Chelsea returned to winning ways at Stamford Bridge on Saturday as they narrowly beat Newcastle United 2-1.
Newcastle will no doubt be disappointed with the result, as they will feel that they could have picked up a point from the fixture had they taken their chances throughout the game.
Wingers Pedro and Willian scored either side of the break to give the London club the win, and Ciaran Clarke’s header gave Newcastle a glimpse of hope as they rued their missed opportunities.
Here are four things we learned from the game.
1. Chelsea Need to Sign a Striker
Chelsea lacked creativity through the middle as Eden Hazard failed to impress in the false nine position, as the best moments in the game came from wide players Pedro and Willian – including both goals. The Belgian experienced a difficult 87 minutes as he struggled to link well with his wingers before a being substituted late in the game.
The Blues have been linked with plenty of out-and-out strikers this January. Alvaro Morata has been heavily criticised by fans and looks to be on his way out while Oliver Giroud continues to sit on the bench. Chelsea will continue to struggle in forward areas if they don’t strengthen during the transfer window.
Gonzalo Higuain has been linked to make the move to London from AC Milan on loan with a view for a permanent deal in the summer.
2. Newcastle Lack Creativity in Midfield
While Newcastle matched Chelsea in spells of the game, the Magpies struggled to control and create from the middle of the park.
Youngster Sean Longstaff made his first Premier League start alongside Issac Hayden but both made little impact during the game. Similarly to Chelsea, Newcastle had their best chances of the game come from the wide areas of the pitch.
Christian Atsu and Ayoze Perez caused problems for Chelsea’s defence but the Magpies struggled to direct efforts on target. Matt Ritchie also went missing during the game, playing in a left wing back role, and the Scottish International created very little opportunities.
3. David Luiz Continues to Perform
The Brazilian strolled through the game and made little errors as his side took the three points. Luiz kept the Blues’ back line stable and helped out Antonio Rüdiger who struggled with striker Salomon Rondon.
Luiz also ended the game with an assist to his name. The defender played a long ball from inside his own half over the top of the Newcastle defence which met Pedro, who took control of the ball and calmly finished to send Chelsea into the lead. Luiz almost got himself on the score sheet later in the game as his goal-bound header took a slight deflection and rose over the bar.
4. Magpies Need to Get Out of Relegation Zone Before Difficult Run of Fixtures
Defeat to Chelsea has seen Newcastle slide into the Premier League relegation zone. Southampton’s win over Leicester and Cardiff picking up a point against Huddersfield have left the Magpies in the bottom three.
Newcastle have failed to win in their past five games only managing a draw in two. The team are lacking goals this season, second bottom in the league for goals scored with 16 goals, only slightly ahead of relegation-rivals Huddersfield who have scored 13.
Newcastle will need to pick up points quickly to get themselves away from the bottom three. Their next league fixture sees them play Cardiff City who sit a point ahead, before a visit from Manchester City and a tough trip to face Spurs.