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.


Atletico catching all the breaks in Champions League

Updated 12 August 2020

Atletico catching all the breaks in Champions League

  • A victory against Leipzig will put Atletico back in the semifinals for the first time since 2017

LISBON: So far so good for Atletico Madrid in the quest for their first Champions League title.

Diego Simeone’s team have caught all the breaks going into the decisive final-eight tournament in Lisbon.

Old foes Real Madrid and Cristiano Ronaldo are gone. They drew Leipzig instead of a more traditional powerhouse for the quarterfinals. And their rival lost its top player after Timo Werner left for Chelsea. Even when things went wrong and the squad was hit by COVID-19, Atletico avoided the worst as only two players were infected and they could still make the trip to Portugal.

Things have been looking good for Simeone and his players.

A victory against Leipzig on Thursday will put Atletico back in the semifinals for the first time since it was eliminated by Ronaldo’s Madrid in the last four in 2017. Ronaldo and Madrid had defeated Atletico in the final in 2014 and 2016, and also ended the rival’s run in the quarterfinals in 2015.

Ronaldo again was Atletico’s nemesis last season after joining Juventus. Atletico lost to the Italian team in the round of 16 after Ronaldo scored a hat trick in the decisive second leg in Turin.

But this time Ronaldo and Juventus were eliminated by Lyon in the last 16, the same stage in which Madrid were knocked out of the tournament by Manchester City. Only two past champions are still left in the competition — Barcelona and Bayern Munich — and they play against each other in the opposite side of the draw, meaning Atletico could only meet one of them in the final.

Leipzig are a relative newcomer to the Champions League, having reached the group stage only twice. This is the first time they made it to the knockout round. They eliminated Tottenham in the round of 16, but now they won't count on top scorer Werner, who did not extend his contract by a few weeks to finish the season with the German club before moving to Chelsea.

Atletico stunned defending European champion Liverpool in the last 16, advancing after a 3-2 win in England.

“The game against Liverpool will go down in history and was one of the best we’ve had in a long time,” Atletico striker Diego Costa said. “It gave fans high expectations and we will give our best to try to meet those expectations. Hopefully we will play well and luck will stay on our side.”

Costa said Atletico will not take Leipzig lightly despite  the rival’s lack of experience in international competitions.

“They are very strong on the ball and know what they are about,” he said. “They have made it to the quarterfinals and have no pressure.”

There was a scare within Atletico this week when it announced two positive test results for COVID-19 among the group that was traveling to Lisbon. There were concerns that an outbreak within the club could have affected the team’s participation in the tournament in Portugal, but new tests showed that only Ángel Correa and Sime Vrsaljko were infected and the squad could travel to Lisbon.

Vrsaljko was not even going to play because he is nursing an injury, while Correa isn't among Atletico’s top stars even though he led the team in assists this season.

After coming agonizingly close recently, Atletico hope the breaks will keep going their way and that they  will finally get to lift the coveted European trophy.