Chelsea 5-1 Newcastle United
Newcastle made it 16 losses in their last 20 away games in the Premier League and once more found themselves stuck in the relegation zone.
Three goals from the hosts Chelsea inside a devastating first 17 minutes killed the game as a contest before NUFC had even got started.
Steve McClaren named the same attacking lineup that had served his side so well against West Brom last week with Aarons again at left back and Steven Taylor partnering Colo in the centre of defence.
STARTING XI: Elliot, Aarons, Colo, Taylor, Janmaat, Tiote (Lascelles, 67), Shelvey, Townsend, Wijnaldum (Colback, 45), Sissoko, Mitrovic (Doumbia, 70)
Whilst most Newcastle fans were probably not expecting any points at Stamford Bridge it will be the manner of the defeat that will be the biggest worry.
Time and time again Chelsea, who would have been just 3 points ahead of the Toon had the black and whites won, cut Newcastle’s back line apart like a hot knife through butter. The first example being a simple ball played behind our back line for Costa to race onto. Despite the best efforts of Taylor, who looked like a player who’d been out for 6 months, Costa managed to side foot past Elliot whilst falling after just 5 minutes.
Four minutes later and Pedro would race clear to make it 2-0 before Costa set up Willian to make it 3-0 after 17 minutes.
Newcastle, for their part, were having plenty or possession and playing some decent stuff going forward (without really creating any chances) but a the other end it seemed like every time Chelsea got the ball they would walk straight through a Newcastle team who you’d think had never played together.
When you look at teams like Leicester, Spurs or even Bournemouth you see an outstanding team spirit and unbending work ethic that gives them the foundations to build on. 16 losses in 20 league games surely should tell those in charge of selecting the team that bringing together a team a players who will fight for each other, are well organised and know their roles is what is required rather than hoping we can outscore our opponents. It should also serve as a stark reminder that defensive recruits were required in the last transfer window.
Whilst Newcastle managed to limp their way to half time at 3-0 it didn’t take long for that to change in the second half as Pedro struck once again after racing clear (again) on 59 minutes before Traore scored Chelsea’s 5th and final goal on 83.
A trademark run and finish by Andros Townsend on 90 minutes will not be how the player would have hoped to mark his first goal in black and white. Whilst a 20 minute cameo from Dumbia also did little to instil much confidence that he will be the answer to NUFC’s goal scoring problems.
The sight of Shelvey seemingly arguing with his manager whilst on the pitch and Sissoko once again showing an attitude that would make you think he’s already on holiday, this was quite simply a horrendous day at the office. Quite how important the -4 goal difference will prove at the end of the season only time will tell.
For now though Newcastle will fly off for a sunshine break with plenty to think about. They also have quite some time to mull things over as NUFC don’t play again until March, by which time most of our rivals will have already played again. Getting nervous yet?