London (AFP) – Newcastle manager Eddie Howe believes Chelsea will remain a formidable force on the pitch this season despite the sanctions imposed by the British government on Blues owner Roman Abramovich.
Howe’s side travel to Stamford Bridge on Sunday to face Chelsea, who will be playing their second game since the Russian billionaire’s UK assets were frozen following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
Chelsea are not allowed to sign new players, renew contracts or sell match tickets under the stringent new rules imposed on Thursday.
The sanctions have raised fears over the club’s future but Thomas Tuchel’s team showed no signs of being distracted in their 3-1 win at Norwich just hours after the government’s announcement.
Howe, who was named February’s Premier League manager of the month on Friday, expects third-placed Chelsea to continue to block out the turmoil when they face Newcastle.
“I don’t think it will have any bearing on Chelsea and how they play,” said the Newcastle boss, whose side extended their unbeaten league run to nine games with a 2-1 victory at Southampton on Thursday.
“For us, you can’t change our preparation in any way. I’ll be watching Chelsea historically and trying to build a game plan to try to go there and win.
“I don’t expect anything on the pitch, really, to be any different.”
Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp backed the government’s decision to sanction Abramovich, while admitting it was tough on Chelsea.
“It’s not a situation all the employees at Chelsea are responsible for. One man is and that’s (Vladimir) Putin,” he said.
“I don’t know about Roman Abramovich’s role in all this but you can say he is close. I think what the government did is right.”
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