Havertz takes Chelsea ahead of Everton; West Ham beat Leeds as top four race heats up
Chelsea strengthened their grip on fourth place in the Premier League as Kai Havertz inspired a vital 2-0 win over Everton, while West Ham reinforced their surprise challenge among the top four with a 2-0 win over Leeds on Monday .
Havertz has had a disappointing first season following his £ 70million ($ 96million) transfer from Bayer Leverkusen last year.
But the German striker received a rare departure from Chelsea boss Thomas Tuchel and he responded by playing a key role in both goals at Stamford Bridge.
Havertz’s shot was deflected into Everton’s net for an own goal from Ben Godfrey in the first half.
The 21-year-old hasn’t scored in the league since October, but Tuchel gave him an important role as Chelsea’s false nine and Havertz’s smart move put him in a position to win the penalty in the second half. time that Jorginho converted.
“I am very happy with his performance, no doubt about his quality, his talent and also his character,” said Tuchel.
“He has to adapt to the Premier League, he has to be at a club where you play to win every game, where the highest standards are normal. It is a normal process for him to adjust to this mentality.
Chelsea are undefeated in 11 games in all competitions – winning eight times – since Tuchel replaced sacked Frank Lampard in January.
They are two points ahead of fifth-placed West Ham who have one game to go in a tense race to qualify for next season’s Champions League via a top-four standings.
The Blues kept nine clean sheets under Tuchel and only their former Italian boss Maurizio Sarri, who went 12 games unbeaten, got off to a better start with the west London club.
“If you share special moments and great results, that’s what brings you to the special performances you need,” Tuchel said.
“I can feel a strong bond between the players in the locker room. I feel positive energy from everyone around the team. We need that to have a race like this.
Sixth Everton are four points behind Chelsea after their first away loss since November.
“They played better than us,” said Everton manager Carlo Ancelotti. “Once they scored it was more difficult. We are disappointed, but not too much.
West Ham’s unexpected attempt to finish in the top four gained momentum with a confident dismantling from Leeds at London Stadium.
Leeds boss Marcelo Bielsa may have known it wouldn’t be his night when his side saw two goals canceled early in the game.
Tyler Roberts’ effort was ruled out for offside against Helder Costa before Patrick Bamford scored from Raphinha’s cut, only for reruns to show the ball had passed the sideline before the center.
West Ham took the lead in the 21st minute after Luke Ayling tripped Jesse Lingard in the area.
Lingard took the penalty and although Illan Meslier saved his shot, the on-loan Manchester United midfielder recovered the rebound.
West Ham doubled their advantage seven minutes later when Craig Dawson went unmarked to take the lead in the corner from Aaron Cresswell.
David Moyes’ side were battling relegation at this point last season.
But they’ve won four of their last six league games to leave Hammers fans dreaming of a place in top club competition in Europe.
“We are doing very well and having a good season. It could be a great season, ”Moyes said. “I’m not saying we’ll finish in the top four, but we have to hang in there and see what we can do.”