Keane and Vieira were best of enemies and defined an era

Roy Keane and Patrick Vieira were the best of enemies and their rivalry defined both the Premier League and Manchester United vs Arsenal… from THAT tunnel bust-up to squaring up on the pitch at Highbury, we haven’t seen anything like it since

  • Roy Keane and Patrick Vieira clashed several times on and off the pitch
  • The midfielders were captains of two of the best sides in English football history
  • Their rivalry shaped the intense battle between Manchester United and Arsenal 

Every sport’s got one. In tennis it was Borg v McEnroe and in the world of boxing it was Ali against Frazier. 

In football, for a time, there was nothing quite as intense as Roy Keane and Patrick Vieira.  

You can forget about Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi as the biggest rivalry in football. Sure they’re the best two players in the world, with a competitive streak that has taken both to the summit.

Roy Keane (left) and Patrick Vieira (right) boasted one of the most intense on-pitch rivalries

Played: 19

Draws: 5

Vieira: 6

Keane: 8 

But in terms of sheer animosity, spectacle and downright theatre, there were few better sights than Keane and Vieira going at it, hammer and tongs.

Manchester United and Arsenal defined the Premier League. Keane and Vieira embodied that rivalry.

One was captain of the Treble winners, the other was captain of the Invincibles. 

They met 19 times in nine years as United  and Arsenal shared the Premier League trophy between them from 1996 to 2004.

In the 2013 documentary, ‘Keane and Vieira: Best of Enemies’, Keane described his relationship with Arsenal, simply, as hatred.

He called Vieira ‘tough’, who in turn called Keane ‘a leader, a winner. My favourite enemy, I loved every aspect of his game.’

The mutual respect between the two is obvious as they sit across from each other, regale about the old days and bemoan the modern game. 

That wasn’t always the case. As opposite numbers in midfield and captains of the best two teams in England they went to war when they locked horns on the pitch.

The two captains pursued each other relentlessly on the pitch and knew they were in ‘wars’ 

Both captains enjoyed huge success and their rivalry epitomised the two clubs’ long rivalry

The pair hold a mutual respect having since worked together in a media-based capacity


Keane at Man United

Premier League x 7

FA Cup x 4

Champions League x 1

Intercontinental Cup x 1

Vieira at Arsenal 

Premier League x 3 

FA Cup x 3 

Quite often that antipathy spilled over, a natural consequence of the heated, intense rivalry between the two teams.

In 1999, Arsenal and United were the two biggest teams in the land by a country mile. The Gunners had been double winners 12 months previously, and United were now Treble winners. 

Only one point separated them in the final standings of 1998-99, and only a Ryan Giggs solo wonder goal settled a titanic FA Cup semi-final replay at Villa Park that April. Those were the fine margins between United’s Treble, and a trophyless campaign for Arsenal.

Locked at 1-1 in the final five minutes of an early-season clash at Highbury, Vieira and Keane tussled for a loose ball and both left one in on the other – with interest. 

Such were the pressure levels that the match boiled over six minutes from the end, as Keane and Patrick Vieira clashed, prompting a face-off between the two sides which the referee did well to defuse.

Vieira dispossessed David Beckham and then the 50-50 challenge saw Keane win the ball and hook into the Arsenal box. 

Vieira felt that Keane’s biggest weakness was that he could prove ‘reckless’ on occasion

For Keane (right), he felt Vieira’s biggest weakness was that he simply was not as tough as him

But an onrushing Vieira was unwilling to concede position as he charged into his adversary. A kick-out later and the two were ready to come to blows after Vieira swung at Keane and the United midfielder grabbed his rival’s neck. 

Had the referee not caught it in the corner of his eye, a 22-man brawl could have broken out. This was not uncommon when Keane and Vieira locked horns, admittedly.  

Jaap Stam charged over as support for Keane and before you know it, the Dutchman was nose-to-nose with Vieira following some choice words.  

In the documentary, Vieira is asked if he ever felt intimidated by Keane, to which he said, ‘no, he excites me’. It was a hatred and a rivalry the two leaders came to relish. 

They both possessed an insatiable appetite to defeat the other.  

Speaking on Sky Sports’ Monday Night Football ahead of another clash between both sides last year, Keane admitted that the games back in his day were always wars and that Vieira was indeed one of his toughest opponents.

‘I always felt I was going to war with these boys anyway so I’d be feeling the aches and pains before the match, I wouldn’t mind afterwards, but that’s what you play the game for. 

A defining moment for the pair came in 2005 in the tunnel of Arsenal’s old Highbury stadium

Referee Graham Poll tried to diffuse the situation before kick-off as an argument broke out


Arsenal: Almunia; Lauren (Fabregas 83), Campbell (Hoyte 79), Cygan, Cole; Ljungberg, Flamini (Reyes 70), Vieira, Pires; Bergkamp, Henry.

Goals: Vieira (8), Bergkamp (36)

Booked: Pires, Reyes 

Manager: Arsene Wenger

Manchester United: Carroll; G. Neville, Ferdinand, Silvestre, Heinze; Fletcher (O’Shea 61), Keane, Scholes; Ronaldo (Brown 70), Giggs (Saha 77), Rooney.

Goals: Cole OG (18), Ronaldo (54, 58), O’Shea (88) 

Booked: Heinze, Ronaldo, Giggs, Rooney 

Sent off: Silvestre 

Manager: Sir Alex Ferguson 

‘Patrick would have been (my toughest opponent) at the time. As I said Patrick would challenge you in different ways, he could get around the pitch, he was good with the ball, he was strong, he had a goal in him.

‘I knew I would have to be at my very very best to be on top of Patrick.’

For all the grappling in the middle of the park, the late tackles, the choice words exchanged, no moment encapsulated Keane and Vieira’s rivalry quite like the infamous tunnel spat at Highbury in 2005.  

The tunnel at the old Highbury was a tight squeeze at the best of times but when players and teams hated each other as much as Arsenal and United did, fireworks were inevitable – it was just about who would land the first blow. 

With players shoulder-to-shoulder, a confrontation breaks out at the back and referee Graham Poll attempts to navigate through the bodies to break it up, as Pascal Cygan guides Vieira away to the front of the tunnel.

Mikael Silvestre, who was in the United team that day, shed light on how the Arsenal captain got under Keane’s skin before the game had even kicked off.

‘It’s a small tunnel,’ he said. ‘So players are almost like shoulder against shoulder. And I think Patrick went past Gary (Neville), and he said, “You stop talking. You have a big mouth when you are with your team. So I want to take you on one v one. Outside. Me and you”.

‘So Roy Keane, as a good captain, defended Gary. He said, “You want to take on my player? Take it up to me.” There was also some French vocabulary within the conversation as well…’

The two players possessed a warrior-like mentality and felt they needed to defend team-mates

A lot more than what has been quoted above was said as Keane was not done. He knocked everyone else out of the way to get to Vieira, pointing angrily in his face.

‘We’ll see you out there, we’ll see you out there,’ Keane says. ‘Every week. Shut your mouth off. Every week you. Making it out like you’re a nice guy. He started it and needs to shut his f****** mouth up.’ 

‘I just felt they were bullying Gary,’ Keane later surmised in his book The Second Half. ‘I don’t think it was intimidation; it was bullying.’

‘I was there to do a job. Win the game – get in and get out. But it was a bit like the build-up to a boxing match – the weigh-in, the press conferences – when people forget that there’ll actually be a fight.’

The match had been lit for both sides and while the tunnel incident is the defining moment of the day, the game itself is often forgotten despite Keane’s United going on to win 4-2. 

Vieira headed Arsenal in front before an Ashley Cole own goal pegged them back. Dennis Bergkamp restored the hosts’ lead and that was when the switch flicked in Sir Alex Ferguson’s side. 

There has not been a player rivalry since in the Premier League that bettered Keane and Vieira

A brace from Cristiano Ronaldo and a late goal from John O’Shea sealed a famous win over the enemy for Keane and Co. He said he would see to them ‘out there’ and he did.  

‘I started it, I was cool, I was really calm, I was smiling at him and then he lost it,’ Vieira said in the documentary.   

Vieira admitted he started it with a smirk on his face. There was no smirk on the face of either player as tensions bounced off the walls of the tunnel. 

And it has gone on to be a microcosm of their relationship since. It has stood the test of time.

Quite frankly, it is the type of relationship that has not been bettered since. For as much as some players actively dislike others, no one can put forward a convincing case that it is more potent, more personal or more important than Keane v Vieira.  

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Pochettino has had an 'offer' to move to Newcastle, says Ardiles

‘Newcastle is a firm possibility to work again’: Mauricio Pochettino HAS had an ‘offer’ to move to St James’ Park, according to close friend Ossie Ardiles

  • Mauricio Pochettino wants to return to management after six months out of work
  • The former Spurs boss has been strongly linked with a move to Newcastle
  • The Magpies are on the verge of a significant £300m Saudi-led takeover 
  • Ossie Ardiles has confirmed that an offer has been made for Poch by Newcastle

Newcastle have made an offer to Mauricio Pochettino for him to become the next manager at St James’ Park, according to the Argentine’s good friend Ossie Ardiles. 

Former Spurs manager Pochettino has completed his gardening leave this week, following his sacking in November after a six-year stay in north London. 

And ex-Tottenham midfielder Ardiles believes a contract offer from some ‘first-rate people’ at Newcastle has been made to Pochettino, who admitted in an interview with Sportsmail that he’s keen on staying in England. 

Mauricio Pochettino is keen to return to management and Newcastle are firmly interested

Former Spurs midfielder and close friend Ossie Ardiles says an offer has been made 

‘Mauricio is fine in England,’ Ardiles said, as reported by The Mirror. 

‘He is linked with Newcastle United and when he spoke directly to that club there were many first-rate people involved who made him a good offer. 

‘Mauricio had a (contractual) relationship with Tottenham, but last Tuesday his situation was unlocked and he is free to coach. In this way, he will hear offers again, but Newcastle is a firm possibility to work again.’ 

Ex-Tottenham manager Mauricio Pochettino is reportedly edging closer to Newcastle hotseat

The lure of a ‘project’ at Newcastle could be crucial for Pochettino, with a Saudi-led consortium led by Amanda Staveley on the verge of completing a £300m takeover of the club.

Ardiles, a Tottenham ambassador, admitted that Pochettino enjoys living and working in England. 

‘He really likes managing in England,’ the 67-year-old added. ‘There are a few very large teams that can appoint him – and one of them is going to be chosen.’   

The Saudi-led consortium, led by Amanda Staveley, are on the verge of a £300m takeover

Though current manager Steve Bruce looks set to finish the current campaign, with the team currently lying in a respectable 13th place, the potential new ownership group – led by Amanda Staveley – may want to make a high-profile appointment as a serious statement of intent at Newcastle. 

Pochettino spoke yesterday about how a job in the Premier League is ‘one of the options’ for his next destination. 

‘We love England,’ Pochettino admitted. ‘We have our house and our home here. The people are respectful. The Premier League is the best league in the world. It is one of the options. I’m very open to wait for the seduction of the project.’

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Grant is 'proud' of spell as Chelsea boss… despite Terry's slip

‘It was a great season’: Avram Grant reveals he is ‘proud’ of his brief spell as Chelsea manager… despite John Terry’s famed slip that cost them the 2008 Champions League – and says he was a ‘director’ compared to ‘star’ Jose Mourinho

  • Avram Grant led Chelsea to Champions League final 12 years ago on Thursday
  • They were a penalty away from winning the game against Manchester United 
  • Grant says he was ‘proud’ of season as they came close to winning three trophies
  • But they missed out on all three in different circumstances that campaign 

Avram Grant has insisted he was proud of his time as Chelsea manager – despite missing out on winning the Champions League due to John Terry’s slip.

Grant took over as Chelsea manager from Jose Mourinho in September 2007 and was a controversial appointment, given the Israeli’s relatively low profile at that stage.

He came close to capturing a Treble, losing in the League Cup final, running Manchester United close for the Premier League title and ultimately being beaten in the Champions League final.

Avram Grant has insisted he was proud of his brief spell as the Chelsea manager

Grant and Chelsea missed out on winning the Champions League due to John Terry’s slip

The now-65-year-old’s side came within the width of a post of winning Europe’s elite club competition.

It boiled down to Terry’s spot kick and, 12 years ago on Thursday, Terry slipped in the rain of Moscow and sent his strike crashing against the woodwork.

But Grant still manages to take joy from what he achieved while in the hotseat at Stamford Bridge. 

He told the Sun: ‘Reading my notes back made me proud of everything. You see only the result and the result was clear.

Manchester United went on to lift the trophy after winning the final in a penalty shootout

‘But I consider more what brought us there. The training, the mentality, everything. No doubt, it was a great season.’

Morale was famously low when Mourinho left under a cloud, having fallen out with the Chelsea hierarchy.

The League Cup final was only lost to Spurs in extra-time while Chelsea were only two points behind United in the Premier League.

Grant also led his team into their first ever Champions League final and after falling behind to Cristiano Ronaldo’s header, reacted well.

Frank Lampard levelled before half-time and the match went to penalties. Terry then slipped on the fifth penalty and Nicolas Anelka missed to give the trophy to United.

Terry was distraught on the pitch after the defeat and Grant famously embraced him

Grant embraced a weeping Terry on the pitch, demonstrating how his approach contrasted to predecessor Mourinho.

He added: ‘In a good way, Jose likes to be the centre of everything, the star.

‘My approach is I am the director of a movie — the stars are the players.

‘When I was hugging John I said, “I’ll never forget our first chat and how you helped the team get out of a bad situation. You can be proud”.’

Grant was sacked three days later, despite having never lost a home game in the Premier League.

Grant discussed how his approach to management had contrasted with Jose Mourinho

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Hundreds of out of contract EFL players could have their careers ended

Hundreds of out-of-contract EFL players could have their careers ended with some clubs predicting 40% could be without employers in the summer

  • Hundreds of out-of-contract EFL players may not get a professional deal again
  • A huge number of imminent free agents would have been seeking deals by now 
  • Some clubs believe as many as 40 per cent of players will be left without clubs  

Hundreds of the 1,400 EFL players who are out of contract this summer may never get a professional deal again.

The huge number of imminent free agents, including scholars, would have been seeking renewals or new clubs by now.

But some clubs believe that as many as 40 per cent of players will be left without employers over the summer and could see their careers ended.

Hundreds of out-of-contract EFL players face uncertainty over their futures this summer

One player, who asked not to be named, said the options of many pros were further limited because they were reluctant to move long distances across the country in this time of crisis.

He said: ‘It is a time when you want to be around to support those close to you. That is a priority.’

One agent said the uncertainty left players seeing out the season for a Championship club with a dilemma, particularly if thrown into a game affecting relegation or play-offs. Putting everything into such a game could risk injury and that would be disastrous in the current climate.

A huge number of free agents, including scholars, would have been seeking new deals by now

Sportsmail revealed on Friday that the EFL is considering salary caps of between £2.5million and £3million for League One and between £1.25m and £1.5m in League Two and maximum squad sizes of 20 players over the age of 21.

Such a regime threatens to have a huge impact, with clubs likely to shift their emphasis to academy players — whose pay would fall outside of the salary quota — rather than seasoned pros. Around 80 per cent of EFL clubs are thought to be in favour of the caps, likely to be implemented from 2021-22.

There are also proposals to introduce an independent regulator to police the wage cap, with draconian penalties for any club in breach.

The history of clubs using complex arrangements to meet financial fair play rules has left some top EFL executives convinced that they need a regulator to impose a zero tolerance approach to any who try to beat the system. The Football Association is not ready to undertake such a role.

Sportsmail revelaed the EFL is considering salary caps for both League One and League Two

The numbers of players out of work could be reduced if pay cuts are negotiated with the Professional Footballers’ Association. But the union argues that its members in the lower leagues are vulnerable and that clubs must justify why a cut is being made.

Some of the 1,400 who find themselves without a club may have to accept part-time playing roles. Many are expecting significantly lower wages at the very least.

Players from the Championship have recently fielded offers that equate to more than 70 per cent less than their current salary. Sportsmail has been told of one club that has proposed their squad take a unilateral pay cut of more than 50 per cent in a bid to stay afloat.

Players have fielded offers that equate to more than 70 per cent less than their current salary 

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Malaga terminate contracts of players and staff amid Covid-19 crisis

Spanish club Malaga terminate or suspend the contracts of players and staff in response to Covid-19 crisis as second-tier side enacts ‘package of necessary measures’ to survive

  • Malaga become the first Spanish club to announce mass lay-off of staff
  • Players are included in the club personnel who will see contacts terminated
  • Spanish leagues have been shut down for two months amid Covid-19 crisis
  • Malaga said the decision were essential to secure the club’s survival 
  • Here’s how to help people impacted by Covid-19

Spanish second division club Malaga has taken the decision to terminate or suspend the contracts of players and staff amid the Covid-19 crisis.

They are the first club in Spain to initiate collective redundancy in a serious reflection of the crushing financial impact of the football shutdown caused by the virus.

Malaga, who were in the quarter-finals of the Champions League in 2013, were 15th in the Spanish second division table when the season was suspended in mid-March.

Spanish second tier side Malaga, who play at La Rosaleda (pictured), have announced mass redundancies of players and club staff amid the Covid-19 crisis

A club statement released on Tuesday afternoon read: ‘Malaga Club de Futbol has made the decision to start the collective dismissal procedure as of today, May 19 2020.

‘The club announces that is has taken the decision to present an employment regulation file for the termination and/or suspension of employment contacts.

‘Over the past few months, the club has been undertaking various measures to ease the difficult economic situation it is experiencing.

‘The restructuring of the club joins this package of necessary measures to ensure the permanence of Malaga CF.

‘The club thanks fans and season ticket holders for their support during these difficult times and asks for their understanding in light of this complex process that start today and the club will endure in the coming months, with the sole purpose of committing to the future.’

Such plans for mass lay-offs in Spain are known as ERE or ‘Expediente de Regulacion de Empleo’.

Malaga in action against Las Palmas in a Spanish second tier game before the shutdown

It remains to be seen whether Malaga is the last club in Spain or beyond to react to the economic crisis of Covid-19 by making staff redundant.

Malaga were relegated from LaLiga at the end of the 2017-18 campaign. They finished third in the second tier last season but lost out to Deportivo La Coruna in the promotion play-off semi-finals.

In February, the Qatari businessman Abdullah bin Nasser Al Thani, who bought Malaga in 2010, was removed as their president for six months.

The decision was taken by a Spanish regional court because of a series of charges including the alleged misappropriation of funds.

A judicial administrator was placed in charge of running the club.

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Clubs warn players of PERMANENT pay cuts if Project Restart fails

Premier League clubs warn players they face PERMANENT pay cuts if Project Restart fails and 2019-20 season is curtailed… with some stars in line to lose contracts altogether

  • Some teams have even told stars they face losing their contracts altogether 
  • These are the consequences if football does not return before the end of July 
  • The threat of EFL clubs going out of business is emerging as a real possibility 
  • Some clubs could also do away with long-term contracts for certain players

Premier League clubs have warned players they face permanent pay cuts if the season is curtailed.

Some teams have even told their stars they face losing their contracts altogether as they spelled out the stark financial implications of not restarting the season.

In discussions with players over the proposals to restart in recent days, club officials starkly laid out the consequences if football does not return before the end of July with the threat of EFL clubs going out of business emerging as a real possibility.

Premier League clubs have warned players of permanent pay cuts if the season is curtailed

Clubs have made clear that should Project Restart fail, then their contracts, once up for negotiation, are likely to fall short of what they are earning at the moment.

It is also understood some clubs will do away with long-term contracts for certain players in the their squad, with shorter deals — even one-year rolling terms — becoming the norm.

Players have also been told clubs have no option but to make non-footballing redundancies if football is not back up and running by August 1.

Clubs have made clear contracts are likely to fall short of what they are earning at the moment

Sportsmail also understands that a number of top-flight clubs have staff employed on one-year rolling deals, who are now under threat of not having their deals extended.

The warnings come amid numerous concerns from within a section of the playing community over the health risks attached to restarting the season.

A number of squads across the top four divisions have agreed to wage reductions to help ease the financial strain caused by the coronavirus crisis.

However, clubs are clearly preparing to permanently reduce their salary structures as a result of the pandemic.

A number of squads across England including Arsenal have agreed to wage reductions

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What fans of ‘The Masked Singer’ should know about Barry Zito’s baseball career

Former MLB pitcher Barry Zito revealed himself as a singing rhinocerous in “The Masked Singer” on Wednesday night, introducing TV audiences to his post-baseball career as a professional musician.

While Zito was a big deal in the early-2000s for baseball fans, many people watching the show haven’t heard of him.

After being eliminated from “The Masked Singer” in the show’s semifinals, online interest in him has spiked. We’re here to help explain his background for those unfamiliar.

Barry Zito”>

Here are the essentials on what made Zito such an interesting player and person:

The Curveball

Zito set himself apart stylistically from the rest of the league with his slow curveball, which looped into the strike zone in a way that often froze opponents in the batter’s box. 

His left-handed hook was good enough that it let him be an elite pitcher early in his career with the A’s despite not having an impressive fastball. His best year came in 2002, when he posted a 23-5 record to go along with a 2.75 ERA for Oakland. He racked up 182 strikeouts that season.

Take a look at Zito’s curveball in all of its glory:

The Big 3

Zito’s formative years in MLB were made more compelling by the fun team around him. Along with Tim Hudson and Mark Mulder, he helped form a generational pitching trio that spearheaded four straight playoff appearances.

That the A’s never made it past the first round of the postseason with their three aces is a foundational part of a recent history littered with October disappointment. Those shortcomings weren’t Zito’s fault, though. In five playoff starts from 2000 through 2003, he pitched to a 2.76 ERA.

Those teams were immortalized in the 2011 movie “Moneyball” featuring Brad Pitt.

The commercials

Zito has always been a natural entertainer, and the A’s took advantage of his talents with several classic commercial bits.

Here’s him in 2005 with then-youngsters Dan Haren and Joe Blanton:

And him the year before going pitch-for-pitch with Mulder:

The World Series

While Zito failed to match his consistent success with the A’s upon signing with the Giants ahead of the 2007 campaign, he did produce playoff magic for San Francisco.

With the Giants facing playoff elimination against the Cardinals in Game 5 of the 2012 NLCS, he threw 7 2/3 shutout innings in an effort that was crucial in his team reaching the World Series. He then won Game 1 of the World Series against Tigers right-hander Justin Verlander. The Giants swept Detroit for their second title in three years.

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On one-year anniversary of Kawhi Leonard’s ‘The Shot,’ Raptors fans react on social media

The sports world looked a lot different one year ago today.

Of course, the biggest difference was that sports were actually taking place. Beyond that, Kawhi Leonard was still a member of the Toronto Raptors and the team from up north was still without an NBA championship.

Little did we know that one year later, all three of those things would have changed. 

On May 12, 2019, Leonard hit “The Shot” to send Toronto to the Eastern Conference finals over the Philadelphia 76ers. It was arguably the greatest moment in Raptors franchise history — until about two weeks later, that is, when the team defeated the Golden State Warriors to lift their first-ever Larry O’Brien trophy. 

Kawhi Leonard’s “The Shot”: A look back at the iconic moment | Ex-Raptor Danny Green reminisces

Raptors nation took to social media on Tuesday to relive the legendary moment, which was also the first and only Game 7 buzzer-beater in NBA playoff history.

The team posted a goosebumps-inducing video on their official Twitter account.


Fans and media also shared some of their favorite photos and videos of the shot.

Of course, Sixers fans have very different memories of the shot…

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Match of the Day 'planning episodes ahead of return on June 12'

Match of the Day ‘planning for the Premier League to come back on JUNE 12… and they’re expecting nearly TWO MONTHS of uninterrupted games’

  • Match of the Day is planning for the Premier League to return on June 12 
  • The BBC programme has been told to prepare for nearly two months of games 
  • There are 92 Premier League games remaining, in addition to FA Cup fixtures 

Match of the Day is planning for the Premier League to resume on June 12.

The BBC programme has been told to prepare for nearly two months of uninterrupted games, as reported by The Telegraph.

There are 92 games remaining in the Premier League this season, with clubs still discussing whether the campaign should resume. 

Match of the Day and Gary Lineker are preparing for the Premier League to return on June 12

Matches need to be played before UEFA’s deadline of August 2 for the completion of domestic leagues. 

In addition, FA Cup games need to be played from the quarter-finals onwards.

The seven-week solution also allows for the FA Cup final to be played on August 8, which would be shown live on the BBC.

Pundit Alan Shearer and his colleagues have been told to prepare for two months of games

Fellow Match of the Day pundit Ian Wright could have plenty of games to analyse soon

Premier League clubs are set to hold talks on Monday to continue discussing Project Restart.

No Premier League games have been played since March 9, when Leicester beat Aston Villa 4-0.  

While there haven’t been any games, the BBC have shown classic fixtures, including FA Cup finals. 

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2020 NFL Offensive Player of the Year odds: Is it worth betting on Joe Burrow?

The Cincinnati Bengals have only had one player win the NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year award in their long history. Second-round pick Carl Pickens achieved the feat back in 1992, but none of this franchise’s numerous top-five picks have been able to follow up on that win. We have seen Ki-Jana Carter, Akili Smith, Peter Warrick, Carson Palmer and even A.J. Green come up short, but the oddsmakers are bullish on the chances of this year’s No. 1 overall pick, Joe Burrow. Burrow is a sizable favorite to be named OROY, but is it worth betting on Burrow at these odds?

Odds to win 2020 NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year

(Odds via

All Other Rookies at +5000 or More

Burrow is coming off the most impressive season for a quarterback in college football history. There wasn’t much expected from Burrow after a lackluster junior campaign, but Joe Brady’s offensive scheme led to LSU’s offense smashing school records in 2019. Edwards-Helaire, Jefferson and Ja’Marr Chase gave Burrow three incredible weapons to use in the Tigers’ offensive scheme, and he made the most of them in leading the Bayou Bengals to the national championship.

It’s wise to not buy into the Burrow hype though. He was seen as a mid-round pick at the end of the 2018 college football season, and Brady deserves a lot of the credit for his overhaul of LSU’s offense. Zac Taylor might be the most overmatched head coach in the NFL, and Cincinnati doesn’t have a lot of talent on the roster.

The odds on Edwards-Helaire to win Offensive Rookie of the Year have dropped considerably over the last week. Burrow’s college teammate was 10-1 to be named OROY when these odds were first released shortly after the conclusion of the 2020 NFL Draft, but bettors have jumped on the chance to bet on Edwards-Helaire. He has the potential to become Kansas City’s No. 1 running back in Week 1, and the rookie could post incredible numbers in the Chiefs’ offense. Edwards-Helaire showcased plenty of skill as a receiver out of the backfield during his time in Baton Rouge, and that should lead to plenty of chances for him to catch passes in space from Patrick Mahomes.

Indianapolis looked to address its running back issues by taking Taylor in the second-round of the 2020 NFL Draft, and he will be in one of the better situations for a rookie. His offensive line is one of the best in the league, and he will have an experienced quarterback at the helm in Philip Rivers. However, there are three big reasons to shy away from Taylor at this price. First, he has a fumbling problem, and that typically doesn’t go away in the NFL. Additionally, he was a high usage running back at Wisconsin with 926 carries in three years, and his running style makes injury concerns a real worry. Lastly, he wasn’t a great pass-catcher out of the backfield, so he will need time to adapt to that at the next level.

Tagovailoa is the most intriguing rookie in this class. He was the frontrunner to win the Heisman Trophy in 2018 and 2019 heading into the final month of the regular season, and he is the best quarterback Nick Saban has had by leaps and bounds. Tagovailoa showed a lot of promise during his time in Tuscaloosa, but two major injuries have led to many doubting whether he can stay healthy at the next level. Some are speculating that he may sit out the whole 2020 season, but if he’s cleared to play, the Dolphins may as well see what they have with Tagovailoa. This is a decent price to take a flier on the former Alabama signal caller.

There has been significant movement on Akers’ betting odds to win Offensive Rookie of the Year. Akers was 25-1 last week, but sharp bettors pounced on that line as he figures to be the feature back with the Rams. You can make a strong case that Akers was the most impressive running back in college football in 2018 and 2019 given the porous offensive line he was running behind, and he always ranked among the nation’s leaders in yards after contact. The value is largely out of Akers at this price though.

If you’re looking for a flier, Moss is a decent bet at 33-1 to win OROY. Moss was a star at Utah, and he will immediately challenge Devin Singletary as Buffalo’s top running back. Sean McDermott loves to run the ball, so Moss will see his fair share of action in 2020.

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