Newcastle United are still seeking their first three points of the season after a 2-1 defeat at home to Chelsea. The Magpies were unbeaten in five previous home fixtures against the Blues, however the duck was finally broken in a frantic final 15 minutes of the match.
Newcastle’s game plan was to defend for the most parts and catch Chelsea out whenever they could; a tactic commonly deployed by Rafa Benitez when up against the bigger clubs. In the reverse fixture last season, the Magpies thrashed Chelsea 3-0 and played on the front foot, however injuries to key men Jonjo Shelvey and Jamaal Lascelles ensured that United could not set up in the same fashion.
Benitez’s 5-4-1 formation frustrated the opposition for the majority of the game, with Chelsea struggling to break down a well-drilled and disciplined Newcastle back-line.
Considering the Blues had 81% possession overall, they hardly threatened Martin Dubravka’s goal, while they seemingly had the luck of the referee on their side. They were awarded a penalty in the 76th minute when debutant Fabian Schar adjudged to have tripped Marcos Alonso in the box.
Replays showed that the Swiss international won the ball, infuriating the St James’ Park crowd. Eden Hazard then converted the spot kick, with Chelsea’s persistence being rewarded.
Six minutes later, Newcastle felt a sense of justice when substitute Joselu planted a thumping near-post header past Chelsea stopper Kepa, to the delight of the Geordie faithful. This was the Spaniard’s second home goal in as many games, while it was also a controversial one.
Magpies defender DeAndre Yedlin appeared to elbow Olivier Giroud in a challenge that led up to the goal, although the ref played on, allowing Yedlin to cross for Joselu. The challenge was not intentional, with no malice present.
The referee was again in the spotlight in the 87th minute when he awarded Chelsea with a soft free-kick that led to their winning goal. After failing to clear their lines, Yedlin unfortunately diverted into his own net from a Marcos Alonso cross, leaving the Geordies in agony.
United were three minutes away from earning a point against Chelsea in what was a well-organised tactical structure. Unfortunately for the Magpies, they do not have the resources to be able to outplay and compete against bigger clubs, which is what the fans and manager alike would want ideally.
This stems down from the board, with Mike Ashley’s lack of investment resulting in Newcastle deploying whatever tactics possible in order to fight for points; luckily they have a manager as gifted as Benitez who has the ability to do so, although he will not stand for such a regime for much longer.
Newcastle still await their first win of the season and, with fixtures against Manchester City, Arsenal and Manchester United all to come in the next few weeks, they must ensure that some points are on the board, otherwise they risk playing catch-up.
Written by Dawud Arshad
Like O-Posts on Facebook
You can also follow O-Posts on Twitter @OPosts