Big win for Chelsea as VAR calls take center stage again

Tottenham Hotspur’s defender Serge Aurier vies with Chelsea’s defender Marcos Alonso during Saturday’s match. (AFP)
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Updated 22 February 2020

Big win for Chelsea as VAR calls take center stage again

  • Sheffield United miss chance to boost their case for Champions League football next season

LONDON: Chelsea manager Frank Lampard made all the right decisions to mastermind another win over Jose Mourinho and strike a significant blow in the bunched race for Champions League qualification.

It was a couple of decisions by video assistant referees which caused the biggest fuss in the English Premier League on Saturday, however.

Olivier Giroud and Marcos Alonso — handed rare starts by Lampard — scored the goals in a 2-1 victory over Tottenham, allowing Chelsea to pull clear again in fourth place after the team’s poor recent run.

It was Tottenham manager Mourinho’s second loss to former club Chelsea this season.

Much of the talk during and after the game was about a call by VAR not to send off Tottenham midfielder Giovani Lo Celso for an apparent stamp on Chelsea captain Cesar Azpilicueta in the second half that looked worse on each replay.  The Premier League later said it should have been a red card.

Then, over at Turf Moor, relegation-threatened Bournemouth was denied an equalizer against Burnley when VAR chose to rule out Harry Wilson’s goal because it judged there was a handball in the Bournemouth area 15 seconds earlier.

Bournemouth’s players and manager, Eddie Howe, were livid — the team had already had a goal disallowed for a ball hitting the shoulder of one of its players in the buildup — and Burnley striker Jay Rodriguez piled on their misery by converting the penalty on the way to a 3-0 win.

VAR was introduced to the Premier League for the first time this season and fans are growing increasingly frustrated at its impact on the game.

Aston Villa stayed one point above the relegation zone after losing 2-0 at Southampton, and Crystal Palace eased any relegation concerns by beating Newcastle 1-0.

Sheffield United had to settle for drawing with Brighton 1-1 on its return to English Premier League action, missing the chance to climb into the Champions League qualification positions on Saturday.

The Blades spent their winter break in Dubai, while their top-five rivals failed to make any notable headway in their absence.

United was on its way to matching fourth-placed Chelsea’s win against Tottenham earlier in the day when Enda Stevens blasted the hosts in front in the 26th minute. However, Neal Maupay equalized four minutes later to earn a point that pushed Brighton further clear of the relegation zone, though Graham Potter’s side is without a league win in seven matches.

United was dominant in the second half, with Brighton goalkeeper Mathew Ryan making a point-blank save to deny Oliver McBurnie near the end.

The draw kept the Blades in sixth place, although they were tied on points with fifth-placed Tottenham. Both are four points adrift of Chelsea.

However, fifth place is enough to qualify for the Champions League because second-placed Manchester City was punished last week with a two-year ban from European competitions for breaching financial regulations. City has said it will appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport.


‘Liverpool spirits are high’ despite virus lockdown

Jurgen Klopp
Updated 28 March 2020

‘Liverpool spirits are high’ despite virus lockdown

  • Klopp praised the efforts of Liverpool and other clubs in helping support more vulnerable members of the community during the current crisis

Jurgen Klopp says the mood at Liverpool is upbeat despite the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) lockdown, even admitting he has tried to copy Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain’s dance moves to keep himself occupied.
The Premier League leaders were on the verge of their first top-flight title for 30 years when English football was suspended earlier this month.
Klopp said his players’ spirits remained high despite the frustrations of having no football to play and praised the efforts of his backroom staff who are looking after the players’ fitness.
“We spoke a couple of times, we have a really intense, big, big group chat — the whole of Melwood (training ground) are in that,” he said, speaking to the club’s website by videolink from his home.
“The boys are really lively in that, the boys are just interested in what everybody is doing, comments on what everybody is doing — if Ox is on Instagram or whatever.”
Midfielder Oxlade-Chamberlain and his girlfriend, Little Mix singer Perrie Edwards, performed a dance routine, which she posted on social media.
Teammate James Milner played up to his “boring James Milner” tag by posting a video of himself cutting his grass with a ruler and scissors.
“I didn’t cut the grass but I tried the dance of Ox,” said Klopp. “Not as bad as you probably think. It’s very important in these times that we all show we take this situation seriously, but we are human beings.”

HIGHLIGHT

Jurgen Klopp praises the efforts of Liverpool and other clubs in helping support more vulnerable members of the community during the current crisis. He urges people to abide by the lockdown.

“If the boys do anything on Instagram, as long as it’s in a legal frame I’m overly happy about it — it just shows they are still cheeky and all that stuff,” he added.
Klopp praised the efforts of Liverpool and other clubs in helping support more vulnerable members of the community during the current crisis.
And he urged people to abide by the lockdown.
“The only way to get football back as soon as possible, if that’s what the people want, the more disciplined we are now the earlier we will get, piece by piece by piece, our life back,” Klopp said. “That’s how it is.”
“At one point we will play football again as well, 100 percent,” he added. “I couldn’t wish more for it because of a few really good reasons, how you can imagine. I can’t wait actually, but even I have to be disciplined and I try to be as much as I can.”