Premier League and FA Cup Fixtures Confirmed!!!

Arsenal 0-3 Manchester City: Kevin de Bruyne scores twice as City ...

We have waited patiently for the Premier League to resume following its abrupt suspension in March 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The coronavirus has been a worldwide terror with nations of the world going to their knees in their bids to fight the plague, but we have to use this moment to give a shoutout to those heroes that have been on the frontlines for all these while. Football took its own holistic approach to battling the pandemic and several features like Project Restart took centerstage, with the welfare and health of the players and staff being on the forefront of everyone concerned with the game. 

The FA has confirmed that the Premier League will resume on June 17, 2020 with the games in hand taking priority. Manchester City were set to give Mikel Arteta a nice homecoming in mid-March 2020 but the Arsenal gaffer tested positive to the coronavirus, causing the club to cancel all fixtures and go into lockdown. There was also the Aston Villa vs Sheffield United Premier League fixture which was a game of massive importance to both sides. The Villans have been flirting with relegation waters while the Blades have set their sights on European football, which is no less than they deserve for their fearless style of play. 

With the aforementioned games completed, all Premier League teams will be equal on 29 games, but from what I’ve read, we are in for a roller coaster ride of games. The Friday games will take place by 8.00pm, the Saturday fixtures will be on 12.30pm, 3.00pm, 5.30pm and 8.00pm. On Sunday, we will have fixtures by 12 noon, 2.00pm, 4.30pm and 7.00pm. When I say Friday, I mean, Friday, June 19, 2020. There will also be midweek fixtures on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday by 6.00pm and 8.00pm.

Brace yourselves fam!

There’s also the FA Cup to think about with the finals set for August 1, 2020 in the home of football, Wembley. The quarterfinals are scheduled to start on Saturday, June 27, 2020 with the semis targeted for July 11, 2020. Just in case you forgot, here are the quarterfinal fixtures to make your mouth water

  • Leicester City vs Chelsea
  • Newcastle United vs Manchester City
  • Sheffield United vs Arsenal
  • Norwich vs Manchester United

Sayonara

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Project Restart: Clubs to Resume ‘Small Training’

Mikel Arteta takes first Arsenal training session, and even moody ...

Arteta handling a training session

Project Restart has been on the ears of everyone associated with the potential return of Premier League football since its suspension on March 13. I for one, had to do a Project Restart of my own, with Gooner Daily not blogging for as long as I can remember. That defeats the purpose of being a daily blog you know, but hey, a man’s gotta do what he gotta do. 

Haven’t missed much though with COVID-19 still taking center stage and robbing us off all we hold dear, with many people in the world battling the pandemic in more ways than one. Here’s to all the government agencies and medical folks doing their bit to keep us safe. You are the real heroes.

Moving back to football, it was heartwarming see football restart in Germany with the Bundesliga commencing last weekend. The fierced face kid, Erling Braut Haaland, picked up where he left off with a brace in Borussia Dortmund”s 4-0 victory over Schalke 04. While other leagues like the Ladbrokes Premiership, Ligue Un, Belgian Juliper League closing and declaring the league leaders as the competition winners, the English Premier League still harbors hopes of a potential return, hence the birth of Project Restart.

Project Restart is the moniker given to the Premier League’s attempt to restart the season that was halted abruptly by the Coronavirus pandemic that spread rapidly around the world. It showed its fierce face in the Premier League with Arsenal manager, Mikel Arteta, contacting it, probably from exchanging pleasantries with the Olympiakos president on that ill-fated Europa League night.  Project Restart has seen many Premier League dignitaries meet each other on several occasions on several copies ranging from personnel safety to the best approach for the current situation on ground.

The first important step of Project Restart has taken place with all 20 Premier League clubs unanimously voting to resume training in small groups from today,

“Strict medical protocols of the highest standard will ensure everyone returns to training in the safest environment possible.

“The health and well-being of all participants is the Premier League‘s priority, and the safe return to training is a step-by-step process.

“Full consultation will now continue with players, managers, clubs, the PFA and LMA as protocols for full-contact training are developed.”

With Bundesliga restarting, hope has been restored that the Premier League can follow suit, but we have to remain cautious as the Coronavirus count in the United Kingdom is not encouraging – 246 thousand confirmed cases and 34,796 deaths.

Let’s keep our fingers crossed.

Sayonara

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FA Cup: Thoughts on the Fifth Round and Quarterfinals Draws

Image result for nketiah goal portsmouth

Nketiah celebrating his goal in the FA Cup

The FA Cup is one competition that is never short of drama and we saw that happen yet again in the Round of 16, or fifth round, as its fondly called in these parts of the world. It began with a 2-0 victory for Arsenal over Portsmouth with the young Gunners firing on all cylinders against a Portsmouth side that has been in inspired form – unbeaten in 19 and 10 straight home wins. There was a casualty for that game with Arsenal midfielder, Lucas Torreira, on the wrong end of a nasty challenge from Portsmouth’s David Bolton. The update we have received is that Torreira has suffered a fractured ankle which clearly indicates that his season is over.

Tuesday saw Miguel Almiron inspire Newcastle to a 3-2 victory over West Brom and it was a scare for the Premier League side as the Baggies fought hard from going 3-0 down to almost equalize the game and earn themselves a replay. Miguel Almiron hasn’t lit up any fireworks since his high profile move from the MLS (Atlanta United), so it was good seeing the lad score a brace because he’s one of the hardest working footballers you’d ever see. There was another Championship vs. Premier League fixture took place when Sheffield United visited the Madejski Stadium to take on Reading. The home side managed to take the game into extra time, but the old Sheffield stalwart, Billy Sharp, scored the goal that sent the Blades into the last eight.

The glamour fixture of the FA Cup fifth round was the Chelsea vs. Liverpool game. The Reds arrived at Stamford Bridge, still nursing the wounds from the thumping defeat they had suffered from Watford in the previous weekend. They showed some positive intent when the returning Kepa Arrizabalaga in breathtaking form, but the same could not be said of Adrian, that flapped at Willian’s shot for the first goal, before diving haplessly for Ross Barkley’s strike, effectively ruling Jurgen Klopp’s side out of the FA Cup. 

Yesterday, Leicester City had enough in the tank to see off Birmingham City with Ricardo Pereira scoring a late header that sent the King Power Stadium to raptures. Pereira has that zeal to go further up the pitch and he was rewarded for his actions, but that strike should be attributed to some brilliant play on the left wing from Ben Chilwell that lofted the ball into the box after a magnificent solo slalom run. Elsewhere, Pep Guardiola, still basking in the euphoria of his Carabao Cup victory left nothing to chance as he fielded a very strong lineup against Sheffield Wednesday, with club record scorer, Sergio Aguero, scoring the goal that was enough to give the defending FA Cup champions a well deserved victory.

There was some enthralling drama in the Spurs vs. Norwich game with Jose Mourinho fielding a strong squad in the FA Cup clash with the Canaries. Jan Vertonghen gave the hosts the lead with a bullet header that left TIm Krul with no chance in Hell but Norwich kept on pressing for the equalizer and finally got it when Michel Vorm spilled a routine shot allowing Josip Drmic to clumsily fire home the rebound. The game went to the lottery of the penalty shootouts and knowing Krul’s prowess from saving spot kicks, Spurs chances looked slim and that turned out to be the case with the Dutch goalie saving two of the five penalties he faced while Erik Lamela blasted his spot kick over the bar.

Derby County hosts Manchester United in the last FA Cup fifth round fixture but the quarterfinal draws have been made,

  • Sheffield United vs Arsenal
  • Newcastle United vs Manchester City
  • Norwich City vs Derby County or Manchester United
  • Leicester City vs Chelsea

Sayonara.

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