Coming back from international break Chelsea travel to St. James’ Park to face Newcastle United for the 9th game of the 2020/21 Premier League season. Chelsea were looking for their 5th win in a row in all competitions, however it would not be easy.
With Newcastle winning 5 of their last 7 home games against Chelsea and key players Christian Pulisic, Kai Havertz, and Thiago Silva all out for this game, it would be interesting to see how the team got on against this deep holding Newcastle side.
Beginning with the lineup, Chelsea came out in a 4-3-3 as they have in recent games with the starting 11 displayed below.
Starting Line-up: Mendy; Chilwell (Out 82′), Rüdiger, Zouma, James; Mount, (C) Kanté, Kovačić Werner (Out 76’), Abraham, Ziyech (Out 87’)
Subs: Arrizabalaga, Christensen, Emerson (In 82′), Azpilicueta, Jorginho, Hudson-Odoi (In 76′), Giroud (In 87’)
Chelsea begins the game strong, dominating possession early on as expected with Newcastle sitting quite deep in their own half. However, plenty of chances come early on in the game starting with Timo Werner in the 3rd minute of the game.
He receives ball from Kanté, after Kovačić wins the ball back with some excellent pressing. Werner has a shot from the left side of the box on his weaker foot. the chance is saved by Darlow for a corner as Chelsea continues to pile on the pressure to this Newcastle side.
Soon after in the 9th minute, Ziyech plays a magical diagonal cross from the right-hand side of the box over the top to Tammy Abraham. Abraham gets a strong header that’s met with an even stronger save again by Darlow and goes out for a corner.
With the uninterrupted possession of Chelsea and the persistence of the side, the opening goal final comes off a corner in the 10th minute. Mount plays in a short corner which leads to Werner playing Mount inside on the right. Mount’s well played ball finds the feet of Newcastle defender Federico Fernández who is unable to sort his feet and plays the ball into his own net for the opening goal.
The next chance comes in around the 29th minute after again Kovačić wins the ball pressing in the Newcastle half. Mount plays Abraham who lays the ball off perfectly to Werner who has a big chance inside the center of the box and just puts it wide left of the goal.
Newcastle get their first action of the game, with a break on the counter after Abraham gives the ball away. Saint-Maximin drives from the left side cutting in, but the Chelsea defense recovers well and the shot is blocked by Rüdiger and goes out for a corner.
The remainder of the half remains fairly uneventful aside from a couple yellow cards for Newcastles’s Isaac Hayden, and Jacob Murphy. Chelsea go into half-time leading 1-0 and look to kill the game off in the second half.
The second half starts similar to the first with Chelsea holding possession for the majority of the time, with the first chance of the half occurring in the 54th minute. Timo Werner consistently being involved in the game thus far finds himself with another opportunity.
With the lackadaisical effort Fabian Schär attempting to control the ball, Werner comes in from behind to steal the ball off of him and is clean through on goal driving from the left side. Rather than taking the shot himself, Werner opts to square the ball to Ziyech. However, the pass is poor and is intercepted by the Newcastle defense resulting in another missed opportunity for Chelsea
Soon after Zouma gets a chance in the 55th off of a corner that is played in by Mount. However he fails to keeper his header on target and this attempt too results in no goal, with the worry being able to score a second building up.
The worry gets even more real, with a chance from Newcastle in the 59th minute. Rüdiger with the ball in his own box, attempts to clear it in an effort to relieve the pressure, however he plays the ball directly into Isaac Hayden. The ball bounces off of Hayden and somehow remains in his path for a clear chance with only Mendy in his way. Hayden takes a shot but is unable to keep it under the bar as the powerful attempt flies over for a goal kick leaving Chelsea fortunate not to concede.
A second goal by Chelsea is finally scored around the 65th minute to solidify their lead. Although having missed out on a couple opportunities already, Werner finally gets his goal contribution, by providing an excellent assist to Abraham for the second goal of the game. After winning the ball in their own half, Werner is played the ball.
He decides to push and carry on the attack himself, and with an excellent solo run and his blistering pace he splits two Newcastle defenders just past the halfway mark and continues to drive to play in Tammy with a well weighted ball on the right side of the box. Tammy controls the ball easily and puts in a tidy finish at the near post with the ball clipping the post and popping in for Chelsea’s second and his 3rd in the league.
After the second goal the game seems to be out of hand for the Magpies, however Sean Longstaff comes away with a long range effort to after receiving the ball from the right side of the box. He takes the shot from distance beating Mendy, but not the crossbar as he clips the bar and the shot goes over.
Werner gets yet another final opportunity before making way for Hudson-Odoi in the 75th minute with a great pass by Ziyech which Werner rounds the keeper and scores, but the offside flag goes up.
A couple more half chances ensue with Mount missing a shot wide of the post and Newcastle’s Almiron has his shot deflected which is punched out by Mendy. Emerson comes on for Chilwell and afterwards Giroud for Ziyech as Chelsea look to hold on in the final minutes for the win, and they do.
Results and Implications
The result was a solid showing from the Chelsea side following the international break facing a tough team play away from home with many key players missing. However, Chelsea picked up where they left off scoring 2 and keeping another clean sheet, making it 6 clean sheets in their last 7 games. The Team now has 18 points, currently top of the table on goal difference with +12 with the rest of the teams yet to play
The result was very positive for the team as there were quite a few points where it felt the team may compromise the lead and dominance by not killing off the game earlier. The team seems to be maturing and clicking much better than previously in the season. Signs of improvement from last season are evident as this could easily have been lost recalling last season’s 90th minute winner from Isaac Hayden for the Magpies.
Chelsea seem to be finding ways to score goals at an even higher pace than before, being the most prolific team in the league currently. However, they are finding ways to win as well and this likely roots from being able to score while keeping defensively stable in their new found form and their 5th win in a row.