Despite Newcastle United taking the lead, Chelsea roared back to claim maximum points to go cement third position in the Premier League table.
Alvaro Morata started off with a “half-chance”, with a headed assist from Eden Hazard. The former’s effort glided over the bar.
Dwight Gayle made an exceptional start for his side soon after by opening the scoring. Does Gayle have a thing for scoring at big clubs?
The away side weren’t too bad after as Karl Darlow smothered a goal-scoring opportunity from an eager Hazard.
Chelsea felt as though they should’ve been awarded a penalty when Darlow was thought to have brought down Morata, but referee Kevin Friend saw nothing malicious in the challenge.
Not long after, the home side were level through their main man, Hazard. An assist from Cesar “Dave” Azpilicueta played an instrumental part in the goal.
To further ease Chelsea nerves, Morata doubled his sides lead with a header from close range. He was assisted by a cool Victor Moses.
Antonio Conte’s side continued to threaten as Danny Drinkwater saw his rather wayward effort glide wide of the target – to the right of Darlow. No real worrisome ball for the Newcastle keeper to deal with.
On the stroke of half-time, Morata was brought down Mohamed Diame, but Friend (not by nature) saw nothing yet again. Should’ve Conte’s side been awarded a free kick?
The third-placed side started as they meant to go on with a strike from Hazard which was deflected wide by Ciaran Clark. Clark with the important block there! Had it not been for him, Chelsea would’ve been further ahead!
The Belgian forward continued to make Newcastle work as he wriggled his way into the box and was initially thought to have been brought down in the area by Clark. Once again, the referee saw nothing.
Rafa Benitez’ side did have chances of their own, however, when Ayose Perez saw his effort struck from 25 yards glide across the face of goal shortly before Isaac Hayden replaced him. His side didn’t have any real chances up until then, so it was worth having a go from distance – or so I thought, anyway. Was it worth it?
The title holders weren’t short of putting extra pressure on the promoted side however when Victor Moses headed at goal but saw his effort easily caught by Darlow. Assist was from Azpilicueta.
Hazard caused Newcastle, even more, problems in the box, but was snuffed out by captain Darlow.
The promoted side didn’t help themselves at times, especially when Matt Ritchie conceded a penalty when he brought down Moses in the area. Hazard calmly chipped in the resulting penalty to seal up maximum points against a hapless, yet spirited Newcastle side.
Whilst Chelsea maintained third place (despite being three points behind second place due to Manchester United beating Arsenal), they’ll be happy with the work they’ve done. Newcastle could feel they’ve done enough, but it just wasn’t to be.
Thoughts on the game
This game was always going to be difficult for The Magpies, given that they came up against a title challenger. They didn’t perform too badly and I must give them praise for not laying down. They were simply beaten by the better side.
Here are the thoughts of Newcastle fans Joe Buck, and Jack Pattison:
JB: “Expected. We scored too early. Instead of scoring in the opening 15 mins we need to score in the closing 15 mins. It showed the gulf in quality TBH. That was it”
From his comment, it shows that a team such as Newcastle United scoring too early in the game against a top-six side isn’t the best idea as they won’t recover from the onslaught from the bigger side.
JP: “A carbon copy almost of Man Utd away”. “Made better substitutions for one
There isn’t much we could do really though. The quality just isn’t enough”
Basically was. Gayle scores early, then the bigger side respond with goals. Same story.
He realises that there wasn’t enough quality within the side. With the January transfer window on the horizon, maybe they could use that as an opportunity to better the squad. As for “made better substitutions”, I’d interpret that by saying Benitez could’ve made the changes earlier in the second half. I wouldn’t put words in a fellow writers mouth however…
Chelsea are in European action in the week against Atletico Madrid. Having theoretically qualified for the next stage, they can afford to rest players ahead of next weekend’s trip to West Ham.
As for Newcastle United, they’ll be raring to earn a first win since beating Crystal Palace in late October when they take on Leicester City at home.
What are your thoughts on the game? Do you think it was a fair result? How do you think the rest of the season could pan out for both sides?