EPL: Tuchel Wins First Match As Chelsea Coach

Chelsea’s Spanish defender Marcos Alonso is mobbed by teammates after scoring his team’s second goal during the English Premier League football match between Chelsea and Burnley at Stamford Bridge in London on January 31, 2021. Julian Finney / POOL / AFP

 

Cesar Azpilicueta scored the first goal of the Thomas Tuchel era and forgotten man Marcos Alonso produced a stunning finish as dominant Chelsea earned a 2-0 win against toothless Burnley on Sunday.

The former Paris Saint-German boss was brought in to replace Frank Lampard last week with a brief to haul stuttering Chelsea back into the race for Champions League spots.

He endured a frustrating goalless stalemate against Wolves at Stamford Bridge in midweek and Burnley also promised to be awkward opponents before fading as the match wore on.

Tuchel’s team dominated the encounter, limiting Burnley to a single attempt on goal but struggled to break them down.

READ ALSO: Man Utd Stumble Again In Arsenal Stalemate

But two moments of magic from Azpilicueta and Alonso mean the German now has four points from six after two matches at the helm.

The result lifts Chelsea to seventh in the Premier League, just four points behind fourth-placed Liverpool, who are in action later on Sunday.

Sean Dyche’s Burnley started brightly, enjoying plenty of possession and finding space but failed to test Edouard Mendy in the Chelsea goal.

The home side took time to settle into a rhythm but as the first-half wore on they started to dominate and created a number of chances.

The recalled Alonso misdirected a header while Mason Mount and the out-of-form Timo Werner missed presentable chances.

Chelsea’s English midfielder Callum Hudson-Odoi controls the ball as they defend a corner during the English Premier League football match between Chelsea and Burnley at Stamford Bridge in London on January 31, 2021. JUSTIN TALLIS / POOL / AFP

 

England midfielder Mount, who has been in outstanding form this season, was surprisingly left out against Wolves but was back in the starting line-up on Sunday.

Chelsea finally got the breakthrough their football deserved five minutes before the break after breaking at pace.

The ball was worked to Callum Hudson-Odoi on the right side of the Chelsea attack.

He cut inside and played a neat reverse ball into the path of Azpilicueta, who produced a thumping side-foot finish past Nick Pope after racing from deep in his own half.

Chelsea started the second half on the front foot, pinning the visitors back.

The luckless Werner, who has scored just once since November, headed straight at Pope before the lively Hudson-Odoi hit the post with a powerful defected shot.

Hudson-Odoi flashed a ball across the Burnley box before Mount tried his luck from distance.

Christian Pulisic, who came on at half-time to replace Tammy Abraham, mishit his shot after more good work from Hudson-Odoi before Pope saved with his legs from substitute Reece James.

But Chelsea had little to fear at the other end, especially after Burnley lost the physical presence of forward Chris Wood shortly after the hour mark.

Alonso, who had fallen out of favour under Lampard, sealed the three points six minutes from time when he controlled a Pulisic cross on his chest before lashing past Pope.

He kissed his Chelsea badge as the players celebrated a vital three points.

AFP

‘I Am Here To Challenge For Every Trophy’ – Chelsea’s Tuchel

Chelsea’s German head coach Thomas Tuchel (C) meets match officials before the English Premier League football match between Chelsea and Wolverhampton Wanderers at Stamford Bridge in London on January 27, 2021. (Photo by Richard Heathcote / POOL / AFP)

 

Thomas Tuchel accepts he will be judged on results after becoming the 13th Chelsea manager of owner Roman Abramovich’s 17-year reign in charge of the Premier League club.

The Blues sacked club legend Frank Lampard, who is Chelsea’s all-time top goalscorer, on Monday after a run of five defeats in eight Premier League games.

Tuchel got off to an underwhelming start with a 0-0 draw at home to Wolves on Wednesday, just 24 hours after he was appointed.

The German said a title challenge was not realistic this season with Chelsea 11 points adrift of leaders Manchester City, but wants to challenge for silverware in the FA Cup and Champions League.

“If you are signing for Chelsea you are signing for the hunger of titles,” Tuchel said at his unveiling to the media on Thursday. “You are signing for being competitive in every competition you play. I’m totally aware of that.

“I am here to challenge for every trophy we play for. Realistically this year it is the Champions League and the FA Cup, to speak now about the Premier League title is not realistic.

“The club makes this very clear in the end — at Chelsea it is about results.

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“It is about results for us as managers. We always try to bring in performance, to improve players, increase their value but I’m very realistic, I’m in a club whose DNA it is to win and go for trophies.”

Despite the upheaval of coaching changes, no English club have won more trophies than Chelsea during the Abramovich era.

The Russian billionaire bankrolled a £220 million ($300 million) investment in new players during the summer transfer window but Lampard failed to get the best from them.

Tuchel will be expected to get compatriots Timo Werner and Kai Havertz back to the level that lured Chelsea into spending more than £120 million on two of the Bundesliga’s biggest talents.

Despite winning Ligue 1 twice in his two full seasons in charge and leading Paris Saint-Germain to their first-ever Champions League final last season, Tuchel was sacked by the French champions late last year.

The 47-year-old had less than a month out of the game and admitted he faces a very different challenge in the Premier League compared with PSG’s dominance of French football.

But Tuchel is looking forward to doing battle with big names such as Manchester City’s Pep Guardiola and Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp.

“It was the opportunity at one of the biggest clubs in the world, in the most competitive league in the world,” he added.

“It felt like we should absolutely not miss the chance to be part of the Chelsea family and to compete for titles with the best managers and the best teams. It was a pretty easy choice.”

Thomas Tuchel Appointed Chelsea Manager

FILES) In this file photo taken on July 17, 2020 Paris Saint-Germain’s German coach Thomas Tuchel looks on prior to the friendly football match Paris Saint-Germain (PSG) vs Waasland-Beveren at the Parc des Princes stadium in Paris. 
Anne-Christine POUJOULAT / AFP

 

Thomas Tuchel was appointed Chelsea manager on an 18-month contract on Tuesday, tasked with hauling the underperforming Blues back into the Champions League next season.

The 47-year-old German replaces the sacked Frank Lampard to become the 13th Chelsea boss since Russian oligarch Roman Abramovich bought the club in 2003.

“I would like to thank Chelsea FC for their confidence in me and my staff,” said Tuchel.

“We all have the greatest respect for Frank Lampard’s work and the legacy he created at Chelsea.

“At the same time, I cannot wait to meet my new team and compete in the most exciting league in football. I am grateful to now be part of the Chelsea family – it feels amazing!”

Tuchel will take charge for the first time when Wolves visit Stamford Bridge in the Premier League on Wednesday.

Lampard, Chelsea’s record goalscorer as a player, was dismissed on Monday after a run of five defeats in eight league games that saw his side slide to ninth in the table, 11 points behind leaders Manchester United.

That was not the return Abramovich expected after a £200 million ($300 million) spending spree in the summer transfer window at a time when most of Europe’s top clubs were scaling back due to the economic consequences of the coronavirus pandemic.

“It is never easy to change head coach in the middle of the season but we are very happy to secure one of Europe’s best coaches in Thomas Tuchel,” said Chelsea director Marina Granovskaia.

“There is still much to play for and much to achieve, this season and beyond.”

– Werner, Havertz conundrum –

Tuchel’s task will be to get the best out of German compatriots Timo Werner and Kai Havertz, who have struggled to live up to their price tags in their first few months in England.

Despite guiding Paris Saint-Germain to their first Champions League final in August, Tuchel was sacked himself by the French champions last month.

His falling out with PSG sporting director Leonardo played a large part in that and his habit of fractious relations with his employers does not bode well for his prospects at a club with such a famously impatient owner.

“Tuchel will be exposed to exactly the same rules as Frank,” said Lampard’s former England team-mate Gary Neville.

“We’ll be talking about him being let go in the next 18 months to two years, I’m pretty sure of that.”

Tuchel previously held talks with Chelsea over replacing Antonio Conte after he left Dortmund in 2017.

Instead, he ended up in the French capital, where he won back-to-back league titles and ended PSG’s run of crashing out the Champions League in the last 16.

Chelsea face a daunting last-16 tie when the Champions League returns next month against La Liga leaders Atletico Madrid.

Tuchel also has to win round the Chelsea support that have been upset at the handling of Lampard’s dismissal.

“Absolutely gutted. Frank Lampard is, and always will be, a legend of Chelsea Football Club,” the Chelsea Supporters’ Trust tweeted on his departure.

Lampard achieved a fourth-place finish in his first season in charge to secure a place in the Champions League despite a transfer ban and the sale of Eden Hazard to Real Madrid.

However, his Premier League points-per-game average of 1.67 is the lowest for any Chelsea manager in the Abramovich era.

“I am disappointed not to have had the time this season to take the club forward and bring it to the next level,” said Lampard.

-AFP

Chelsea Sack Coach Frank Lampard

File photo: Chelsea’s English head coach Frank Lampard reacts during the English FA Cup final football match between Arsenal and Chelsea at Wembley Stadium in London, on August 1, 2020. – Arsenal won the match 2-1. (Photo by Adam Davy / POOL / AFP) / NOT FOR MARKETING OR ADVERTISING USE / RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE

 

Chelsea announced on Monday they had sacked manager Frank Lampard after a poor run in the Premier League.

“This was a very difficult decision for the club, not least because I have an excellent personal relationship with Frank and I have the utmost respect for him,” said owner Roman Abramovich.

“However, recent results and performances have not met the club’s expectations, leaving the club mid-table without any clear path to sustained improvement.”

The club’s Russian owner Roman Abramovich said: “This was a very difficult decision for the club, not least because I have an excellent personal relationship with Frank and I have the utmost respect for him.

“He is a man of great integrity and has the highest of work ethics. However, under current circumstances we believe it is best to change managers.”

Former Paris Saint-Germain boss Thomas Tuchel, who was abruptly sacked by the French champions in December, is in line to take over, reports said.

Chelsea are struggling in ninth place in the Premier League table, 11 points behind leaders Manchester United.

They have lost five of their past eight Premier League matches after a good start to the season.

Lampard signed a three-year deal in 2019 and despite a transfer ban, led them to the FA Cup final and a fourth-place finish in his first managerial campaign at Stamford Bridge.

But a huge outlay of around £220 million ($300 million) on new players including Ben Chilwell and German attackers Kai Havertz and Timo Werner has failed to translate into improved results.

Lampard’s points-per-game average of 1.67 is the fourth-lowest of any permanent Chelsea manager in the Premier League.

Tuchel only became available a month ago when he left PSG, less than five months after taking them to the Champions League final, which they lost to Bayern Munich.

The 47-year-old German won back-to-back league titles with PSG, but that was not enough to satisfy the club’s Qatari owners, who replaced him with former Tottenham manager Mauricio Pochettino.

Prior to PSG, Tuchel impressed at Borussia Dortmund, having started his managerial career with Augsburg and then Mainz.

-AFP

 

Frank Lampard Set To Be Sacked As Chelsea Coach – Reports

File photo: Chelsea’s English head coach Frank Lampard reacts during the English FA Cup final football match between Arsenal and Chelsea at Wembley Stadium in London, on August 1, 2020. – Arsenal won the match 2-1. (Photo by Adam Davy / POOL / AFP) / NOT FOR MARKETING OR ADVERTISING USE / RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE

 

Chelsea boss, Frank Lampard is poised to be sacked on Monday after a run of mediocre results that sees the West London side place 9th on the premier league log.

Lampard has been under pressure lately following losses to Everton, Wolves, Manchester City and Leicester.

A draw to Aston Villa further dampened the mood at the club making his stay at Stamford bridge an uncertainty

Reports from the UK media have it that the Chelsea players were asked not to report to the training ground until Monday afternoon.

The confirmation of his sack could come as early as Monday afternoon as the club takes decisive action to appoint his successor to put the club back to winning ways.

Despite a 3-1 victory over Championship side Luton FC  in the FA Cup fourth round on Sunday, there appears to be no reprieve for the 42-year-old.

Amongst favourites to replace the Chelsea legend include Thomas Tuchel, who was sacked as Paris Saint-Germain manager in December, Brendan Rodgers, current Leicester city boss who has had an impressive showing with his side  sitting 3rd on the EPL log.

Former Juventus boss, Max Allegri has also been tipped to be a likely successor.

 

FA Cup: Abraham’s Hat-trick Takes Heat Off Lampard As Chelsea Advance

Chelsea’s English striker Tammy Abraham (2nd L) celebrates with teammates after scoring his third goal, Chelsea’s third during the English FA Cup fourth round football match between Chelsea and Luton Town at Stamford Bridge in London on January 24, 2021.
DANIEL LEAL-OLIVAS / AFP

 

Tammy Abraham eased the pressure on under-fire Frank Lampard as the Chelsea striker’s hat-trick sealed a 3-1 win against Luton in the FA Cup fourth round on Sunday.

In just his second season in charge at Chelsea, Lampard is fighting to avoid the sack after a wretched run in the Premier League.

An embarrassing FA Cup exit against Championship opposition would have pushed Lampard closer to the axe, but Abraham’s clinical display gave his manager some much-needed breathing space.

Abraham scored twice in the first half before Jordan Clark got one back for Luton after yet another blunder from Chelsea keeper Kepa Arrizabalaga.

Luton gave Lampard some nervous moments after that, before Abraham finally sent Chelsea through to a last 16 tie at second tier Barnsley.

Lampard will know that Chelsea, who were FA Cup runners-up last season, are still a long way from the finished article.

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One of his biggest headaches has been the poor form of Timo Werner and there was more bad news for the Germany striker as he missed a late penalty.

After notoriously demanding Blues owner Roman Abramovich bankrolled a £200 million spending spree in the close-season, Lampard was expected to mount a title challenge.

But a dismal run of five defeats in their last eight Premier League games has left Chelsea languishing in ninth place.

Amid talk that Lampard will be sacked if Chelsea don’t finish in the top four or fall completely out of contention, former Paris Saint-Germain boss Thomas Tuchel and ex-Juventus manager Massimiliano Allegri have been linked with his job.

– Clever Abraham –
Lampard insisted this week that he is a “fighter” capable of dragging Chelsea back into contention for the Champions League places.

But as snow blanketed west London, leaving the Stamford Bridge pitch with a white dusting at kick-off, the potentially treacherous conditions must have alarmed Lampard, who made seven changes from the midweek defeat at Leicester.

 

Chelsea’s English striker Tammy Abraham (2nd R) scores his and their third goal during the English FA Cup fourth round football match between Chelsea and Luton Town at Stamford Bridge in London on January 24, 2021. DANIEL LEAL-OLIVAS / AFP

 

Standing huddled in a thick winter coat and hat on the touchline, Lampard’s fears were initially assuaged as Chelsea made the perfect start.

Abraham was denied by Luton keeper Simon Sluga and Kurt Zouma ahead over before Chelsea scored in the 11th minute.

A quick throw caught Luton napping, with Nathan Jones’ side complaining that two balls were briefly on the pitch at the same time.

Chelsea took advantage of Luton’s loss of concentration and Werner’s deflected cross reached Abraham, who slotted a composed low finish into the far corner from 10 yards.

Abraham’s movement was too clever for Luton and the striker netted again six minutes later.

Reece James hooked a cross into the Luton area and Abraham got in front of his marker to power an unstoppable header over Sluga for his 10th goal of the season.

Luton were gifted a lifeline in the 30th minute when James Bree crossed towards Clark and his scuffed shot crept past Kepa’s woeful attempted save.

Kepa’s howler sparked a prolonged period where Chelsea’s anxiety returned and their momentum disappeared.

Christian Pulisic, stretching to meet James’ cross, was denied by Sluga early in the second half.

Yet Lampard’s men remained nervous and Kepa had to make a good save to keep out Harry Cornick’s shot after Luton carved open the Blues defence.

Fortunately for Lampard, his decision to send on Callum Hudson-Odoi proved decisive.

Hudson-Odoi surged away down left, played a one-two with Billy Gilmour and crossed low for Abraham to complete his treble from a yard out in the 74th minute.

Werner had a chance to score just his second goal in 16 games when he was tripped by Clark, but his dreadful spell continued as his tame penalty was saved by Sluga.

AFP

Top Four, Not Title Race, The Priority For Lampard At Chelsea

Chelsea's English head coach Frank Lampard gestures during the English FA Cup semi-final football match between Manchester United and Chelsea at Wembley Stadium in London, on July 19, 2020. Andy Rain / POOL / AFP
File photo: Chelsea’s English head coach Frank Lampard gestures during the English FA Cup semi-final football match between Manchester United and Chelsea at Wembley Stadium in London, on July 19, 2020. Andy Rain / POOL / AFP

 

Frank Lampard believes Chelsea’s priority is to get back into the Premier League top four after a barren run rather than targeting the title.

However, the former England midfielder is hopeful the Blues fortunes can change for the better as quickly as they have deteriorated over the past month.

Chelsea eased back up to seventh thanks to just their second win in seven league games at 10-man Fulham on Saturday.

However, they briefly topped the table in early December on the back of a 17-game unbeaten run.

In a season when every side has had their struggles adapting to empty stadiums and a congested fixture list, just five points separate the top six.

And victory at third-placed Leicester on Tuesday could haul Lampard’s men back to within five points of the top.

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“There is no reason to say whether we will get back into it (the title race) or not at the moment,” said Lampard at his eve of match press conference.

“We just need to consider the games in front of us and try to win them, to push ourselves steadily up the table.

“We are not in a bad position, we have had a bad short period of form and if we can put wins together this month then the picture will change very quickly — as it has done already this year in so many ways.”

Lampard — whose position has been the source of speculation due to the poor run — says a good barometer of their ability to restore momentum will be how they fare against the Foxes, who can go top with victory.

 

File photo: Chelsea’s German defender Antonio Rudiger (C) and Chelsea’s English head coach Frank Lampard (L) leave the field after the English Premier League football match between Chelsea and Wolverhampton Wanderers at Stamford Bridge in London on July 26, 2020. (Photo by DANIEL LEAL-OLIVAS / POOL / AFP)

 

“Leicester are in the race for sure, the way they are playing and the results they’re getting and their position in the league,” said Lampard.

“We managed to get above Leicester at the back-end of last season, but it was a big ask for us.

“They are a very good team, with very good individuals, we know that, and a really good manager in Brendan Rodgers.”

Part of the reason for Chelsea’s recent disappointing run has been the poor form of Timo Werner.

The German international has scored just once in the last 14 games in all competitions — against fourth-tier Morecambe in the FA Cup — which is a poor return for the £52 million ($70 million) Chelsea paid for him.

“It’s something that all players experience in their careers,” said Lampard, who dropped Werner to the bench against Fulham.

“When you are a top player, as Timo has shown he is, is when all eyes are on and it becomes magnified.

“But the basics are the same and my job is to tell him that and work with him on it.”

AFP

EPL: Mount Lifts Chelsea Over Fulham

Chelsea's English midfielder Mason Mount celebrates scoring the opening goal during the English Premier League football match between Fulham and Chelsea at Craven Cottage in London on January 16, 2021. Clive Rose / POOL / AFP
Chelsea’s English midfielder Mason Mount celebrates scoring the opening goal during the English Premier League football match between Fulham and Chelsea at Craven Cottage in London on January 16, 2021. Clive Rose / POOL / AFP

 

Chelsea eased the pressure on Frank Lampard as Mason Mount’s strike 13 minutes from time broke the resistance of 10-man Fulham to earn a 1-0 win in the West London derby on Saturday.

The Blues were languishing down in 10th at kick-off after a run of one win in six league games left Lampard fighting for his job.

But the former England midfielder was handed a gift by Antonee Robinson’s reckless challenge just before half-time that earned the American a straight red card.

Chelsea still struggled to make the extra man advantage count, but Mount’s precise low finish moved the visitors up to seventh and within three points of the top four.

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A first defeat in six games rounded off a disappointing day for Fulham after victories earlier on Saturday for relegation rivals Brighton and West Brom.

Scott Parker’s men remain third from bottom and are now four points from safety.

Lampard responded to Chelsea’s poor run by leaving big-money signings Timo Werner and Kai Havertz on the bench.

Olivier Giroud was selected ahead of Werner up front and forced French international teammate Alphonse Areola into a smart save as the visitors started brightly.

Mount has maintained Lampard’s faith despite a club record fee being splashed out to bring in Havertz from Bayer Leverkusen and the English international was inches away from rewarding his manager with a thunderous shot that came back off the crossbar.

Fulham were posing a threat themselves on the break and should have gone in front after a brilliant team move.

Robinson’s low cross was turned back across goal by Kenny Tete, but Ivan Cavaleiro’s mishit shot spooned wide.

Moments later, Fulham had a mountain to climb when Robinson dived in on Cesar Azpilicueta and was shown a straight red card.

The hosts were forced to sit deep and doggedly defend wave after wave of Chelsea attack after the break.

Lampard’s men looked most dangerous from set-pieces, though, as Thiago Silva headed wide a golden chance from a corner.

In search of a goal, Lampard first turned to Tammy Abraham from the bench and he headed a huge chance straight at Areola with his first touch.

Christian Pulisic then failed to connect with Hakim Ziyech’s inviting cross seconds later.

A moment of madness from Chelsea goalkeeper Edouard Mendy nearly gifted the Cottagers a shock lead at the other end.

Mendy diverted Azpilicueta’s backpass as he raced from his goal into the path of Cavaleiro, who should have done better than fire straight into Silva’s chest with an empty net to aim for.

Werner was finally introduced 17 minutes from time, but it was Lampard’s trusted lieutenant Mount who made the breakthrough as he pounced after Areola flapped at Ben Chilwell’s cross.

Deep into stoppage time, Werner then wasted a great chance to end his 10-game drought without a Premier League goal as he skewed well wide when one-on-one with Areola.

Manchester City Confirm Three More COVID-19 Cases

Manchester City’s Brazilian striker Gabriel Jesus (C) celebrates after scoring their second goal of the English Premier League football match between Manchester City and Everton at the Etihad Stadium in Manchester, north west England, on January 1, 2020. Oli SCARFF / AFP

 

Manchester City confirmed three more cases of coronavirus on Wednesday, with goalkeeper Scott Carson, teenage midfielder Cole Palmer and a member of staff testing positive.

City were without six other players for their Premier League victory at Chelsea on Sunday following positive tests.

“Manchester City FC can confirm that Scott Carson, Cole Palmer and one member of staff have tested positive for Covid-19,” the club said in a statement.

“Both personnel will now observe a period of self-isolation in accordance with Premier League and UK government protocol on quarantine.”

With first-choice goalkeeper Ederson one of the other players already isolating, Carson’s positive test leaves City short of options for Wednesday’s League Cup semi-final against Manchester United.

Zack Steffen is set to play again after featuring at Chelsea.

READ ALSO: Nigeria Records Highest Single-Day Record Of 1,354 Fresh COVID-19 Cases 

Ferran Torres, Tommy Doyle and Eric Garcia are the other players also currently isolating while Kyle Walker and Gabriel Jesus, who tested positive on Christmas Day, have now completed their quarantine period.

The Premier League said on Tuesday that 40 players and staff had tested positive for Covid-19 in the latest rounds of testing — more than double the previous record.

Despite a number of match postponements, rising case numbers and calls from some within the game for a “circuit breaker” to bring infection rates down, the Premier League said it remained confident the season could proceed as planned.

Chelsea Records $44m Profit Despite Impact Of COVID-19

A general view of the action during the English Premier League football match between Chelsea and Aston Villa at Stamford Bridge in London on December 28, 2020. PHOTO: Catherine Ivill / POOL / AFP

 

Chelsea’s form on the pitch may have fallen away of late but the future looks rosy, according to chairman Bruce Buck, as the Premier League side posted a profit of £32.5million ($44.4 million) for the year ended June 30, 2020. 

The figures reflect the impact the halt to the Premier League season in March had due to the coronavirus pandemic as overall turnover for the group fell from £446.7 million to £407.4 million.

Broadcasting and matchday revenues decreased by £17.6 million and £12.2 million respectively largely due to the suspension of the campaign.

However, qualification for the Champions League and surplus made “on a number of player sales” helped them post positive results.

READ ALSO: Cavani Banned For Three Games Over ‘Negrito’ Post

Reduced matchday costs because of games being postponed helped partially offset the losses from the pandemic.

Chelsea played their final four home Premier League games of the interrupted domestic campaign and also the conclusion of both the FA Cup and Champions League fixtures behind closed doors, the majority of which fell into the 2021 financial year.

Commercial revenue was also down by £9.5 million, with non-match day activities in and around Stamford Bridge also closed because of the pandemic.

Chelsea also invested £93.7 million in the squad during the 2020 financial year, which included existing player contract renegotiations.

However, the big-money summer signings of Kai Havertz, Timo Werner, Ben Chilwell and Edouard Mendy are not covered in the 2020 results as they were all completed after June 30.

“In common with many, many businesses across the globe, the pandemic has had a significant impact on Chelsea’s income,” said Buck on the club website.

“But it is a sign of the strength and stability of our financial operation that the company was still able to post a profit in the past financial year.

“This was done while continuing to invest in our playing staff and indeed had normal football not halted in March, projections show a record profit and record turnover would have been achieved.

“That would have represented an increase in revenue for a fifth year in succession.”

Buck said there was an air of optimism and positivity around the club even though on the pitch they have taken just four points in their last five matches.

They head into Sunday’s home match with Manchester City seven points adrift of leaders Liverpool.

“Despite the impact of COVID, the revenue streams remained strong, our team is developing on the pitch and the club is in a good position to continue to grow when football is able to operate as it did previously, a time we are all looking forward to,” said Buck.

AFP

UPDATED: Arsenal Beat Chelsea To Record First Win In Eight Leagues Matches

Arsenal's Spanish manager Mikel Arteta (C) xelebrates with Arsenal's Spanish defender Pablo Mari after the English Premier League football match between Arsenal and Chelsea at the Emirates Stadium in London on December 26, 2020. Julian Finney / POOL / AFP
Arsenal’s Spanish manager Mikel Arteta (C) celebrates with Arsenal’s Spanish defender Pablo Mari after the English Premier League football match against Chelsea at the Emirates Stadium in London on December 26, 2020. Julian Finney / POOL / AFP

 

Arsenal eased their relegation fears and lifted the pressure on beleaguered boss Mikel Arteta with a much-needed 3-1 win against Chelsea on Saturday.

Arteta’s side sat just three points above the relegation zone before kick-off at the Emirates Stadium after their worst start to a season since 1974-75.

But the Gunners produced their best performance this time to out-class their London rivals.

Alexandre Lacazette’s controversial penalty opened the scoring before Granit Xhaka’s superb free-kick increased Arsenal’s lead before half-time.

Bukayo Saka bagged Arsenal’s third goal after the break as they won in the Premier League for the first time in eight games stretching back to November 1.

Their last league victory was the 1-0 win over Manchester United at the Old Trafford.

Chelsea's English striker Tammy Abraham recats after the English Premier League football match between Arsenal and Chelsea at the Emirates Stadium in London on December 26, 2020. Julian Finney / POOL / AFP
Chelsea’s English striker Tammy Abraham reacts after the English Premier League football match against Arsenal at the Emirates Stadium in London on December 26, 2020. Julian Finney / POOL / AFP

 

Tammy Abraham’s late strike was no consolation for woeful Chelsea, who missed a penalty through Jorginho in the final moments.

Moving six points clear of the bottom three will buy Arteta a little breathing space following talks that he was in danger of the sack after just a year in charge.

Arsenal have only been relegated from the top flight once in their history, in 1912-13.

With matches against Brighton and West Brom coming next in their Christmas schedule, the Gunners have a chance to climb to a healthy league position heading into 2021.

Having won the FA Cup final against Chelsea in August, Arteta has now delivered two major blows to Blues boss Frank Lampard this year.

Chelsea would have gone second with a victory, but instead, they remain six points behind leaders Liverpool after a third defeat in their last four league games.

Lacklustre in attack, short of drive in midfield and bereft of a cutting edge up front, Chelsea’s £200 million ($267 million) pre-season overhaul is yet to pay off.

Lampard has only 48 hours to lift Chelsea’s flagging spirits before they are back in action against Aston Villa on Monday.

 

– Vibrant Arsenal –

Arteta suffered a pre-match blow when Gabriel was ruled out for three matches as he self-isolates under coronavirus protocols.

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang started on the bench as he battles with a calf injury and a poor run of form, yet Arsenal didn’t miss their captain or Brazilian defender Gabriel.

Although Chelsea midfielder Mason Mount curled a free-kick against the outside of the post, there was no doubt who was on top.

Arsenal made the breakthrough in the 35th minute when Kieran Tierney got across Reece James into the Chelsea area and tumbled under the slightest contact from the panicked defender.

Arsenal's English striker Bukayo Saka (2L) celebrates scoring their thrid goal during the English Premier League football match between Arsenal and Chelsea at the Emirates Stadium in London on December 26, 2020. ANDREW BOYERS / POOL / AFP
Arsenal’s English striker Bukayo Saka (2L) celebrates scoring their third goal during the English Premier League football match against Chelsea at the Emirates Stadium in London on December 26, 2020. ANDREW BOYERS / POOL / AFP

 

Michael Oliver’s debatable decision to award a penalty survived a VAR review and Lacazette sent Edouard Mendy the wrong way from the spot for his sixth goal of the season.

It was no more than Arsenal deserved for a vibrant first half and Arteta was celebrating again in the 44th minute.

Xhaka has been much-maligned at Arsenal, with the Swiss midfielder’s most recent faux pas coming when he was sent off in a defeat against Burnley.

N’Golo Kante fouled Saka and Xhaka did his bit to get back in favour when he whipped a brilliant 20-yard free-kick over the Chelsea wall and into the top corner.

Lampard sent on Jorginho and Callum Hudson-Odoi for Timo Werner, whose goal drought now stretches to 10 games, and Mateo Kovacic.

But the switches failed to spark lethargic Chelsea into life and Arsenal struck again in the 56th minute.

Hector Bellerin and Emile Smith Rowe combined to send Saka into the area and his cross-shot looped over Mendy into the far corner.

Abraham converted Hudson Odoi’s cross from close range in the 85th minute to spark a late Arsenal wobble.

Pablo Mari’s foul on Mount gave Chelsea a stoppage-time penalty, but Jorginho missed for the third time this season as Bernd Leno kept out the Italian’s weak effort.

AFP

Lampard Cites Complacency As Wolves Overwhelm Struggling Chelsea

Chelsea's English head coach Frank Lampard gestures on the touchline during the English Premier League football match between Everton and Chelsea at Goodison Park in Liverpool, north west England on December 12, 2020. PETER POWELL / POOL / AFP
Chelsea’s English head coach Frank Lampard gestures on the touchline during the English Premier League football match between Everton and Chelsea at Goodison Park in Liverpool, north west England on December 12, 2020. PETER POWELL / POOL / AFP

 

Frank Lampard believes Chelsea have become complacent after the Blues blew a lead to lose 2-1 at Wolves and suffer back-to-back Premier League defeats for the first time during his reign in charge.

Twice in four days Chelsea have wasted the chance to move top of the Premier League after losing for the first time in 18 matches at Everton on Saturday.

Lampard himself called into question his side’s title credentials after a 1-0 loss at Goodison Park at the weekend and believes his players may have got carried away with their unbeaten run.

“Performance is what gives you results. We were playing very well, on a long unbeaten run and then maybe the lads think ‘we’re playing well’. The minute you think you’re playing well, things like this can happen,” said a visibly irked Lampard after Pedro Neto broke clear to win the game in the 95th minute.

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“If you’re not playing well which we weren’t tonight, hang on to the 1-0. Play, control the game, and don’t allow counter attacks like we did.”

There was more evidence that Chelsea are still a team in transition after a £220 million ($294 million) transfer spending spree as two of their big money signings, Timo Werner and Kai Havertz, again failed to sparkle.

Lampard’s men remain in fifth, three points adrift of Tottenham and Liverpool at the top, ahead of a clash between the top two at Anfield on Wednesday.

Victory was no more than Wolves deserved as they bounced back from two consecutive defeats since losing top scorer Raul Jimenez to a fractured skull.

“We reacted well,” said Wolves boss Nuno Espirito Santo. “I think we were always in the game. We were well organised and second-half we played really well.”

Chelsea disappoint

Other than bursts from Christian Pulisic past the struggling Nelson Semedo, Chelsea created precious little from open play.

Set-pieces caused Wolves more problems as Olivier Giroud headed over when he should have hit the target before Kurt Zouma crashed a header from another corner off the crossbar.

Giroud was razor sharp four minutes into the second-half as he volleyed Ben Chilwell’s cross towards goal and the ball slipped through Rui Patricio’s grasp and just over the line.

Wolverhampton Wanderers' Portuguese midfielder Pedro Neto (2R) celebrates scoring his team's second goal with teammates during the English Premier League football match between Wolverhampton Wanderers and Chelsea at the Molineux stadium in Wolverhampton, central England on December 15, 2020. (R) Michael Steele / POOL / AFP
Wolverhampton Wanderers’ Portuguese midfielder Pedro Neto (2R) celebrates scoring his team’s second goal with teammates during the English Premier League football match between Wolverhampton Wanderers and Chelsea at the Molineux stadium in Wolverhampton, central England on December 15, 2020. (R) Michael Steele / POOL / AFP

 

Going behind awakened Wolves and Fabio Silva was denied his first Premier League goal since a 40 million euro ($47 million £36 million) move from Porto by an offside flag.

Wolves had not scored in two games since losing Jimenez to a sickening head knock suffered in a 2-1 win at Arsenal.

But Daniel Podence produced a moment of magic as he twisted and turned inside the Chelsea box to find space for a shot and his effort deflected off Reece James and inside Edouard Mendy’s near post.

Chelsea’s record signing Havertz had another night to forget. The German international was replaced by Mateo Kovacic, while Tammy Abraham replaced the injured Giroud as Lampard went in search of a winner.

Yet, it was Wolves who looked the more likely winners in the closing stages.

Neto thought he had won a penalty when driving past James, but after a VAR review referee Stuart Attwell overturned his original decision as there was no contact on the Portuguese winger.

However, Neto was not to be denied on the counter-attack deep into stoppage time as he accelerated past Zouma and drove low into the far corner to move Wolves into the top half of the table and within three points of the top four.

AFP