The resumption of football in Europe's top five leagues still appears some way off due to the coronavirus pandemic, leaving players with plenty of time to analyse their performances this season.

Using Opta data, we have already examined some of the worst attacking and passing numbers from 2019-20, so now it's the turn of the defence.

We have analysed nine metrics for defenders to have featured in at least 10 league games this season, thereby giving us a good summary of those whose defending could use some improvement.

The metrics include success rates in duels, tackling and aerial challenges, errors leading to shots and goals and how many times a player has been dribbled past by an opponent.

As always when it comes to data, context is key. For success rates in duels, tackling and aerial challenges we have only included players who have completed 20 actions in each category, which accounts to two per game.

The below therefore provides a good indication on where improvement is needed, and there are a few surprising names…

 

THE WORST DEFENDING STATS IN EUROPE'S TOP-FIVE LEAGUES 2019-20:

BUNDESLIGA:

Most tackles lost: William (29)
Worst tackle success: Alexander Hack (40.91 per cent)
Most errors leading to goals: Robin Koch (3)
Most errors leading to shots (including goals): Robin Koch (3)
Most dribbled past by an opponent: William (32)
Most duels lost: Stefan Lainer (125)
Worst duel success: Julian Ryerson (35 per cent)
Most aerials lost: Robin Koch and Sven Bender (56)
Worst aerial success: Christian Gunter (22.86 per cent)

LALIGA:

Most tackles lost: Pervis Estupinan (34)
Worst tackle success: Nacho Monreal (40 per cent)
Most errors leading to goals: Joseph Aidoo and Sergio Ramos (2)
Most errors leading to shots (including goals): Pervis Estupinan (5)
Most dribbled past by an opponent: Marc Cucurella (35)
Most duels lost: Marc Cucurella (167)
Worst duel success: Daniel Carrico (40.3 per cent)
Most aerials lost: Didac Vila (55)
Worst aerial success: Xavi Quintilla (25.71 per cent)

LIGUE 1:

Most tackles lost: Boubacar Kamara (33)
Worst tackle success: Lionel Carole (34.78 per cent)
Most errors leading to goals: Sofiane Alakouch, Timothee Kolodziejczak and Stefan Mitrovic (2)
Most errors leading to shots (including goals): Wesley Fofana, Alexander Djiku and Malang Sarr (4)
Most dribbled past by an opponent: Arturo Calabresi (42)
Most duels lost: Issiaga Sylla (161)
Worst duel success: Colin Dagba (40 per cent)
Most aerials lost: Pablo Martinez (59)
Worst aerial success: Hamza Mendyl (17.39 per cent)

PREMIER LEAGUE:

Most tackles lost: Ricardo Pereira (50)
Worst tackle success: Calum Chambers (38.46 per cent)
Most errors leading to goals: Jan Bednarek (3)
Most errors leading to shots (including goals): Jan Bednarek, Tyrone Mings, John Egan, Davinson Sanchez and James Tarkowski (4)
Most dribbled past by an opponent: Ricardo Pereira (53)
Most duels lost: Ricardo Pereira (215)
Worst duel success: Benjamin Mendy (37.38 per cent)
Most aerials lost: Ben Mee (84)
Worst aerial success: Max Aarons (26.09 per cent)

SERIE A:

Most tackles lost: Matteo Darmian (32)
Worst tackle success: Andrea Cistana (40 per cent)
Most errors leading to goals: Jhon Chancellor, Fabio Lucioni, Jose Luis Palomino, Alex Sandro (2)
Most errors leading to shots (including goals): Fabio Lucioni (5)
Most dribbled past by an opponent: Stefano Sabelli (40)
Most duels lost: Giovanni Di Lorenzo (126)
Worst duel success: Hans Hateboer (40.63 per cent)
Most aerials lost: Mattia Bani (57)
Worst aerial success: Jeremy Toljan (28.00 per cent)

AND THE TOP NINE:

Most tackles lost: Ricardo Pereira (50)
Worst tackle success: Lionel Carole (34.78 per cent)
Most errors leading to goals: Robin Koch and Jan Bednarek (3)
Most errors leading to shots (including goals): Pervis Estupinan and Fabio Lucioni (5)
Most dribbled past by an opponent: Ricardo Pereira (53)
Most duels lost: Ricardo Pereira (215)
Worst duel success: Julian Ryerson (35 per cent)
Most aerials lost: Ben Mee (84)
Worst aerial success: Hamza Mendyl (17.39 per cent)

Southampton chief executive Martin Semmens controversially called for a return to Premier League action despite social distancing measures amid the coronavirus pandemic, saying televised matches would "show that we're fighting back".

The English top flight is currently suspended until April 30, with the season not expected to resume until many weeks after that date.

Semmens told BBC Radio Solent he feels that the nation would benefit from Premier League games being played and televised daily, given that people are spending an increased amount of time in their homes.

"We have to do what is right and safe for the general public," said Semmens.

"When everybody is safe and we're not using up NHS and police resources, the government would like us to get back to playing because we are entertainment and a sign that the country is coming back to normal.

"If people are home for another month and Premier League football is on the TV every day that can only be a good thing. Not because we are more essential than the NHS but because we can give people entertainment and show that we're fighting back."

With some estimates on when the 2019-20 season might eventually be completed reaching beyond June, Semmens highlighted the "legal challenges" that clubs and competitions might face.

June 30 is the date that many players' contracts expire, and Semmens said:  "We hope to get the league done by the end of June. As soon as you go past that date, there are legal challenges.

"If we ended up playing until 15 July and you had to extend a player's contract by two weeks, convincing a player to play two more weeks of football and get paid nicely to do it - I don't believe that will be a substantial challenge.

"The challenge is making sure we don't have a knock-on effect to other seasons and make football compromised for years to come."

As the world continues to battle against the coronavirus pandemic, football fans across the globe face another weekend scratching around for something to fill the void.

The domestic calendar in England was halted last week in a bid to reduce social gatherings and the Football Association confirmed its leagues would not return until at least the end of April.

While we cannot say for sure how this weekend's Premier League fixtures would have gone, our friends at Opta have come up with a system to predict the outcomes.

What chance would your team have had? Take a look below.

 

Predictor explainer:

The Opta Predictor estimates the probability of each match outcome (win, draw or loss) given each team's attacking and defensive quality. The team's attacking and defensive qualities are based on four years of historic results, with more weighting given to their most recent results. The model will take into account the quality of the opposition that a team scores or concedes against and reward them accordingly.


 

BURNLEY v WATFORD

Home win: 49 per cent
Draw: 26 per cent
Away win: 25 per cent

Watford may have handed Liverpool their first defeat of the Premier League season, but with just one victory in their past three visits to Turf Moor it is Burnley who are expected to win by the predictor. Sean Dyche's side have gone unbeaten in seven top-flight matches to move into a more comfortable position in the middle of the table.

CHELSEA v MANCHESTER CITY

Home win: 30 per cent
Draw: 24 per cent
Away win: 46 per cent

Manchester City are the pick to prevail at Stamford Bridge, a ground where Pep Guardiola has lost on two of his three Premier League visits. Kevin De Bruyne's winner in September 2017 fired City's charge to a 100-point title romp but goals from N'Golo Kante and David Luiz saw the Blues hand Guardiola's men the first league defeat of their triumphant 2018-19 campaign. Kante and De Bruyne were both on target when the sides met at the Etihad Stadium back in November, before Riyad Mahrez sealed a 2-1 comeback win for the hosts.

LEICESTER CITY v BRIGHTON

Home win: 62 per cent
Draw: 22 per cent
Away win: 16 per cent

Brighton won at Arsenal back in December, but that was just one of two away victories for the Seagulls so far in the Premier League this season, so their prospects at Leicester were inevitably looking bleak. After a worrying slump, Leicester looked to have rediscovered their mojo by the time the league ground to a halt, with Jamie Vardy back on the goal trail following a drought. Leicester’s nine wins at the King Power Stadium this term looked highly likely to become 10.

LIVERPOOL v CRYSTAL PALACE

Home win: 76 per cent win
Draw: 16 per cent
Away win: 8 per cent

A predicted triumph for Liverpool at Anfield is by no means a surprise given they are on a top-flight record of 22 straight home wins. With just an eight per cent chance of winning, Palace had the lowest chance of victory in this round of fixtures. However, with City predicted to come out on top against Chelsea, the Reds' wait to clinch the Premier League title would have continued.

MANCHESTER UNITED v SHEFFIELD UNITED

Home win: 48 per cent
Draw: 30 per cent
Away win: 22 per cent

The halt in football action came at a bad time for Manchester United, who were on a magnificent roll - 11 matches unbeaten with eight victories. The Opta predictor backed the hosts to continue that run, but at 48 per cent, a home win was seen as far from a certainty. Amid an amazing season, Sheffield United are just two points behind Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's men and at 30 per cent, it is the most likely contest on the matchday to end in a draw. That was also the outcome in a thrilling 3-3 draw at Bramall Lane in November.

NEWCASTLE UNITED v ASTON VILLA

Home win: 54 per cent
Draw: 24 per cent
Away win: 22 per cent

The predicted win for Newcastle is something Aston Villa – second from bottom and 10 points shy of Steve Bruce's men – could ill afford in reality. Newcastle are unbeaten in five matches at St James' Park, although that run includes three consecutive 0-0 draws. Villa have lost four in succession in the Premier League and only won three times in the top flight since beating the Magpies 2-0 in the corresponding fixture on November 25.

NORWICH CITY v EVERTON

Home win: 28 per cent
Draw: 26 per cent
Away win: 46 per cent

Norwich prop up the Premier League table and the predictor reflects as such, with Everton having a greater chance of victory on the road. The Toffees' last win at Carrow Road came in 2004, though, and Everton were beaten 2-0 at home by Daniel Farke's side back in November, Todd Cantwell and Dennis Srbeny with the goals at Goodison Park.

SOUTHAMPTON v ARSENAL

Home win: 28 per cent
Draw: 24 per cent
Away win: 48 per cent

Southampton’s resurgence during December and January had given way to a worrying patch of form over February and early March. Ralph Hasenhuttl's men did beat Aston Villa at home, but this Arsenal side under Mikel Arteta’s leadership are a different prospect to the team Saints held 2-2 in north London back in November. The Gunners are unbeaten in the Premier League in 2020, and they would have fancied claiming all three points on offer at St Mary's.

TOTTENHAM v WEST HAM

Home win: 70 per cent
Draw: 17 per cent
Away win: 13 per cent

The Hammers were not predicted to fare particularly well at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, but they did defy the odds with a 1-0 win at the same venue in April 2019, Michail Antonio scoring the winner. Tottenham were the victors in the reverse fixture this season, a 3-2 triumph in Jose Mourinho's first match in charge.

WOLVES V BOURNEMOUTH

Home win: 58 per cent
Draw: 23 per cent
Away win: 19 per cent

Wolves are unbeaten in all three of their Premier League matches against Bournemouth, including a 2-1 win in the reverse fixture, and the predictor has them as the more likely winners on this matchday. That would come as a welcome relief to Wolves, who have won just one of their last five home top-flight matches, while Eddie Howe's men would be primed for a seventh consecutive away loss.

The Premier League has been suspended until at least April 30 due to the coronavirus pandemic, so what does that mean for the rest of the season?

Decisions made by UEFA and CONMEBOL to push back Euro 2020 and the Copa America until 2021 opened the door for domestic competition to continue longer than initially planned.

Upon announcing a four-week extension to the initially planned hiatus on Thursday, the Football Association (FA) revealed it would allow its leagues to continue beyond the June 1 deadline set out in its regulations.

The eventual run-in could prove to be heavily congested. Some Premier League teams are still competing on three fronts, others possess a game in hand, while UEFA is still hoping for a round of international matches in June.

If no games are cut out, we look at how the calendar for English teams could hypothetically shape up if competitions across Europe were able to resume following April 30.

 

May 2/3 - Matchday 30

May 7 - Postponed Europa League last-16 first legs and unplayed matchday 29 games

May 9/10 - Matchday 31

May 12/13/14 - FA Cup quarter-finals

May 16/17 - Matchday 32

May 19/20/21 - Champions League and Europa League last-16 second legs

May 23/24 - Matchday 33

May 26/27/28 - Champions League and Europa League quarter-final first legs

May 30/31 - Matchday 34

June 2/3/4 - Champions League and Europa League quarter-final second legs

June 6/7 - Matchday 35

June 13/14 - International week

June 20/21 - Matchday 36

June 23/24/25 - Champions League and Europa League semi-final first legs

June 27/28 - Matchday 37

June 30/July 1/2 - FA Cup semi-finals

July 4 - Matchday 38

July 7/8/9 - Champions League and Europa League semi-final second legs

July 11 - FA Cup final

July 15 - Europa League final

July 18 - Champions League final

The coronavirus pandemic continued to wreak havoc on the sporting calendar on Saturday with more major events and competitions being disrupted.

With the outbreak of COVID-19 rapidly spreading across the globe, it has resulted in the postponement of competitions worldwide as governments attempt to combat the pandemic.

A small number of events still went ahead, but sports stars, teams and indeed supporters were otherwise left to find other means of entertainment.

With the number of confirmed cases worldwide now totalling over 155,000, we round up all the latest news and updates.

 

Germany's prestige friendly with Italy later this month became the latest football fixture to bite the dust, with the majority of upcoming international matches having now been wiped out.

More major organisations have halted all footballing activities until a later date, including Qatar, Morocco and Egypt.

A small number of competitions, most notably the A-League, Russian Premier League and Mexico's Liga MX, did manage to go ahead as planned.

Indeed, NRL games also avoided the cut, as did a handful of Super Rugby matches before an indefinite ban was put in place later in the day.

Another competition to fall was Australia's one-day international series against New Zealand, which was already being played behind closed doors.

With New Zealand's government introducing strict protocols to attempt to slow the spread of the virus, the Black Caps – along with Super Rugby side Highlanders – returned home from Australia and Argentina respectively in order to beat the new restrictions, which will mean any new arrival to the country, even if they are a citizen, has to self-isolate for 14 days.

With the top-four tiers of English football being shelved until at least early April, there was plenty of focus on the National League as six games were given the green light.

There was some controversy in Argentina as River Plate's Copa Superliga clash with Atletico Tucuman was suspended after the home side refused to open their stadium.

Independiente's tie with Velez Sarsfield was played out in full, albeit behind closed doors, with the hosts claiming a 1-0 victory.

In Italy, Napoli urged their supporters to sing from their balconies in unison as Fiorentina's Patrick Cutrone and two more Sampdoria players tested positive for COVID-19.

Manchester City's Benjamin Mendy revealed a negative test result after recently self-isolating, but Carlo Ancelotti and Angelo Ogbonna questioned the Premier League's handling of the outbreak, while Jordan Pickford denied reports he is self-isolating.

West Ham vice-chairman Karren Brady, meanwhile, claimed the competition should be "void" – a suggestion Liverpool legend Jamie Carragher quickly dismissed.

The lack of football did not stop certain clubs from keeping supporters entertained, though, with LaLiga side Leganes posting live updates of a fictitious match against Real Valladolid, which they won 2-1.

Perhaps inspired by their Spanish counterparts, Southampton got Manchester City involved in an online game of noughts and crosses to help fill the void.

The downtime also gave football stars a chance to recuperate, with Sergio Ramos and Alexis Sanchez among those to post images of their extra-curricular activities.

Others, such as Liverpool goalkeeper Alisson and FIFA president Gianni Infantino, opted to use social media to educate their followers on how to properly wash their hands, while Barcelona superstar Lionel Messi used his profile to echo the sentiments of Cristiano Ronaldo in calling for people to follow the guidance of health organisations.

As Ronaldo and Jurgen Klopp were praised by the World Health Organisation for "protecting people from coronavirus", former United States president Barack Obama hailed a host of NBA stars – including Giannis Antetokounmpo and Zion Williamson – for donating large amounts to help support arena staff during the league's hiatus.

UFC superstar Conor McGregor labelled the pandemic "a stupid f****** virus", but later moved to clarify his aunt did not die after contracting the disease after previously suggesting as such.

And in more positive news, Japan's prime minister Shinzo Abe revealed his country still plan for the 2020 Olympic Games to go ahead in Tokyo, starting in late July.

The International Olympic Committee will have the final say, but ABE is confident the Games will be staged "without problem".

The Premier League and LaLiga are both suspended amid the coronavirus pandemic, but Manchester City, Southampton and Leganes provided some entertainment on Saturday.

All matches in Europe's major leagues – along with a plethora of events across other sports – have been postponed indefinitely or cancelled as governments attempt to combat the spread of COVID-19.

In the absence of games, however, three clubs in particular got creative with their attempts to amuse their fans.

First, LaLiga side Leganes, in a bid to help keep people in their homes as Spain continues to be on lockdown, posted live updates of a fictitious match against Real Valladolid, who they were originally due to host this weekend.

Complete with a stoppage for a VAR check, match commentary and even a post-match news conference, the imaginary encounter finished 2-1 to Leganes, with Oscar Rodriguez and Guido Carrillo scoring for the home side and Enes Unal netting one for Valladolid.

"Thank you all for following and participating in the transmission of the Leganes v Real Valladolid," a final post read. "[We need a] lot of strength right now and we never lack a sense of humour."

Perhaps inspired by their Spanish counterparts, Southampton attempted to get Norwich City – their scheduled Premier League opponents – involved in an online game of noughts and crosses.

However, Norwich did not respond to Southampton's initial move, with the Saints posting at half-time: "In truth, only one team making any effort to play here, but we're still waiting for the first real breakthrough."

Manchester City volunteered to take over, though, and the game finished level, prompting Southampton to appeal to the Premier League for a point.

It remains to be seen when the leagues will be able to recommence in more traditional fashion or if the season will be able to be completed at all.

While UEFA's 55 member nations will meet via a video conference on Tuesday, with the status of the Champions League, Europa League and Euro 2020 up for discussion, the Premier League has called an emergency meeting for Thursday after suspending all matches until April 3.

Liverpool came from behind to beat Bournemouth 2-1 and set a record for the most consecutive home wins in England's top-flight history.

Jurgen Klopp's side edged closer to a first Premier League title thanks to goals from Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane, after Callum Wilson had put the Cherries ahead at Anfield.

Arsenal were given a tough time by West Ham before Alexandre Lacazette came off the bench to drag them closer to the Champions League places, but Wolves slipped up against Brighton and Hove Albion.

At the foot of the table, Norwich City are beginning to look a lost cause, but Newcastle United gave their own survival hopes a real boost.

LACAZETTE KEEPS CHAMPIONS LEAGUE HOPES ALIVE

Arsenal are now five points behind fourth-placed Chelsea and three adrift of Wolves in fifth after battling to a 1-0 win over West Ham.

David Moyes' side managed 14 shots to the Gunners' nine, hit the post through Jarrod Bowen and were thwarted more than once by Bernd Leno, but they were undone by substitute Lacazette with 12 minutes to play.

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang's shot deflected to Mesut Ozil, who headed the ball to Lacazette to allow the striker to lash home the winner, the goal awarded after a VAR check overturned the initial offside call.

Wolves are only three ahead of Mikel Arteta's side, having missed out on the chance to move into the top four after failing to break down Brighton in a 0-0 draw at Molineux.

 

CENTURION SALAH GETS REDS BACK ON TRACK

Having lost three of their past four games across all competitions, Liverpool's Anfield home was not exactly in good spirits when Wilson tapped in Jefferson Lerma's cross to give Bournemouth a ninth-minute lead.

Bournemouth, though, are a team who had lost their previous five league games against Liverpool by an aggregate score of 17-0, so banking on them keeping the leaders at bay was always a long shot.

Unfortunately for Eddie Howe, Bournemouth rather gifted Liverpool their goals. Salah scored his 70th Liverpool goal in his 100th league appearance after Jack Simpson carelessly lost the ball to Mane, and it was 2-1 before the break when the visitors gave up possession in midfield and Virgil van Dijk played Mane in to score.

It was not a vintage display, but it did give Liverpool a record 22nd top-flight home victory in a row and put them 25 points clear at the top. Bournemouth remain 18th, behind Watford on goal difference, the Hornets having lost 1-0 at Crystal Palace.

MAGPIES ON THE UP BUT CANARIES ARE IN TROUBLE

Newcastle's run of five league games without a win - and four without a goal - came to an end with a 1-0 defeat of Southampton on the south coast.

Matt Ritchie, who signed a new contract at Newcastle this week, saw a penalty saved in the first half, not long after Moussa Djenepo had been sent off in a separate incident for a reckless challenge on Isaac Hayden, but Allan Saint-Maximin struck 79 minutes in to lift the Magpies eight points above the bottom three.

Norwich, though, are still six points from safety after a Billy Sharp goal and another fine performance from Dean Henderson saw them lose 1-0 at Sheffield United, who sit sixth.

Marcos Alonso's 85th-minute equaliser earned Chelsea a 2-2 draw at Bournemouth as Frank Lampard's men missed the chance to go six points clear in fourth.

The Blues would have put some breathing room between themselves and Manchester United, who travel to Everton on Sunday, but they only claimed a share of the spoils as Alonso's brace was sandwiched between goals from Jefferson Lerma and Joshua King.

West Ham moved out of the bottom three as they beat Southampton 3-1, Jarrod Bowen marking his first start for the Hammers with a goal.

Jordan Ayew's strike earned Crystal Palace a 1-0 success at out-of-sorts Brighton and Hove Albion, while Newcastle United's home clash with Burnley ended goalless.

 

ALONSO'S ACTION-PACKED WEEK CONTINUES

Chelsea were looking to bounce back from their 3-0 Champions League loss to Bayern Munich on Tuesday, a game in which Alonso was sent off seven minutes from time.

The full-back retained his place at Bournemouth and scored for the second successive Premier League game to put Chelsea ahead only for Lerma and King to net within three minutes of each other in the second half.

Alonso headed in a late equaliser, though, as Chelsea moved four points clear of United and five above Tottenham and Sheffield United, all of whom have a game in hand.

BOWEN'S HOME BOW LEAVES HAMMERS HAPPY

David Moyes' West Ham won for the first time in eight Premier League games to climb above Aston Villa and Bournemouth up into 16th.

Bowen, who moved to London Stadium from Hull City for a reported £20million in January, scored the opening goal.

Although Michael Obafemi levelled, Sebastien Haller restored the hosts' lead before half-time and Michail Antonio made sure of the points.

EAGLES MARK HODGSON'S CENTURY WITH WIN

Croydon-born Crystal Palace boss Roy Hodgson took charge of his 100th top-flight game with the club at Brighton.

Ayew's second-half winner ensured Hodgson had extra cause to celebrate as they got one over their rivals.

Defeat for the Seagulls extended their winless run to eight Premier League games and they remain without a top-flight victory in 2020.

Frank Lampard once again got the better of his former manager Jose Mourinho as Chelsea beat Tottenham 2-1 to boost their top-four hopes.

Ex-Blues midfielder Lampard saw his side complete a Premier League double over Spurs at Stamford Bridge in Saturday's early kick-off.

In the late game, Manchester City put seven points between themselves and third-placed Leicester City with a 1-0 win at the King Power Stadium.

It was a good day elsewhere for fourth-placed Chelsea too, as Sheffield United dropped points at home, drawing 1-1 with Brighton and Hove Albion.

Struggling Aston Villa and Bournemouth both suffered away defeats but Crystal Palace moved above Newcastle United with a 1-0 success at Selhurst Park.

 

LONDON DERBY DELIGHT FOR CHELSEA

Olivier Giroud and Marcos Alonso rewarded Lampard's faith in them by marking their returns to the starting line-up with goals.

Striker Giroud scored his first club goal since August before Alonso doubled the lead prior to the break, with Chelsea hanging on despite a late own goal from Antonio Rudiger.

In leading his side to home and away Premier League victories over Tottenham in 2019-20, Lampard became the first boss to beat a team managed by Mourinho in both league fixtures in a single season.

Chelsea moved four points clear of both Spurs and Sheffield United, who were held by Brighton at Bramall Lane as Enda Stevens' opener was cancelled out by Neal Maupay.

JESUS CITY'S SAVIOUR AFTER AGUERO’S PENALTY MISS

Sergio Aguero became the latest City player to miss a penalty before Gabriel Jesus scored a late winner in a 1-0 victory at Leicester.

Aguero's second-half spot-kick was saved by Kasper Schmeichel, with four different City players having failed to convert their last four Premier League penalties.

Yet Jesus, brought on for Aguero, slotted past Schmeichel 10 minutes from time to move City seven points clear of third-placed Leicester.

SAINTS AND EAGLES BOOST SURVIVAL HOPES

Southampton moved 10 points clear of the bottom three thanks to goals 87 minutes apart from Shane Long and Stuart Armstrong in a 2-0 triumph over Villa.

Roy Hodgson's Palace claimed their first victory of 2020 as Patrick van Aanholt's free-kick on the stroke of half-time proved enough to beat Newcastle, who lost Valentino Lazaro to a late red card.

Bournemouth were unable to put some distance between themselves and the bottom three, however, as they went down 3-0 at Turf Moor.

The Cherries had two goals disallowed in the defeat to Burnley, who moved up to eighth thanks to second-half goals from Matej Vydra, Jay Rodriguez and Dwight McNeil.

Frank Lampard once again got the better of his former manager Jose Mourinho as Chelsea beat Tottenham 2-1 to boost their top-four hopes.

Ex-Blues midfielder Lampard saw his side complete a Premier League double over Spurs at Stamford Bridge in Saturday's early kick-off.

It was a good day elsewhere for fourth-placed Chelsea too, as Sheffield United dropped points at home, drawing 1-1 with Brighton and Hove Albion.

Struggling Aston Villa and Bournemouth both suffered away defeats but Crystal Palace moved above Newcastle United with a 1-0 success at Selhurst Park.

 

LONDON DERBY DELIGHT FOR CHELSEA

Olivier Giroud and Marcos Alonso rewarded Lampard's faith in them by marking their returns to the starting line-up with goals.

Striker Giroud scored his first club goal since August before Alonso doubled the lead prior to the break, with Chelsea hanging on despite a late own goal from Antonio Rudiger.

In leading his side to home and away Premier League victories over Tottenham in 2019-20, Lampard became the first boss to beat a team managed by Mourinho in both league fixtures in a single season.

Chelsea moved four points clear of both Spurs and Sheffield United, who were held by Brighton at Bramall Lane as Enda Stevens' opener was cancelled out by Neal Maupay.

 

SAINTS AND EAGLES BOOST SURVIVAL HOPES

Southampton moved 10 points clear of the bottom three thanks to goals 87 minutes apart from Shane Long and Stuart Armstrong in a 2-0 triumph over Villa.

Roy Hodgson's Palace claimed their first victory of 2020 as Patrick van Aanholt's free-kick on the stroke of half-time proved enough to beat Newcastle, who lost Valentino Lazaro to a late red card.

Bournemouth were unable to put some distance between themselves and the bottom three, however, as they went down 3-0 at Turf Moor.

The Cherries had two goals disallowed in the defeat to Burnley, who moved up to eighth thanks to second-half goals from Matej Vydra, Jay Rodriguez and Dwight McNeil.

Southampton boss Ralph Hasenhuttl has strongly criticised Arsene Wenger's proposed change to how offside works in the VAR era.

Former Arsenal manager Wenger, appointed chief of global football development at FIFA in November, said a tweak should be made after this season's implementation of VAR in the Premier League led to many goals being ruled out for marginal offsides.

"There is room to change the rule and not say that a part of a player's nose is offside, so you are offside because you can score with that," Wenger said at the recent Laureus Sports Awards. 

"Instead, you will not be offside if any part of the body that can score a goal is in line with the last defender, even if other parts of the attacker's body are in front. That will sort it out and you will no longer have decisions about millimetres and a fraction of the attacker being in front of the defensive line."

According to Hasenhuttl, Wenger's idea would not solve any problems at all.

"The only rule that really works in VAR is the offside," said Hasenhuttl.

"And we want to change this? I don't know why. It's the only black-and-white decision which is always right or wrong. The rest is subjective.

"If we change it the way he wants to do it, we can stop playing offside because it won't work anymore.

"It will change the game massively in my opinion. The only thing that really works well at the moment is the decision about offside. And everything else we must discuss more."

The body that governs football's global laws, the International Football Association Board, has ruled out an imminent change to the offside law, with its annual general meeting due to be held in Belfast on February 29.

Matej Vydra struck the winner as Burnley overcame Southampton 2-1 in stormy conditions at St Mary's on Saturday and moved into the top half of the Premier League.

Burnley took the lead in bizarre circumstances after just 93 seconds when Danny Ings left Ashley Westwood's corner at the near post and Alex McCarthy, who was standing behind his line, was unable to keep it out.

Ings atoned for that error by firing his 15th league goal of the season into the bottom-right corner from the edge of the box in the 18th minute.

Jack Stephens headed a cross from Sofiane Boufal - who went off injured in the first half - against the crossbar before the break and Burnley regained the lead on the hour mark, Vydra controlling Jeff Hendrick's long diagonal pass brilliantly before drilling home.

Southampton appealed for a penalty after Stephens' cross hit Ben Mee's arm, but referee Simon Hooper let play continue and VAR backed up his decision.

Nick Pope did well to deny Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg in the 90th minute and Sean Dyche's men hung on to make it four top-flight matches without defeat, while Saints have won just one of their past five across all competitions.

Jose Mourinho explained his selection issues for the FA Cup replay against Southampton by comparing his situation at Tottenham to "playing a game of chess without any pieces".

Spurs rallied to beat Southampton 3-2 in Wednesday's FA Cup fourth-round tie thanks to two goals in the final 12 minutes at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium.

Lucas Moura struck to bring the home team level before a Son Heung-min penalty booked a clash with Norwich City in the last 16.

Tottenham were without Harry Kane, Moussa Sissoko, Ben Davies, Giovani Lo Celso and Erik Lamela through injury, while new signing Steven Bergwijn was ineligible.

Dele Alli was only fit enough to start on the bench, meanwhile, and Mourinho used an odd analogy to highlight problems he is facing.

"I had to manage this chess game without pieces," he said at his post-match news conference. "You know - no bishops, no kings, no queens. Very, very hard with so many injuries and problems. No Bergwijn.

"I cannot speak about the progress I want to make because I don't have the players I want. And the team needs players to progress, collectively, tactically and dynamically. We need to have the players but we don’t have the players.

"We lose so many. Sissoko, Harry, and today Lamela, Lo Celso and Bergwijn. It is so difficult.

"One game we have players A, B and C out and then the next game we are without D, E and F. It’s been a very difficult season.

"Everything was like when you pull a blanket up and your feet are left out and then you cover your feet but half of your body is out. That's us. But amazing spirit, and that is something I like."

Ralph Hasenhuttl revealed the injury suffered by James Ward-Prowse was "not that bad" after the midfielder was carried off on a stretcher during Southampton's FA Cup defeat to Tottenham.

Ward-Prowse hurt his knee in the first half of Wednesday's fourth-round replay when attempting to block Ryan Sessegnon's clearance.

There were fears the England international, who was given oxygen while undergoing treatment on the field, may have sustained serious damage, but Hasenhuttl had positive news on the midfielder after the game.

"I think it is not that bad," the Southampton told BBC Sport. "I think it is only a cut on the knee. That is a positive message for me.

"It's a deep cut on the knee and you could see the bone. It will take a bit of time to heal but if it was a ligament injury it would be more of a problem for us."

Strikes from Shane Long and Danny Ings gave Southampton a 2-1 lead with 72 minutes played, the visitors having fallen behind in the first half following an unfortunate own goal by Jack Stephens.

But a Lucas Moura equaliser and a late penalty from Son Heung-min sent Tottenham - who boss Jose Mourinho admitted were second best during the game – through to the fifth round of the competition.

"The last 15 minutes we didn't defend like we had to," Hasenhuttl said after the 3-2 loss. "It doesn't count - we had 30 minutes of the second half perfect.

"We were not defending like we wanted to for the second goal and the third goal was too easy, they ran through our midfield like there was nobody [there].

"In the FA Cup it is not about being the better team - it is a game of results and [Mourinho] got the result and we didn't. After a very busy period we now have time to recover."

Jose Mourinho insists Tottenham deserved their 3-2 win over Southampton in Wednesday's FA Cup fourth-round replay, despite being second best in a see-saw game.

Spurs found themselves 2-1 behind with 18 minutes remaining at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium after Shane Long and Danny Ings struck following Jack Stephens' early own goal.

However, Lucas Moura swept in from 18 yards to equalise and, after being fouled by visiting goalkeeper Angus Gunn, Son Heung-min converted from the penalty spot in the 87th minute.

Tottenham will now face another Premier League side in Norwich City in the next round, but Mourinho conceded his side had been a little fortunate to progress.

"I have to be honest and say I think the best team lost on the pitch, but my team were the ones with more heart and went to their limit," he told BT Sport.

"There are so many difficulties to build a team - the options were not options to change the game. My team deserved to win - but the best team lost."

Mourinho sent on Dele Alli for Tanguy Ndombele and the England midfielder played a key part in Tottenham's late comeback, setting up Lucas to make it 2-2.

"From the intensity level and freshness, they were much stronger than us. We tried to organise the team with the players available," Mourinho said.

"They controlled us well. Dele changed the game after we switched to a back four. We had a link with Dele Alli - it was like trying to build a puzzle with a few pieces short."

Jan Vertonghen was the first player to be taken off by Mourinho, however, as Gedson Fernandes came on, leading to a change in formation.

"It's hard to sub players during the game," Mourinho said of his decision to take off Vertonghen.

"We were not controlling the game in a back five so had to change and he was the one to come out - that's football.

"Some players react in a negative way, but Jan acted like the professional that he is."

Tottenham now have a welcome break before their next match - a Premier League trip to Aston Villa on February 16.

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