Chelsea Crush Everton To Cement Top Four Place

 

Frank Lampard warned Chelsea not to get complacent after they took control of the race to qualify for the Champions League with a 4-0 demolition of Everton on Sunday.

Lampard’s side won for just the second time in seven league games thanks to goals from Mason Mount, Pedro, Willian and Olivier Giroud in a masterful display at Stamford Bridge.

Fourth-placed Chelsea are in pole position to qualify for the Champions League with nine games to play.

But Lampard doesn’t want his stars to rest on their laurels just yet.

Aware that inconsistency has been the Achilles heel of his promising young team, Lampard said: “We can’t get ahead of ourselves. I’m experienced enough to know we go to Aston Villa next week, they are fighting for their lives and we have to replicate this performance.

“There’s still a long way to go. It’s still close. Even if it looks like a cushion as I sit here now, it doesn’t feel that way.

“It’s in our hands, but I’m certainly not going to jump in and say we are favourites. We have had inconsistency at times this season.”

While Lampard struck a cautious note about Chelsea’s Champions League ambitions, the Blues boss was quick to praise his players for delivering their biggest league win of the season.

It was exactly what Lampard demanded after Chelsea got back on track with their FA Cup fifth round win over Liverpool on Tuesday.

“At home yes, it was our best performance, because of the goals and the clean sheet,” Lampard said.

“In terms of performance we have been close to that a lot. We haven’t got the hard bit, the goals. Today we reached that.

“The finishing, the energy in the team, the speed of the pass, getting after the ball. We saw some really good stuff.

“It’s encouraging. You will always need your squad. We have a lot of injuries. The only way to tackle that is to work hard, play with energy and trust either other.

“I thought the whole attitude and focus of the team felt strong after Liverpool.”

Gilmour shines

Too often this term, Chelsea have dominated possession without killing off defensive opponents at Stamford Bridge.

But they tore into Everton from the start, with Mount and Pedro especially lively as they built on the platform provided by 18-year-old midfielder Billy Gilmour.

Gilmour was making his first Premier League start after a fine display against Liverpool and the Scot did everything Lampard asked of him.

“In the position where he plays, receiving the ball under pressure, he has to show balls. He’s done that, then when he played further up the field later in the game, he immediately took that on as well,” Lampard said.

Everton’s revival under Carlo Ancelotti has hit the buffers, with a run of three games without a win exposing them as frauds in the Champions League battle.

“Everything went wrong. We were too open defensively. We lost a lot of duels and with the ball we did a lot of mistakes,” Ancelotti said.

“It is not difficult to analyse this game. It is the first game when we did not compete. We have to learn from this.”

Defeats against Arsenal and Chelsea, along with a draw against Manchester United, have left Everton to focus on a Europa League berth instead.

“We never said we could qualify for the Champions League, but we can fight for the Europa League,” Ancelotti said.

Asked if he was satisfied with Everton’s commitment, Ancelotti gave a pointed pause before saying: “There are things I can analyse with you, and things I can analyse with my players.”

AFP

Lampard Laments Severe Chelsea Injury Crisis

Chelsea’s English head coach Frank Lampard gestures during the English Premier League football match between Chelsea and Bournemouth at Stamford Bridge in London on December 14, 2019.
OLLY GREENWOOD / AFP

 

Frank Lampard bemoaned on Friday the “worst injury” crisis among the Premier League’s top sides as his Chelsea team prepare to face Everton with as many as nine frontline players unavailable.

“It hasn’t been spoken about that much but we’ve had probably the worst injury list of certainly the top group of the table I think, lots of numbers injured, important players injured, (N’Golo) Kante, (Ruben) Loftus-Cheek and others,” Lampard said on Friday.

“We started the season that way and it’s happened again in the middle of the season. And we’re working against that to try to get the best results.”

Mateo Kovacic is out of Sunday’s match at Stamford Bridge with an Achilles problem while Brazil forward Willian will face a late fitness test on his own Achilles issue.

Lampard revealed Loftus-Cheek and Christian Pulisic played in an “in-house game” at Chelsea’s training ground on Friday.

Jorginho starts a two-match league suspension, while Kante is still out with an adductor problem, Andreas Christensen remains doubtful and Tammy Abraham is out with his ankle complaint.

Meanwhile Callum Hudson-Odoi suffered a recurrence of his hamstring injury in his first full training session back with Chelsea’s first team.

“Callum had a re-injury, yesterday. We’re having a scan on him this afternoon. So he will be longer than expected,” Lampard said.

“It’s tough, he wasn’t rushed back, and we had all the signs that he was fit to train. Then he re-injured it on his first training session with us.”

Lampard said former Chelsea manager Carlo Ancelotti, now in charge at Everton, would receive a warm reception on his return to Stamford Bridge on Sunday.

The Chelsea boss said he had enjoyed working as a player with the Italian during his spell at the London club, which included Premier League and FA Cup triumphs.

“Very well-respected in-house and to the fans, I think a well-respected period at the club,” said Lampard. “He’s a gentleman, a fantastic manager.

“I loved working with him personally. I think he’ll get a great reception.”

AFP

Liverpool Suffer Second Defeat As Chelsea Advance To FA Cup Quarter-Finals

Referee Chris Kavanagh (C) shows a yellow card to Liverpool’s Brazilian midfielder Fabinho (2R) during the English FA Cup fifth round football match between Chelsea and Liverpool at Stamford Bridge in London on March 3, 2020. Glyn KIRK / AFP

 

 

Chelsea inflicted a third defeat in four games on Liverpool to reach the FA Cup quarter-finals as goals from Willian and Ross Barkley gave Frank Lampard’s men a much-needed lift at Stamford Bridge on Tuesday.

Liverpool remain well on course for a first league title in 30 years with a 22-point lead at the top of the Premier League, but run the risk of their competitive campaign coming to an early end once the title is sewn up unless they can overturn a 1-0 first-leg deficit against Atletico Madrid in the Champions League next week.

Jurgen Klopp made seven changes to the Liverpool side beaten for the first time in 45 Premier League games at Watford on Saturday, but still named a far stronger side than the youthful teams that had seen off Everton and Shrewsbury to reach the fifth round.

The European champions seemed keen to make amends and keep their chances of a treble alive early on, but were denied by the returning Kepa Arrizabalaga in the Chelsea goal as the first of a string of saves from the Spaniard denied Sadio Mane.

The return of the world’s most expensive goalkeeper was one of six Lampard made from a 2-2 weekend draw at Bournemouth with Willian also coming back into the team.

A run of five wins in 16 league games and a 3-0 thrashing at home by Bayern Munich in the first leg of their Champions League last 16 tie last week meant the pressure was on Chelsea to keep their hopes of silverware this season alive.

And they got the lift they needed from the opening goal as Liverpool’s understudy goalkeeper Adrian undid the good work of a brilliant save from Willian within a minute.

The Brazilian was gifted possession again just outside the Liverpool box and this time Adrian could only turn his powerful drive into the bottom corner.

The hosts needed Kepa to show why they spent £72 million ($92 million) on him just over 18 months ago as he made three reaction saves in a matter of seconds to deny Mane, Divock Origi and Takumi Minamino what seemed a certain equaliser.

Chelsea then lost Mateo Kovacic and Willian to injury either side of half-time to further deplete Lampard’s midfield options.

But that may provide the opportunity Barkley needs to kickstart his flagging career at the Bridge.

The England international doubled Chelsea’s lead in spectacular style midway through the second half as he galloped forward from inside his own half, leaving Fabinho in his wake, before smashing past Adrian from outside the area.

Moments later Chelsea should have been out of sight as a mix-up in the Liverpool defence allowed Pedro Rodriguez to run clean through on goal. The 32-year-old does not have the pace of his prime at Barcelona, though, and with Gomez closing in, he fired too close to Adrian.

Klopp threw on Roberto Firmino, Mohamed Salah, and James Milner in the final 20 minutes, but the German is yet to win a domestic cup competition in his five seasons at Anfield and that wait will go on.

Despite the changes, it was Chelsea who continued to look the more likely team to score again as Adrian produced a brilliant save to turn Olivier Giroud’s strike onto the bar.

AFP

Gnabry Stars As Bayern Rock Chelsea

Bayern Munich’s German striker Serge Gnabry (C) scores their first goal during the UEFA Champion’s League round of 16 first leg football match between Chelsea and Bayern Munich at Stamford Bridge in London on February 25, 2020. Glyn KIRK / AFP

 

Serge Gnabry fired Bayern Munich to the brink of the Champions League quarter-finals as the German’s double inspired a superb 3-0 rout of Chelsea in the last-16 first leg at Stamford Bridge on Tuesday.

Gnabry had tormented Tottenham Hotspur with four goals in Bayern’s 7-2 victory in north London earlier this season and the former Arsenal winger returned to the English capital to push Chelsea to the brink of elimination.

The 24-year-old’s time with Arsenal was a disappointment and he even flopped during a loan spell at West Bromwich Albion.

But he has been reborn with Bayern and his two goals in the space of three minutes left Hansi Flick’s side within touching distance of the last eight.

Robert Lewandowski got Bayern’s third before Chelsea defender Marcos Alonso was sent off in the 83rd minute.

Chelsea will need another Munich miracle in the second leg on March 18 to overturn the deficit at the Allianz Arena, where they famously beat the German club in the 2012 Champions League final.

“I have a lot of friends here. A lot of them were in the stands and I think they were giving me good power,” Gnabry told BT Sport of his London goal streak.

“Three goals should give us a lot of confidence. But we need to be prepared for the second leg and we can’t take it serious enough.

“We saw last season with Liverpool beating Barcelona, we know we have to be careful and focus.”

This hasn’t been a vintage year for Bayern, but they have been energised since the exit of disliked boss Niko Kovac and out-classed Chelsea in all phases.

None of the previous six teams to have won all of their Champions League group games have lifted the trophy that season, but five-time winners Bayern will fancy their chances of breaking that duck if they can maintain this form.

Chelsea boss Frank Lampard admitted his young team were “underdogs” against a club of Bayern’s vast European experience and his pre-match prediction proved spot on in a chastening defeat.

Bayern set the tone when Thomas Muller forced a save from Willy Caballero inside the first minute after stealing possession from Jorginho.

Flick had warned Chelsea that Lewandowski was in the “form of his life” and the Bayern striker escaped Andreas Christensen for a stinging shot that Caballero blocked with his face.

Ross Barkley surrendered possession carelessly deep inside his own half and Muller pounced with a reverse pass to Lewandowski, whose toe-poked effort was well saved by Caballero.

 Irresistible Bayern 

Bayern’s pressure was mounting and Muller drifted onto Gnabry’s cross to flick a back header against the bar.

Lampard had kept faith with Olivier Giroud after the 33-year-old marked his first start since November with a goal in Saturday’s win against Tottenham.

But retaining Giroud at the expense of Tammy Abraham was a big gamble and the Chelsea striker’s muscular but immobile presence offered little to unsettle Bayern.

Bayern remained the dominant force to such an extent that they may have rendered the second leg irrelevant.

They deservedly took the lead in the 51st minute with a superbly crafted goal.

Gnabry’s deft control and pass sent Lewandowski into the Chelsea area and when he cut the ball back, his team-mate made a perfectly-timed run to fire low past Caballero.

Moving the ball with pace and precision, Bayern were irresistible and they increased their lead three minutes later thanks to another impressive combination from the Gnabry and Lewandowski double act.

Lewandowski nodded onto Gnabry, took the return pass from the winger and played a sublime through ball to Gnabry, who had accelerated away from the Chelsea defence to guide a cool finish into the far corner.

Bayern weren’t finished yet and Lewandowski became the first Bayern player to score in six consecutive Champions League matches when he tapped in from Alphonso Davies’s 76th-minute cross for his 39th goal of the season.

Alonso’s frustration at Chelsea’s plight boiled over when he was sent off for whacking Lewandowski with his arm.

AFP

Chelsea Beat Tottenham In Top Four Chase

Chelsea’s Spanish defender Marcos Alonso celebrates with teammates after he scores his team’s second goal during the English Premier League football match between Chelsea and Tottenham Hotspur at Stamford Bridge in London on February 22 2020.
Ian KINGTON / AFP

 

Olivier Giroud and Marcos Alonso came in from the cold to inspire Chelsea’s 2-1 win against Tottenham as the Blues cemented their grip on fourth place in the Premier League on Saturday.

Giroud and Alonso had been reduced to fringe figures in Frank Lampard’s first season as Chelsea manager.

But Lampard restored both veterans to the team at Stamford Bridge in a gamble that paid rich dividends.

With Tammy Abraham only fit enough to make the bench, Giroud started for the first time since November and the France striker’s fine finish opened the scoring in the first half.

READ ALSO: Lewandowski Double Edges Bayern Past Bottom Side Paderborn

The 33-year-old could have joined Tottenham had Chelsea signed a forward in January, but instead he netted his first club goal since August and his first in the Premier League since April.

Alonso, 29, maintained the theme of exiles getting back in favour as the left-back struck in the second half of his first league start since Chelsea’s win at Tottenham in December.

Antonio Rudiger’s own goal came too late to ruin Chelsea’s first win in five league games, moving them four points clear of fifth-placed Tottenham in the race to qualify for the Champions League.

Ending Tottenham’s three-game winning streak in the league was the perfect response to Monday’s home defeat against Manchester United.

It was no more than they deserved after a vibrant performance that finally answered Lampard’s call for a killer instinct in the final third.

Tottenham have now won just once in their last 34 visits to Stamford Bridge, making it a painful return for their former Chelsea boss Jose Mourinho, who was beaten by Lampard for the second time this term.

Mourinho had ramped up the mind games on Friday when he claimed to know Lampard was planning to use the same five-man defence that helped the Blues win at Tottenham earlier this season.

Mourinho was spot on, with Lampard making four changes in a return to the system he predicted, but he could not come up with an effective solution.

Lucas Moura and Steven Bergwijn, more often used as wingers, led a makeshift Tottenham attack in the absence of Harry Kane, Son Heung-min and Dele Alli, who was dropped after reacting angrily to his substitution in the midweek defeat against Leipzig.

Chelsea, pressing hard from the start, were always on top and when Alonso’s superb pass picked out Mason Mount, the young midfielder’s shot was pushed away by Hugo Lloris.

Toothless Tottenham

It was a warning Tottenham failed to heed and Giroud put Chelsea in front in the 15th minute.

Giroud had looked impressive in his substitute appearance against United.

And his physical style and clever movement were crucial to the goal as he held off Toby Alderweireld to reach Jorginho’s pass for a shot that Lloris saved with his foot.

The rebound fell to Ross Barkley but his scuffed effort in the post and cannoned back to Giroud, who lashed a blistering strike past Lloris at his near post.

Willy Caballero almost gifted Tottenham a goal out of nothing before the break.

Needlessly rushing off his line, Caballero completely missed the ball and Tottenham defender Japhet Tanganga prodded just wide.

Mourinho had been scribbling away in his notebook before the interval, but there was no discernable change in Tottenham’s toothless display as Alonso increased Chelsea’s lead in the 48th minute.

Giroud guided the ball into Mount’s path and he worked it to Barkley on the edge of the Tottenham area.

With the visitors backing off, Barkley picked out Alonso, who blasted into the far corner from 20 yards.

It could have been worse for Tottenham as Giovani Lo Celso was fortunate to escape a red card when he stamped on Cesar Azpilicueta.

Chelsea should have won by more and Alonso’s free-kick hit the bar before Rudiger deflected Erik Lamela’s shot into his own net in the 89th minute.

AFP

Lewandowski Double Edges Bayern Past Bottom Side Paderborn

Bayern Munich’s Polish forward Robert Lewandowski celebrates scoring during the German first division Bundesliga football match FC Bayern Munich v SC Paderborn in Munich, southern Germany, on February 21, 2020.
Guenter SCHIFFMANN / AFP

 

Bundesliga leaders Bayern Munich squeezed past bottom side Paderborn 3-2 on Friday as Robert Lewandowski netted twice to spare goalkeeper Manuel Neuer’s blushes in their final game before facing Chelsea in the Champions League.

Lewandowski now has a league-leading tally of 25 goals in the top flight, illustrating his importance to the team ahead of Tuesday’s last 16, first-leg tie in London.

Bayern twice surrendered the lead in Munich before securing the win which leaves them four points clear.

With Bayern leading 1-0 thanks to Serge Gnabry’s early goal, Neuer mistimed a clearance outside his area, allowing Paderborn midfielder Dennis Srbeny to fire into an empty net just before half-time.

“I was worried about knocking into him, because that would have been a red card,” Neuer explained.

“I had the feeling he would get to the ball before me. That’s why it looks that way. It’s part of my game and it happens.”

READ ALSO: Euro Ban Will Make Man City Stronger, Says Rodgers

However, Lewandowski then struck in the 70th minute to make it 2-1, only for Paderborn to draw level again after poor defending allowed Sven Michel a simple tap in 15 minutes from time.

However, there was still time for Lewandowski to fire home the winner, thanks to Gnabry’s superb cross.

In the build-up, Bayern coach Hansi Flick warned his team had to focus on strugglers Paderborn, but the Bavarian giants seemed to have one eye on Chelsea.

“Paderborn absolutely challenged us to the very last,” admitted Flick.

Paderborn had the ball in Bayern’s net after four minutes when their striker Streli Mamba slid the ball under Neuer, but the effort was flagged offside.

As expected, Bayern took an early at the Allianz Arena when Gnabry celebrated his 100th Bundesliga appearance by turning and hitting into the bottom corner on 26 minutes.

Paderborn drew level after Neuer mistimed a clearance outside the box.

The Germany captain had twice previously cleared the danger by dealing with long-distance chances intended for Paderborn’s forwards.

However, the tactic backfired a third time when he failed to clear a ball over the defence meant for Srbeny, who kept his cool and slotted into the empty Bayern net on 44 minutes.

With the scores locked at 1-1 and time ticking down, Lewandowski restored the hosts’ lead when Gnabry set him up for a lethal shot on 70 minutes.

Paderborn, however, came back again and Michel gave them a second equaliser by tapping home a rebound after Neuer had saved a shot by replacement left-back Dennis Jastrzembski.

However, it was Gnabry again who provided the assist with an inch-perfect cross which Lewandowski swept home two minutes from time to settle the matter.

AFP

Manchester United Beat Chelsea 2-0

Manchester United’s English defender Harry Maguire kicks the ball clear during the English Premier League football match between Chelsea and Manchester United at Stamford Bridge in London on February 17, 2020. Glyn KIRK / AFP

 

 

Manchester United moved to within three points of fourth-placed Chelsea with a smash and grab 2-0 win at Stamford Bridge thanks to goals from Anthony Martial and Harry Maguire on Monday.

Chelsea had two goals disallowed by VAR reviews and were furious Maguire was not sent-off early on for an off-the-ball kick out at Michy Batshuayi.

However, Blues boss Frank Lampard cut a frustrated figure as the flaws in both boxes which have seen his side win just four of their last 14 league games were exposed once more against ordinary opposition.

Victory lifts United up to seventh and within two points of Tottenham in fifth, which could be good enough to qualify for the Champions League next season pending Manchester City’s appeal again a two-season ban from European competition.

Lampard made a bold call before kick-off by again dropping the most expensive goalkeeper in football history, Kepa Arrizabalaga, to the bench in favour of the 38-year-old Willy Caballero.

Batshuayi also started with Tammy Abraham ruled out by injury and Lampard’s anger at missing out on a striker in the January window was borne out by a poor night for the misfiring Belgium forward.

Chelsea suffered another injury blow early on when N’Golo Kante hobbled off and the France World Cup winner is now a doubt to face Bayern Munich in the Champions League next week.

The loss of Kante did not disrupt the home side’s early rhythm as Reece James and Willian fired just wide.

Chelsea were then furious Maguire somehow escaped without being sent-off for kicking Batshuayi after the two collided in front of the dugouts.

The former Marseille attacker then squandered the first of a host of chances by firing wide from Mason Mount’s cut-back.

– One-way traffic –

Chelsea’s sense of injustice increased when Willian was harshly booked for diving as he went down under a challenge from Bruno Fernandes looking for a penalty.

United had not made Caballero make a single save before going in front a minute before the break when Martial planted a brilliant header into the far corner from Aaron Wan-Bissaka’s cross.

There was still time for Batshuayi to miss another chance before half-time when he skewed wide from a narrow-angle.

The one-way traffic continued at the start of the second period as Mount hit the post and a brave block from Wan-Bissaka deflected Pedro’s goal-bound effort behind.

But even when Chelsea did get the ball in the net through substitute Kurt Zouma, the goal was ruled out by VAR for a push on Brandon Williams by Cesar Azpilicueta.

Fernandes was unable to make much of an impact from open play in his second United appearance since a £47 million ($62 million) move from Sporting Lisbon.

However, the Portuguese international is a huge threat from set-pieces and nearly caught Caballero out with a free-kick that crashed back off the post.

Moments later, Fernandes provided his first assist for the Red Devils with a corner which Maguire powered home.

Lampard had seen enough from Batshuayi and handed Olivier Giroud a rare appearance off the bench for the final quarter.

The French striker thought he had given Chelsea a lifeline with a near-post header, but was ruled offside after a VAR review.

AFP

Ajax Attacker Ziyech Set To Move To Chelsea – Report

 

Ajax attacking midfielder Hakim Ziyech is set to move to Chelsea in the summer after the clubs agreed to a deal in principle, a Dutch newspaper reported Wednesday.

The daily tabloid De Telegraaf said the Amsterdam powerhouse and the London club had agreed on a fee believed to be around 45 million euros ($50 million) for the 26-year-old Dutch-born Moroccan.

“Ajax’s management reached an oral agreement over the past 24 hours with the top London club for the Moroccan attacker to make the switch in the summer,” the newspaper said.

Chelsea manager Frank Lampard believed Ziyech “is a top player and such an essential reinforcement to his 11 that he gave the club instructions to have a deal done before the summer,” De Telegraaf said.

Clubs can agree and sign transfers outside the English Premier League’s January transfer window, but players may not be registered with new clubs until it opens again in the summer.

Ajax declined to comment on the report.

“As always we can’t comment on rumours. Any news will be reported through the official Ajax channels,” an Ajax spokesman told AFP.

Ajax is known for selling home-grown talent to richer European clubs. After last season, they sold Matthijs de Ligt to Juventus and Frenkie de Jong to Barcelona.

De Telegraaf said the chance to play Champions League football at Chelsea was “an important condition” for Ziyech, who has scored a total of 47 goals in 157 appearances for Ajax.

Ajax reached the semi-final of the competition last year, but this season they were eliminated in the group stage, in part because they lost at home to Chelsea and later threw away a three-goal lead at Stamford Bridge.

The top two finishers in the Dutch league qualify each year and Ajax are top, 10 points clear of third-place Willem II.

Chelsea are fourth in the Premier League, which would earn a Champions League spot, but their poor form has allowed a chasing pack of five clubs to close in.

They are still in this season’s Champions League and could qualify for next season by winning it.

Until Ziyech formally signs a contract “the door was still slightly ajar for other top clubs”, but Ajax did not want a deal with any other club, De Telegraaf said.

Ziyech joined Ajax in 2016 from fellow Eredivisie club FC Twente for a fee of 11 million euros.

Premier League: Ighalo Makes United Squad For Chelsea Clash

 

Odion Ighalo will be in the Manchester United squad for the Premier League clash with Chelsea next Monday despite missing a training camp in Spain due to fears he could be denied re-entry into Britain if restrictions against the outbreak of Coronavirus are tightened.

The 30-year-old Nigerian international striker joined United on loan until the end of the season on deadline day last month from Chinese club Shanghai Shenhua.

The British government called the novel coronavirus a “serious and imminent threat”, and said anyone with the disease can now be forcibly quarantined if they are deemed a threat to public health as the number of cases in Britain doubled to eight.

The death toll from the coronavirus outbreak surged past 1,000 on Tuesday.

Most cases overseas have involved people who had been in Wuhan, the quarantined central Chinese city where the virus emerged late last year, or people infected by others who had been at the epicentre.

United said Saturday in a statement that Ighalo had been left out of the Spain squad to avoid any potential problems related to the killer virus on re-entry to Britain.

However, United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer told the club’s website Ighalo will be in the squad for a match that could have a crucial bearing on who finishes in the top four this term and qualifies for the Champions League next season.

“Yeah, he is going to travel with us,” said Solskjaer.

“We will just see his fitness work this week and I think we will get him sharp.

“We want to integrate him as quickly as we can because, of course, he is desperate to play for us.”

Ighalo, who has played his club football in China for the past three years after joining Changchun Yatai from Watford, was signed as emergency cover for the injured Marcus Rashford.

Chelsea presently occupy the fourth and final Champions League spot and are six points clear of eighth-placed United.

The other three Champions League places look destined for Liverpool, Manchester City and third-placed Leicester, who have a 10 point advantage over fifth-placed Sheffield United and a game in hand to boot.

AFP

Leicester Hold Chelsea To 2-2 Draw In Premier League

Chelsea’s English striker Tammy Abraham (2L) misses a chance at goal during the English Premier League football match between Leicester City and Chelsea at King Power Stadium in Leicester, central England on February 1, 2020. Adrian DENNIS / AFP

 

Antonio Rudiger rescued Chelsea as the German defender’s second goal of the game earned a 2-2 draw against top-four rivals Leicester on Saturday.

Rudiger put Chelsea ahead early in the second half at the King Power Stadium before Harvey Barnes and Ben Chilwell scored in quick succession to give Leicester the lead.

A thrilling second half climaxed when Rudiger became the first defender to score a brace for Chelsea in the Premier League since John Terry against Fulham in 2013.

Third-placed Leicester could be more sanguine about the result as they sit eight points clear of fourth-placed Chelsea, who have now won just one of their last five league games.

Frustrated that Chelsea failed to make any signings during the window, Blues boss Frank Lampard claims his team are now underdogs in the race to qualify for next season’s Champions League via a top-four finish.

Depending on Manchester United and Tottenham’s results, Lampard’s prediction could look prescient by the conclusion of the weekend’s action.

Showing his irritation with Chelsea’s spluttering form, Lampard dropped Kepa Arrizabalaga after some error-prone displays from Chelsea’s keeper, with 38-year-old Willy Caballero making his first league appearance since May.

Chelsea started on the front foot and Tammy Abraham appealed for a penalty when he was challenged by Caglar Soyuncu, but referee Lee Mason and then VAR both rejected the claim.

Jamie Vardy was back from injury but Leicester’s 17-goal leading scorer hadn’t netted in his last four league games and he wasted a good chance to put the hosts ahead when he burst onto Ayoze Perez’s chest down in the penalty area, only to shoot straight at Caballero.

Pedro went close with a clever chip from the edge of the area which Leicester keeper Kasper Schmeichel tipped over at full stretch.

 Sloppy defending 

Leicester were stunned by their late League Cup semi-final defeat against Aston Villa in midweek and they looked low on confidence at times.

Hamza Choudhury should have headed Leicester in front on the stroke of half-time but, befitting their scrappy showing, the midfielder couldn’t keep his close-range effort on target.

Choudhury was at fault again when Chelsea snatched the lead in the 46th minute.

When Mason Mount swung a corner towards the far post, Choudhury misjudged his jump and Rudiger got behind him to head in from close range.

It was the perfect way for the German defender to mark his 100th Chelsea appearance as he scored only his fifth goal for the Blues.

But Chelsea’s defence remains far from impregnable and Leicester hit back to equalise eight minutes later.

James Maddison found Youri Tielemans and the Belgian’s pinpoint pass sent Barnes racing away down the left-wing.

Cutting back into the Chelsea area, Barnes tried his luck with a low strike that took a deflection off Andreas Christensen and looped over Caballero into the net for the winger’s fourth goal in his last six games.

Chelsea conceded again in the 64th minute as more sloppy defending allowed Leicester to sweep through.

Caballero rashly rushed off his line in a failed attempt to reach an over-hit cross and Chilwell was left unmarked in the area to fire home from Tielemans’ pass.

To their credit, Chelsea didn’t throw in the towel and Rudiger equalised in the 71st minute, the center-back rising above Chilwell to power a superb header over Schmeichel from Mount’s free-kick.

Leicester should have won it but Jonny Evans headed wide from six yards before Barnes flicked past the far post from close range.

AFP

FA Cup: Liverpool To Face Chelsea In Fifth Round

FIFA Hands Chelsea Two Transfer Windows Ban
(FILES) In this file photo taken on May 24, 2015 Chelsea supporters wave flags before the English Premier League football match between Chelsea and Sunderland at Stamford Bridge in London on May 24, 2015. Ben STANSALL / AFP

 

Premier League leaders Liverpool will face Chelsea in the FA Cup fifth round if Jurgen Klopp’s understudies win their replay against Shrewsbury.

Third-tier Shrewsbury fought back to draw 2-2 with Liverpool on Sunday, earning a replay at Anfield that falls during the Premier League winter break.

Reds boss Klopp insists he will not use his senior stars for that match because he doesn’t want to deny them a much-needed rest.

To earn a trip to Stamford Bridge, Liverpool may play the youngsters who were beaten by Aston Villa in the League Cup quarter-finals while the Reds were at the Club World Cup.

FA Cup holders Manchester City have been given a trip to second-tier Sheffield Wednesday.

Manchester United will visit the winners of the replay between Northampton and Derby, who feature former United star Wayne Rooney in their squad.

Oxford’s reward for a replay victory over top-flight Newcastle would be a trip to Championship leaders West Brom.

League One side Portsmouth will face Premier League opposition at Fratton Park after being drawn against Bournemouth or Arsenal.

Southampton or Tottenham will play host to struggling Norwich, while either Coventry or Birmingham face a short trip to Leicester.

Championship sides Reading and Cardiff will battle it out in a replay for the chance to host Sheffield United.

FA Cup fifth-round draw:

Sheffield Wednesday v Manchester City

Reading/Cardiff v Sheffield United

Chelsea v Shrewsbury/Liverpool

West Brom v Newcastle/Oxford

Leicester v Coventry/Birmingham

Northampton/Derby v Man Utd

Southampton/Tottenham v Norwich

Portsmouth v Bournemouth/Arsenal

AFP

Ten-Man Arsenal Hold Chelsea In Torrent Of Late Premier League Goals

 

 

Ten-man Arsenal slowed Chelsea’s charge for a Champions League place on Tuesday as Manchester City kept up their distant pursuit of Liverpool with victory at Sheffield United on a dramatic evening of Premier League football.

Newcastle improbably came back from 2-0 down to draw against Everton, with substitute Florian Lejeune netting twice in stoppage time, and Aston Villa found a last-gasp winner against in-form Watford.

Elsewhere, Southampton climbed to ninth in the table with victory against Crystal Palace while Bournemouth gave themselves hope with a 3-1 win over fellow-strugglers Brighton.

Fourth-placed Chelsea twice took the lead against Arsenal, who were reduced to 10 men after former Blues defender David Luiz took out Tammy Abraham when he was through on goal.

Jorginho put Chelsea 1-0 ahead from the penalty spot in the 28th minute but Gabriel Martinelli equalised for Arsenal in the second half.

Cesar Azpilicueta put Chelsea 2-1 up with just six minutes remaining but Arsenal levelled only three minutes later through Hector Bellerin.

The 2-2 draw leaves Chelsea six points ahead of fifth-placed Manchester United having played a game extra while Arsenal are in 10th spot, seemingly out of the running for a place in the top four.

Chelsea boss Frank Lampard was frustrated that his team had not been more clinical in front of goal.

“We could have had three or four goals today,” he told the BBC. “Having shots, crosses and lots of ‘ooh’ moments. We have to be clinical.”

Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta hailed his side’s reaction.

“To do that against this kind of opponent in this stadium, I really value,” he said. “The way they have done it, with the spirit they have done it, that’s great.”

Aguero spares City blushes

Pep Guardiola’s City, with defender Aymeric Laporte back in the side, looked as though they might rue Gabriel Jesus’s squandered first-half penalty but their Argentine hitman Sergio Aguero came to the rescue.

Despite the 1-0 win, second-placed City remain 13 points behind runaway leaders Liverpool, having played two games more, and their bid to defend their title appears hopeless.

City’s French central defender Laporte has been out of action since suffering a knee injury at the end of August and he was a surprise inclusion at Bramall Lane.

Sheffield United goalkeeper Dean Henderson denied Jesus from the penalty spot about 10 minutes from half-time after a foul on Riyad Mahrez.

But City made amends when substitute Sergio Aguero, on for Jesus, tapped in from Kevin De Bruyne’s cross in the 73rd minute.

“We knew it would be a difficult place to come,” Guardiola said. “We concede one or two clear chances, nothing more than that.

“In the first half the ‘keeper was excellent with the penalty and two incredible saves. It was an incredibly good victory for us to take a step towards securing Champions League football next season.”

Southampton’s 2-0 victory against Crystal Palace, thanks to goals from Nathan Redmond and Stuart Armstrong, continued a remarkable turnaround for the club, who hit rock bottom earlier this season in a 9-0 defeat by Leicester.

“Throughout the team — the behaviour, belief — everyone is absolutely committed,” said Southampton manager Ralph Hasenhuettl.

“They know what they have to do and the atmosphere is fantastic. Everyone enjoys to play.”

Watford took the lead against Villa when Troy Deeney headed in Gerard Deulofeu’s cross but the home side hit back in the second half through Douglas Luiz.

Tyrone Mings scored a dramatic late winner for Villa deep into stoppage time to end Watford’s recent revival under Nigel Pearson.

Moise Kean scored his first goal for Everton since his arrival from Juventus in the 30th minute of their match against Newcastle and Dominic Calvert-Lewin doubled the lead in the second half.

Everton were cruising deep into stoppage time but threw away the three points, with Lejeune striking twice.

Bournemouth, who had lost their previous four matches, all against relegation rivals, beat Brighton 3-1 thanks to goals from Harry Wilson, an own goal from Pascal Gross and a second-half Callum Wilson effort.

Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool are in action on Thursday at Wolves after Manchester United take on Burnley without Marcus Rashford, who could be out for three months with a back injury, on Wednesday.