English Premiership

Chelsea fail to lift pressure on Lampard, Covid spike causes Man City postponement

play article
Subscribers can listen to this article
Olivier Giroud (Getty Images)
Olivier Giroud (Getty Images)

Chelsea failed to ease the mounting pressure on manager Frank Lampard as Aston Villa came from behind to earn a 1-1 draw at Stamford Bridge on Monday, as a coronavirus outbreak at Manchester City caused their clash at Everton to be postponed.

Lampard publicly criticised his players' attitude in a 3-1 defeat to Arsenal on Saturday that left the Blues down in eighth at the start of the day despite a splurge in the summer transfer market.

Chelsea's strength in depth showed as Lampard was able to make six changes from the side beaten at the Emirates.

Olivier Giroud was one of those drafted into the side and the French international proved his worth with a precise near post header from Ben Chilwell's cross to open the scoring with his ninth of the season.

By contrast, Dean Smith made just one enforced change from the team that played for 45 minutes with 10 men in Saturday's 3-0 win over Crystal Palace.

But Villa showed no signs of fatigue in the second-half and levelled when Anwar El Ghazi turned home his fifth goal in as many games from Matty Cash's cross five minutes into the second-half.

Villa even came close to a winner when John McGinn's long-range effort rattled the crossbar.

Timo Werner and Kai Havertz have so far failed to live up to their billing as Chelsea's two most expensive summer signings.

Both German internationals were introduced by Lampard for the final quarter and Werner had Chelsea's best chance to win the game late on, but his lack of confidence showed by blazing over a loose ball inside the area.

Chilwell was also inches away from a stunning winner deep into stoppage time with a volley that flew just wide.

But Chelsea have now won just one of their last five league games to fall six points behind leaders Liverpool in sixth, having played a game more than the champions.

Villa remain just above the Blues in fifth thanks to a better goal difference and have played two games fewer than Chelsea.

For just the second time since the 2019/20 Premier League match season resumed in June, a match was postponed due to coronavirus infections after a spike at City.

The Manchester giants announced on Christmas Day there had been four positive tests at the club for players Kyle Walker and Gabriel Jesus and two staff members.

A further round of tests revealed more positive tests on Monday, reportedly to three players, leading to the Premier League to agree to City's request for the match to be called off.

"With the security of the bubble compromised, there posed a risk that the virus could spread further amongst the squad, the staff and potentially beyond," City said in a statement.

"Based on strong medical advice the Premier League, in consultation with both clubs, have decided to postpone the fixture,"

The club's training ground will now close for an "indeterminate period" with further testing on players and staff to take place before it can reopen.

City are due to face Chelsea away in the Premier League on Sunday and Manchester United in the League Cup semi-finals on January 6.

"The Premier League Board received medical advice that the match should be postponed," the Premier League said in a statement.

"The Premier League continues to have full confidence in its protocols and rules, and the way in which all clubs are implementing them."

Earlier, a much-changed Leicester moved up to second in thanks to Harvey Barnes' late equaliser in a 1-1 draw at Crystal Palace on Monday.

With little over 48 hours rest between the Foxes' 2-2 draw with Manchester United on Saturday and the trip to Selhurst Park, Leicester boss Brendan Rodgers made seven changes with Jamie Vardy, James Maddison and Youri Tielemans among those left on the bench.

Vardy in particular was missed as Kelechi Iheanacho had a first-half penalty saved by Vicente Guaita.

Wilfried Zaha's stunning near post volley then put the Eagles in front against the run of play.

Vardy was summoned from the bench to find a route back into the game, but instead it was the in-form Barnes who scored an excellent equaliser as he wriggled clear of a number of Palace challenges before firing into the bottom corner.



We live in a world where facts and fiction get blurred
In times of uncertainty you need journalism you can trust. For only R75 per month, you have access to a world of in-depth analyses, investigative journalism, top opinions and a range of features. Journalism strengthens democracy. Invest in the future today.
Subscribe to News24
Sun 28 Nov 21 16:00 PM (SAST)
Tottenham Hotspur
Turf Moor, Burnley
Tue 30 Nov 21 21:30 PM (SAST)
Norwich City
St. James' Park, Newcastle
Tue 30 Nov 21 22:15 PM (SAST)
Crystal Palace
Elland Road, West Yorkshire
Sun 28 Nov 21
Chelsea 1
Manchester United 1
Sun 28 Nov 21
Manchester City 2
West Ham 1
Sun 28 Nov 21
Leicester City 4
Watford 2
1. Chelsea
2. Manchester City
3. Liverpool
4. West Ham