before everything stopped?

United were on a roll before the hiatus, putting together an unbeaten run of 11 games in all competitions to stand well poised for a Champions League berth.

Arsenal had gone eight without defeat in the top flight, winning three in a row prior to the season being suspended, while Burnley had not lost in seven games to move up to 10th.

 

Which clubs have had it toughest during the COVID-19 months?

Liverpool and Tottenham were among the teams who were strongly criticised for using the government furlough scheme for non-playing staff and duly changed their mind.

Jack Grealish, Kyle Walker and Moise Kean were among the players who were caught flouting lockdown regulations.

Spurs and Arsenal players also hit the headlines for the wrong reasons for breaching social distancing rules.

The league was suspended after Arteta and Callum Hudson-Odoi contracted COVID-19, while three rounds of coronavirus testing at Premier League clubs in the past fortnight have returned 12 positive results.

The FA Cup quarter-finals have been provisionally rescheduled for June 27 and June 28, with the final set to be staged on August 1.

Friday's announcement by the Football Association (FA) came a day after it was revealed the Premier League season is due to restart on June 17.

There has been no football in England since the campaign was halted due to the coronavirus crisis in March.

Norwich City are due to face Manchester United, with Sheffield United taking on Arsenal, Manchester City up against Newcastle United and Leicester City meeting Chelsea in the last eight of the FA Cup.

The weekend of July 11-12 is when the semi-finals are provisionally set to take place, with further information on venues and timings to be announced in due course.

FA chief executive officer Mark Bullingham said: "We are pleased to agree the provisional restart date for the 2019-20 Emirates FA Cup.

"The competition has been an integral part of the English football calendar for nearly 150 years, and we'd like to thank the Premier League executive and clubs for their support in scheduling the remaining matches during this unprecedented time.

"This has been a difficult period for many people and, while this is a positive step, the restart date is dependent on all safety measures being met. The health and wellbeing of players, staff and supporters remains our priority."

After what will have been a three-month absence, the Premier League is set to restart on June 17.

The first games following the coronavirus pandemic will see Manchester City take on Arsenal and Aston Villa play Sheffield United, before a full round of fixtures begins on June 19.

Liverpool are a maximum of two wins away from clinching a first title in 30 years, though they could secure the trophy against Everton at Goodison Park on matchday 30 if City lose their first match back against Arsenal.

There is also plenty to play for in the race for European qualification and the battle against the drop.

We look at the outstanding 92 games in the 2019-20 Premier League season.

Matchday 28

Aston Villa v Sheffield United
Manchester City v Arsenal

Matchday 30

Aston Villa v Chelsea
Bournemouth v Crystal Palace
Brighton and Hove Albion v Arsenal
Everton v Liverpool
Manchester City v Burnley
Newcastle United v Sheffield United
Norwich City v Southampton
Tottenham v Manchester United
Watford v Leicester City
West Ham v Wolves

Matchday 31

Burnley v Watford
Chelsea v Manchester City
Leicester City v Brighton and Hove Albion
Liverpool v Crystal Palace
Manchester United v Sheffield United
Newcastle United v Aston Villa
Norwich City v Everton
Southampton v Arsenal
Tottenham v West Ham
Wolves v Bournemouth

Matchday 32

Arsenal v Norwich City
Aston Villa v Wolves
Bournemouth v Newcastle United
Brighton and Hove Albion v Manchester United
Crystal Palace v Burnley
Everton v Leicester City
Manchester City v Liverpool
Sheffield United v Tottenham
Watford v Southampton
West Ham v Chelsea

Matchday 33

Burnley v Sheffield United
Chelsea v Watford
Leicester City v Crystal Palace
Liverpool v Aston Villa
Manchester United v Bournemouth
Newcastle United v West Ham
Norwich City v Brighton and Hove Albion
Southampton v Manchester City
Tottenham v Everton
Wolves v Arsenal

Matchday 34

Arsenal v Leicester City
Aston Villa v Manchester United
Brighton and Hove Albion v Liverpool
Bournemouth v Tottenham
Crystal Palace v Chelsea
Everton v Southampton
Manchester City v Newcastle United
Sheffield United v Wolves
Watford v Norwich City
West Ham v Burnley

Matchday 35

Aston Villa v Crystal Palace
Bournemouth v Leicester City
Brighton and Hove Albion v Manchester City
Liverpool v Burnley
Manchester United v Southampton
Norwich City v West Ham
Sheffield United v Chelsea
Tottenham v Arsenal
Watford v Newcastle United
Wolves v Everton

Matchday 36

Arsenal v Liverpool
Burnley v Wolves
Chelsea v Norwich City
Crystal Palace v Manchester United
Everton v Aston Villa
Leicester City v Sheffield United
Manchester City v Bournemouth
Newcastle United v Tottenham
Southampton v Brighton and Hove Albion
West Ham v Watford

Matchday 37

Aston Villa v Arsenal
Bournemouth v Southampton
Brighton and Hove Albion v Newcastle United
Liverpool v Chelsea
Manchester United v West Ham
Norwich City v Burnley
Sheffield United v Everton
Tottenham v Leicester City
Watford v Manchester City
Wolves v Crystal Palace

Matchday 38

Arsenal v Watford
Burnley v Brighton and Hove Albion
Chelsea v Wolves
Crystal Palace v Tottenham
Everton v Bournemouth
Leicester City v Manchester United
Manchester City v Norwich City
Newcastle United v Liverpool
Southampton v Sheffield United
West Ham v Aston Villa

The Premier League season is set to resume on June 17 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 is then planned take place from June 19, as Liverpool - with a 25-point lead at the top - aim to secure their first top-flight title in 30 years.

All weekend games are set to kick-off at different times, with midweek matches taking place across Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays.

Premier League chief executive Richard Masters said: "Today we have provisionally agreed to resume the Premier League on Wednesday, June 17.

"But this date cannot be confirmed until we have met all the safety requirements needed, as the health and welfare of all participants and supporters is our priority.

"Sadly, matches will have to take place without fans in stadiums, so we are pleased to have come up with a positive solution for supporters to be able to watch all the remaining 92 matches. 

"The Premier League and our clubs are proud to have incredibly passionate and loyal supporters. It is important to ensure as many people as possible can watch the matches at home.

"We will continue to work step-by-step and in consultation with all our stakeholders as we move towards resuming the 2019-20 season."

It has been reported 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 English top flight since March 9 due to the COVID-19 outbreak, which caused the suspension of most 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 – confirmed 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.

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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