Covid-stricken Chelsea were held in check by Wolves on Sunday after the Premier League rejected their request to postpone the game as Manchester City put Newcastle in trouble with the sword. There were only four games left on the schedule this weekend out of the original 10 as the worsening coronavirus crisis in Britain took its toll on the English elite. Clubs will meet on Monday to discuss next steps, with questions growing about the integrity of the competition as the busy holiday season approaches. Stumbling Chelsea, who have battled illness and injury in recent weeks, were only able to name four outfielders on the bench for their game at Molineux.
The visitors, who have won just two of their last six league games, have enjoyed most of the possession but only managed one shot on target and are now six points behind leaders City.
Thomas Tuchel was deprived of Romelu Lukaku, Timo Werner and Callum Hudson-Odoi, all of whom tested positive for Covid-19. Jorginho, Kai Havertz and Ruben Loftus-Cheek were also not in the squad.
Chelsea confirmed earlier that their request to cancel the game was turned down.
The call for the European champions was reportedly dismissed as the Blues were deemed to have enough players to fill the match.
“I gave my opinion and you can do what you want with it,” a frustrated Tuchel told the BBC after the match. “I can’t compare to other games, it’s just our situation.
“It’s not sure. We’re talking about protecting the players and a safe environment, but it’s not sure. I wouldn’t be surprised if the next test comes up and we have more positives.
“How should it end if we sit on the bus and have dinner and stay together like nothing has happened?” “
Defending champions City crushed Newcastle 4-0 to confirm their position at the top of the table at Christmas.
Eddie Howe’s side shot each other in the foot just in the fifth minute, when a disastrous defense gave City the lead after goalkeeper Martin Dubravka carelessly conceded a corner kick.
The defense only cleared halfway and Joao Cancelo returned the ball into the six-yard penalty area. Newcastle appeared to be in little danger, but Ciaran Clark inexplicably chose not to make a simple header and Ruben Dias directed the free ball into the net.
The home team rallied and Joelinton nearly equalized with a scathing shot from a distance that flew just past Ederson’s right post.
But City silenced the passionate crowd at St James’s Park shortly before the half hour mark, when Cancelo pushed his way past Joe Willock and Isaac Hayden before crushing a right-footed shot past defenseless Dubravka from the edge of the The area.
City maintained their grip on the game in the second half, with Riyad Mahrez and Raheem Sterling doubling their lead.
City manager Pep Guardiola has been surprisingly hard on his side, saying their first-half performance was one of the worst of the season before a better performance after the break.
“The records show the consistency we have as a team – it’s not winning titles or finals, it’s winning and winning,” he said. “Records are there to be broken and happy to have them.”
City have now won eight league games in a row to take a four-point lead over second-placed Liverpool, who will be in action at Tottenham later on Sunday.
But relegation-threatened Newcastle remain three points from safety after playing two more games than Watford, who is just outside the drop zone.
The wealthy new owners of the Saudi-backed Magpies have indicated they will invest significantly in the squad, but before the January transfer window opens they have meetings against Manchester United and Everton.
Liverpool’s preparations for their Premier League visit to Spurs have been hit after Thiago Alcantara became the last of Jurgen Klopp’s players to return a presumed positive test for Covid.
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