Chelsea is tightened to the top four by Werner, Liverpool by Newcastle
London, United Kingdom: Chelsea took charge of the race for Champions League football next season with a 1-0 victory over West Ham on Saturday, while Liverpool drew 1-1 with Newcastle after conceding a stoppage-time equalizer.
After a week dominated by England's 'big six' attempting to guarantee top-level European football every season through a breakaway Super League (ESL), Chelsea and Liverpool turned their attentions to attempting to finish in the top four of the Premier League.
Manchester City, Manchester United, Arsenal, and Tottenham were the other four English clubs involved in ESL plans, which were scrapped 48 hours after they were announced due to an angry backlash from states, governing bodies, players, and fans.
The Blues have moved into fourth place after Werner's second Premier League goal in 22 games gave them a three-point lead over the fifth-placed Hammers.
Thomas Tuchel blamed the distraction of massive demonstrations outside Stamford Bridge on the night the ESL plans collapsed for Tuesday's 0-0 draw with Brighton.
The German-made six changes with the first leg of his team's Champions League semi-final against Real Madrid on Tuesday in mind.
However, Chelsea's superior depth shone through against an injury-plagued West Ham side missing Michail Antonio, Declan Rice, and Aaron Cresswell.
"From Tuesday on, we didn't say anything about Super League," Tuchel said. "I felt like everyone was really focused and enjoying the attention on just the game."
The outcome could have been very different had Chelsea defender Cesar Azpilicueta not deflected a shot wide midway through the first half, despite strong claims for handball inside his own territory.
Werner has struggled to live up to the £50 million ($69 million) price tag he received from RB Leipzig last summer.
But, two minutes before halftime, the German snapped a two-month goal drought with a composed finish from Ben Chilwell's cross.
Werner's profligacy in front of goal, however, continued after the break, as he somehow turned the rebound wide after Lukasz Fabianski parried Mason Mount's long-range shot.
For the hosts, the in-form Jesse Lingard came closest to equalizing with a looping effort that drifted just wide.
However, the Hammers' chances were dashed 10 minutes from the time when Fabian Balbuena was wrongly sent off after a VAR investigation for his follow-through on Chilwell after clearing the ball.
"I thought it was a bad idea," West Ham manager David Moyes said. "I believe it was created by someone who has never played the game."
Liverpool don't 'deserve' Champions League
Liverpool is now four points adrift of the top four after blowing a late lead against Newcastle, prompting manager Jurgen Klopp to declare that his team does not deserve to be in the Champions League.
Mohamed Salah scored after only three minutes, but Liverpool squandered several opportunities to stretch their lead and were punished in stoppage time.
The Reds were given a reprieve when Callum Wilson's equalizer was ruled out for handball following a VAR investigation, but they were unable to hold on as Joe Willock's deflected shot rescued a crucial point in the Magpies' quest for top-flight survival.
"If you deserve it, you deserve it," Klopp said, echoing critics of the ESL as a closed shop for Europe's major clubs.
"I didn't see us playing like we deserved to be in the Champions League next year today. We only have five games left, so we'll see what happens. We either learn or we don't play in the Champions League."
The draw increased Newcastle's lead over the bottom three to nine points.
Brighton, on the other hand, did nothing to help their chances of avoiding relegation, losing 1-0 at already-relegated Sheffield United to stay seven points ahead of Fulham in the 18th.
A rally outside Anfield on Saturday was more subdued than those held in recent days ahead of Chelsea and Arsenal's home games, but a number of flags and banners were tied to the gates around the stadium, pointing out the "greed" of the club's American owners, Fenway Sports Group (FSG).
Despite not playing until Sunday against Leeds, Manchester United fans gathered outside Old Trafford on Saturday to criticize the Glazer family, who own the club.