Conor Coady's last-gasp equaliser rescues point for Wolves against Chelsea

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·27-min read
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Conor Coady secured a draw for Wolves. - GETTY IMAGES
Conor Coady secured a draw for Wolves. - GETTY IMAGES

Todd Boehly got a true taste of the ups and downs of life at Stamford Bridge as the Chelsea side he expects to take over by the end of the month blew a two-goal lead and conceded a 96th minute equaliser to Wolves.

Billionaire Boehly was watching high in the East Stand, having agreed a purchase agreement to buy Chelsea for £4.25billion in the past 24 hours, and for with 11 minutes of normal time remaining, it looked like normal service had resumed at Stamford Bridge.

Romelu Lukaku, the club's record signing, scored twice in as many minutes to give Chelsea what looked like an unassailable lead and nudge them one step closer to Champions League qualification.

But poor defending from Thomas Tuchel's side allowed Wolves to pull one goal back in the 79th minute through Francisco Trincao, and six minutes into stoppage time Conor Coady powered home a header to make it 2-2 and demonstrate to Boehly why Chelsea are not challenging Manchester City and Liverpool for the biggest prizes in football.

Asked if felt more like a defeat than a draw, a downcast Tuchel said: “Yes, of course. We took too many risks, lost our discipline and shape.

“We played like we were 2-0 down rather than 2-0 up, and it cost us two points.”

But Tuchel refused to use the uncertainty that has swirled around the club's future as an excuse for their faltering form, with Arsenal able to move move within one point of the Blues in third place if they beat Leeds on Sunday.

Yet the day had started on a positive note. Almost 14 hours before kick-off, in the wee small hours of Saturday morning, Chelsea had announced that Boehly's consortium had agreed terms to buy the club from Roman Abramovich, who has been sanctioned by the UK Government.

Boehly, who also has stakes in the LA Dodgers and LA Lakers in his native USA, sat high in the East Stand with two of his associates in the takeover, and he was spotted at half-time in animated conversation with Bruce Buck, the club's current chairman.

Todd Boehly (right) attends his first Chelsea match since agreeing takeover. - GETTY IMAGES
Todd Boehly (right) attends his first Chelsea match since agreeing takeover. - GETTY IMAGES

For 45 minutes they had watched Tuchel's side huff and puff with little impact against a Wolves side coached by Tony Roberts in the absence of Bruno Lage who has Covid.

Timo Werner and Ruben Loftus-Cheek both got the ball in the net but had their efforts ruled out for a foul and then offside, and Lukaku, given a rare start by Tuchel, missed three chances as his miserable run in front of goal continued.

But after the break he looked like his old self as he scored in the 56th and 58th minutes for what should have set Chelsea on course for their only their second win in five games.

Lukaku has struggled to justify the fee of £97.5 million paid to Inter last summer and had failed to score a Premier League goal since last December. He had two shots saved comfortably by Jose Sa in the first-half, and also failed to make contact when the Wolves keeper dropped the ball at his feet.

But he made no mistake from the penalty spot in the 56th minute, sending Sa the wrong way, after referee Peter Bankes belatedly awarded Chelsea a penalty when Lukaku was brought down by Romain Saiss. Bankes waved away Chelsea appeals before Var persuaded him to review the incident on a pitchside monitor.

Romelu Lukaku scores Chelsea's first goal from the penalty spot. - REUTERS
Romelu Lukaku scores Chelsea's first goal from the penalty spot. - REUTERS

Lukaku scored, Boehly leapt up in his seat, punched the air and put his fingers in his mouth to let out a loud whistle.

The prospective owner was celebrating again two minutes later as Lukaku made it 2-0. The Belgian's confidence which had looked shot in recent months, appeared to be fully restored as he ran on to Christian Pulisic's pass and smacked a powerful right-footed shot past Sa for his seventh league goal of the season.

But Boehly also saw the shaky side of Chelsea as they managed to blow their lead and give away two goals and two points in the final stages.

First they allowed substitute Trincao the freedom of Stamford Bridge to smack home a 79th minute goal. Wolves could have scored again in normal time if substitute Hwang Hee-Chan had shown more composure in a one-on-one situation against Edouard Mendy, or had been awarded a penalty when he went down following a tug of his shirt by Antonio Rudiger.

Francisco Trincao of Wolverhampton Wanderers scores their team's first goal during the Premier League match between Chelsea and Wolverhampton Wanderers at Stamford Bridge on May 07, 2022 in London, England. - GETTY IMAGES
Francisco Trincao of Wolverhampton Wanderers scores their team's first goal during the Premier League match between Chelsea and Wolverhampton Wanderers at Stamford Bridge on May 07, 2022 in London, England. - GETTY IMAGES

But it captain Coady came to their rescue in the 96th minute when he thumped in a close range header and celebrated wildly with his team's supporters, and Roberts lamented the fact they left with only one point. “We went to Manchester United and Spurs and won, and deserved to do so here against the European Champions. We showed great spirit.”

When the final whistle blew, Boehly looked disappointed, and he will clearly have plenty of food for thought before his consortium's takeover is completed in the next few weeks.

Premier League 3pm kick-offs, as they happened:

04:04 PM

Full time scores in the Premier League this afternoon

  • Brentford 3 Southampton 0

  • Burnley 1 Aston Villa 3

  • Chelsea 2 Wolves 2

  • Crystal Palace 1 Watford 0

04:02 PM

Full time: Chelsea 2 Wolves 2

What an introduction to Stamford Bridge for Todd Boehly.

Four goals in the second half, with Wolves coming back from two quickfire Lukaku goals to arrest a three-match losing streak. Conor Coady with a captain's goal, the last touch of the game, salvaging a draw at the death.

03:59 PM

90+8 mins GOAL Chelsea 2 Wolves 2

Absolutely astonishing! Conor Coady starts the move and ends it. He continues his run from the back, feeds it wide, and then a first time cross is fired in by Chiquinho, right along the six-yard box, and Coady smashes in a downward header at the near post. What a finale!

Conor Coady celebrates scoring Wolves' equaliser - Catherine Ivill/Getty Images
Conor Coady celebrates scoring Wolves' equaliser - Catherine Ivill/Getty Images

03:56 PM

90+5 mins Chelsea 2 Wolves 1

The corner is taken short. It's out of play fairly rapidly for a Wolves throw.

03:55 PM

90+5 mins Chelsea 2 Wolves 1

Werner with a cross, but it's blocked by Coady and out for a Chelsea corner.

03:55 PM

90+4 mins Chelsea 2 Wolves 1

Rudiger blocks off Jimenez and it's a free kick to Wolves on the halfway line.

Rudiger stands on the ball to prevent Wolves from taking it quickly, but no booking.

03:52 PM

90+2 mins Chelsea 2 Wolves 1

Havertz tries to drill low into the near corner, trying to catch Sa out, but he's pulled it wide.

03:52 PM

90+1 mins Chelsea sub: Lukaku won't get his hat-trick today

03:51 PM

90+1 mins GOAL Burnley 1 Aston Villa 3

Burnley get a consolation goal courtesy of Maxwel Cornet.

03:50 PM

90 mins

SIX minutes of added time to come.

03:46 PM

86 mins: Chelsea sub

03:45 PM

84 mins Chelsea 2 Wolves 1

Trincao is in, away from his defender. He could've pulled the trigger earlier, but he tries to chop back inside again and he only wins a corner. Chelsea are really on the ropes here!

03:44 PM

79 mins GOAL Brentford 3 Southampton 0

Ajer makes it three for the west London side.

03:43 PM

81 mins Chelsea 2 Wolves 1

Chiquinho puts an incredible ball in across the Chelsea box... but no-one is there. Wolves keep knocking and those 3,000 travelling fans are making their voices heard here at Stamford Bridge.

03:41 PM

79 mins GOAL Chelsea 2 Wolves 1

Trincao! He's barely been on two minutes. Wolves break on the counter after Kovacic is dispossessed.

It comes to Trincao on the right. He's a left-footer, playing on the right, so he cuts inside and laces it, from just outside the box. That's a superb finish.

03:38 PM

77 mins Chelsea 2 Wolves 0

Loftus-Cheek runs unchallenged down the middle. It comes to Werner, his back to goal, he drives towards the goal line, but it's cleared by Coady.

03:37 PM

77 mins: a third sub for Wolves

03:35 PM

73 mins Chelsea 2 Wolves 0

Hwang with a really good chance at the Chelsea end. A strong save by Mendy, who gets down and spreads himself broad.

Chelsea counter and Kovacic puts in a good strike at the other end, but it's batted away by Sa. End-to-end stuff at Stamford Bridge.

03:34 PM

69 mins RED CARD Crystal Palace 1 Watford 0

Hassane Kamara is off for a second bookable offence.

03:32 PM

70 mins Chelsea 2 Wolves 0

Azpilicueta is brought down by Ait-Nouri, but it's not deemed a foul by Peter Bankes.

Chelsea' Spanish defender receives some treatment.

03:31 PM

70 mins: a double sub for Wolves

03:27 PM

Todd Boehly enjoying those goals

Todd Boehly (centre) - Catherine Ivill/Getty Images
Todd Boehly (centre) - Catherine Ivill/Getty Images

03:25 PM

Just 138 seconds between Lukaku's first and second goals this afternoon

03:23 PM

63 mins Chelsea 2 Wolves 0

Ait Nouri with a deep cross, it comes in towards Saiss, but Rudiger smashes it against his back to send it out for a Chelsea goal kick.

03:21 PM

60 mins Chelsea 2 Wolves 0

Wolves a fading force in the game now after those two quick-fire goals. Chelsea look hungry for goals as we move into this final half hour. Lots of chances coming.

03:19 PM

58 mins GOAL Chelsea 2 Wolves 0

Coady with an awful pass into midfield. It's broken out and slipped through to Lukaku. In the end he's one-on-one with Sa and he tucks it around the Wolves keeper.

Romelu Lukaku celebrates scoring Chelsea's second goal -  PA
Romelu Lukaku celebrates scoring Chelsea's second goal - PA

03:17 PM

57 mins Chelsea 1 Wolves 0

Timo Werner, into the penalty area, he should've cut it back, but he's fluffed it completely.

03:16 PM

56 mins GOAL Chelsea 1 Wolves 0

Lukaku finds the bottom corner with his left foot, sending Sa the wrong way.

He ends his Premier League goal drought!

Romelu Lukaku scores Chelsea's first goal from the penalty spot - REUTERS
Romelu Lukaku scores Chelsea's first goal from the penalty spot - REUTERS

03:15 PM

52 mins PENALTY Chelsea 0 Wolves 0

It's confirmed.

Lukaku to take.

03:14 PM

52 mins Chelsea 0 Wolves 0

The ref has gone over to check the monitor... it looks like it might be given.

03:13 PM

51 mins Chelsea 0 Wolves 0

Saiss looks to have tripped Lukaku, inside the penalty area, as he tries to let the ball go out of play.

There's going to be a VAR check here for a possible penalty.

03:11 PM

52 mins GOAL Burnley 0 Aston Villa 3

It was all looking positive for Burnley going into this game, but now Ollie Watkins has put Villa 3-0 with a lovely finish.

03:10 PM

49 mins Chelsea 0 Wolves 0

Ait-Nouri with a right-footed curler, edge of the box, but it's blazed over the bar.

Wolves still offering a strong threat on the counter.

03:08 PM

48 mins Chelsea 0 Wolves 0

Free kick Chelsea. Reece James goes for goal from 40-yards out. He tries to catch Sa out at his near post, and very nearly does! It ripples the side netting.

03:07 PM

46 mins Chelsea 0 Wolves 0

Timo Werner with an early shot! Pulisic goes for goal, it's mis-cued, and Werner gets a decent touch on it to send it towards goal. Strong save by Sa; Chelsea corner.

03:05 PM

And we're back

Chelsea kick off the second 45.

03:05 PM

Half time Chelsea sub

Alonso is off; Saul is on.

03:04 PM

Todd Boehly looks on as the VAR decision for Loftus-Cheek's goal is considered

Todd Boehly - REUTERS
Todd Boehly - REUTERS

02:59 PM

A celebration for a goal that never was...

Thiago Silva celebrates a goal that is ruled offside by VAR -  PA
Thiago Silva celebrates a goal that is ruled offside by VAR - PA

02:57 PM

Half time Premier League scores

  • Brentford 2 Southampton 0

  • Burnley 0 Aston Villa 2

  • Chelsea 0 Wolves 0

  • Crystal Palace 1 Watford 0

02:55 PM

Half time: Chelsea 0 Wolves 0

Two disallowed goals for Chelsea, and two clear opportunities missed by Wolves in the last few minutes there.

Chelsea have looked a bit predictable at times and been somewhat sluggish. Wolves will be pretty satisfied with that, and probably frustrated to be level having fluffed two golden chances.

02:50 PM

45+2 mins Chelsea 0 Wolves 0

Ait-Nouri misses a golden opportunity! Wolves hit Chelsea on the counter, and he's got a good five yards on James through the middle, but he fires wide, without testing Mendy. He'll be very disappointed with that.

02:48 PM

45+2 mins Chelsea 0 Wolves 0

Neto goes into the book for a pull on James.

02:48 PM

45 mins Chelsea 0 Wolves 0

Lukaku turns, edge of the box, he fires it with his right foot, but Sa's got down well to save.

02:47 PM

44 mins Chelsea 0 Wolves 0

Dendoncker misses an open goal, from 11 yards out!

Neto gets past Silva, cuts inside, shoots off his right foot, it's parried by Mendy, and it then comes to Dendoncker, but he fires it over.

02:46 PM

43 mins Chelsea 0 Wolves 0

Neto skips over the halfway line, but he can't quite beat Thiago Silva - the Chelsea man just gets to the ball first.

02:44 PM

42 mins Chelsea 0 Wolves 0

Alonso with another corner. It's headed by Jimenez, but it's behind for another corner.

Alonso sends it in towards the near post, buit's headed away more effectively by Jimenez this time.

02:42 PM

40 mins DISALLOWED GOAL Chelsea 0 Wolves 0

VAR decided it was offside. Back as we were.

The big screen displays no goal for Chelsea's Ruben Loftus-Cheek after a VAR review - Action Images via Reuters
The big screen displays no goal for Chelsea's Ruben Loftus-Cheek after a VAR review - Action Images via Reuters

02:40 PM

37 mins VAR check

Was Loftus-Cheek offside there though? A decision to come.

02:40 PM

37 mins GOAL Chelsea 1 Wolves 0

Alonso with a left-footed in-swinging corner.

Loftus-Cheek hooks it in from a yard out, on the back post, and into the back of the net!

02:38 PM

37 mins Chelsea 1 Wolves 0

A 25-yard free kick for Chelsea. Either James or Alonso to take.

...Alonso curls it left-footed into the wall. It's behind for a Chelsea corner.

02:37 PM

31 mins GOAL Crystal Palace 1 Watford 0

Zaha scores from the penalty spot. Watford will go down if they lose today.

Wilfried Zaha scores from the penalty spot - Action Images via Reuters
Wilfried Zaha scores from the penalty spot - Action Images via Reuters

02:36 PM

34 mins DISALLOWED GOAL Chelsea 0 Wolves 0

Timo Werner with a good run in behind Boly and Saiss and puts the ball into the back of Sa's goal!

But it looks like he's fouled Saiss in the build-up, or perhaps he was just offside. It's disallowed quite quickly.

Chelsea's first goal is disallowed -  REUTERS
Chelsea's first goal is disallowed - REUTERS

02:34 PM

34 mins Chelsea 0 Wolves 0

Chelsea corner. Left-footer in-swinger by Alonso. It comes back to Rudiger who tries to return it to the box, but it's cleared for a throw.

02:33 PM

30 mins GOAL Burnley 0 Aston Villa 2

Buendia grabs a second. 0-2

02:31 PM

30 mins Chelsea 0 Wolves 0

Neto bursts down the left, but Rudiger and Silva get across effectively before he can get the pass across to Dendoncker.

02:30 PM

29 mins Chelsea 0 Wolves 0

Neves with a terrific strike from distance.

It's from a set piece, it drops out to him, but he fires a couple of yards wide.

02:29 PM

28 mins Chelsea 0 Wolves 0

Yellow card for Azpilicueta for catching Neto with his arm, just past the Chelsea halfway line. He would've been through there.

02:28 PM

27 mins Chelsea 0 Wolves 0

Kovacic plays a great ball down the left channel towards Werner, who comes across Lukaku, but Coady deals with it by putting it behind.

02:27 PM

25 mins Chelsea 0 Wolves 0

James shoots on the half-volley, edge of the Wolves box, but it's just wide. Good effort.

02:25 PM

22 mins Chelsea 0 Wolves 0

Wolves throw, ten yards or so from the corner flag.

And it's now a free-kick, midway through the Chelsea half.

It's smashed in towards Saiss by Neto, right onto his head, a great cross, but he's headed it into the ground and it's over Mendy's crossbar! Best chance of the game yet.

02:22 PM

20 mins Chelsea 0 Wolves 0

Alonso whips it in. It's punched away by Jose Sa, and it comes back to him again.

Boly and Loftus-Cheek have clashed heads and they're both on the floor.

Wolverhampton Wanderers' goalkeeper Jose Sa gathers - JUSTIN TALLIS/AFP via Getty Images
Wolverhampton Wanderers' goalkeeper Jose Sa gathers - JUSTIN TALLIS/AFP via Getty Images

02:21 PM

20 mins Chelsea 0 Wolves 0

Wolves concede a free-kick, edge of their box.

Alonso and James are both over this.

02:20 PM

19 mins Chelsea 0 Wolves 0

Pulisic with a left-footed effort, edge of the Wolves box. He swings round rapidly, gets a shot away, but is closed-down well by Moutinho.

02:19 PM

14 mins Brentford 2-0 Southampton

Two goals in two minutes for Brentford!

Yoane Wissa the man making it 2-0.

02:18 PM

13 mins Brentford 1-0 Southampton

Captain Pontus Jansson fires home from the corner.

02:17 PM

14 mins Chelsea 0 Wolves 0

Lukaku with a great chance. He surges into the Wolves box, but he's closed-down brilliantly last-minute by Coady, who gets in the way of his shot.

Wolves hit on the counter, but it's a terrific interception by Thiago Silva to deny Neto's pass.

02:15 PM

13 mins Chelsea 0 Wolves 0

Wolves have hardly got past the half-way line, but now Neto is through, tries to chip through to Jimenez, but Moutinho was the free man.

02:14 PM

12 mins Chelsea 0 Wolves 0

James bursts through into the right side of the Wolves penalty area. ButAit-Nouri does well to close him down, getting round on the cover, with Coady getting involved to mop up. It comes off James for a goal kick.

02:11 PM

7 mins GOAL Burnley 0 Aston Villa 1

Danny Ings has broken the deadlock at Turf Moor.

02:10 PM

7 mins Chelsea 0 Wolves 0

Todd Boehly is spotted in the stands.

Chelsea earlier confirmed terms agreed for him to complete a £4.25bn takeover of the club.

Todd Boehly (right) in the stands before the Premier League match at Stamford Bridge - Adam Davy/PA
Todd Boehly (right) in the stands before the Premier League match at Stamford Bridge - Adam Davy/PA

02:07 PM

4 mins Chelsea 0 Wolves 0

Chelsea dominating possession in the early stages. Loftus-Cheek, Kovacic and Pulisic combine to get towards the Wolves box, but Jonny does well to get it away.

02:05 PM

And we're away in the three other 3pms

  • Brentford vs Southampton

  • Burnley vs Aston Villa

  • Crystal Palace vs Watford

02:01 PM

Kick off: Chelsea 0 Wolves 0

And we're under way. Wolves get us going.

01:59 PM

Chelsea and Wolves will be out any moment now: a reminder of the line-ups

Chelsea: Mendy, Azpilicueta, Thiago Silva, Rudiger, James, Kovacic, Loftus-Cheek, Alonso, Pulisic, Lukaku, Werner.
Subs: Arrizabalaga, Christensen, Chalobah, Saul, Barkley, Mount, Ziyech, Havertz, Sarr.

Wolverhampton: Jose Sa, Boly, Coady, Saiss, Jonny, Joao Moutinho, Neves, Dendoncker, Ait Nouri, Pedro Neto, Jimenez.
Subs: Hoever, Marcal, Trincao, Silva, Chiquinho, Ruddy, Gomes, Hwang, Cundle.

Referee: Peter Bankes (Merseyside)

01:56 PM

Just a few minutes to go now at Stamford Bridge...

01:54 PM

One change for Burnley against Aston Villa at Turf Moor

Burnley caretaker manager Mike Jackson makes one change as Ashley Barnes comes in ahead of Matej Vydra for his first start since September. Maxwel Cornet and Erik Pieters are both among the substitutes after injury but there is no Jay Rodriguez in the squad.

Philippe Coutinho drops to the bench as Steven Gerrard makses four changes to the side that sent Norwich into the Championship last weekend.

Ezri Konsa, Douglas Luiz, Emiliano Buendia and ex-Burnley man Danny Ings all come into the side, with Leon Bailey and Jacob Ramsey both injured and teenager Tim Iroegbunam on the bench.

Philippe Coutinho drops to the bench - OLI SCARFF/AFP via Getty Images
Philippe Coutinho drops to the bench - OLI SCARFF/AFP via Getty Images

01:45 PM

Warming up at Stamford Bridge...

Chelsea's Ruben Loftus-Cheek, Marcos Alonso and Mateo Kovacic during the warm up - REUTERS
Chelsea's Ruben Loftus-Cheek, Marcos Alonso and Mateo Kovacic during the warm up - REUTERS
Wolves' Conor Coady and Ruben Neves with teammates during the warm up - Action Images via Reuters
Wolves' Conor Coady and Ruben Neves with teammates during the warm up - Action Images via Reuters
Jose Sa during the warm up -  Action Images via Reuters
Jose Sa during the warm up - Action Images via Reuters

01:39 PM

Palace vs Watford: Patrick Vieira makes five changes

Crystal Palace boss Patrick Vieira makes five changes for the visit of Watford with Wilfried Zaha restored to the starting line-up. Zaha netted off the bench at Southampton last weekend and earns a recall alongside Jack Butland, Will Hughes, Michael Olise and Odsonne Edouard.

Watford boss Roy Hodgson, whose side could have relegation confirmed unless they win at his old stomping ground, also mixes up his team.

Imran Louza, Juraj Kucka and Joao Pedro miss out with injuries, which results in Edo Kayembe, Craig Cathcart, Tom Cleverley and Joshua King being brought into the XI,

Wilfried Zaha during the warm up before the match - REUTERS
Wilfried Zaha during the warm up before the match - REUTERS

01:35 PM

Three changes apiece for Chelsea and Wolves

Chelsea: Havertz, Mount and Jorginho make way for Lukaku, Pulisic and Kovacic.

Wolves: Jonny, Neto and Jimenez start in places of Hwang, Silva, and Semedo.

Wolves head coach Bruno Lage is absent after testing positive for Covid-19.

Romelu Lukaku of Chelsea warms up - Eddie Keogh/Getty Images
Romelu Lukaku of Chelsea warms up - Eddie Keogh/Getty Images

01:23 PM

Can Chelsea hold on to third?

Chelsea are third in the standings with 66 points but have picked up only four points from their last four games. With four games left, Arsenal (63) and Tottenham Hotspur (61) are closing in as the three teams vie for two Champions League spots.

Inside Stamford Bridge before kick off -  REUTERS
Inside Stamford Bridge before kick off - REUTERS

01:17 PM

Four changes for Southampton; two for Brentford

Southampton make four changes for their clash at Brentford as manager Ralph Hasenhuttl freshens up his attack. There are recalls for Chelsea loanee Armando Broja - without a league goal since February - and Adam Armstrong, who has scored just twice all season since his move from Blackburn.

Stuart Armstrong and Ibrahima Diallo also come in as Saints look to improve on a run of one win from their past nine games.

Brentford start the afternoon on 40 points - the same as their visitors - and make two alterations of their own as Mathias Jensen and Yoane Wissa replaced Vitaly Janelt and Mads Roerslev.

Armando Broja - Matt Watson/Southampton FC via Getty Images
Armando Broja - Matt Watson/Southampton FC via Getty Images

01:13 PM

Chelsea and Wolves both struggling for form

Both Chelsea and Wolves have been suffering from a run of poor form of late, with now just three points separating Thomas Tuchel's side in third and Arsenal in fourth.

Tuchel said that the sanctions on Chelsea and the Premier League club's takeover have had an impact on the dressing room which led to a slump in form but said that the situation cannot be used as an excuse for poor results.

Todd Boehly signed the purchase agreement to buy Chelsea in the early hours of this morning in a deal worth £4.25billion and this will be advanced for Government approval after a week of intense talks.

Chelsea were put up for sale by owner Roman Abramovich following Russia's invasion of Ukraine and before sanctions were imposed on him by the British government.

The government also placed restrictions on Chelsea such as not allowing the club to sell tickets or renew player contracts, with Tuchel saying their recruitment plans for next season are running behind schedule. He said:

It surely effects the team but I cannot say to which degree. Toni (Rudiger) of course leaves us during the period we are sanctioned and we cannot fight.

It is proven that has an effect, this decision has an impact on the dressing room, he is a huge part. The situation regarding the future of every individual is not clear because there are no talks for anybody... It's important to not use it as an excuse.

The situation is coming from big knockout matches, a busy schedule and going back to the league to play for points. Maybe the team had the feeling we had not so much to win or lose, lost some edge and this can be enough to lose matches.

01:08 PM

Team news: Crystal Palace vs Watford

01:06 PM

Team news: Burnley vs Aston Villa

Burnley: Pope, Roberts, Collins, Tarkowski, Taylor, McNeil, Cork, Brownhill, Lennon, Barnes, Weghorst.

Subs: Lowton, Hennessey, Stephens, Cornet, Pieters, Bardsley, Long, Thomas, Costelloe.

Aston Villa: Martinez, Chambers, Konsa, Mings, Cash, Douglas Luiz, McGinn, Digne, Ings, Buendia, Watkins.

Subs: Sanson, Traore, Young, Nakamba, Coutinho, Olsen, Chukwuemeka, Iroegbunam, Feeney.

01:04 PM

Team news: Brentford vs Southampton

Brentford: Raya, Ajer, Jansson, Sorensen, Henry, Jensen, Norgaard, Eriksen, Mbeumo, Toney, Wissa.

Subs: Dasilva, Jeanvier, Fosu, Baptiste, Janelt, Roerslev, Stevens, Young-Coombes, Lossl.

Southampton: Forster, Walker-Peters, Bednarek, Salisu, Perraud, Stuart Armstrong, Ward-Prowse, Diallo, Redmond, Adam Armstrong, Broja.

Subs: McCarthy, Lyanco, Romeu, Long, Adams, Tella, Elyounoussi, Valery, Dibling.

01:03 PM

Team news: Chelsea vs Wolves

12:15 PM

Good afternoon!

Hello and welcome to our live coverage of the four Premier League three o'clock kick-offs, with Chelsea's hosting of Wolves significant as the home side confirmed agreed terms for Todd Boehly's £4.25bn takeover in the early hours of this morning, bringing to an end almost two decades of the the Roman Abramovich era. But there is another curtain closing at the other end of the table.

For Roy Hodgson, it is finally over. Well, probably. A year ago he announced his retirement after 45 years in football management. It lasted just eight months: after walking away for the final time from Crystal Palace last May, he was back in the dugout at Watford in January. This week, at the age of 74, he once again declared his intention to pack it all in. And he insisted now he really was hanging up his tracksuit. Well, unless Manchester City come calling.

“I think you should definitely believe me this time,” he said, addressing the media at Watford’s training ground.

“Unless one of the top-three clubs suddenly decide it’s got to be me and they will accept nobody else other than me – who knows, I might have my arm twisted. But I’m not looking to have my arm twisted. I think you can safely say my CV won’t be on the table of any club looking for a new manager.”

By one of the quirks of the fixture list, on Saturday he will be taking his Watford side back to the scene of his previous retirement: Crystal Palace. His departure from Selhurst Park 12 months ago, after leading the club he had supported as a boy for four successful seasons, was emotional indeed, the eulogies from those he had worked alongside long and sincere. And Hodgson admitted there may well be some bemusement in the stands at his return in charge of someone else.

“I am looking forward to going back, I have enormous affection for the place,” he said of the trip to south London.

“Of course when you go back with another team, you want that team to win the game. What sort of reception I get on Saturday might be different, because I don’t think Watford has ever been one of Crystal Palace’s favourite opponents. I’m not expecting them to race out and embrace me with open arms. But I’d like to think the Palace fans know the job I did for them.”

Such was the warmth of his departure, it seemed a fitting end to a long and distinguished career that had then embraced 16 clubs and four national teams in eight different countries. It will not be the same when he walks away from Watford.

The truth is, at Vicarage Road he has presided over failure, accruing just two victories in 14 Premier League games in charge. Although still mathematically not yet relegated, as Hodgson conceded, in all likelihood they will be down by the end of Saturday’s game. But when asked, given the unimpressive run of results, whether he regretted the decision to return to management, he was unequivocal.

“No. There is no point regretting that,” he said. “Yes, I regret we didn’t succeed in the task we took on – to help the club out of the relegation zone. But I don’t regret taking the job. I took it with my eyes open. My only regret is that it didn’t work out in the way I dreamt it might.”

His departure, though, will be rather more muted this time. He will be leaving whoever takes over as manager with a significant rebuilding job to get the team into promotion contention. It is unlikely the Watford fans will be lining the street outside Vicarage Road to see him off. But he suggested that was part of the job: triumphant departures are rare in management.

“I don’t regret, either, the send-off this time won’t be anything like the send-off from Crystal Palace. But that’s not necessary. I’ve had 46 years in this profession. If your hope and ambition is every time you leave a job you will be carried shoulder-high out the ground, then you are very naive and stupid. All I can hope for is that people here recognise we have done the best job we could do, in the most professional and correct way that we could.”

Meanwhile, all Watford fans can hope for from the game with Palace is a temporary delay to the inevitable.

By Jim White

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