Finally back to winning ways in the Premier League, Chelsea made it 10 wins in 10 at home this season, despite a poor first half.
With Manchester City being held to a draw at Goodison Park against Everton, Chelsea re-established their lead at the top of the league table, with a gap of 2 points over City. Let us look at what we can infer from the Blues’ performance against the Magpies.
Chelsea seem unassailable at home
With 10 wins from 10 matches in the league this season, Chelsea have maintained a 100% record at home. Chelsea have scored 24 goals and conceded just 3 at home this season, 2 of which were against Swansea and one against QPR. Also, 8 clean sheets in 10 matches look very impressive. With Manchester City the next visitors to Stamford Bridge, home form seems extremely important, considering this match is being regarded the title decider by most. Jose Mourinho’s teams always have a near perfect home record, and this season too it seems that dropping points at home is a long shot.
Petr Cech is still as fantastic as he used to be
Thibaut Courtois had injured his thumb during the match at White Hart Lane, and while he could have played if required, not playing a goalkeeper like Cech in such a situation would have been a “no-brainer” according to assistant manager Steve Holland. Cech was kept busy, especially in the first half, when he made crucial saves to deny Newcastle United a lead. When Newcastle upped the ante, forcing Cech into saves, even then he did not look uncomfortable. With the same composure and commanding presence in the box, Cech claimed the long balls, beat away the free kick by Gouffran and never really looked like conceding. Cech started a Premier League match after a long time, and performed well using his vast experience, earning yet another clean sheet.
Kurt Zouma has a bright future
Gary Cahill looked shaky in the last league match against Tottenham, and was terrorized by Harry Kane all throughout the match. Also Cahill seemed to have been feeling the strain of a busy schedule, with Chelsea the only club in the country to be fighting on all four fronts. So the opportunity arrived for 20-year-old Kurt Zouma to start his first ever Premier League match. With error-free performances earlier in cup games and a Champions League match, Zouma seemed a perfect replacement for the usually impressive Gary Cahill. And he took his chance well, not putting a foot wrong during the whole 90 minutes. With well-timed tackles, headers and interceptions and rare fouls, Zouma made for a strong case to be started in more matches in the future. Assistant manager Steve Holland looked impressed by the youngster’s performance and inferred that if he carries on playing the way he did, more starts are bound to arrive.
Oscar is slowly getting back to his best
Oscar had a fantastic start to the season, scoring 4 goals in the early part of the season. His work rate during the first half of the season was unparalleled, with him putting in shifts in both halves of the pitch. His performances even earned him a contract upto 2019. However, owing to recent illness, Oscar had to sit out a few matches. At Tottenham, Oscar started, and even assisted Costa’s opening goal, but still did not look a 100% fit. But now that he looks to be fully fit again, Oscar put in another great shift. Scoring the opening goal just before half time, from Ivanovic’s sweeping cross following Willian’s quick corner, Oscar lifted the nervousness from Stamford Bridge, after a poor showing from the hosts in most parts of the first 45 minutes. As usual, he ran his legs off, pressing from the front when Newcastle defenders had the ball, and also tracking back Colback and Anita when they attacked. With 20 minutes remaining, Oscar was taken off to standing ovation from the Stamford Bridge faithful, and Oscar will be hoping to continue his highly dedicated performances in the coming matches.
Chelsea are very unlucky when it comes to getting penalties
For the third match in a row, Chelsea were denied a legitimate penalty. As Costa tried to cross the ball from the left, the ball clearly hit Fabricio Coloccini’s left arm, which was extended out of his body. It was a stone cold penalty, but referee Roger East somehow failed to blow the whistle. Against Tottenham Chelsea were denied a penalty too. At St. Mary’s Cesc Fabregas was booked for simulation by referee Anthony Taylor, when he was clearly fouled inside the box against Southampton. Anthony Taylor later apologized to Jose Mourinho. Chelsea have only been awarded 2 penalties all season, despite being fouled an enormous number of times. Jose Mourinho had earlier spoken of a ‘campaign’ to portray Chelsea players as divers which makes referees reluctant to award penalties to Chelsea, a statement that has drawn the wrath of the FA, and has Jose Mourinho absenting from press conferences in protest. The FA must take note of the referees’ failure to award penalties even in legitimate cases, and the referees must improve their officiating during the matches.
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Edited By: Ankur Bhatt