March 10, 2020

EPL FREE KICKS: Is coronavirus the only thing that can stop Liverpool?

by In: Soccer

Remember when the runaway winner for the biggest villain of the Premier League was VAR?

Well, we may have to review that decision if what has happened in Italy comes to England.

In an unprecedented move, Serie A has suspended play for at least a month in the wake of the coronavirus epidemic, leaving the top flight of Italian football in the lurch.

This comes after the league played this weekend’s games behind closed doors, an eerie scene which saw a marquee matchup of Juventus and Inter Milan played in front of a smaller crowd than some Sunday league games. Imagine the thought of Cristiano Ronaldo playing in front of the same amount of people as you and I.

With this sudden cancellation of games in Italy and nearly every sporting organization in the world taking varying degrees of precautions, you have to wonder what further steps the Premier League could take. There were also reports on Tuesday that UEFA could suspend Champions League and Europa League play after the Round of 16.

With a move like that, you’d have to think that holding Euro 2020 — which is scheduled to be quite the ambitious effort, with several host cities and countries across Europe instead of a traditional single host country — is very much up in the air. And, before you ask: Yes, Italy is slated to host some games.

The big question with the suspension of these competitions is what happens in the standings. If the season is eventually cancelled, then no champion will be officially crowned. For European places, the current standings would likely be used from the completion of the last full game week played.

Could you imagine the scene in Liverpool if the Reds were denied their first official league title in 30 years and first Premier League championship because the season was suspended? There couldn’t be a more hard-luck way to “lose” the title during a season in which the Reds have been so dominant.

And, you get the feeling that the FA is going to take precautions sooner rather than later. While eliminating the pre-game handshakes was a nice start in England, wider measures are certainly just around the corner.

Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola said on Tuesday that it would make “no sense” to play behind closed doors and that play should be suspended instead. You can be as cynical about that comment as your want considering his team is well behind Liverpool in the table.

The one thing we know for sure is that there are a lot of people hoping that Liverpool’s next two matches get played in some fashion and that the Reds pick up the six points to clinch the title. That would at least give supporters some solace during these trying times.


While you have to be impressed with Jamie Vardy coming on as a sub and banging in two goals in 31 minutes against Aston Villa, it’s one of his teammates that takes the cake this week.

Harvey Barnes bagged a brace and also drew a penalty call which was converted by Vardy.  The Leicester winger has been pretty hot in 2020 while playing more consistent minutes than he had earlier in the season. Now with five goals in his past seven games, he’s giving the Foxes some much-needed offence for when Vardy can’t work his magic.


Has Liverpool actually been figured out? The Reds may have won the weekend against Bournemouth, but it wasn’t easy. Ever since Atletico Madrid deployed a 6-3-1 formation during the first leg of their Champions League matchup, we’ve seen Liverpool look rather vulnerable as opponents began to copy that strategy. We’ll have to see if it works again on Wednesday, but it’s certainly something that Jurgen Klopp must adapt to … Burnley conceded its first goal at home in 285 minutes against Spurs. The Clarets have been riding quite good form lately, crawling out of the relegation battle … Jose Mourinho back in fine form again, ripping Spurs’ record-signing Tanguy Ndombele after subbing him off at halftime. The Special One does have a point that the Frenchman hasn’t adapted well the Premier League at all and needs to be better to justify his price tag. We’re just not sure that calling him out in this manner is the way to do it … Newcastle’s attack is so poor that it could only score one goal against 10-man Southampton, a relegation battling team. To make matters worse, that one goal came off a fairly sloppy turnover … Think that Chelsea took a little extra joy of beating on ex-manager Carlos Ancelloti’s Everton side? The Blues looked like world-class side in that thrashing.


At least for one day, the city of Manchester was red.

It has been a long time since the once-great United has been able to claim ownership of its own city — 10 years, in fact. But with its 2-0 victory over Guardiola’s Manchester City, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer did something that no United manager has since Sir Alex Ferguson: Sweeping the noisy neighbours under the rug and taking both Premier League ties this season.

It’s the first time since 2009-10 that it has happened and showed that the Norwegian might just have the mettle to lead this team for the long haul.

He had some help from his opponent, though, that’s for sure. Both United goals came off of errors by City goalkeeper Ederson, the second being a direct turnover to Scott McTominary.

The first goal was a bit of cheeky, school-yard stuff, with Bruno Fernandes chipping a free kick over the wall to a sprinting Anthony Martial, whose shot probably shouldn’t have beaten Ederson, if we’re being honest.

Instead, it put City on the back foot and, without the ailing Kevin De Bruyne, couldn’t break through United’s back line.

The loss was City’s seventh of the season, which is the most that Guardiola has ever suffered in his managerial career. And with title race out of hand, you have to wonder just how many more he’ll suffer if his side really takes its foot off the gas.

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