Chelsea claimed all three points on Sautrday evening, as they narrowly beat Newcastle United at Stamford Bridge.
Chelsea started the game brightly and took the lead early on. David Luiz’s long ball in behind the Newcastle defence found Pedro’s perfectly timed run, and the winger took a single touch and dinked the ball over goalkeeper Martin Dubravka.
Newcastle grew into the first half and created the better chances. The equaliser eventually came from a Matt Ritchie corner kick, Ciaran Clark getting away from his marker and expertly finding the bottom left hand corner with a fantastic header to get the Magpies level.
Chelsea dominated the first half with the ball but failed to create chances.
The Blues struggled to get a hold of the start of the second half but slowly came back into the game. Willian gave Chelsea the lead again after Eden Hazard found the winger in plenty of space, the transfer-linked Brazilian beautifully curling the ball around Dubravka.
The game slowly fizzled out as time drew on, both sides failing to make any clear cut chances towards the end of the second half. Chelsea remain in the top four with the three points, while Newcastle drop into the relegation zone on the back of that defeat – and Cardiff’s draw earlier in the day.
Key Talking Point
Much of the debate before the game focused on whether Callum Hudson-Odoi would start the game, but Maurizio Sarri decided to go with Eden Hazard, Pedro and Willian ahead of the young Englishman.
Hazard failed to make a great deal of impact in a false nine role, and Chelsea’s chances were limited throughout the game. Both wingers got on the scoresheet with good individual efforts, but failed to link up effectively with the Belgian. The January transfer window will play a vital part of Chelsea’s season, with Saturday’s game showing once again how much the Blues miss having a true striker as a focal point.
Starting XI: Arrizabalaga (6), Azpilicueta (7), Rüdiger (5), Luiz (8*), Alonso (7), Jorginho (5), Kanté (6), Kovacic (6), Willian (8), Pedro (7), Hazard (6).
Substitutes: Barkley (6), Hudson Odoi (6), Giroud (N/A).
David Luiz played a big part in Chelsea’s win. In a team which lacked that bit of quality throughout the game, the Brazilian strolled through. The defender played a terrific through ball to Pedro that led to Chelsea’s opening goal and, while Newcastle had plenty of chances, Luiz helped out defensive partner Rüdiger on several occasions to keep the Blues in charge.
Luiz was unlucky not get his name on the scoresheet as his goal-bound header in the first half was deflected over the bar.
While Eden Hazard failed to make any impact throughout the game, Jorginho lived up only to recent criticism of his performances. The Italian looked uncomfortable on the ball and struggled throughout the game.
He signed from Napoli with big reputation, but the midfielder gave the ball away on a number of occasions and a few mis-hit passes headed off the pitch.
Key Talking Point
The Magpies created lots of chances in the wide areas but failed to make them count.
Christian Atsu and Ayoze Perez made good runs and created more chances than Chelsea in the first half, but did not take advantage of this while they were on the front foot. The team saw little of the ball but managed to create nine attempts on goal – a lack of quality seeing only two of them hit the target.
Starting XI: Dubravka (6), Yedlin (6), Clark (7), Lascelles (6), Lejeune (6), Ritchie (5), Perez (7), Longstaff (6), Hayden (6), Atsu (8), Rondon (8*).
Substitutes: Murphy (6), Manquillo (5).
Salomon Rondon led the line well and worked tirelessly for the full 90 minutes. He linked up well with Perez and Atsu as Newcastle created many chances in the first half and, while his effort level dropped as Newcastle saw less of the ball, he was at the heart of all of the Magpies’ attacking play.
Matt Ritchie found himself out of position for Pedro’s goal and looked lost in the left wing-back role. Ritchie’s game was summed up with a horror strike from the edge of the box that was close to going out for a throw in.
Chelsea visit Arsenal in the Premier League next Saturday, after their win on Saturday put them six points ahead of their London rivals
Newcastle face a FA Cup replay against Blackburn Rovers on Tuesday night before they return to Premier League action at home to relegation rivals Cardiff City on Saturday.