Chelsea held at home by Burnley as top four race hots up

Chelsea yesterday blew away a chance to move to third place in the English Premier League after they were held to a two all draw by stubborn Burnley at the Bridge.

Burnely were first to find the back of the net through Jeff Hendrick but the Blues responded with two quick goals from N’Golo Kante and Gonzalo Higuain.

However, the visitors were back on level minutes later through Ashley Barnes. The Blues pushed for a winning goal but the Clarets held to secure one point.

The draw moves Chelsea to fourth place in the league table.

Amid the chaos, Burnley celebrated, having dug in and fought hard for the draw which took them to 40 points and all but ensures they will playing Premier League football for a third successive season.

Chelsea grumbled about ‘anti-football’ as they squandered the opportunity to put pressure on their top-four rivals after a weekend when Tottenham, Arsenal and Manchester United had all lost.

A point is added to the total and they remain in the hunt for the Champions League but this setback was deepened by concerns over an injury to Callum Hudson-Odoi, who was forced off in the first half with an achilles injury.

-Dailymail

Liverpool 2-0 Chelsea: Mo Salah scores sensational 30 yard stunner

 

Highlights

– Liverpool secured a vital win in their quest for the Premier League title by beating Chelsea at Anfield

– The home side got the breakthrough when Jordan Henderson found Sadio Mane with a chip to the back post

– Mohamerd Salah then fired a sensational driving shot from 25 yards into the top corner to put hosts in control

– Eden Hazard missed two great chances to reduce the deficit but was denied by both the post and Alisson

The only place to start is the 53rd minute. Liverpool had just taken the lead in a game of huge importance when Virgil van Dijk switched play out to the right flank.

There, waiting, was Mohamed Salah. His control was perfect and a deft touch enabled him to drift past Chelsea left back Emerson; his next touch, though, threatened to carry him into the path of Jorginho. So here he was, 30 yards from goal, on angle, with Blue shirts crowding in.

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Mo Salah: Salah kissed the turf after showing his match-winning qualities for Liverpool in a hugely important fixture in the title run-in

Where some see difficulties, others see opportunity. No prizes for guessing which option Salah chose. Back came his left foot and shot of such ferocity was unleashed that it had arrowed beyond Kepa Arrizabalaga before he had started to dive. It brought pandemonium to Anfield.

‘Wow!’ Jurgen Klopp said simply, with a telling smile. ‘It blew me away.’ Liverpool’s manager was not alone in being left dumbfounded by what he saw. It was a glorious and the moment needs such a description because it may yet turn out to be the pivotal incident in what is the highest quality title race the Premier League has ever seen.

Chelsea are deeply troublesome opponents for Liverpool and they arrived on Merseyside in the mood to be menaces, just as was the case in April 2014. They caused plenty of problems, not least the wondrous Eden Hazard with his balletic grace and glorious touch.

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Europa: Arsenal and Chelsea draw first blood in wins over Napoli and Prague

Arsenal scored two early goals to beat Napoli 2-0 in the first leg of their Europa League quarter-final at the Emirates last night.

Aaron Ramsey finished off a slick passing move in the 14th minute before Kalidou Koulibaly scored an own goal when he deflected Lucas Torreira’s shot past goalkeeper Alex Meret.

Midfielder Aaron Ramsey put the finishing touches on a slick team move to put Arsenal ahead after just 15 minutes

Arsenal completed their 11th home victory in 12 outings against Napoli to put themselves firmly on course for the Europa League semi finals courtesy of goals from Aaron Ramsey and Lucas Torreira.

When the Emirates opened its doors for the first time in 2006, this is exactly what Arsene Wenger had in mind. A stadium the envy of Europe – but a place rival clubs detested coming to knowing they’d get beaten.

Unai Emery called on his players to embrace the pressure of trying to reclaim Arsenal’s place back at European top table. Returning to the Champions League remains the be-all-and-end-all for Emery’s side this season – Thursday night representing a good opportunity to take a significant step towards that goal.Torreira ran to the Arsenal bench to retrieve a T shirt that paid tribute to a close friend from home in Uruguay who died

Given the Gunners’ horrendous away form – the club have won just twice on the road since December – the onus was on the home side to not only win, but convincing

Meanwhile, Marcos Alonso’s late header handed Chelsea a narrow 1-0 victory away to Slavia Prague.

Marcos Alonso headed in with only four minutes remaining to seal victory and give Chelsea the advantage in this tie

Elsewhere, Benfica beat Frankfurt 4-2, while visiting Valencia beat Villareal 3-1 in an all-Spanish affair.

Hazard tears West Ham apart to send Chelsea third

Eden Hazard grabbed a brace, including a contender for goal of the season, to give Chelsea a vital 2-0 win over West Ham to move them up to third in the Premier League.

Eden Hazard produced some individual brilliance to help Chelsea beat London rivals West Ham United on Monday evening

The Belgian showed superb skill dribbling past three West Ham players to score a 24th minute opener, before adding a second with another sublime finish in the 90th minute.

The blues are now two points above Tottenham and three above Arsenal as the race for a Champions League place intensifies, having played an extra game.

Chelsea will miss him if he goes. We all will. Even by Eden Hazard’s elevated standards, this was on an altogether different plane. His manager Maurizio Sarri described his brilliant Belgian as irreplaceable. He’s not wrong.

Not that Mark Noble, Declan Rice, Fabian Balbuena, Angelo Ogbonna and Ryan Fredericks appreciated his splendour. Hazard left all five in his wake to score a mesmeric solo goal which invigorated Chelsea’s hopes of Champions League qualification.

Hazard broke the deadlock by scoring a superb solo goal midway through the first half at Stamford Bridge on Monday night

No doubt, the Hammers’ embarrassed quintet won’t be the only Premier League stars who’ll be glad to see the back of him if – as is looking increasingly likely – Hazard signs for Real Madrid this summer.

There are still hurdles to overcome before the Belgian becomes a Galactico – namely Chelsea’s £100million valuation – but Real want Hazard and, unfortunately for Chelsea and English football, Hazard wants Real, though the Belgian insisted after Monday’s game that he is still to make a final decision on his future. We’ve seen this story before, we know how it ends. We must appreciate him while he is still here.

-Dailymail

Everton 2-0 Chelsea: blues ‘top four’ hopes dented

 

Highlights

– Richarlison powered a header into the roof of the net to give the Toffees the lead early in the second half

– Gylfi Sigurdsson doubled Everton’s advantage after initially having his penalty saved by Kepa Arrizabalaga

– Chelsea suffered a setback in the race for the top four as Everton eased past Maurizo Sarri’s side on Sunday

– The Blues sit sixth in the Premier League, while Everton remain 11th after the landmark win for Marco Silva

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Here at last was a glimpse of what Everton could be under Marco Silva. Smart aggressive, energetic and inventive; not to mention clinical. They only managed it for half an hour but against this inconsistent and maddening Chelsea team it was enough.

So this was a big win for Silva, maybe his biggest of his up and down first season at Everton. He was brought to lift people from their seats like this. There has not been nearly enough of it over the course of the year but here his team recovered from a flat first half to overrun Chelsea.

Really poor for 45 minutes, Everton improved beyond recognition and scored twice – through Richarlison and Gylfi Sigurdsson – in the space of 25 minutes to remind us just what an atmospheric place Goodison Park can be when the home team’s blood is up.

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Goodison Park

For Chelsea and their coach Maurizio Sarri, it was all greatly disappointing and a little familiar.

Chelsea have recovered a little since they were dismantled by both Manchester clubs in February. Indeed, in the first half they were the better team by a distance, completely controlling the game.

But once Everton emerged for the second period seemingly determined to show themselves in a better light, Chelsea could not cope and this is does not say terribly much for their depths of reserve. Some of Chelsea’s performances this season have caused people to ask just how much they care for their Italian coach. This was not one of those days but, still, their reaction to falling behind was not good enough.

This was an opportunity to move level on points with Arsenal in fourth place and that they ultimately failed by such a distance suggests this is a group of players missing something very important as the tussle for the Champions League places intensifies.

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Two horse race! City and Liverpool win as Chelsea condemn Spurs to another loss

Liverpool yesterday thrashed Watford five nil to remain on top of the league table and a point ahead of rivals of Manchester City.

Two first half goals from Sadio Mane put the Reds on the driving seat with Divock Origi and Virgil van Dijk added three more goals after the break.

Meanwhile, Sergio Aguero’s penalty was enough to give City a one nil win over West Ham. Manchester United bounced back to winning ways with a 3-1 win over Crystal Palace with Romelu Lukaku getting a brace.

Arsenal were in sensational form as they thrashed Bournemouth 5-1 courtesy of goals from Mesut Ozil, Henrikh Mkhitaryan, Aubameyang, Laurent Koscielny and Alex Lacazette.

Across London, Chelsea put behind their Carabao Cup final woes as they dimmed Tottenham’s title hopes with a two nil win at the Stamford Bridge.

The defeat to Spurs now means that the title race is now between two horses; Liverpool and Manchester City.

It has taken until the end of February and a week before Shrove Tuesday, but finally the race for the 2018-19 Premier League title is a two-horse affair.

After 180 goalless minutes against Bayern Munich and Manchester United, Liverpool surged back to their attacking best with five goals against Watford.

Battered and bruised from 120 gruelling minutes in the Carabao Cup final, Manchester City escaped from the visit of West Ham with three points thanks to a Sergio Aguero penalty.

-Dailymail

 

FA Cup: Pogba and Herrera on target as Man United dump Chelsea

Manchester United yesterday bounced back to winning ways with a two nil win over Chelsea to advance to the quarter finals of the FA cup and pile more pressure on under fire Blues manager Maurizio Sarri.

Ander Herrera opened the scoring for the Red Devils following Paul Pogba’s cross and minutes later, Pogba headed in Marcus Rashford cross to give United a two nil lead at the break.

Manchester United players mobbed by fans as they take the train

Ander Herrera celebrates after opening the scoring for United against Chelsea in the FA Cup fifth round on Monday night

Chelsea efforts to get a breakthrough in the second half were frustrated as United held on to secure their first win at the Bridge since 2012. United will play Wolves in the quarter finals while Manchester City will take on Swansea City.

United were better and appear to have been liberated by Solskjaer as much as Chelsea seem weighed down by Sarri’s dogma. His second half substitutions – the inevitable Ross Barkley-Mateo Kovacic switch, plus full-back Davide Zappacosta for Cesar Azpilicueta – bought equal parts mockery and outright disdain, with Callum Hudson-Odoi again imprisoned on the bench.

FA Cup: Man United beat Arsenal in 3-1 defeat of old foes

‘You don’t know what you’re doing,’ sang the locals, but that’s just the problem. He does. It’s just that what he is doing is increasingly unsuccessful and maddeningly repetitive. The same moves, born of the same principles, repeated endlessly with diminishing returns.

United focus now shifts to Sunday’s mega match against Liverpool while Chelsea will take on Manchester City on the same day in the Carabao Cup Final.

Chelsea: Manager Maurizio is on the brink of being fired

– Maurizio Sarri’s future at Chelsea remains in doubt after a difficult period

– One player thinks he will go if Chelsea don’t win one of their next two matches

– Roman Abramovich has not been to a game this season and is on the periphery

– There are frustrations at how star man N’Golo Kante has been used by Sarri

– Eden Hazard looks poised to leave this summer as problems continue to mount

After all but surrendering the Serie A title to Juventus in the spring of 2017, Maurizio Sarri’s outlook for his Napoli future was not promising. ‘Coaches are like fish,’ he mused. ‘After a while, they start to stink.’

The use-by date on Chelsea managers is always short, but in the case of Sarri matters have deteriorated at an alarming rate.

The club’s chairman, Bruce Buck, sat in on his pre-match press conference this week in Malmo, then Buck took the peculiar step of going pitchside on Thursday evening to get a close view of Chelsea’s warm-up drills.

The players’ senses are tingling. One confided in his adviser this week that he expected Sarri to be sacked if the club fail to win at least one of their next two games — against Manchester United in the FA Cup, and Manchester City in the Carabao Cup final.

Ultimately, the decision will not fall to Buck. Director Marina Granovskaia runs the show and she will make recommendations to owner Roman Abramovich, if he does not beat her to it.

Sarri admits he has not heard from Chelsea’s Russian owner in the past three weeks, and the growing impression is that of a club whose troubles extend beyond the dugout.

The financial news website Bloomberg has spoken of the ‘last days of Londongrad’. Abramovich has not attended a Chelsea match this season and has not been seen in London since his visa renewal application was denied last year

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Manchester City apologise to Chelsea after playing Blues anthem

Manchester City bosses apologised to Chelsea after the west London club’s anthem ‘One Step Beyond’ was played after their 6-0 drubbing on Sunday.

Pep Guardiola‘s side tore their opponent’s to pieces as they returned to the top of the Premier League table.

Kalonzo hafai urais wala hana nyenzo za urais – Alfred Mutua

If the result alone was not hard enough for Chelsea fans to take, exiting the stadium to the sound of Madness’ ‘One Step Beyond’, a club anthem at Stamford Bridge, compounded the misery.

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maurizio sarri

According to the Evening Standard, City officials demanded the song be cut short and were quick to say apologise to the visitors for what many perceived as an act of gloating.

The song is regularly played after Chelsea win matches at Stamford Bridge and so hearing it after a 6-0 demolition left a bitter taste.

It was swiftly cut short but fans quickly took to social media to hail the person in charge of City’s PA system.

The humiliation had started long before the Madness track rang through the speakers as Sergio Aguero collected his second successive hat-trick at the Etihad.

Gor Mahia in top form as they beat AFC Leopards at Mashemeji Derby(Images)

Aguero is in a rich vein of form right now and could have scored more with Chelsea unable to nullify his threat as City were 4-0 up after just 25 minutes.

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man city

Raheem Sterling scored the opener after four minutes, a sign that it was going to be a long afternoon for Maurizio Sarri’s side.

Aguero made it 2-0 nine minutes later with a stunning strike from distance and pressure was mounting with every goal conceded on Sarri.

Liverpool thrash Bournemouth after recent slump

Ilkay Gundogan got in on the act as Guardiola’s side continued to keep the pressure on title rivals Liverpool following their win over Bournemouth at Anfield.

Chelsea now need to haul themselves off the canvas for Thursday’s trip to face Malmo in the Europa League before taking on an in-form Manchester United in the FA Cup.

Sarri’s job on the line after Chelsea are thumped by Bournemouth

Maurizio Sarri is battling to save his job after Chelsea were thrashed 4-0 at Bournemouth on Wednesday night.

The Italian, brought in from Napoli in the summer to replace Antonio Conte, has been under pressure with his team falling well adrift in the title race and Wednesday night’s reverse saw them drop out of the top four.

Chelsea plot summer swoop for Barcelona star Ivan Rakitic

Josh King scored either side of a fine David Brooks goal at the Vitality Stadium, before Charlie Daniels added a fourth as Eddie Howe’s team condemned the visitors to a second consecutive Premier League defeat.

Following the match, Sarri said: ‘I feel frustrated. Not under pressure. I didn’t see the signal of my work. So I am frustrated.

‘Maybe it’s my fault, maybe I’m not able to motivate them. But the team is very strong, it is also able to win without the coach.’

In response to fans singing ‘you don’t know what you’re doing,’ he added: ‘We have only to say sorry to our fans. We can lose, of course, in every match, but not in this way. We need to solve the problem. We need to understand where the problem is.’

Sarri had left Callum Hudson-Odoi out of the squad — seen as a rap on the knuckles for the youngster for eyeing a move to Bayern Munich — and new signing Gonzalo Higuain looked horribly out of touch.

With Arsenal leap-frogging Chelsea into the Champions League positions, a place in the Carabao Cup final against Manchester City next month may not be enough to save Sarri given owner Roman Abramovich’s renowned lack of patience.

Chelsea fans turned on him during the game with a chorus of boos after the final whistle.

FA CUP DRAW: Chelsea to host high-flying Man United in mouthwatering affair

According to reports, Sarri was still locked in the away dressing room with his players 40 minutes after the full-time whistle at the Vitality.

The 60-year-old removed his coaching staff from the room, ensuring it was just himself and his players.

Sarri said: ‘In that moment I wanted to talk to them alone, without anybody. I needed to understand, it was so different in the first and second half. I want to try again tomorrow.’

Meanwhile, Liverpool failed to capitalize on Manchester City’s misfortunes to extend their lead at the top of English Premier League table to seven points as they were held to a one all draw by Leicester at Anfield.

Sadio Mane opened the scoring for the reds in the 3rd minute but the Foxes responded at the stroke of half time through Harry Maguire. The draw leaves them ahead of City by five points. Elsewhere, Tottenham beat Watford 2-1.

-Dailymail