Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Chelsea qualify for Champions League as Arsenal, United flop




Chelsea qualify for Champions League as Arsenal, United flop

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
Chelsea’s English defender Gary Cahill reacts as teammates throw him in the air following the English Premier League football match between Chelsea and Watford at Stamford Bridge in London on Sunday. Ben STANSALL/afp

Chelsea qualify for Champions League as Arsenal, United flop

Chelsea secured a place in next season’s Champions League on Sunday as Manchester United and Arsenal badly fluffed their lines in the race to finish in the Premier League’s top four.

Maurizio Sarri’s side beat Watford 3-0 to lift them into third spot behind Liverpool and Manchester City and their day was made all the sweeter as United drew at relegated Huddersfield and Arsenal were held by Brighton.

The results mean that with one round of fixtures remaining Chelsea, on 71 points, cannot be caught by fifth-placed Arsenal, who are on 67 points, or United, a point further back.

Fourth-placed Tottenham, on 70 points and with a far better goal difference than north London rivals Arsenal, are virtually assured of Champions League football next season barring an unlikely sequence of events.

Sarri’s team were booed off after a sloppy first half, but two goals in three minutes from Ruben Loftus-Cheek and David Luiz lifted the mood at Stamford Bridge before Gonzalo Higuain sealed victory, Chelsea’s first in four games in all competitions.

Finishing in the top four and winning the Europa League would make the Italian manager’s troubled first season a relative success.

“We want to be in the top four at the end of the season. We want to be in the Champions League,” said Sarri, whose side drew the first leg of their Europa League semi-final against Eintracht Frankfurt 1-1.

“The Europa League is also a very important competition and we want to win it because we think we deserve to a trophy this season. So we have two targets.”

Despite their miserable 1-1 draw, Arsenal can still reach the Champions League after two seasons away from Europe’s top club competition if they win the Europa League.

They are in a strong position after beating Valencia 3-1 in the first leg of the semi-final.

Arsenal, who came into the match after three straight Premier League defeats, started brightly at the Emirates and took the lead through an early Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang penalty.

But they squandered opportunities to extend their advantage and were made to pay when Glenn Murray scored from the spot following the hour mark after Granit Xhaka fouled Solly March.

Arsenal poured forward in search of a winner but Aubameyang volleyed wide from close range and Brighton goalkeeper Mat Ryan made several fine saves to keep them at bay.

United embarrassed

Disappointed boss Unai Emery turned his thoughts to Thursday’s second leg of their Europa League tie, with Arsenal set to finish outside the top four for a third consecutive season.

“We knew it is going to be difficult but our focus is now the Europa League,” he told the BBC. “We have the opportunity in the Europa League to do something important and we will try and do that.”

United slinked off the pitch at Huddersfield after an embarrassing 1-1 draw, with manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer admitting his side did not deserve to qualify for the Champions League.

The visitors had to rely on Huddersfield for a helping hand for their only goal as Scott McTominay’s strike from the edge of the box went straight through Jonas Lossl’s legs to give them an early lead.

Huddersfield had only scored nine goals at home all season, but one hopeful punt from Lossl cut United open for the equaliser on the hour mark.

Luke Shaw failed to cut out the Danish goalkeeper’s clearance and allowed Isaac Mbenza a clear run on goal to slot between David de Gea’s legs.

United have now won just two of their past 11 games in all competitions, leaving the decision to hand Solskjaer the job on a permanent basis in March open to question.

“We gave ourselves a chance to be in the Champions League,” Solskjaer said of a run of 14 wins in his first 17 games in charge before the rot of the past few months set in.

“We got so many opportunities to grab third or fourth and weren’t able to. The Europa League is the right place to be for us next year.”

Barring an astonishing Spurs collapse, the only issue that remains to be decided in the Premier League is the destination of the title.

Manchester City, two points behind leaders Liverpool but with a game in hand, were to host Leicester on Monday, with the final round of fixtures taking place on Sunday.

MOST VIEWED

  • School reopening to be postponed until November

    Minister of Education Hang Chuon Naron on Tuesday wrote to Prime Minister Hun Sen requesting a delay of school reopening across the Kingdom until November, when the new academic year begins. In his letter, Chuon Naron said the postponement is warranted to avoid the new

  • Foreigners in Kingdom must now register in FPCS system

    The Ministry of Interior’s General Department of Immigration (GDI) announced that it would not grant visa extensions to foreigners staying in Cambodia if their names are not listed on the Foreigners Present in Cambodia System (FPCS) by July 1. Foreign nationals can register in the

  • Covid-19 at ‘alarming rate’, health ministry says

    The Covid-19 risk level for individual transmission is at an “alarming rate” in the Kingdom and its probability is “not low”, warned Health Ministry spokesperson Or Vandine. “Cambodia’s coronavirus scenario is classified as being at an early stage of the pandemic because of ongoing

  • Mandatory quarantine for 30,000 workers begins

    Some of the roughly 30,000 workers from factories and enterprises across the Kingdom who went on leave during Khmer New Year began their government-imposed 14-day quarantine on Monday. Speaking at a press conference while visiting workers at the Phnom Penh Special Economic Zone on Monday, Ministry

  • Unemployed to get $40 per month

    The Ministry of Labour and Vocational Training has instructed enterprises, business owners and travel agencies in five provinces to prepare the proper forms for the suspension of employment contracts. This, it said, will make it easier for the ministry to transfer $40 a month to workers

  • Gov’t travel ban flouted

    While the majority of Cambodians have paid heed to Prime Minister Hun Sen’s order to stay put and not travel during the Khmer New Year – the holidays of which were also postponed – several hundred have left Phnom Penh nonetheless. They have allegedly breached provincial

  • G20 energy ministers struggle to finalise oil output cuts

    Top oil producers struggled to finalise production cuts during a virtual summit held by Group of 20 (G20) energy ministers on Friday, despite US President Donald Trump’s mediation efforts to end a standoff with Mexico. The final G20 communique appeared to gloss over simmering divisions

  • Kingdom revises travel restriction order

    The government on Friday eased the district and provincial border restrictions issued on Thursday. People are now allowed to cross districts within their provinces. Phnom Penh and Kandal province are to be treated as a single region where people are allowed to travel freely. In

  • Private schools struggling

    The Cambodian Higher Education Association has claimed that 113 private educational establishments are facing bankruptcy because of their inability to pay rent and staff salaries in light of nationwide school closures caused by the Covid-19 outbreak. It said the financial trouble started when the Ministry of

  • Khmer New Year holidays postponed

    In an effort to halt Covid-19 infections in the Kingdom, Prime Minister Hun Sen has postponed the Khmer New Year holidays scheduled from April 13 to 16. While the people will not have their usual break, nor will there be any public celebrations or gatherings at pagodas,