Chelsea overcame doubts over the club’s future to beat Newcastle 1-0 at Stamford Bridge on Sunday, thanks to Kai Havertz’s late goal, while Arsenal moved into the top four with a 2-0 win against Leicester.
The European champions are still reeling from the impact of the UK government’s sanctions against billionaire owner Roman Abramovich for alleged intimate ties to Vladimir Putin while the Russian ruler wages war on Ukraine.
Chelsea has only been able to continue operations thanks to a special license, which nevertheless imposes several restrictions, including a prohibition on selling tickets and merchandise
There was little immediate difference when the action began in front of a packed house at Stamford Bridge, with all tickets sold before Thursday’s announcement of fines.
Before the match, both Chelsea’s technical and performance advisor Petr Cech and manager Thomas Tuchel could provide no assurances that the Blues will be able to fulfill their remaining commitments for the rest of the season unless the license limits are relaxed.
In contrast to recent matches, there was no screaming of Abramovich’s name by Chelsea fans, albeit there was a banner with his image saluting the “Roman Empire.”
“The uproar sparked by suspicions about where Abramovich got his money has also reignited criticism of the Saudi sovereign wealth fund’s choice to take over Newcastle earlier this season.
The Magpies’ first transfer window under new ownership yielded quick results, as they went unbeaten in nine league games to climb out of the relegation zone.
Newcastle felt unhappy that Havertz was even on the field to score the winning goal after catching Dan Burn with an elbow in the first half but only receiving a yellow card.
The German then produced the one true highlight of a rough game, expertly controlling Jorginho’s cross over the top before poking home the winner in the 89th minute.
“We feel bad for everyone.” “The fans, the employees, not just us professionals,” Havertz explained.
“We try to offer them everything we have at the moment.” We must stand united, and we endeavor to do so to give them a nice feeling.”
Chelsea’s third-place finish is secure, and they are on track to receive the much-needed cash boost of qualifying for next season’s Champions League.
Arsenal is also closing close on a return to the Champions League for the first time in six seasons, with a fifth successive win putting them ahead of Manchester United with three games remaining.
The Gunners dominated from the start and took the lead on 11 minutes when Thomas Partey exploited Leicester’s set-piece frailty to head home the opener.
Party also had a hand in the second goal, as his header was touched by Caglar Souyuncu, and Alexandre Lacazette rifled the ensuing penalty high past, Kasper Schmeichel.
– Emotional Yarmolenko – West Ham also maintained their top-four dreams in emotional circumstances, as Ukrainian star Andriy Yarmolenko scored in a 2-1 victory over Aston Villa.
Yarmolenko had been allowed time off following Russia’s invasion of his homeland to assist in the evacuation of some of his family members.
He scored the opening goal 20 minutes from time after being introduced as a second-half substitute and was overtaken with emotion as he bent down on his knees in celebration.
“It was quite traumatic for me because of the situation in my country,” Yarmolenko explained.
“It’s extremely difficult for me right now to think about football because the Russian army is killing Ukrainians every day.”
Pablo Fornals promptly extended the Hammers’ lead before Villa’s Jacob Ramsey scored a late consolation goal.
At the bottom of the standings, just goal difference keeps Everton out of the relegation zone after Wolves won 1-0 at Goodison Park thanks to Conor Coady’s goal.
Leeds pulled four points clear of the bottom three after Joe Gelhardt scored deep into stoppage time to upset bottom-of-the-table Norwich 2-1 at Elland Roa.d
Watford overcame Southampton 2-1 at St Mary’s to keep their survival hopes alive. Cucho Hernandez scored twice for the Hornets