Chelsea crash on Lampard return, Man Utd, Newcastle boost top-four bids
Frank Lampard failed to spark Chelsea as his first game back in charge ended in a 1-0 defeat at Wolves, while Manchester United and Newcastle consolidated their hold on places in the Premier League’s top four on Saturday.
Lampard made a surprise return to Stamford Bridge on Thursday when he was appointed until the end of the season following Graham Potter’s sacking last Sunday after just seven months in charge.
But the ex-Chelsea midfielder, who was dismissed by the club’s former owner Roman Abramovich in January 2021, could not provide an immediate lift for the Blues.
Chelsea, on their third manager this season following Potter’s exit and Thomas Tuchel’s sacking in September, remain 11th after a fourth consecutive game without a win.
The presence of Lampard, Chelsea’s record goalscorer, did little to inspire his players and Matheus Nunes won it for Wolves in the 32nd minute with a superb half-volley into the far corner from the edge of the area.
Sacked by lowly Everton in January after less than a year in charge, Lampard said of his Chelsea return: “There has been a lot of change and that’s not an excuse but things need to improve.
“I think that performance summed it up. I have to get an understanding of it. You have to get used to winning and make it a habit.”
At Old Trafford, Manchester United beat Everton 2-0 to stay fourth and leave the fourth-bottom visitors above the relegation zone on goal difference.
Goals from Scott McTominay and Anthony Martial edged United ever closer to a return to the Champions League next season.
Despite the win, United boss Erik ten Hag took aim at his side’s congested fixture schedule after Marcus Rashford limped off nine minutes from time.
Ten Hag was not happy at the timing of the match as United were in action for the third time in less than six days after losing at Newcastle last weekend and beating Brentford on Wednesday.
“We have to wait. He doesn’t look well,” said Ten Hag. “It’s due to the schedule. It can’t be that you play three games in six days and we have to protect the players.”
Newcastle fight back
Third-placed Newcastle are above United on goal difference after a 2-1 success at Brentford made it five consecutive wins for the Magpies.
Ivan Toney’s weak 29th-minute penalty was saved by Nick Pope, the Brentford forward’s first miss from the spot since 2018.
Toney made amends when VAR ruled Alexander Isak’s challenge on Rico Henry was worthy of a 45th-minute penalty and this time the England striker made no mistake with his spot-kick.
But Newcastle equalised through David Raya’s 54th-minute own goal as Joelinton’s chip went in off the Brentford goalkeeper.
And Isak put Newcastle in front after 61 minutes with a blistering finish from the edge of the area.
Tottenham are three points behind Newcastle after beating Brighton 2-1 in north London.
Son Heung-min has endured a below-par season but the South Korea forward put Tottenham ahead with a superb long-range curler into the top corner after 10 minutes.
It took Son’s Premier League tally to 100 goals, making him the first Asian player to reach that landmark.
Lewis Dunk headed Brighton’s equaliser from Solly March’s corner in the 34th minute.
Cristian Stellini, still in charge of Tottenham after Antonio Conte’s recent departure, and Brighton boss Roberto De Zerbi were both sent off after a touchline spat in the second half.
But Harry Kane, Tottenham’s record goalscorer, lashed home the winner in the 79th minute.
Aston Villa climbed to sixth place as their Unai Emery-inspired revival gathered pace with a 2-0 home win against third-bottom Nottingham Forest.
Bertrand Traore gave Villa the lead in the 48th minute and Ollie Watkins got the second in the final moments to leave Forest without a win in nine games as the pressure mounts on boss Steve Cooper.
West Ham boosted their survival bid as Harrison Reed’s 23rd-minute own goal sealed a 1-0 win at Fulham.
Bournemouth rose out of the relegation zone thanks to a 1-0 win at second-bottom Leicester, who were booed off after Philip Billing punished James Maddison’s sloppy back-pass in the 40th minute.