Well we didn’t expect much did we?
But maybe for 15 minutes or so our rogue confidence of getting something out of this match was unleashed. Because that was the reality. For the opening part of the game, Newcastle looked hungry and up for it. Our goal was well deserved and stemmed from a breakaway which at first, looked like a stone wall denial of a penalty (a foul on Jacob Murphy), but the ball fell kindly for Dwight Gayle who stuck it in the corner. Absolute scenes in the away end. Fully justified and almost a carbon copy of how we started against Man Utd.
Unsurprisingly though United gave Chelsea an easy way back in. A softly defended Chelsea attack, where Hazard scuffed a shot into the ground and the ball bounced over Darlow and landed into the goal. You hoped from that point that we could stick it out till half time, but recent history suggests otherwise. Matt Ritchie who was playing wing back decided not to comfortably head the ball back to Darlow when defending a Chelsea attack. He cleared it straight out wide to Victor Moses who with the resulting cross found Morata who nodded the ball in. Dreadful. Theres a case in point to suggest Morata was very heavy handed on Mbemba, although it would have been harsh to give it in reality. Basic mistakes like that are killing us. We aren’t good enough to come back from 2-1 down away at Stamford Bridge. That’s just the reality of it. Yes we work hard and we started the game brilliantly, but it’s too much of a hammer blow to concede two soft goals before half time.
I need to make a point about Diame. His selection in centre midfield in such a tough match was baffling in itself. Answers on a postcard why he got picked, but his inability to control simple balls combined with a reluctance to head the ball made us a far weaker opposition. Yes I can understand the ‘muscle and might’ argument, but if you don’t have a half decent first touch against a side of this quality, then it’s a bit of a lost cause. Our number 10 weakness was again massively exposed in this fixture. Perez has never been and never will be suited to this position.
The second half in reality was a procession for Chelsea. In fact I struggle to think of one NUFC chance on goal with much of the half spent us ball chasing. A stonewall foul by the out of form Ritchie gave away a penalty, which the unplayable Hazard stuck away. Newcastle struggled to handle him all game long really.
On the positive side, Jacob Murphy worked his bollocks off till the end (despite not doing anything significant of note), and Merino’s class was shown by the fact no Chelsea player got near him all game. He’s dead good at tackling too by the way.
Rafa has been frustrated at our mistakes in the past few weeks. Ritchie’s give away for the second goal was testament to that. Yes this game was a bit of a free hit, but if we didn’t make stupid mistakes we could be taking something away from these fixtures. I guess that’s just the reality of the Premier League.
On a side note I thought the away end was terrific throughout, and the home end absolutely appalling. Barely a peep out of the West London tourists barring goal celebrations and post match, the surrounding area was a morgue. Shit self deserving club who really do forget that they were never all that before Roman’s billions.
So that’s one point out of eighteen in our last six fixtures. Leicester is increasingly looking like a must win given we have a resurgent Everton, and then Arsenal away (we never get owt at the Emirates) up next. Cut out the mistakes and we give ourselves a decent chance. Otherwise we’re in for a pretty long Christmas slog and an ever increasing necessity for Mandy Staveley to save us.
RICHARD SMITH – FOLLOW RICHY ON @richysmith100
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