Manchester City became the first Premier League club to confirm that their non-playing staff will not be furloughed due to the coronavirus pandemic after leaders Liverpool were heavily criticised for their handling of the crisis.

A number of Liverpool's non-playing staff were suspended on furlough, it was announced on Saturday, leaving them free to claim 80 per cent of their wages from the United Kingdom government while the club tops up any shortfall in their pay.

Tottenham, Newcastle United, Norwich City and Bournemouth took similar action by utilising the government's furlough scheme, prompting widespread criticism of wealthy clubs opting to put further strain on public funds.

Former Liverpool midfielder Danny Murphy was among those to slam the quintet, describing their actions as "grotesque".

City took a divergent move on Sunday, with a club spokesperson saying in a statement: "We can confirm, following a decision by the chairman and board last week, that Manchester City will not be utilising the UK Government's Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (government funded furloughing).

"We remain determined to protect our people, their jobs and our business, whilst at the same time doing what we can to support our wider community at this most challenging time for everybody."

City are second in the Premier League table, 25 points behind Liverpool, and the league announced on Friday that play will not resume in early May as had been planned.

Premier League clubs met on Friday to discuss the prospects for completing the season, and the possibility of players taking a 30 per cent wage reduction was also discussed.

As the world continues to battle against the coronavirus pandemic, football fans across the globe face another weekend scratching around for something to fill the void.

The domestic calendar in England has been halted in a bid to reduce social gatherings and the Premier League has confirmed its fixtures will not resume at the start of May.

While we cannot say for sure how this weekend's Premier League fixtures would have gone, our friends at Opta have come up with a system to predict the outcomes.

What chance would your team have had? Take a look below.

Predictor explainer:

The Opta Predictor estimates the probability of each match outcome (win, draw or loss) given each team's attacking and defensive quality. The team's attacking and defensive qualities are based on four years of historic results, with more weighting given to their most recent results. The model will take into account the quality of the opposition that a team scores or concedes against and reward them accordingly.

ASTON VILLA v WOLVES

Home win: 27 per cent
Draw: 28 per cent
Away win: 45 per cent

Struggling Aston Villa were rated as unlikely to get a key victory in their battle against relegation in their scheduled fixture at home to Wolves. A home win is the least likely of the three results, with Villa having lost five straight matches across all competitions. Top-four chasing Wolves have only won five of 14 top-flight away games this season, but are backed to pick up a sixth here.

BOURNEMOUTH v NEWCASTLE UNITED

Home win: 39 per cent
Draw: 29 per cent
Away win: 32 per cent

The predictor percentages for this match are all in a very close range across the three results, indicating how hard it would have been to call. Home advantage sees Bournemouth, who sit in the bottom three, rated as narrow favourites, as they were bidding to end a four-match winless run against a Newcastle side sitting five places and eight points above them.

ARSENAL v NORWICH CITY

Home win: 67 per cent
Draw: 21 per cent
Away win: 12 per cent

The predictor rated Arsenal versus Norwich City as the most one-sided match of the week, with the Gunners given a massive 67% chance of victory. No other team got over the 50% mark. Three straight wins boosted Mikel Arteta's men prior to the disruptions caused by COVID-19. Meanwhile, bottom-of-the-table Norwich only have one win in 15 away attempts in this season's Premier League.

BRIGHTON v MANCHESTER UNITED

Home win: 25 per cent win
Draw: 29 per cent
Away win: 46 per cent

Of the 10 away teams in action, Manchester United were rated as the second-most likely to earn victory in their contest at Brighton and Hove Albion. Prior to the halt in football, United had closed within three points of Chelsea in the race for fourth place, while struggling Brighton are still yet to win a match in 2020.

CRYSTAL PALACE v BURNLEY

Home win: 41 per cent
Draw: 30 per cent
Away win: 29 per cent

No game in this match week was rated as more likely to end in a draw than the mid-table battle between Crystal Palace and Burnley at Selhurst Park. Sitting 10th and 11th, Palace and Burnley are level on points and also have the same goal difference, with Sean Dyche's side only ahead in the table due to goals scored. It is Roy Hodgson's hosts who would have gone into the clash with a narrow advantage in win probability.

WATFORD v SOUTHAMPTON

Home win: 39 per cent
Draw: 29 per cent
Away win: 32 per cent

Another tight match would have seen Watford host Southampton as Nigel Pearson's side continue their battle against relegation. Playing at home and with a win over Liverpool in their last contest at Vicarage Road, they would have gone in as very slight favourites, but Saints sit seven points better off and this is another that goes down as too close to call. 

SHEFFIELD UNITED v TOTTENHAM

Home win: 32 per cent
Draw: 30 per cent
Away win: 38 per cent

A game between two teams chasing a European place, Sheffield United and Tottenham, was the one the predictor had significant trouble calling a winner for. At 30%, it is tied with the Palace v Burnley contest as the most likely draw of the weekend. Interestingly, Spurs – who have not won for six games - do go in with a better chance of victory despite the contest being held at Bramall Lane and Sheffield United, by contrast, being on a six-match unbeaten run.

WEST HAM v CHELSEA

Home win: 25 per cent
Draw: 27 per cent
Away win: 48 per cent

Of the 10 away teams, Chelsea are given the best chance of victory in their match on the road against West Ham. Frank Lampard's men thumped Everton 4-0 before the break in action and are given a 48% chance of following that up with a win over their London rivals West Ham, who are on a poor run of one win in 10 games.

MANCHESTER CITY v LIVERPOOL

Home win: 46 per cent
Draw: 27 per cent
Away win: 27 per cent

Unquestionably the biggest match of this week was due to be second-placed Manchester City's clash with runaway league leaders Liverpool. After an almost perfect season, Jurgen Klopp's men had finally started to show some vulnerability prior to the suspension of action. They had lost three of their last four games in all competitions and the predictor believes they were most likely to go down to another defeat here, although surely it would not have been enough to derail their title bid.

EVERTON v LEICESTER CITY

Home win: 36 per cent
Draw: 29 per cent
Away win: 35 per cent

The closest match of the week is the game that was going to be the Monday night contest between Everton and Leicester City. The predictor can hardly split the two teams, with Everton given a 36% chance of winning, compared to 35% for the Foxes. Of the teams who are favourites, Carlo Ancelotti's men have the lowest percentage. They would have come into the game having collected only one point from three games, but those were against Arsenal, Manchester United and Chelsea. Leicester are third but without a win in three top-flight away fixtures.

Norwich City's squad, head coach Daniel Farke and executive committee will donate a percentage of their salaries to support people during the coronavirus crisis.

In total, over £200,000 will be donated, with Norwich also confirming the club's owners and directors have pledged to contribute.

Earlier this week, Norwich were one of a number of Premier League clubs to place non-playing staff on furlough, taking advantage of the UK government scheme in response to COVID-19 that will pay employees 80 per cent of their wages up to £2,500 per month.

The fund will be used to purchase and distribute food and essential toiletry packages for those in need in the Norfolk community, while some Norwich-based charities are also set to benefit.

Grant Hanley, Norwich's club captain, told the side's official website: "There are clearly a lot of complexities and discussions happening at this time, but right now this absolutely is the best thing we can do for our community.

"As a group of players, we wanted to stand up and do our bit. The lads have heard at first-hand stories and challenges that some of our supporters are currently facing. We need to make sure were reaching out and helping those who have been hit hard and are struggling at this time.

"It's clear the club are doing everything possible to help both staff, fans and the wider community at this challenging time, and we want to make sure we're also contributing."

The Premier League and the Professional Footballers' Association (PFA), along with representatives from the English Football League (EFL) and League Managers Association (LMA), are currently in discussions over player wages.

Professional football in England has been suspended until at least April 30, with the season able to be completed beyond June 1 if necessary.

Premier League footballers have been accused of living in a "moral vacuum" and urged to reduce their huge salaries by two prominent politicians amid the coronavirus crisis.

Tottenham, Newcastle United and Norwich City are among the clubs to have used the UK Government's furlough scheme for non-playing staff.

That job retention initiative enables employees to be paid 80 per cent of their wages - up to a maximum of £2,500 per month - by the Government while on temporary leave.

Julian Knight, the chair of the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport committee, says the scheme was not brought in to assist top-flight clubs while players remain on massive wages.

"It sticks in the throat," said Knight. "This exposes the crazy economics in English football and the moral vacuum at its centre."

He added: "This isn't what it was designed for. It's not designed to effectively allow them to continue to pay people hundreds of thousands of pounds, while at the same time furloughing staff on hundreds of pounds.

"I don't know whether or not the Treasury can legally turn down these applications.

"But at the same time I think football needs to have a good, long, hard look at itself and see whether or not morally this is really right, and whether or not actually what they need to do is come to an arrangement with some of their stars so they can continue to pay their [non-playing] staff 100 per cent of their wages rather than furloughing them on 80 per cent."

Sadiq Khan, the Mayor of London, echoed those sentiments.

He told BBC Radio 5 Live: "My view is always that those who are the least well-off should get the most help.

"Highly paid football players are people who can carry the greatest burden and they should be the first ones to, with respect, sacrifice their salary, rather than the person selling the programme or the person who does catering or the person who probably doesn't get anywhere near the salary some of the Premier League footballers get.

"It should be those with the broadest shoulders who go first because they can carry the greatest burden and have probably got savings, rather than those who work in catering or hospitality who have probably got no savings and live week by week and who probably won't get the [furlough] benefits for five weeks."

The resumption of football in Europe's top five leagues still appears some way off due to the coronavirus pandemic, leaving players with plenty of time to analyse their performances this season.

Using Opta data, we have already examined some of the worst attacking and passing numbers from 2019-20, so now it's the turn of the defence.

We have analysed nine metrics for defenders to have featured in at least 10 league games this season, thereby giving us a good summary of those whose defending could use some improvement.

The metrics include success rates in duels, tackling and aerial challenges, errors leading to shots and goals and how many times a player has been dribbled past by an opponent.

As always when it comes to data, context is key. For success rates in duels, tackling and aerial challenges we have only included players who have completed 20 actions in each category, which accounts to two per game.

The below therefore provides a good indication on where improvement is needed, and there are a few surprising names…

 

THE WORST DEFENDING STATS IN EUROPE'S TOP-FIVE LEAGUES 2019-20:

BUNDESLIGA:

Most tackles lost: William (29)
Worst tackle success: Alexander Hack (40.91 per cent)
Most errors leading to goals: Robin Koch (3)
Most errors leading to shots (including goals): Robin Koch (3)
Most dribbled past by an opponent: William (32)
Most duels lost: Stefan Lainer (125)
Worst duel success: Julian Ryerson (35 per cent)
Most aerials lost: Robin Koch and Sven Bender (56)
Worst aerial success: Christian Gunter (22.86 per cent)

LALIGA:

Most tackles lost: Pervis Estupinan (34)
Worst tackle success: Nacho Monreal (40 per cent)
Most errors leading to goals: Joseph Aidoo and Sergio Ramos (2)
Most errors leading to shots (including goals): Pervis Estupinan (5)
Most dribbled past by an opponent: Marc Cucurella (35)
Most duels lost: Marc Cucurella (167)
Worst duel success: Daniel Carrico (40.3 per cent)
Most aerials lost: Didac Vila (55)
Worst aerial success: Xavi Quintilla (25.71 per cent)

LIGUE 1:

Most tackles lost: Boubacar Kamara (33)
Worst tackle success: Lionel Carole (34.78 per cent)
Most errors leading to goals: Sofiane Alakouch, Timothee Kolodziejczak and Stefan Mitrovic (2)
Most errors leading to shots (including goals): Wesley Fofana, Alexander Djiku and Malang Sarr (4)
Most dribbled past by an opponent: Arturo Calabresi (42)
Most duels lost: Issiaga Sylla (161)
Worst duel success: Colin Dagba (40 per cent)
Most aerials lost: Pablo Martinez (59)
Worst aerial success: Hamza Mendyl (17.39 per cent)

PREMIER LEAGUE:

Most tackles lost: Ricardo Pereira (50)
Worst tackle success: Calum Chambers (38.46 per cent)
Most errors leading to goals: Jan Bednarek (3)
Most errors leading to shots (including goals): Jan Bednarek, Tyrone Mings, John Egan, Davinson Sanchez and James Tarkowski (4)
Most dribbled past by an opponent: Ricardo Pereira (53)
Most duels lost: Ricardo Pereira (215)
Worst duel success: Benjamin Mendy (37.38 per cent)
Most aerials lost: Ben Mee (84)
Worst aerial success: Max Aarons (26.09 per cent)

SERIE A:

Most tackles lost: Matteo Darmian (32)
Worst tackle success: Andrea Cistana (40 per cent)
Most errors leading to goals: Jhon Chancellor, Fabio Lucioni, Jose Luis Palomino, Alex Sandro (2)
Most errors leading to shots (including goals): Fabio Lucioni (5)
Most dribbled past by an opponent: Stefano Sabelli (40)
Most duels lost: Giovanni Di Lorenzo (126)
Worst duel success: Hans Hateboer (40.63 per cent)
Most aerials lost: Mattia Bani (57)
Worst aerial success: Jeremy Toljan (28.00 per cent)

AND THE TOP NINE:

Most tackles lost: Ricardo Pereira (50)
Worst tackle success: Lionel Carole (34.78 per cent)
Most errors leading to goals: Robin Koch and Jan Bednarek (3)
Most errors leading to shots (including goals): Pervis Estupinan and Fabio Lucioni (5)
Most dribbled past by an opponent: Ricardo Pereira (53)
Most duels lost: Ricardo Pereira (215)
Worst duel success: Julian Ryerson (35 per cent)
Most aerials lost: Ben Mee (84)
Worst aerial success: Hamza Mendyl (17.39 per cent)

As the world continues to battle against the coronavirus pandemic, football fans across the globe face another weekend scratching around for something to fill the void.

The domestic calendar in England was halted last week in a bid to reduce social gatherings and the Football Association confirmed its leagues would not return until at least the end of April.

While we cannot say for sure how this weekend's Premier League fixtures would have gone, our friends at Opta have come up with a system to predict the outcomes.

What chance would your team have had? Take a look below.

 

Predictor explainer:

The Opta Predictor estimates the probability of each match outcome (win, draw or loss) given each team's attacking and defensive quality. The team's attacking and defensive qualities are based on four years of historic results, with more weighting given to their most recent results. The model will take into account the quality of the opposition that a team scores or concedes against and reward them accordingly.


 

BURNLEY v WATFORD

Home win: 49 per cent
Draw: 26 per cent
Away win: 25 per cent

Watford may have handed Liverpool their first defeat of the Premier League season, but with just one victory in their past three visits to Turf Moor it is Burnley who are expected to win by the predictor. Sean Dyche's side have gone unbeaten in seven top-flight matches to move into a more comfortable position in the middle of the table.

CHELSEA v MANCHESTER CITY

Home win: 30 per cent
Draw: 24 per cent
Away win: 46 per cent

Manchester City are the pick to prevail at Stamford Bridge, a ground where Pep Guardiola has lost on two of his three Premier League visits. Kevin De Bruyne's winner in September 2017 fired City's charge to a 100-point title romp but goals from N'Golo Kante and David Luiz saw the Blues hand Guardiola's men the first league defeat of their triumphant 2018-19 campaign. Kante and De Bruyne were both on target when the sides met at the Etihad Stadium back in November, before Riyad Mahrez sealed a 2-1 comeback win for the hosts.

LEICESTER CITY v BRIGHTON

Home win: 62 per cent
Draw: 22 per cent
Away win: 16 per cent

Brighton won at Arsenal back in December, but that was just one of two away victories for the Seagulls so far in the Premier League this season, so their prospects at Leicester were inevitably looking bleak. After a worrying slump, Leicester looked to have rediscovered their mojo by the time the league ground to a halt, with Jamie Vardy back on the goal trail following a drought. Leicester’s nine wins at the King Power Stadium this term looked highly likely to become 10.

LIVERPOOL v CRYSTAL PALACE

Home win: 76 per cent win
Draw: 16 per cent
Away win: 8 per cent

A predicted triumph for Liverpool at Anfield is by no means a surprise given they are on a top-flight record of 22 straight home wins. With just an eight per cent chance of winning, Palace had the lowest chance of victory in this round of fixtures. However, with City predicted to come out on top against Chelsea, the Reds' wait to clinch the Premier League title would have continued.

MANCHESTER UNITED v SHEFFIELD UNITED

Home win: 48 per cent
Draw: 30 per cent
Away win: 22 per cent

The halt in football action came at a bad time for Manchester United, who were on a magnificent roll - 11 matches unbeaten with eight victories. The Opta predictor backed the hosts to continue that run, but at 48 per cent, a home win was seen as far from a certainty. Amid an amazing season, Sheffield United are just two points behind Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's men and at 30 per cent, it is the most likely contest on the matchday to end in a draw. That was also the outcome in a thrilling 3-3 draw at Bramall Lane in November.

NEWCASTLE UNITED v ASTON VILLA

Home win: 54 per cent
Draw: 24 per cent
Away win: 22 per cent

The predicted win for Newcastle is something Aston Villa – second from bottom and 10 points shy of Steve Bruce's men – could ill afford in reality. Newcastle are unbeaten in five matches at St James' Park, although that run includes three consecutive 0-0 draws. Villa have lost four in succession in the Premier League and only won three times in the top flight since beating the Magpies 2-0 in the corresponding fixture on November 25.

NORWICH CITY v EVERTON

Home win: 28 per cent
Draw: 26 per cent
Away win: 46 per cent

Norwich prop up the Premier League table and the predictor reflects as such, with Everton having a greater chance of victory on the road. The Toffees' last win at Carrow Road came in 2004, though, and Everton were beaten 2-0 at home by Daniel Farke's side back in November, Todd Cantwell and Dennis Srbeny with the goals at Goodison Park.

SOUTHAMPTON v ARSENAL

Home win: 28 per cent
Draw: 24 per cent
Away win: 48 per cent

Southampton’s resurgence during December and January had given way to a worrying patch of form over February and early March. Ralph Hasenhuttl's men did beat Aston Villa at home, but this Arsenal side under Mikel Arteta’s leadership are a different prospect to the team Saints held 2-2 in north London back in November. The Gunners are unbeaten in the Premier League in 2020, and they would have fancied claiming all three points on offer at St Mary's.

TOTTENHAM v WEST HAM

Home win: 70 per cent
Draw: 17 per cent
Away win: 13 per cent

The Hammers were not predicted to fare particularly well at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, but they did defy the odds with a 1-0 win at the same venue in April 2019, Michail Antonio scoring the winner. Tottenham were the victors in the reverse fixture this season, a 3-2 triumph in Jose Mourinho's first match in charge.

WOLVES V BOURNEMOUTH

Home win: 58 per cent
Draw: 23 per cent
Away win: 19 per cent

Wolves are unbeaten in all three of their Premier League matches against Bournemouth, including a 2-1 win in the reverse fixture, and the predictor has them as the more likely winners on this matchday. That would come as a welcome relief to Wolves, who have won just one of their last five home top-flight matches, while Eddie Howe's men would be primed for a seventh consecutive away loss.

The Premier League has been suspended until at least April 30 due to the coronavirus pandemic, so what does that mean for the rest of the season?

Decisions made by UEFA and CONMEBOL to push back Euro 2020 and the Copa America until 2021 opened the door for domestic competition to continue longer than initially planned.

Upon announcing a four-week extension to the initially planned hiatus on Thursday, the Football Association (FA) revealed it would allow its leagues to continue beyond the June 1 deadline set out in its regulations.

The eventual run-in could prove to be heavily congested. Some Premier League teams are still competing on three fronts, others possess a game in hand, while UEFA is still hoping for a round of international matches in June.

If no games are cut out, we look at how the calendar for English teams could hypothetically shape up if competitions across Europe were able to resume following April 30.

 

May 2/3 - Matchday 30

May 7 - Postponed Europa League last-16 first legs and unplayed matchday 29 games

May 9/10 - Matchday 31

May 12/13/14 - FA Cup quarter-finals

May 16/17 - Matchday 32

May 19/20/21 - Champions League and Europa League last-16 second legs

May 23/24 - Matchday 33

May 26/27/28 - Champions League and Europa League quarter-final first legs

May 30/31 - Matchday 34

June 2/3/4 - Champions League and Europa League quarter-final second legs

June 6/7 - Matchday 35

June 13/14 - International week

June 20/21 - Matchday 36

June 23/24/25 - Champions League and Europa League semi-final first legs

June 27/28 - Matchday 37

June 30/July 1/2 - FA Cup semi-finals

July 4 - Matchday 38

July 7/8/9 - Champions League and Europa League semi-final second legs

July 11 - FA Cup final

July 15 - Europa League final

July 18 - Champions League final

Liverpool came from behind to beat Bournemouth 2-1 and set a record for the most consecutive home wins in England's top-flight history.

Jurgen Klopp's side edged closer to a first Premier League title thanks to goals from Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane, after Callum Wilson had put the Cherries ahead at Anfield.

Arsenal were given a tough time by West Ham before Alexandre Lacazette came off the bench to drag them closer to the Champions League places, but Wolves slipped up against Brighton and Hove Albion.

At the foot of the table, Norwich City are beginning to look a lost cause, but Newcastle United gave their own survival hopes a real boost.

LACAZETTE KEEPS CHAMPIONS LEAGUE HOPES ALIVE

Arsenal are now five points behind fourth-placed Chelsea and three adrift of Wolves in fifth after battling to a 1-0 win over West Ham.

David Moyes' side managed 14 shots to the Gunners' nine, hit the post through Jarrod Bowen and were thwarted more than once by Bernd Leno, but they were undone by substitute Lacazette with 12 minutes to play.

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang's shot deflected to Mesut Ozil, who headed the ball to Lacazette to allow the striker to lash home the winner, the goal awarded after a VAR check overturned the initial offside call.

Wolves are only three ahead of Mikel Arteta's side, having missed out on the chance to move into the top four after failing to break down Brighton in a 0-0 draw at Molineux.

 

CENTURION SALAH GETS REDS BACK ON TRACK

Having lost three of their past four games across all competitions, Liverpool's Anfield home was not exactly in good spirits when Wilson tapped in Jefferson Lerma's cross to give Bournemouth a ninth-minute lead.

Bournemouth, though, are a team who had lost their previous five league games against Liverpool by an aggregate score of 17-0, so banking on them keeping the leaders at bay was always a long shot.

Unfortunately for Eddie Howe, Bournemouth rather gifted Liverpool their goals. Salah scored his 70th Liverpool goal in his 100th league appearance after Jack Simpson carelessly lost the ball to Mane, and it was 2-1 before the break when the visitors gave up possession in midfield and Virgil van Dijk played Mane in to score.

It was not a vintage display, but it did give Liverpool a record 22nd top-flight home victory in a row and put them 25 points clear at the top. Bournemouth remain 18th, behind Watford on goal difference, the Hornets having lost 1-0 at Crystal Palace.

MAGPIES ON THE UP BUT CANARIES ARE IN TROUBLE

Newcastle's run of five league games without a win - and four without a goal - came to an end with a 1-0 defeat of Southampton on the south coast.

Matt Ritchie, who signed a new contract at Newcastle this week, saw a penalty saved in the first half, not long after Moussa Djenepo had been sent off in a separate incident for a reckless challenge on Isaac Hayden, but Allan Saint-Maximin struck 79 minutes in to lift the Magpies eight points above the bottom three.

Norwich, though, are still six points from safety after a Billy Sharp goal and another fine performance from Dean Henderson saw them lose 1-0 at Sheffield United, who sit sixth.

Jose Mourinho believes the atmosphere during Tottenham's FA Cup defeat to Norwich City was "fantastic" and "an example of what football should be" despite the match being marred by an incident involving Eric Dier and a fan.

Spurs lost 3-2 on penalties following a 1-1 draw after extra-time on Wednesday, with Dier one of the two who successfully converted his spot-kick.

But after the match, photos and videos began circulating on social media showing Dier marching into the stands at full-time to confront a supporter, with Mourinho later confirming the midfielder had gone into the crowd to deal with an incident involving his brother.

One of the videos showed the England international being restrained by a group of people made up of fans and stewards, with the situation appearing to be diffused before an altercation occurred.

And Mourinho ignored the incident when asked about the crowd atmosphere on Wednesday, insisting he "didn't see any negativity".

"I think the atmosphere on Wednesday was fantastic," Mourinho told reporters on Friday. "It was an example of what football has to be and should be – 9,000 away fans [from Norwich]. Fantastic.

"I think, independent of their happiness at the result, they [Norwich fans] came to enjoy and it was great. Great respect from the Tottenham fans to them. I don't know one single incident that happened.

"Tottenham fans were supporting the team from minute one until the last penalty we missed. Fantastic support from our fans. I didn't see any negativity.

"If somebody had a little incident in the end, I prefer to focus on the beautiful things in the game and to praise fans from both clubs for such a fantastic support.

"Wednesday night, cold rainy night, but a huge, completely full stadium, great atmosphere, big fight but no incidents between players.

"Two or three yellow cards by normal actions. Great relations between the two benches. We have a fantastic relationship between the staffs. Good referees and the only thing apart from that incident I didn't like was that in the penalty shoot-out, the assistant on the line and the VAR they were sleeping.

"They were sleeping because if they were not then every penalty that [Tim] Krul saved should be repeated. So, they were a bit tired, it was too late and they were sleeping."

Mourinho also confirmed on Friday he sees no reason not to play Dier in Saturday's Premier League meeting with Burnley.

Eric Dier clambering over rows of seats to confront a fan after Tottenham's FA Cup loss to Norwich City was an extraordinary sight.

However, the spectacle was not without precedent, as sportspeople have come into conflict with supporters several times in the past.

While the 'professional' approach is to ignore the vitriol and insults that sometimes emanate from the crowd, there are occasions when instinct takes over.

With Dier likely facing punishment for his indiscretion at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, we take a look at other sports stars who chose the direct approach in dealing with troublesome fans.

CANTONA'S KUNG-FU KICK

It is possibly the most famous incident of its kind, perpetrated by a hot-headed Frenchman on a cold January night in London back in 1995.

Manchester United's Eric Cantona had just been sent off at Crystal Palace and was heading towards the tunnel when he heard a tirade of abuse from someone in attendance at Selhurst Park.

An incensed Cantona launched into a kung-fu kick, targeting Matthew Simmons – the man who, in his limited wisdom, had chosen to share his ill-considered views – before attempting to land a flurry of punches.

The Football Association banned Cantona for eight months, while he was sentenced to two weeks in jail – later reduced to 120 hours of community service – for his display of martial arts.

 

WESTBROOK READY TO THROW DOWN

Russell Westbrook stopped short of a physical altercation when he felt he had been subjected to some vile taunts during the Oklahoma City Thunders' win over the Utah Jazz last March.

The nine-time NBA All-Star, now with the Houston Rockets, was captured on film delivering an expletive-laden rant to a man and his wife, sat court-side at the Jazz's Vivint Smart Home Arena.

Westbrook snarled: "I'll f*** you up. You and your wife."

The Jazz issued a lifetime ban to one of the perpetrators for "excessive and derogatory verbal abuse directed at a player".

Meanwhile, Westbrook was fined $25,000 by the NBA "for directing profanity and threatening language to a fan".

 

NO JOKE FOR STOKES

Ben Stokes uses controlled aggression very much to his advantage with bat and ball, but he let his anger get the better of him during a Test match in South Africa in January.

The England all-rounder was dismissed for two on the opening day at the Wanderers and was heard on a live broadcast aiming expletives at a spectator.

Stokes claimed to have been "subjected to repeated abuse", but later took to Twitter to say sorry for his "unprofessional" reaction.

He was fined 15 per cent of his match fee by the International Cricket Council match referee.

 

MALICE AT THE PALACE

No, this isn't Cantona again, but it is arguably a more remarkable incident. The brawl that broke out between the Indiana Pacers and the Detroit Pistons in a 2004 NBA game was spectacular enough in itself, but then it got a whole lot crazier.

With the initial disorder beginning to calm, tensions flared again when a fan threw a drink at Pacers small forward Ron Artest, who made a beeline for his assailant. 

That prompted a wide-scale fracas involving players and spectators, with heavy sanctions for many involved.

The NBA dished out a combined 146-game ban for nine of the players, with five charged with assault, while five fans were hit by lifetime bans.

 

CLOUGH GETS TOUGH

Brian Clough was a notoriously no-nonsense football manager and he demonstrated that for all to see in memorable scenes at Nottingham Forest's City Ground in 1989.

With his Forest side having beaten QPR 5-2 to reach the last four of the League Cup, the home fans invaded the pitch to celebrate.

Clough, however, was in no mood to rejoice with them and instead chose to dish out a bit of rough justice, punching, slapping and grabbing anyone he could lay his hands on.

Two of his victims were later invited to the club for an apology – not from Clough, but for them to say sorry to him.

Eric Dier is set to come under scrutiny from a Football Association investigation after he entered the stands to confront a supporter following Tottenham's FA Cup fifth-round loss to Norwich City.

Stats Perform understands the FA will be investigating the incident, with Dier having becoming embroiled in a row that apparently involved his brother.

Footage emerged on social media showing the England international climbing over rows of seats to approach a fan at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium after Spurs' shoot-out defeat on Wednesday.

Dier scored his penalty but the hosts were beaten 3-2 on spot-kicks, with the 26-year-old seemingly irked by the words of someone in the crowd as he walked off the field.

While Spurs boss Jose Mourinho conceded "Eric Dier did what we as professionals cannot do", the Portuguese said he would not support any club sanctions against his player.

Jose Mourinho questioned people sitting in "privileged positions" at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium and whether they are "real" Spurs fans after Eric Dier climbed into the stands to confront supporters.

Tottenham crashed out of the FA Cup in the fifth round following Wednesday's penalty shoot-out loss to Norwich City after a 1-1 draw at the end of extra time.

The match was overshadowed by an incident involving Tottenham's England international Dier, who jumped over advertising hoardings and rushed into the stands as the stadium emptied in London.

Tottenham head coach Mourinho said the incident involved Dier's brother before the Portuguese discussed fans sitting in the corporate areas of the stadium.

"The people that are in these privileged positions by the tunnel," Mourinho told reporters post-match, while adding he is unaware of racism allegations.

"Of course some are Tottenham fans but I think a lot of corporate, a lot of invitation, a lot of people with special status and probably it's the place of the stadium where I sometimes have doubts over if they are the real Tottenham fans because these [real fans] are the ones who support the boys until the last.

"This person insulted Eric, this family was there. The young brother was not happy with the situation and then Eric, I repeat did what we professionals cannot do, but did something that probably we would do."

The loss is another blow for injury-ravaged Tottenham, who have gone four matches without a win in all competitions.

Spurs must dust themselves off quickly as they travel to Burnley in the Premier League on Saturday before making the trip to RB Leipzig for the return leg of their Champions League last-16 tie only three days later.

With Tottenham – seventh in the Premier League and five points off fourth place – struggling for fitness and trying to compete in the Champions League, Mourinho said he can only prioritise one competition.

"In this moment I have to think about what's next and I have to speak to my club because I think some of these boys to have a chance to fight Tuesday for a Champions League position they just can't play on Saturday," Mourinho added. "Particularly in forward positions, behind we've got options but not going forward."

"I think we don't deserve the result but that's football. As you can expect it was a difficult game, as I could expect some of my players were really, really in trouble and they made an incredible effort to try," he said.

"Harry Winks was completely dead. I think he's started 11 to 12 games in a row, we had many, many players in trouble.

"I don't have one single negative feeling towards my players, the opposite, they tried fantastic things. I am really, really sad for the boys, I can cope with the bad result and with negative moments, I've had so many, but I am really sad for the players."

Tottenham midfielder Eric Dier entered the stands and confronted a supporter following the team's FA Cup fifth-round defeat to Norwich City amid a row involving the player's brother.

Spurs exited the competition in a penalty shoot-out on Wednesday, as Tim Krul saved two spot-kicks following a 1-1 draw after extra-time.

Dier scored his penalty but appeared irked by the actions of a fan following full-time and marched into the stands.

With the stadium emptying, stewards separated the England international from the individual involved, with clips of the clash quickly emerging on social media.

Asked about the altercation in his post-match media conference, Mourinho said: "I don't think that belongs to the game. The game was a fantastic representation of the FA Cup, but I cannot run away from the question.

"I think Eric Dier did what we as professionals cannot do but when someone insults you and your family is involved, especially your young brother...

"This person insulted Eric, the younger brother was not happy with the situation, and Eric was not happy. We as professionals cannot do what he did."

Mourinho did not want Tottenham to punish Dier for his actions, adding: "If the club discipline Eric Dier, I would not agree with it. But what he did was wrong."

Norwich City are into the FA Cup quarter-finals for the first time since 1991-92 thanks to a dramatic 3-2 win on penalties at Tottenham after a 1-1 draw, Tim Krul the star of the show in the shoot-out.

Daniel Farke's Canaries missed their first penalty, but Krul's heroics – coupled with some poor efforts by Spurs – allowed Norwich to secure their passage to the last eight despite also having to come from behind in regulation time.

Giovani Lo Celso was the chief instigator for Spurs in the first half and set up Jan Vertonghen to score just 13 minutes in, but the visitors responded well and were well worth a leveller when Josip Drmic pounced on a Michel Vorm mistake in the 78th minute.

Norwich survived extra-time but looked to be in trouble when they missed their first penalty following Eric Dier's opener, yet Troy Parrott and Gedson Fernandes both had efforts saved by Krul, securing the Canaries a famous win.

FA Cup holders Manchester City face a trip to Newcastle United in the quarter-finals.

Pep Guardiola's men were unconvincing in their fifth-round clash with Championship side Sheffield Wednesday, Sergio Aguero scoring the only goal in a 1-0 win.

City's reward is a trip to St James' Park, where they were held to a 2-2 Premier League draw in November.

Chelsea, who knocked out runaway Premier League leaders Liverpool on Tuesday, will visit fellow Champions League chasers Leicester City.

Arsenal's quest to extend their competition record to 14 titles next takes them to Bramall Lane, the Gunners having suffered a 1-0 defeat there in October when Unai Emery was still at the helm.

Derby County, the sole remaining non-Premier League side in the competition, will travel to Norwich City should they stun Manchester United on Thursday.

Wednesday's clash between Tottenham and Norwich was locked at 1-1 in extra time, but Tim Krul denied Gedson Fernandes in a penalty shoot-out to send the Canaries through.

The quarter-final matches will be played on the weekend of March 20-22.

 

Draw in full:

Sheffield United v Arsenal
Newcastle United v Manchester City
Norwich City v Derby County/Manchester United
Leicester City v Chelsea

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