The talk of the town for the past couple of days had been about Jose Mourinho’s winless record at St. James Park. The Portuguese had never won a match away at Newcastle United as a manager before this fixture and this was his golden chance to break that record and further strengthen our position at the top of the league.
So, keeping that in mind, Chelsea travelled to the North East to square up against the 9th placed Alan Pardew side, in a hope to set things right this time ( 2 consecutive losses in our last 2 away meetings ain’t good enough for this Chelsea side).
Jose Mourinho made 2 changes to the side that beat LOLSpuds in the weekend with Diego Costa coming in for Drogba while Mikel getting a rare start in place of a suspended Matic.
Let’s look at the initial reaction to get a better view of how the game panned out for the Blues:
– Chelsea started the game well, pressing the Newcastle players high up the pitch and dominating most part of the first quarter.
Newcastle, on the other hand, looked comfortable to sit back and defend in numbers and let the Blues control the possession while they looked to hit us on the counter.
– Eden Hazard showed us why he is considered one of the best in the world in the 14th minute with a wonderful run at the left wing that Ronaldo would be proud of. The Belgian rounded off 3 defenders to get a shot away but alas! the final product was yet again missing in the wingers game. Willian also had a couple of chances to put us in front in the first 20 minutes, the best of which came in the 18th minute, but, the Brazilian missed the target narrowly on both the occasions.
– At the mark of half an hour, the script of this game started to look familiar to the one we saw against Sunderland. Newcastle didn’t cause us any trouble going forward apart from Colback in the 33rd minute which was comfortably dealt with by Courtois. Alan Pardew’s side looked content on defending in numbers, refusing to offer anything significant on attack while, Blues looked to get a breakthrough against the parked bus.
– Newcastle did enjoy a bit of possession in the last 10 minutes of the first half as they gradually grew into the game. The host, however, struggled to make anything worthwhile of their golden period on the ball as it ended goal-less for both the teams at the end of the first period. Chelsea had the best chances in the first half to go 1-0 up mostly through Willian and Hazard but, both the wingers missed their target narrowly while, Newcastle had their opportunity through Jack Colback who was denied by Courtois. It was a frustrating half for the Blues, similar to the one against Sunderland, where we struggled to break down a stubborn defense. Knowing Mourinho, it was always going to be interesting to see what the second half had in store for us:
– The second half started with no changes from Jose Mourinho as we looked to secure the all important 3 points from this fixture.
Blues started the half in a dominating fashion, putting pressure on the Alan Pardew’s side but struggled to draw the first blood yet again. Alan Pardew, as a result, introduced Cisse in the 53rd minute to provide a threat upfront for the hosts.
– Papiss Cisse did what was expected of him as he scored the first goal of the game in the 58th game to put the host 1-0 up. The chance came just after Mikel missed a golden opportunity at the other side of the pitch from close range. The hosts started the attack down the left flank as Sammy Ameobi played a low ball right across the face of goal. Gary Cahill should have cut it but the defender somehow missed the ball and Cisse was there on the far post to give the lead to the host. Newcastle 1-0 Chelsea.
– Mourinho introduced Schurrle in place of Oscar just after that goal to provide the necessary speed and width for the Blues. The boss used all his subs in the 67th minute as he introduced Filipe Luis and Drogba in place of Azpilicueta and Willian respectively in the hope of getting a goal back which truthfully was looking highly unlikely at this point for the visitors.
– Hazard had the chance to equalize in the 78th minute, but the Belgian’s shot hit the post. Newcastle broke again through Sissoko and the midfielder lay off ball was calmly slotted in by Cisse to put Newcastle 2-0 up. To make matter worse, Fabregas collected his 5th booking of the season to get suspended for the next game against Hull City.
– Steven Tyler collected his second yellow and was sent off for the final 10 minutes after a reckless challenge on Drogba. The resulting free kick from Fabregas was put into the net by the vintage Drogba header to pull one back for the Blues. Newcastle 2-1 Chelsea. Game on!
– The final few minutes were intense and absorbing as the Blues tried to get one back but the young goalkeeper denied our effort time and time again to hold off our attack. It was 6 minutes of added time which did give Chelsea few more shots to find the equalizer. It was some nail biting, jaw-dropping, adrenaline rushing, vintage PL action as Chelsea forced for the equalizer but at the end Newcastle proved to be too good for us as Mourinho’s winless record at St. James Park continues. We are still 6 points clear at the top with City having a game in hand.
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Edited By: Ankur Bhatt