Chelsea clinches Champions League spot as Arsenal, Manchester United stumble

Yahoo Sports
Gary Cahill is thrown in the air by his Chelsea teammates after the Blues beat Watford 3-0 on Sunday, a win that set the stage for their return to the UEFA Champions League. (Matthew Childs/Reuters)
Gary Cahill is thrown in the air by his Chelsea teammates after the Blues beat Watford 3-0 on Sunday, a win that set the stage for their return to the UEFA Champions League. (Matthew Childs/Reuters)

After a season out of the world’s marquee club competition, Chelsea is back in the UEFA Champions League after both Arsenal and Manchester United failed to win on Sunday.

Chelsea did its part in the opening game of the Premier League’s Sunday slate, beating Watford 3-0 at Stamford Bridge in the penultimate match of the 2018-19 season on goals by Gonzalo Higuain, David Luiz and Ruben Loftus-Cheek. The win gave the Blues 71 points and moved them into third place, a point ahead of Tottenham Hotspur, which lost its minds and then to Bournemouth on Saturday.

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Chelsea’s victory heaped pressure on the Gunners and United ahead of their games later in the day. The Red Devils started well enough, going up on Huddersfield on Scott McTominay’s eighth-minute strike. But the Prem’s bottom club rallied in the second half through Isaac Mbenza, and Manchester United had to settle for a 1-1 tie.

It was the same story for Arsenal. Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang’s goal 20th of the season put Unai Emery’s team ahead early, but 17th-place Brighton equalized from the penalty spot with a half hour to go, and that’s how it ended.

Manchester United can’t catch Tottenham now. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side will miss out on the Champions League next season after reaching the quarterfinals this year. Arsenal is all but out, too. The Gunners need to beat Burnley by at least eight goals next week and also see Spurs lose its final contest to Everton. If not, Arsenal will miss out on the Champions League for the third consecutive time following a 19-year run.

Chelsea made the Champions League 13 seasons in a row between 2003-16, beating Bayern Munich in 2012 for its lone title. The Blues returned last season, reaching the round of 16. Maurizio Sarri’s team will play for a spot in this season’s Europa League final when they meet Germany’s Eintracht Frankfurt on Thursday. They could be without the services of midfielder Ngolo Kante, however. Kante, who won the World Cup with France last summer, had to be subbed out just 10 minutes into Sunday’s match a hamstring injury. Chelsea will meet Leicester City next Sunday in its final league game.

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