West Ham made light of not having a recognised striker as they swatted aside Sheffield United at the London Stadium before Chelsea eased past Newcastle.
Chelsea 2-0 Newcastle: Blues untroubled by Newcastle
Timo Werner’s first goal in 15 Premier League games sent Chelsea back into the top four as the Blues saw off Newcastle 2-0 at Stamford Bridge.
Olivier Giroud also found the net as Chelsea coasted past a worryingly-limited Newcastle, although the Blues lost Tammy Abraham to a nasty-looking ankle injury.
Werner’s first league strike since November 7 meant the Germany hitman’s top-flight goal drought lasted exactly 1,000 minutes.
New Chelsea boss Thomas Tuchel had insisted only a goal could restore Werner’s shattered confidence and now the west Londoners will hope the £53million man can rediscover top form.
The former RB Leipzig striker backed up his first league goal since the 4-1 win over Sheffield United with an assist for Giroud in an encouraging all-round showing.
Chelsea’s win pushed West Ham down to fifth on goal difference, with defending champions Liverpool slipping to sixth place.
The Blues will face plenty of tougher top-flight tests, but new manager Tuchel has now overseen four straight league wins.
Newcastle looked a far cry from their morale-boosting recent wins over Everton and Southampton and must improve markedly from this lacklustre showing to avoid a relegation battle that runs right to the wire.
Chelsea’s constant dominance owed as much to Newcastle’s startlingly-limited approach and ability as the hosts’ quality.
Tuchel handed under-fire goalkeeper Kepa Arrizabalaga his first league start since October, having insisted the Spain star has a “new start” under him at Stamford Bridge.
Timo Werner gets his goal 💙
A brilliant first half display from the German striker sees him double the Blues’ lead
— Sky Sports Premier League (@SkySportsPL) February 15, 2021
Kepa would have been hard pressed to deliver anything other than a clean sheet amid Newcastle’s derisory attack, but the 26-year-old will doubtless be boosted by the shut-out.
Dwight Gayle flicked over his own bar to thwart Cesar Azpilicueta’s goal-bound header early on.
The unmarked Tammy Abraham nodded Mason Mount’s cross wide and then Jamaal Lascelles felled the England striker in the box.
Lascelles avoided censure for his scissors tackle on Abraham, breathing a sigh of relief when no penalty was awarded.
Abraham attempted to play through the pain of a clear ankle problem but was forced to concede defeat only moments later.
Werner prodded wide at full stretch after Marcos Alonso’s smart header back across the box as Chelsea’s chances stacked up.
Finally the hosts hit the target and took the lead as Karl Darlow spilled Werner’s cross to gift Giroud the opener.
The France striker swept home gleefully for an easy finish.
Werner then finally ended his goal drought, tapping in at the far post after Giroud had failed to connect with a high, hanging cross.
Chelsea took that 2-0 lead into the break, with the Blues more than comfortable amid Newcastle’s laboured and too often muddled approach.
The hosts had the opportunity to coast through a meandering second half and seized it with relish.
Joe Willock tested Kepa with a flicked header from Ryan Fraser’s cross, but the Spaniard was easily equal to the task.
✅ Coufal 1+ shot on target 4/1
😭 Chelsea 11+ corners 4/1… they had 10
👏 Close to a very good night for @MickeyBeardmore‘s tips, which end level…
— Sporting Life Football (@SportingLifeFC) February 15, 2021
West Ham 3-0 Sheffield United: Hammers keep up European push
West Ham made light of not having a recognised striker as they swatted aside Sheffield United at the London Stadium.
David Moyes’ decision not to bring in a forward on deadline day looked set to come back to haunt him with Michail Antonio, his only senior frontman, ruled out injured.
But with Jesse Lingard providing the attacking menace, goals from Declan Rice, Issa Diop and Ryan Fredericks secured a 3-0 win and kept West Ham in the hunt for an unlikely Champions League place.
Hammers boss Moyes had last week bemoaned the fact his side were the only team in the Premier League to have not been awarded a penalty this season.
His prayers were almost answered after only five minutes when Craig Dawson, following up Rice’s free-kick, was pushed over in the area by Enda Stephens.
Referee Simon Hooper awarded the spot-kick but VAR ruled that Dawson was offside when Rice struck his initial shot.
Moyes would not have to wait long for his penalty hoodoo to come to an end, however.
Lingard, back in the team after sitting out at Manchester United in the FA Cup under the terms of his loan deal, was getting a lot of joy in the inside-left position and twice forced good saves from Aaron Ramsdale.
And five minutes before half-time the former England winger dispossessed Oliver Norwood, raced upfield and exchanged passes with Jarrod Bowen before he was wiped out in the area by an ungainly challenge from Chris Basham.
Lingard wanted to take the penalty but captain Rice pulled rank before tucking away his first goal of the season, and the first spot-kick of his career.
The Blades arrived in London knowing a win would lift them off the foot of the table for the first time since November 7.
David McGoldrick should have hauled them level with a close-range header, but his weak effort was kept out by a combination of Ben Johnson’s back and Lukasz Fabianski’s hand.
The miss proved costly moments later when Hammers defender Diop was left unmarked to head in Aaron Cresswell’s corner.
It was the eighth time that West Ham have scored from a corner this season, more than any other team. And the eighth time the Blades have conceded from a corner – also a Premier League high.
It was also the 39th goal Chris Wilder’s side had leaked this season, which was as many as they conceded during the whole of their impressive maiden campaign in the top flight.
To make matters worse defender John Egan left the field on a stretcher before Hammers substitute Fredericks drilled home in stoppage time to cap another tough night for the embattled Blades.
3-0. Ryan Fredericks. West Ham into the top four 🔥 pic.twitter.com/f1RlDN4p45
— Football on BT Sport (@btsportfootball) February 15, 2021