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UK government gives PL green light for contact training

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The UK government has given the Premier League and the Championship the green light to resume contact training after publishing stage two of its return to training guidance.

This is a big boost for the Premier League ‘Project Restart’ plans ahead of a pivotal week of meeting and votes about playing the remaining 92 games of the 2019-20 season.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights

Since last week all 20 Premier League clubs have been taking part in small-group training at a social distance as clubs agreed unanimously to return to training as part of stage one of the protocols.

Late Sunday the UK government released guidelines on stage two of training for elite athletes as contact training is now permitted. Per the stage two guidelines, athletes are allowed to ‘opt out’ of training ‘without any resulting discrimination.’

It is not known whether or not players who contract COVID-19 while in stage two of training may have to quarantine for 14 days. That is said to be something which will be discussed in full detail in the coming days in the Premier League meetings, while below is a little more from the UK government explanation on stage two.

  • Stage Two training can be described as the resumption of close contact (interaction within the two metre social distancing boundary) training where pairs, small groups and/or teams will be able to interact in much closer contact (e.g. close quarters coaching, combat sports sparring, teams sports tackling, technical equipment sharing, etc).
  • The progression of training into Stage Two is vital to prepare fully for the return of competitive sporting fixtures in many sports. Close contact training is required to replicate match formations and conditions, so that the sport-specific demands can be placed on the body, mind and senses. Close contact training develops the sport-specific fitness which is an essential element for player safety and a reduced risk of injury during competition.
  • It is anticipated that engaging in this type of training would start with smaller ‘clusters’ of 2-3 athletes and eventually progress to larger groups of 4-12 athletes, and ultimately full team training, without social distancing possible at all times. Under Stage Two conditions, as per Stage One, social distancing will continue to be the expectation at all other times aside from technical training.

Speaking about the stage two guidelines, UK Sports Minister Nigel Huddleston said: “This new guidance marks the latest phase of a carefully phased return to training process for elite athletes, designed to limit the risk of injury and protect the health and safety of all involved. We are absolutely clear that individual sports must review whether they have the appropriate carefully controlled medical conditions in place before they can proceed, and secure the confidence of athletes, coaches and support staff.

“Given the wide ranging input we have received from medical experts, we believe these pragmatic measures should provide further reassurance that a safe, competitive training environment can be delivered, as we work towards a restart of professional sport behind closed doors when it is safe to do so.”

Premier League clubs, players and managers will meet in the coming days to discuss the protocols in place around a return to contact training and clubs are due to vote on Wednesday whether or not to sanction the move to stage two.

This is a big boost for the Premier League and Championship as both had been waiting to get the green light from the government before their clubs could vote on the plan for a return to contract training.

All 20 Premier League clubs will meet on several video conference calls to discuss the protocols around a return to full-contact training as players, managers and the Premier League will discuss the details with medical experts. Several Premier League stars have revealed their angst about returning to training.

Per the guidelines, moving to stage two provides more risk of COVID-19 infection: “Due to the increased risk of transmission under Stage Two conditions, the COVID-19 officer must have a clear policy for managing a COVID-19 positive individual and abide by Government guidelines and reporting requirements.”

The Premier League confirmed over the weekend that from 1,744 tests on players and staff across the first two rounds of COVID-19 tests, eight positive tests have been recorded with players from both Watford and Bournemouth confirmed to have the virus. Two positive COVID-19 tests had arrived after 1,014 players and staff in the Championship were tested.

Premier League players will again be tested on Monday and Tuesday and the results of those tests will be key in seeing how the strict protocols at training grounds are working.

Now that the UK government has given clear guidance to the Premier League about how it can return to contact training, it is now down to clubs, medical experts, players and managers to all agree on the safest path forward.

There is still a long way to go until games return but this is another step on the path towards the 2019-20 season returning.

NBC Sports Premier League schedule

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The new NBC Sports Premier League schedule for the 2019-20 season has been released, with time and dates for the upcoming matchweeks confirmed and here’s how you can watch it all live on TV in the USA and via Peacock online.

[ WATCH: Premier League video ] 

With games spread out across multiple days and many in separate time slots, there are lots of changes to your regular schedule as the league returns on June 17 after being suspended on March 13 due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Games will be played in empty stadiums and at home venues.

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The full TV schedule for the games this month are below, plus you can watch every single second of every single game live online via NBC Sports.com, the NBC Sports App and by purchasing the “Premier League Pass” via NBC Sports Gold and the new Peacock streaming service from NBC.

Below is the new schedule for the Premier League on NBC Sports from June 17 to July 22 , as we will release the dates and times for the final matchweek of the 2019-20 season when they become available and how to watch them in the USA.


Premier League: How to watch, schedule in USA (all times EST)

Matchday 29

Wednesday, June 17: Aston Villa 0-0 Sheffield United
Wednesday, June 17: Man City 3-0 Arsenal

Matchday 30

Friday, June 19: Norwich 0-3 Southampton
Friday, June 19: Tottenham 1-1 Man United
Saturday, June 20: Watford 1-1 Leicester
Saturday, June 20: Brighton 2-1 Arsenal
Saturday, June 20: West Ham 0-2 Wolves
Saturday, June 20: Bournemouth 0-2 Crystal Palace
Sunday, June 21: Newcastle 3-0 Sheffield United
Sunday, June 21: Aston Villa 1-2 Chelsea
Sunday, June 21: Everton 0-0 Liverpool
Monday, June 22: Man City 5-0 Burnley

Matchday 31

Tuesday, June 23: Leicester 0-0 Brighton
Tuesday, June 23: Tottenham 2-0 West Ham
Wednesday, June 24: Man United 3-0 Sheffield United
Wednesday, June 24: Newcastle 1-1 Aston Villa
Wednesday, June 24: Norwich 0-1 Everton
Wednesday, June 24: Wolves 1-0 Bournemouth
Wednesday, June 24: Liverpool 4-0 Palace
Thursday, June 25: Southampton 0-2 Arsenal
Thursday, June 25: Burnley 1-0 Watford
Thursday, June 25: Chelsea 2-1 Man City

Matchday 32

Saturday, June 27: Aston Villa 0-1 Wolves
Sunday, June 28: Watford 1-3 Southampton
Monday, June 29: Crystal Palace 0-1 Burnley
Tuesday, June 30: Brighton 0-3 Man United
Wednesday, July 1: Everton 2-1 Leicester
Wednesday, July 1: Bournemouth 1-4 Newcastle
Wednesday, July 1: Arsenal 4-0 Norwich
Wednesday, July 1: West Ham 3-2 Chelsea
Thursday, July 2: Sheffield United 3-1 Tottenham
Thursday, July 2: Man City 4-0 Liverpool

Matchday 33

Saturday, July 4: Norwich City 0-1 Brighton
Saturday, July 4: Leicester 3-0 Crystal Palace
Saturday, July 4: Man United 5-2 Bournemouth
Saturday, July 4: Wolves 0-2 Arsenal
Saturday, July 4: Chelsea 3-0 Watford
Sunday, July 5: Burnley 1-1 Sheffield United
Sunday, July 5: Newcastle United 2-2 West Ham
Sunday, July 5: Liverpool 2-0 Aston Villa
Sunday, July 5: Southampton 1-0 Man City
Monday, July 6: Tottenham 1-0 Everton

Matchday 34

Tuesday, July 7: Crystal Palace 2-3 Chelsea
Tuesday, July 7: Watford 2-1 Norwich City
Tuesday, July 7: Arsenal 1-1 Leicester City
Wednesday, July 8: Man City 5-0 Newcastle
Wednesday, July 8: Sheffield United 1-0 Wolves
Wednesday, July 8: West Ham 0-1 Burnley
Wednesday, July 8: Brighton 1-3 Liverpool
Thursday, July 9: Bournemouth 0-0 Tottenham
Thursday, July 9: Everton 1-1 Southampton
Thursday, July 9: Aston Villa 0-3 Manchester United

Matchday 35

Saturday, July 11: Norwich City 0-4 West Ham
Saturday, July 11: Watford 2-1 Newcastle United
Saturday, July 11: Liverpool 1-1 Burnley
Saturday, July 11: Sheffield United 3-0 Chelsea
Saturday, July 11: Brighton 0-5 Manchester City
Sunday, July 12: Wolves 3-0 Everton
Sunday, July 12: Aston Villa 2-1 Crystal Palace
Sunday, July 12: Tottenham 2-1 Arsenal
Sunday, July 12: Bournemouth 4-1 Leicester City
Monday, July 13: Man United 2-2 Southampton

Matchday 36

Tuesday, July 14: Chelsea 1-0 Norwich
Wednesday, July 15: Burnley v. Wolves, 1 p.m. ET, Peacock
Wednesday, July 15: Man City v. Bournemouth, 1 p.m. ET, Peacock
Wednesday, July 15: Newcastle v. Tottenham, 1 p.m. ET, Peacock
Wednesday, July 15: Arsenal v. Liverpool, 3:15 p.m. ET, Peacock
Thursday, July 16: Everton v. Aston Villa, 1 p.m. ET, Gold/Peacock
Thursday, July 16: Leicester v Sheffield United, 1 p.m. ET, NBCSN
Thursday, July 16: Crystal Palace v. Man United, 3:15 p.m. ET, NBCSN
Thursday, July 16: Southampton v. Brighton, 3:15 p.m. ET, Gold/Peacock
Friday, July 17: West Ham v. Watford, 3 p.m. ET, NBCSN

Matchday 37

Saturday, July 18: Norwich City v. Burnley, 12:30 p.m. ET
Sunday, July 19: Bournemouth v. Southampton, 9 a.m. ET
Sunday, July 19: Tottenham v. Leicester, 11 a.m. ET
Monday, July 20: Brighton v. Newcastle, 1 p.m. ET
Monday, July 20: Sheffield United v. Everton, 1 p.m. ET
Monday, July 20: Wolves v. Crystal Palace, 3:15 p.m. ET
Tuesday, July 21: Watford v. Man City, 1 p.m. ET
Tuesday, July 21: Aston Villa v. Arsenal, 3:15 p.m. ET
Wednesday, July 22: Man United v. West Ham, 1 p.m. ET
Wednesday, July 22: Liverpool v. Chelsea, 3:15 p.m. ET

Farke: Pulisic will be ‘world-class’; Lampard praises USMNT star

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The news every Pulisic and USMNT fan wants to hear: Daniel Farke believes Christian Pulisic is well on his way to being a ‘world-class’ player as the Norwich City manager marvelled at the display the USMNT star put on during Chelsea’s win against the Canaries.

[ MORE: Pulisic Watch – Analysis ]

Christian Pulisic, 21, provided the assist for Olivier Giroud to score the only goal of the game and the American winger hit the bar and went close on several occasions in another standout display for Chelsea since the Premier League restart.

Farke watched Pulisic closely as a coach of Borussia Dortmund II from 2015-17 and ProSoccerTalk asked him via Zoom after the game what he makes of how the Chelsea star is progressing.

“I would value and appreciate it if Christian would be in my team, without a doubt!” Farke laughed. “Chelsea spent 60 million pounds or something like this, of course I know him out of my time with Borussia Dortmund. He’s a brilliant lad. Always humble. Always with both feet on the ground. Always works unbelievably hard on the pitch. A player full of potential. He will have a bright future and it was a lot of money [to spend on him] but he is definitely worth each and every pound because he’s a top class player. He proved that today with a great cross and I would have preferred he was not able to find Giroud, who in this moment is still a top class striker. Christian will have a bright future and will be a world-class player one day and this is the best way to develop in this direction.”

Pulisic went straight over to Farke at the final whistle and the pair had a nice moment on the pitch at Stamford Bridge, catching up and wishing each other well.

“What is said is always under us but there are many players on the Chelsea squad I really value and they are not just great football players but also great characters,” Farke revealed. “Sadly there wasn’t much time at the final whistle to speak with all of them, just a few words. It is always great to see lads like Christian again. I wish him all the best for the future and I think he will have a bright future.”

Farke has seen Pulisic’s development closer than most and if he thinks he will be ‘world class’ then it is time to get pumped.

As for Pulisic’s boss at Chelsea, Frank Lampard, he was very thankful for Pulisic to create the only goal of the game to keep Chelsea in third and extend the gap to fifth-place Man United to four points with two games to go, although Leicester City (fourth) and Man United do have a game in-hand of the Blues now.

[ MORE: Who will finish in the top 4? ]

Lampard praised the growing partnership between the USMNT winger and Olivier Giroud and highlighted Pulisic’s movement in-behind the French striker.

“We clearly saw that with the goal and I was delighted with Christian’s movement to run in-behind on the little angle because that is what we weren’t doing in the early stages of the game,” Lampard said. “Ollie will always be alive and if you’re playing Giroud, you want to get balls in the box. You need to play to his strengths and he gets a really good goal. The link-up is good. Generally it could have been better. But job done.”

Pulisic has now scored three goals and had an assist since the restart, plus won two penalty kicks and a free kick which Willian has scored from, so he’s had a direct hand in over half of the 12 goals Chelsea have scored since the Premier League resumed.

Week after week the USMNT winger is staking his claim as being one of the best players in the world 21 years old or under and there’s no doubt Pulisic is well on his way, if he’s not there already, to being a world-class player.

These ‘world class’ comments aren’t news to USMNT fans but it shows that he’s being talked about on a slightly different level given his form since the restart.

Premier League standings

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The Premier League is back a three month suspension due to the coronavirus pandemic. Below you will find a reminder of the Premier League standings as we get back to business.

[ MORE: Latest PL TV schedule ]

With three matchweeks remaining in the 2019-20 Premier League season, there is plenty to play for up and down the league and the standings are extremely tight.

Liverpool have wrapped up the Premier League in stunning fashion over Man City, with the reigning champions and current second-place side eager to focus on cup competitions.

Three of the top four should stay there unless Leicester City’s form dips considerably, but the race for fourth and fifth should be fierce. We now know that fifth is NOT a Champions League place after Man City’s appeal over its European ban was successful That makes things even tighter.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights

There are still so many teams fighting for the Champions League and Europa League spot, with plenty of Premier League clubs still have their European hopes in the balance.

The action is going to come fast and often, with the league putting together a staggered schedule of kickoff times that will make matches even more of an all-weekend affair.

Below are the Premier League standings in full, as we will updated them throughout the remainder of the 2019-20 season.

PREMIER LEAGUE STANDINGS

Team GP W D L GF GA GD Home Away PTS
 Liverpool 35 30 3 2 76 27 49 17-1-0 13-2-2 93
 Manchester City 35 23 3 9 91 34 57 13-2-2 10-1-7 72
 Chelsea 36 19 6 11 64 49 15 10-3-5 9-3-6 63
 Leicester City 35 17 8 10 65 36 29 10-4-3 7-4-7 59
 Manchester United 35 16 11 8 61 35 26 10-6-2 6-5-6 59
 Wolves 35 14 13 8 48 37 11 7-7-4 7-6-4 55
 Sheffield United 35 14 12 9 38 33 5 10-3-5 4-9-4 54
 Tottenham Hotspur 35 14 10 11 54 45 9 11-3-4 3-7-7 52
 Arsenal 35 12 14 9 51 44 7 8-6-3 4-8-6 50
 Burnley 35 14 8 13 39 47 -8 8-3-6 6-5-7 50
 Everton 35 12 9 14 41 52 -11 8-6-3 4-3-11 45
 Southampton 35 13 6 16 45 58 -13 5-2-10 8-4-6 45
 Newcastle United 35 11 10 14 36 52 -16 6-8-3 5-2-11 43
 Crystal Palace 35 11 9 15 30 45 -15 6-4-7 5-5-8 42
 Brighton & Hove Albion 35 8 12 15 36 52 -16 5-6-7 3-6-8 36
 West Ham United 35 9 7 19 44 59 -15 5-3-9 4-4-10 34
 Watford 35 8 10 17 33 54 -21 6-6-6 2-4-11 34

 Bournemouth 35 8 7 20 36 60 -24 5-6-7 3-1-13 31
 Aston Villa 35 8 6 21 38 65 -27 6-3-9 2-3-12 30
 Norwich City 36 5 6 25 26 68 -42 4-3-11 1-3-14 21

Pep responds: ‘I tell Jose and Jurgen that it was a good day for football’

Pep Guardiola lashes out
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Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola isn’t taking criticism from Jurgen Klopp and Jose Mourinho lying down.

The Liverpool and Tottenham bosses branded the lifting of Man City’s European ban as bad for the game, and Guardiola had answers at the ready.

Klopp called it a “bad day for football” while Mourinho applied the adjective “disgraceful.”

[ MORE: What now for Man City, PL? ]

“I tell Jose and Jurgen that it was a good day for football,” Guardiola said. “A very good day. We played with the same rules as everyone. If we broke them then we would’ve been banned.”

Guardiola was outright preening now that City’s seen its ban rescinded and a massive fine lowered to about $12 million (still plenty of money). The fine was for obstructing the investigation.

He went off. From The Daily Mail:

“All these clubs Arsenal, Chelsea, Leicester, Wolves, Man Utd, Tottenham, Liverpool — Liverpool — Burnley, I understand they want the five positions. We were with the eight clubs, we wanted a resolution.

“(But) don’t go behind and whisper. Next time before (you) make phone calls, call our chairman and say, ‘Guys, all these clubs we are going to do it all together.’ Manchester City don’t have to apologise because the three independent judges decided we have done everything properly. It’s clear. We were exonerated for something we were accused of.

“In the last decade, we’ve spent more than in the past, yes, but 30 years ago Arsene Wenger (spent). Arsene, the guy who perfectly defends Financial Fair Play… so Arsene, you know that Manchester City was correct with what we have done.”

“United with Sir Alex Ferguson spent a lot of money. When Chelsea started to win Premier Leagues, they invested more than the others. Barcelona and Real Madrid spent a lot of money.”

There should be some fair play to Guardiola, who is right to point out that all of the above managers spent massively to sustain success regardless of academy development. Man City is criticized for where its investment comes from but also can point to similar companies investing in his rivals. Essentially, Guardiola is asking that critics apply their disdain for spending across all clubs.

In other words, everybody spends. Few less than City. Guardiola laid out about $75 million on Rodri and a little less on Joao Cancelo (albeit with a lot going the other way in Danilo). His 2017-18 spend on Ederson, Kyle Walker, Aymeric Laporte, Benjamin Mendy, and Bernardo Silva was audacious.

Mourinho has worked in some of the biggest spending clubs in the world. Liverpool splashed huge money on Virgil van Dijk, Alisson Becker, Mohamed Salah, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Naby Keita, Fabinho, Sadio Mane, Christian Benteke, and Roberto Firmino. These managers and clubs don’t operate in a vacuum and don’t produce beautiful football out of the bargain stores.

Guardiola did not limit his criticism to his critics in England.

The ex-Barcelona boss was happy to issue a stinging rebuke to La Liga chief Javier Tebas.

[ MORE: Pulisic Watch versus Norwich City ]

“He’s another one, this guy Senor Tebas must be so jealous of English football. He’s an incredible legal expert from what I see, maybe next time I’ll ask them which court and judges we have to go to.”

Here are some more thoughts relayed by Man City’s Twitter account: