Covid-stricken Chelsea were held back to a goalless draw by Wolves on Sunday after the Premier League rejected their request to postpone the game as Manchester City brought struggling Newcastle under the sword. Only four games were left of the original 10 this weekend as Britain’s worsening coronavirus crisis took its toll on England’s top flight. Clubs will meet on Monday to discuss what action to take, with questions growing about the integrity of the competition as the busy holiday season approaches. Stumbling Chelsea, who have struggled with illness and injuries in recent weeks, could name just four outfielders on the bench for their game at Molineux.
The visitors, who have now won just two of their last six league games, had most of the ball but only collected one shot on goal and are now six points behind leader City.
Thomas Tuchel was without Romelu Lukaku, Timo Werner and Callum Hudson-Odoi, all of whom have tested positive for Covid-19. Jorginho, Kai Havertz and Ruben Loftus-Cheek were also not in the selection.
Chelsea previously confirmed that their request to cancel the game has been rejected.
The European champion’s appeal is deemed dismissed as the Blues were deemed to have had enough players to meet the competition.
“I gave my opinion and you can do whatever you want with it,” a frustrated Tuchel told the BBC after the game. “I can’t compare it to other games, it’s just our situation.
“It’s not safe. We talk about protecting players and a safe environment, but it’s not safe. I wouldn’t be surprised if the next test comes out and we have more positives.”
“How’s it supposed to stop when we’re on the bus and eating and just staying together like nothing happened?”
disaster in Newcastle
Defending champions City crushed Newcastle 4-0 to confirm their position at the top of the league table over Christmas.
Eddie Howe’s side shot themselves in the foot in the fifth minute when a disastrous defense gave City the lead after goalkeeper Martin Dubravka carelessly conceded a corner.
The defense only went half way and Joao Cancelo hooked the ball back into the six-yard box. Newcastle appeared to be in little danger, but Ciaran Clark inexplicably chose not to make a simple header and Ruben Dias headed the loose ball into the net.
The home side rallied and Joelinton came close to equalizing with a stabbing shot from distance that flew just wide of Ederson’s right post.
But City silenced the impassioned crowd in St James’s Park just before half-time, as Cancelo winked past Joe Willock and Isaac Hayden before crushing a right-hand shot past the helpless Dubravka from the edge of the area.
City held the game firmly in the second half, with Riyad Mahrez and Raheem Sterling doubling their lead.
City manager Pep Guardiola was surprisingly tough on his team, saying their first half performance was one of the worst of the season before getting a better performance after the break.
“Records show we are consistent as a team – it’s not about winning titles or finals, it’s about winning and winning,” he said. “Records are there to be broken and happy to have them.”
City have now won eight league games in a row and are four points ahead of number two Liverpool, who will play at Tottenham Hotspur later on Sunday.
But Newcastle, who face relegation threats, remain three points from safety and have now played two more games than Watford, who is just outside the drop zone.
The wealthy new Saudi-backed owners of the Magpies have indicated they will invest significantly in the roster but will have games against Manchester United and Everton before the January transfer window starts.
Liverpool’s preparations for their Premier League visit to the Spurs were hit after Thiago Alcantara was Jurgen Klopp’s latest player to return a suspected positive test for Covid.
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