After a bad end to the last year and the worst possible start to this New Year, Chelsea were back at the Stamford Bridge to avenge their first loss of the season against Newcastle United in their 21st match of the Premier League.
With Man City tied with us on the points table, anything less than 3 points would have been nothing short of a disaster for the Blues and with that in mind Jose Mourinho made couple of changes to our starting eleven that got bullied against Spurs.
Gary Cahill made way for Kurt Zouma at defense while big Pete replaced Courtois at the goalpost as the Belgian seemed to have injured his thumb. Rest of the line-up remained the same as we searched for another clean sheet.
So, without wasting further time, let’s get on with the initial reaction to see how the game panned out for us:
– Chelsea started the game with some intent as the Blues pressed the Magpies high up the pitch to put early pressure on the visiting side. Newcastle, in reply, would sit deep and absorb the pressure as they tried to catch us off guard.
– 10 days of rest seemed to have stiffened up our players as we got to see plenty of wayward and sloppy passing from the Blues but fortunately, for us, Newcastle looked as bad in the early stages. We even fluffed up couple of decent counter-attacking chances in the first 15 minutes which was reflected by Mourinho’s disappointment on the touchline. One of the worst start of the season by the Blues going forward!
– Newcastle gradually grew into the game as the visitors won couple of free kicks in decent positions. Blues should have opened the scoring in the 22nd minute after a brilliant counter attack from Hazard found Diego Costa one on one with Coloccini, but the Spaniard decided to lay it back to the Belgian instead of attempting a shot as the Blues missed a golden chance to go 1-0 up.
– Newcastle nearly opened the scoring through Cabella in the 32nd minute after he rounded off John Terry rather easily and went past Zouma just to see his shot saved by Petr Cech on the far post. It was alarming to see Cabella getting past our defenders so easily with sheer pace as Chelsea continued on with their surprisingly sloppy play.
– To make matter worse, Azpilicueta had to leave the field in the 37th minute as he looked to have injured his groin during a challenge on Cabella along the sidelines. The Spaniard was replaced by Filipe Luis.
– With all the sloppy play it was Oscar who provided the moment of brilliance for Chelsea as he opened the scoring in the 43rd minute to put us 1-0 up! It all started with Willian taking a quick free kick as he found Ivanovic in the box whose resultant cross fell to Oscar in the middle and the Brazilian made no mistake putting it past Tim Krul. Chelsea 1-0 Newcastle United.
– The first half ended with Chelsea leading the battle 1-0. We were dire for the large part of the first half as we continued to look sloppy with possession and nervous without the ball. Nevertheless, a goal from Oscar put us right back up as an interesting second half awaited us on the other side.
– The second half started with Mourinho making no changes to his line-up as we searched for another goal and secure the all important 3 points for good. Chelsea showed a bit more urgency at the start of the half as we looked to put some cross in for Diego Costa to run into. There was a moment of controversy in the 54th minute as Coloccini looked to have handballed inside the box, but the referee decided not to award the penalty to the Blues. Yet another case of bad referring from the officials!
– Diego Costa scored his 15th goal of the season as he put the game comfortably to bed in the 59th minute. It was Oscar and Hazard who combined well on the edge of the box to feed the resulting ball to Diego Costa and the Striker made no mistake putting it past Krul to secure the 3 points for the Blues. That’s what real Strikers do! Chelsea 2-0 Newcastle United.
– We might not have played our best football but there was no way back for Magpies after Chelsea scored the second goal and we suddenly started looking good on the attack again as the Blues created few half chances up top. Costa nearly made it 3-0 in the 79th minute with some brilliant play just to see his resulting shot denied by the Dutch goalkeeper.
– Newcastle continued to toil hard to make things interesting in the final 15 minutes, but Chelsea defense did well to hold off the visitors from scoring the goals. Mourinho introduced Ramires in the 77th minute in place of Oscar as we reverted to a 4-3-3 formation while Remy replaced Costa as the final substitution for Chelsea for the last few minutes.
– There was no twist in the tale in the final few minutes as we wrapped up the 3 points with a 2-0 over the Magpies. We were definitely far off from our best form, especially in the first half, but we managed to grind out a positive result. Sign of a champion? We definitely hope so! But till then, we are top of the table and 2 points clear of Manchester City who were held off for a draw at Everton. Life after Toure ain’t so sweet after all!
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Edited By: Ankur Bhatt