Norwich leaves Chelsea’s title bid in tatters

Updated 04 May 2014

Norwich leaves Chelsea’s title bid in tatters

LONDON: Chelsea missed the chance to go top of the Premier League after being held to a goalless draw at home to strugglers Norwich on Sunday.
The stalemate at Stamford Bridge all but ended Chelsea’s title bid, with Jose Mourinho’s men now a point behind both leaders Manchester City and second-placed Liverpool with just one match of their league season remaining.
Liverpool will return to the summit if they win away to Crystal Palace on Monday.
However, City will still have a game in hand on both Liverpool and Chelsea after Monday’s match at Selhurst Park.
Norwich’s battling effort left them on 33 points with one game remaining and on the brink of relegation.
Sunderland are also in danger on 35 points but the north-east side have two games still to play as do West Bromwich Albion, who have 36 points.
Earlier, Arsenal celebrated their qualification for next season’s Champions League with a 1-0 win at home to West Bromwich Albion on Sunday.
France striker Olivier Giroud scored the only goal of the game when he headed in a 14th-minute corner.
Everton’s 3-2 defeat by Manchester City on Saturday meant Arsenal kicked-off at the Emirates Stadium knowing they could not be caught in the race for fourth place in the Premier League and a spot in next term’s Champions League.
“I believe the mentality of the team was outstanding (in reaching the Champions League),” said Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger, whose side will look to end a nine-year spell without a major trophy when they face Hull in this month’s FA Cup final at Wembley.
“We still have games in front of us. You can be pleased of the attitude, but frustrated because we were top of the league (for 128 days) then we dropped off.” The veteran French boss added: “We had injures — three or four players who missed too many games.
“And in some games, at the start away from home, we were caught by surprise.
“We were perhaps too cautious and not confident enough. We paid a heavy price for it.” This result left West Brom three points above the relegation zone, but still with two games to play.
Although Sunderland and Norwich are still below his side in the table, Baggies manager Pepe Mel refused to accept the Midlands side had beaten the drop.
“No, an extra point we need, we have two matches and one point to get,” he said.
“Now our only focus is on Sunderland. I think the players are very good professionals and every day and every week work on the pitch and there is a good atmosphere. I enjoy West Brom,” the Spaniard added.


Could new format lead to new name on trophy despite virus worry?

Updated 11 August 2020

Could new format lead to new name on trophy despite virus worry?

  • Barca-Bayern promises to be a thrilling tie even without their supporters

LISBON: With just two former winners left in the competition, no Cristiano Ronaldo and no fans, the Champions League moves to Lisbon this week for the start of the “Final Eight” with the intriguing prospect that a new format could lead to a new name on the trophy.

However, the shadow of the coronavirus looms large after it was announced on Sunday two individuals from Atletico Madrid, one of the teams involved in Portugal, have tested positive.

"On Saturday, all members of the first team and the club's party to Lisbon underwent tests as required by UEFA protocols," said a club statement.

"Among the results known today, two positives have appeared and they are self-isolating in their respective homes."

It was not revealed whether the two positive cases involved players or backroom staff.

Barcelona and Bayern Munich, with five European Cups each, are in contention for the title but only one will reach the semifinals —  they meet each other in the quarterfinals at the Estadio da Luz on Friday.

With Barca desperate for more European success before Lionel Messi, who turned 33 in June, moves on, and Bayern looking a fearsome proposition led by Robert Lewandowski, that promises to be a thrilling tie despite the lack of supporters.

But maybe this time the glory will go to someone new altogether, with Manchester City and Paris Saint-Germain both having reason to believe this will be the year they are rewarded for a decade of decadence fueled by the immense wealth of their owners in the Gulf.

"The big clubs lift the titles," was how City boss Pep Guardiola put it after his team knocked out Real Madrid on Friday.

Perhaps Atletico, back where they lost the 2014 final to Real, will at last go the extra step under Diego Simeone, or perhaps there will be a shock winner in RB Leipzig, Atalanta or even Lyon.

At this level, Atalanta are the minnows and it would be a remarkable story if they won the trophy in their first appearance in the Champions League after the terrible suffering of their hometown Bergamo during the coronavirus pandemic.

It is as a direct result of COVID-19 that UEFA have taken the Champions League to the Portuguese capital for the latter stages.

The competition restarted on Friday after five months in hibernation because of the pandemic. The final was initially due to be played in Istanbul in late May before being postponed.

The final will be played at Benfica's Estadio da Luz on August 23. The “Final Eight” will start at the same ground on Wednesday when Atalanta face PSG.

Whoever wins that will meet Leipzig or Atletico for a place in the final, while City or Lyon will meet Bayern or Barcelona in the other semifinal.

The most unusual Champions League has already seen Real — winners of four of the last six editions — go out in the last 16 along with holders Liverpool and Juventus, who were eliminated by Lyon on Friday despite the best efforts of Ronaldo.