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Solskjaer Aims to Replicate Spirit of ’99 at Manchester United

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Ole Gunnar Solskjaer hopes to replicate the spirit of Manchester United’s treble-winners at Old Trafford as he plots a route back to the top for the club.

Solskjaer, last month appointed as the permanent United boss, famously scored the injury-time winner in the Champions League final when Alex Ferguson’s United side won three trophies in 1999.

The Norwegian, preparing his side to face Barcelona in the first leg of their Champions League quarter-final at home on Wednesday, intends to build the side around the principles that worked so well 20 years ago.

“We challenged each other every day in training,” he told ESPN. “There were fights and there was an inner justice that I’ve not seen in too many teams.

“We never, ever accepted anyone being below par in training. We kicked each other and we had to win every single day. That moved over into games and we never gave in. There was an unbelievable team spirit.

“I want my players to really push each other and demand 100 per cent attitude from each other every single day. That’s the only way you can improve and it’s the only way you can win.

“We had something special. It’s a different group now and the challenge is, ‘How can I make these players winners as we were?’”

United are currently sixth in the Premier League but are just three points behind third-placed Tottenham and are still in contention in the Champions League.

United are the underdogs for the Barcelona tie but Solskjaer, who oversaw a stunning comeback victory over Paris Saint-Germain in the last round, is confident.

“We’re playing against a good team but there is something special about this group of players,” he said. “It will be fantastic.”

And the United boss is not worried that Manchester City could surpass United’s achievement in 1999 by winning a quadruple this season.

“United fans want us to win it (the Champions League) because they want to win it,” Solskjaer said. “I think we should look at what we can achieve and not what we can stop others achieving.”

(AFP)

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Chelsea’s Players, Staff Isolated As Callum Becomes First EPL Player to Test Positive for Coronavirus

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Chelsea’s players and coaching staff were ordered into isolation as Callum Hudson-Odoi became the first Premier League player confirmed to have the new coronavirus late on Thursday.

The news casts the viability of this weekend’s games further into doubt after Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta tested positive, also throwing their team into lockdown.

“Chelsea men’s team player Callum Hudson-Odoi had a positive test result for coronavirus returned this evening,” a club statement said.

“Chelsea personnel who had recent close contact with the player in the men’s team building will now self-isolate in line with government health guidelines.

“These will include initially the full men’s team squad, coaching staff and a number of backroom staff.”

Chelsea said they would discuss their upcoming games, starting with Sunday’s trip to Aston Villa, with Premier League officials on Friday.

Two Arsenal fixtures — Wednesday’s game at Manchester City, and away to Brighton on Saturday — have already been cancelled because of the virus.

Hudson-Odoi displayed cold symptoms on Monday morning and has stayed away from the club since then. His test result was returned on Thursday night.

The club said despite testing positive, the 19-year-old was “doing well and looking forward to returning to the training ground as soon as it is possible”.

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Arsenal Manager Mikel Arteta Tests Positive for Coronavirus

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Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta has tested positive for the coronavirus, prompting the Premier League to announce they will hold an emergency meeting on Friday to discuss future fixtures.

Arsenal have closed their training ground as a result of Arteta’s positive test, with Gunners players and club staff who had recent contact with the Spaniard now forced to self-isolate.

“This is really disappointing but I took the test after feeling poorly,” Arteta said in a statement on Arsenal’s website.

“I will be at work as soon as I’m allowed.”

Arsenal confirmed the shock news just minutes after the Premier League had said all fixtures would go ahead this weekend despite the spread of the global pandemic.

Arsenal, due to play at Brighton in the Premier League on Saturday, said it was “clear we will not be able to play some fixtures on their currently scheduled dates”.

Arsenal’s Premier League match at Manchester City on Wednesday was postponed and several Gunners players went into self-isolation after Olympiakos and Nottingham Forest owner Evangelos Marinakis contracted the virus.

Marinakis, 52, met a number of Arsenal’s players and staff when the Gunners faced Olympiakos in a Europa League tie in February.

“Our London Colney training centre has been closed after head coach Mikel Arteta received a positive Covid-19 result this evening,” the Arsenal statement said.

“Arsenal personnel who had recent close contact with Mikel will now self-isolate in line with Government health guidelines.

“We expect this to be a significant number of people from Colney, including the full first-team squad and coaching staff.”

Arsenal are now trying to trace any other people who may have had contact with Arteta.

 Premier League emergency 

Arsenal managing director Vinai Venkatesham added: “The health of our people and the wider public is our priority and that is where our focus is.

“Our thoughts are with Mikel who is disappointed but in good spirits. We are in active dialogue with all the relevant people to manage this situation appropriately, and we look forward to getting back to training and playing as soon as medical advice allows.”

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said on Thursday that the government was considering cancelling sporting events in the United Kingdom, but was not ready to do so yet.

But the news of Arteta’s positive test could force the Premier League to cancel English top-flight matches.

“In light of Arsenal’s announcement tonight confirming that their first-team coach Mikel Arteta has tested positive for COVID-19, the Premier League will convene an emergency club meeting tomorrow morning regarding future fixtures,” the Premier League said.

Arsenal are the latest Premier League club to be hit by the virus.

Leicester revealed on Thursday that three of their players have self-isolated after showing signs of the virus.

Manchester City said one unnamed member of their squad, reportedly France defender Benjamin Mendy, is in self-isolation after a family member suffered a respiratory illness.

The relative is being treated in hospital and has undergone tests for the coronavirus, which can cause shortness of breath.

Chelsea reportedly cancelled training on Thursday after a member of staff showed signs of the illness.

AFP

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Coronavirus: Arsenal Players Quarantined, EPL Game Postponed

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Arsenal’s game at Manchester City was postponed on Wednesday after players from the London club were put into quarantine, making it the first Premier League fixture to be called off because of the new coronavirus.

Arsenal said players and four staff had been isolated at their homes after coming into contact with the owner of Greek club Olympiakos, who has tested positive for COVID-19.

“We are strictly following the government guidelines which recommend that anyone coming into close contact with someone with the virus should self-isolate at home for 14 days from the last time they had contact,” an Arsenal statement said.

“As a result, the players are unavailable for tonight’s (Wednesday’s) match against Manchester City and the Premier League has decided the game should be postponed.”

The first postponement in the Premier League, which has a worldwide following of billions of TV viewers, follows widespread disruption to football and other sports across the globe.

Arsenal were knocked out of the Europa League by Olympiakos in late February. Vangelis Marinakis, owner of the Greek club and England’s Nottingham Forest, announced on Tuesday that he had tested positive for the coronavirus.

But Arsenal said the players and staff, who met Marinakis after the game at the Emirates Stadium, will return to work on Friday ahead of Saturday’s trip to Brighton.

“The medical advice we have received puts the risk of them developing COVID-19 at extremely low,” it added.

The Premier League called the move a “precautionary measure” and said there were no plans to postpone any other games.

Football’s Serie A and all other sports have been put on hold in Italy, while the top two divisions in Spain and France will be played in empty stadiums for at least the next two weeks.

UEFA’s Champions League and Europa League have also been both forced to arrange matches behind closed doors as the epidemic spreads.

Olympiakos host Wolverhampton Wanderers in Athens this week in the Europa League, in one of the last-16 games that will be played in front of an empty stadium.

Wolves manager Nuno Espirito Santo has joined a number of managers, including Liverpool’s Jurgen Klopp, in voicing disquiet at being asked to play without fans.

“If we have to go we will. But we don’t agree — we’re not happy to go,” he told Sky Sports.

“Behind closed doors doesn’t make sense,” he added. “We’re pretending to live a normal life when things aren’t normal.”

Wednesday’s postponement could also frustrate Premier League leaders Liverpool, as a Manchester City defeat would have taken them to the brink of their first top-flight title in 30 years.

AFP

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