LONDON: Chelsea held on to their place in the Premier League’s top four by bouncing back to beat Watford 3-0 on Saturday after Manchester United had briefly powered past with a 5-2 rout of Bournemouth, while Arsenal dealt a blow to Wolverhampton Wanderers’ Champions League chase by winning 2-0 at Molineux.
On a day of more twists in the race for Champions League qualification, Olivier Giroud was recalled by Chelsea and scored the opener in their win over Watford. With five more rounds left, Chelsea stayed two points ahead of fifth-placed United with Wolves a further three points back in sixth.
Fifth place will be enough to qualify for the Champions League this season if second-place Manchester City fails with its appeal to overturn a two-year European ban imposed by UEFA. The result of the appeal is imminent.
Chelsea bounced back from a surprising loss at West Ham United with a comfortable win over another relegation-threatened team.
The first two goals came before halftime at Stamford Bridge, with Giroud running onto a pass from Ross Barkley to slot home a finish off the post in the 28th minute and Willian converting a penalty in the 43rd after Christian Pulisic was fouled. Barkley added a third in stoppage time.
A third defeat in four games since the restart leaves Watford still just one point above Bournemouth and Aston Villa in the battle to beat the drop.
Arsenal kept their hopes of European football next season alive moved by ending Wolves’ eight-game unbeaten run in impressive fashion to move up to seventh.
Bukayo Saka celebrated signing a new long-term deal this week by hooking in the opener just before half-time and Alexandre Lacazette came off the bench to seal all three points for Mikel Arteta’s men four minutes from time.
Sheffield United are a point adrift of Arsenal in eighth after they played a 1-1 draw with ninth-placed Burnley on Sunday as both teams missed a chance to bolster their push for Europa League qualification.
John Egan earned Sheffield a point with an 80th-minute equaliser after James Tarkowski gave Burnley the lead in the 43rd minute, sidefooting home from close range.
Also on Sunday, Newcastle United twice came back from a goal down as they grabbed a 2-2 draw with West Ham United, robbing the visitors of the chance to put some more daylight between themselves and the relegation zone.
West Ham started the day three points above the drop zone, and they got off to the perfect start when Michail Antonio opened the scoring after four minutes.
Newcastle levelled in the 17th minute through Miguel Almiron, but they went behind again in the 66th minute when midfielder Tomas Soucek fired home a rebound. Jonjo Shelvey struck back immediately for Newcastle, dancing through the visitors’ defence before slotting home to make it 2-2.
Published in Dawn, July 6th, 2020