For those who seem to care most about what is on the pitch at Newcastle United, namely the players, managers and fans, the club seems more under siege than ever before.
The seemingly deliberate placement of so called experts on our TV screens over recent weeks to perpetuate a myth of Ashley’s wonderful ownership has only gone to strengthen the resolve of those fans and others who’ve, quite frankly, had enough.
Today’s game showed just how far Newcastle are from competing at the upper end of the table with those clubs you’d now call the elite of English football.
Never mind that Newcastle United were regulars in Europe, sometimes even the Champions League, in the years before Ashley took over the club. Now we are so far behind the likes of Chelsea that, with all his experience, Rafa must choose to play a game that allows only 20% possession for Newcastle at home.
Uproar from Sky pundits and those in the wider press alike. They’d rather see the like a Chelsea’s Hazard allowed the freedom of St James of course, affording them the opportunity to wax lyrical about the beauty of how such players rip holes in clubs like ours.
Not on Rafa’s watch.
News before kick off the a fight between Shelvey and Lascelles, and then a story that Lascelles had actually fallen out with Rafa on hearing he gafa wanted to play with 3 centre halves, something that did indeed transpire on the day. Both were conspicuous by their absence from even the bench. The club and manager claimed before kick off that Lascelles had a knock, something the player himself took to twitter to confirm. All very strange.
STARTING XI: Dubravka, Yedlin, Fernandez, Clark, Schar (Muto, 79), Dummett, Ritchie, Diame, Ki, Murphy (Perez, 73), Rondon (Joselu, 62)
Not for seven years had Chelsea left St James with all three points. but that would change today.
For all Chelsea’s possession however the game was remarkably even in chances, certainly in the first half. Newcastle perhaps coming closest to breaking the deadlock on 34 minutes when Rondon’s header went just wide.
It was a game of attack against defence however. And as frustrated as the away side must have been in the opening period you only had to look at the bench to see just how much quality they have, the introduction of Giroud and Willian just before the first goal being a point in case.
The breakthrough was, however, a quite disgusting decision from the referee. Schar was adjudged to have fouled Alonso in the box but replays clearly show the defender got all of the ball and was in fact being dragged back by the Chelsea player. Whilst the whole thing looked messy it was clearly not a penalty. Eden Hazard didn’t waste the opportunity however and tucked away the resultant spot kick with Newcastle players still complaining.
It had taken 76 minutes for Chelsea to find that breakthrough. Newcastle now switched to a back 4 and were soon level. A fantastic near post cross from Yedlin found the head of Joselu who managed to get in front of his market to plant an even better header past Arrizabalaga in the Chelsea goal.
Chelsea themselves claimed the goal should not have stood as they wanted a foul in a buildup claiming an elbow from Yedlin on Giroud.
Yedlin would unfortunately be involved again 3 minutes later however, when Alonso’s shot was diverted into his own net with Barkley waiting to tap in at the far post.
2-1 then the final score with Rafa’s backs against the wall tactics so nearly getting a hard fought and much needed point.
With a midweek trip to Forest next on the cards followed by more craziness from the Premier League fixture lists with City away followed by Arsenal at home. things are likely to get harder before they get easier for the Magpies.