Chelsea 3-0 Newcastle United
The fourth round of the FA cup meant the usual stupidly difficult away tie for Newcastle United. Today’s opponents were a Chelsea side slightly out of form of late and knocked out of the League Cup during the week by Arsenal in the second leg of their semi final.
STARTING XI: Darlow, Maquillo (Murphy, 77), Mbemba, Lascelles, Clark, Haidara, Hayden (Atsu, 83), Saivet, Shelvey, Ritchie, Gayle (Joselu, 65)
Rafa would, as promised, mix things up with some regulars and some fringe players in a starting eleven that would line up 5-3-1-1 with Matt Ritchie playing in the number 10 role behind Gayle as the lone striker.
With only Kenedy added to the squad this window so far, a player on loan from Chelsea, there was still a need to balance things with a big game on Wednesday night again Burnley on the horizon.
The game would we pretty scrappy in the opening period, Newcastle doing their best to frustrate the home side whilst showing a few glimpses and plenty of determination going forward themselves. The black and whites would not be helped by Kevin Friend however who seemed intent on giving everything, foul or not, in favour of Chelsea - pretty disgraceful referring.
Chelsea themselves seemed nervous however, repeatedly giving the ball away despite playing a significantly strong side that included Hazard, Alonso, Kante and Cahill.
Of the early chances there was a free kick wasted by Hazard after a foul and card for Mbemba, whilst at the other end a better ball form Ritchie would have seen Gayle clear to find the target and potentially give Newcastle the lead.
On 24 minutes Newcastle almost did have the lead, a great run from Haidara, whipped into the box, found Shelvey who’s prod towards goal was tipped around the post by Caballero for a corner. A very decent save to deny Jonjo his second of the season.