Chelsea 3-1 Newcastle United
We knew it would be so, but the tough run continues. This time at the hands of current Premier League Champions Chelsea.
A 3-1 reverse is probably a fair reflection of events a Stamford Bridge as the hosts ran out comfortable winner in the end.
STARTING XI: Darlow, Mbemba, Clark, Lejeune, Manquillo, Diame (Shelvey, 75), Merino (Yedlin, 85), Ritchie, Murphy, Perez (Hayden, 62), Gayle
Just as against Manchester United though, the Magpies were off to something of a flyer. Form the first whistle they harried, pressed, chased everything. Given Chelsea no time to settle and no chance to get into their groove. And after a few nervy moments, forcing Courtois to hurriedly clear more than once in those early stages Newcastle would get the early breakthrough.
Gayle, starting in place for Joselu, forced the Chelsea defence to only half clear allowing Murphy to break on the Chelsea keeper one on one. A combination of the two, scrambling for possession, saw the ball fall to the Newcastle number 9 who cooly slotted home to make it 0-1.
A fully deserved outcome to an excellent start.
That, unfortunately was as good as it was to get for the black and whites.
The key instigator of what would then unfold was the little magician, Eden Hazard, who almost single handedly proceeded to turn the game on it’s head.
Having been rested during the week for this one, the Belgian maestro helped himself to the equaliser first. A long ball into the box from Azpilicueta was half cleared by Florian Lejeune but the ball would fall straight to the Chelsea number 10 who’s finish hit into the ground left Darlow with no chance.
Darlow, for his part, couldn’t have done much more in this game making outstanding saves on a number of occasions.
With the score at 1-1, and Newcastle’s early work undone, it was a question of whether Newcastle could do what they failed to do against Manchester United a week ago. Unfortunately the answer was no once more.
Whilst the first Chelsea goal was something that comes from the pressure the Magpies were under, the second Chelsea goal certainly had more to do with Newcastle’s abject defending. Quite how a centre from Moses would first get past Lejeune and then past Mbemba is a thing of wonder. Whilst Lejeune, who seems not to be getting any better with match fitness, could have an excuse of a slip, Mbemba was just weak. The smallest of shoves sending him to the ground leaving Morata with a free header is just not good enough.Defend first, complain later for gods sake. Just poor!
That goal came after 33 minutes and Newcastle managed to get through injury time without conceding another!
Having seemingly matched up styles from the outset, with 3 at the back that worked well for 20 minutes, Rafa would eventually move back to a more familiar lineup in the second half with Newcastle United sitting ever deeper. The game plan was perhaps to soak up the pressure and perhaps gamble with 5 or 10 minutes left by throwing on a big lad. This option was removed on 74 minutes however when a needless and clumsy tackle from Ritchie left the referee with no option but to award Chelsea a spot kick.
Up stepped Hazard, and one cheeky dink later it was game over.
Nothing then for the travelling fans to celebrate other than perhaps a confidence boosting goal from Gayle who offered precious little else.
And whilst it is not games away to Manchester United and Chelsea that will decide Newcastle’s destiny this season, a run of 1 point from a possible 15 certainly looks a tad worrying.