Adrian Mariappa

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Mariappa reveals he tested positive for COVID-19

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Adrian Mariappa has revealed he tested positive for COVID-19 in the first batch of Premier League tests.

The Watford defender was one of six positive tests after 748 tests were taken from players and staff across 19 clubs (everyone apart from Norwich City, who were tested a day later) on Sunday and Monday ahead of a return to small-group training from Tuesday.

That means anybody who did positive did not come into close contact with other players of club officials.

Watford have confirmed that two of their coaching staff have also tested positive, while Burnley’s assistance coach Ian Woan has also tested positive. Anybody who tests positive will now have to self-isolate for seven days and under strict Premier League protocols will be tested at a later date before they can return to training grounds for social-distanced training sessions.

Mariappa told Telegraph Sport more details about his positive test.

“It’s quite scary how you can feel absolutely fine and not really have left the house, and yet still get the virus,” Mariappa said. “If it wasn’t for the fact I had gone back to training and had this test, then I’d never have found out that I had the virus and I would just be getting on with things as normal. That’s obviously quite a strange thought.”

“I live with three of my children, who are five, nine and 11, and my partner and, obviously, now I’m a bit worried about them. They are all fine and are not showing any symptoms, but you can’t help but think about it and keep your distance once you know you’ve tested positive.”

Premier League clubs unanimously agreed to a return to small-group training from Tuesday, as players and club staff were tested for COVID-19. 40 tests will take place on players and staff at clubs twice per week.

Mariappa’s Watford team, Troy Deeney, has revealed he will not return to small-group training this week as he is not comfortable with the protocols in place and has more questions about the risks.

Watford manager Nigel Pearson has also been outspoken about the risks of rushing a return to training and chairman Scott Duxbury is keen for games to be played home and away if and when the 2019-20 season returns. The Hornets are currently embroiled in a relegation battle, as they only sit out of the drop zone on goal difference with nine games to go.

Next week is a key week for the Premier League ‘Project Restart’ plan as clubs are due to meet on Tuesday (May 26) to discuss a return to full contact training, then again on Thursday (May 28) to vote on whether or not to restart the season.

Phase One of the return to training protocol is now well under way and that means players and staff have to strictly adhere to social-distancing rules inside and outside of the training grounds. If they don’t, then the entire ‘Project Restart’ plan will fall down as more positive tests will be found and individuals will be forced to self-isolate for seven days at a time.

Graham Potter praises Brighton’s spirit: ‘Every point is what it is and we have to take it’

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Following Saturday’s 1-1 draw against Watford, Brighton and Hove Albion Premier League winless streak hits an uncomfortable 10 bouts.

[ MORE: Premier League schedule | Match Recap ]

For any side in the bottom third of the table, red flags and emergency sirens would be at a season-high. Brighton’s situation, however, is peculiar. The Seagulls are in a unique position: Doing what a few expected, they punched above their weight in the first half of the season, giving themselves a buffer if thing were to go south as the season progressed.

At Falmer Stadium, in typical Graham Potter fashion, Brighton controlled possession and the tempo of the match. Watford, a sturdy opponent despite their relegation-zone troubles, surprised the home side as Abdoulaye Doucoure pulled off an impecable solo goal. All signs pointed for a low-effort win by the Hornets.

Then, after a plethora of missed chances, Watford’s Adrian Mariappa sublimely put the ball behind his own net. The Seagulls tied in the 78th minute after Aaron Mooy‘s offensive push. Potter, following the match, recognized his team caught a break. To the BBC:

“We gave a lot in the game,” he said following Brighton’s second consecutive draw. “It was difficult to go behind when we had started quite well and were in the ascendancy.”

“The crowd got a little nervous and the atmosphere is difficult. I’m proud of the players because we took responsibility of the game. The character they showed, they accepted the challenge because you could go under at that point – it’s not easy to be the one that has to find the answers.”

Certainly, without the cushion, Potter and company would have channeled Nigel Pearson‘s forlorn sentiments. The 56-year-old manager described Watford’s draw as a “unfortunate” after working “exceptionally hard” for 90 minutes.

Instead, Potter expressed great admiration towards his players, mostly for the maturity they displayed during trying times.

“We were down on the scoreline, the lads desperately want to get points, get the win, we showed maturity. It’s not easy in the Premier League when you are down,” he added. “I am really proud of the players.”

“Every point is what it is and we have to take it. We will look to move forward, take a break now and move forward for Sheffield United.”

Aston Villa thumped by 10-man Watford

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Watford pummeled Aston Villa despite going down a man in a 3-0 win at Vicarage Road on Saturday.

The Hornets led 1-0 through Troy Deeney when Adrian Mariappa was sent off, and Deeney added another to go with an Ismaila Sarr goal.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]

Watford moves three points back of safety with 16 points, two behind 18th place Villa.


Three things we learned

1. Pearson’s personality bleeding through: Watford was well in control of the match before the red card, which somehow further steeled them. The Hornets created five big chances to Villa’s one, and gave Watford fans plenty of reason to believe they’ll escape the drop zone soon.

2. Grealish, Villa all mixed up: Dean Smith has been under some heat despite a place in the League Cup semifinals and the delivery of Premier League promotion, and emotional captain Jack Grealish did him no favors by losing his focus on several occasions. The star was worried more about the referee than the play.

3. Deeney delivers again: Watford’s spirit animal was clearly a big absence for most of the season, and his brace was well-earned. He rarely does the things that amaze, but Deeney is consistently getting himself in scoring places and he sure can finish. He can be a huge part of any successful run.

Man of the Match: Deeney.


The first 24 minutes was missing the final pass, but a Watford giveaway gave Wesley a chance to nod a cross home. Ben Foster did well to save it.

Tom Heaton fumbled a ball that Abdoulaye Doucoure blazed over the goal in a rare bit of promise.

The Hornets went ahead when Deeney forced a turnover and Doucoure ripped a shot to force a parry out of Heaton. Deeney put the rebound under the keeper, sloppy but it counts.

[ MORE: Premier League stats ] 

Mariappa complicated Watford’s task when he clattered into Henri Lansbury and collected a second yellow card.

Deeney earned a controversial penalty with a run into the box, and dispatched it into the goal for 2-0. Sarr added a third with a run into the 18, a deserved win.

Watford comes back to win at Crystal Palace (video)

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  • Cathcart own goal puts Palace ahead
  • Redemption for Cathcart makes it 1-1
  • Substitute Cleverley with rare goal to win it

Craig Cathcart scored for both sides, including an equalizer for his Hornets, as Watford beat Crystal Palace 2-1 at Selhurst Park on Saturday.

Tom Cleverley scored Watford’s other goal as Javi Gracia‘s men used the comeback to climb into seventh with 32 points.

Palace stays in 14th place with 22 points.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]

Watford hit consecutive posts in consecutive seconds through Gerard Deulofeu and Roberto Pereyra, and will be wishing they did the same in their own end.

Palace went ahead of a wild goal mouth scramble that finished with Abdoulaye Doucoure smashing the ball off Craig Cathcart and into his own goal.

The Eagles could’ve gone ahead 2-0 when Luka Milivojevic‘s shot through traffic was blocked by the hand of a Watford man and was caught by Ben Foster, but no call arrived at Selhurst Park.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights ]

[ MORE: Premier League schedule ]  

Cathcart will have been pleased to reverse his o.g., even if he knew little about the first. This one had plenty of intent, a header over Wayne Hennessey with a little more than 20 minutes to play.

If you had Cleverley as your match-winner, well, that was an odd wager. He scored his second goal in the last two and a half seasons, the substitute potting a loose ball.

Palace fought hard for an equalizer, but Watford kept its spacing and managed a number of interventions in its own box.

Revisiting the ridiculousness of Pajtim Kasami’s goal (Video)

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How dare he!

That was the first thought that entered my mind watching Pajtim Kasami’s goal Monday and now, 16 hours later, my jaw is still on the ground.

That goal was outlandish. Ridiculous. Audacious. The kind of training ground attempt that would typically result in a shot going high and wide of the target by 50 feet.

But not last night. Last night Kasami executed the maneuver with razor sharp technique and the result – goal of the year (so far) in the Premier League.

What made Kasami’s goal so incredible? Let’s break it down.

First, his vision.

When the play begins Fulham right-back Sascha Riether has the ball in his own half and Kasami is standing in the middle of the center circle. To the casual observer, nothing out of the ordinary seems to be happening – but Kasami sees otherwise.

Mainly, he notices that Darren Bent drifts all the way to the right side of the pitch while Dimitar Berbatov remains in the center and that the Crystal Palace defense are man marking. This means that Adrian Mariappa and Damien Delaney have a 30 yard gap between the two of them.

In a split second, Kasami knows what he wants to do. With the ball at Riether’s foot, Kasami points to the space.

The second astounding element of the goal is Kasami’s run. Like a greyhound he bursts out of the gate and into the space created by the Palace center-backs. In just over four seconds Kasami’s diagonal move puts himself directly under Riether’s 40 yard ball.

Which brings us to part three of Kasami’s feat – the technique.

Still at full throttle, the ball is behind Kasami’s head as Mariappa swoops in to close him down. At this point, merely settling the ball and keeping possession would be impressive. But with his inertia heading towards the corner flag and his hips facing the right touchline, the 21 year old leaps in the air, pops the ball off his chest, squares his shoulders and unleashes a cross body right-footed volley from an impossible angle.

What!?!?!

How the ball ends up in the far corner is still perplexing.

The most impressive aspect of the goal, however, is that not a single part of that play can be considered lucky. Everything Kasami did, he meant to do. Scary stuff.

Following the goal there was a lot of chatter as to whether Kasami’s effort was better than Jack Wilshere’s strike against Norwich City on Saturday.

My take – and Wilshere’s as well, judging by his Tweet – Kasami’s goal was easily the better of the two. Mainly because it was the buildup to Wilshere’s goal – a pinball array of back heels and flicks that would leave Barcelona bowing in approval – that left us in a bliss, not the goal itself.

Wilshere’s was the better team goal, Kasami’s was the better individual goal. Apples and oranges but both fantastic pieces of work that we won’t soon be forgetting.