Joe Willock’s second half strike led to a 1-0 victory for Newcastle against Chelsea at St. James’ Park – a result which put the Magpies back in third in the Premier League ahead of the break for the 2022 FIFA World Cup.
Chelsea were forced to make an early substitution in the seventh minute, as a calf issue forced Ruben Loftus-Cheek off for Thiago Silva. It was a lethargic first half that had little flow, but Newcastle were on top for most of the opening 45. Their press was relentless, suffocating Chelsea to the middle of the pitch.
The home side found joy on the flanks, but their final passes into the box were poor. In the first half, Eddie Howe’s men crossed 10 times from open play, but only one of those crosses got on the end of a Newcastle player.
In the dying minutes of the half, the home side felt that they deserved a penalty after Dan Burns’ cross was brushed by Trevor Chalobah’s arm, but the referee and the VAR team deemed that the defender had no choice but to use his arm out to support himself as he slid on the pitch to make the block.
Graham Potter deemed that Chelsea needed a change at half-time, opting to bring on Christian Pulisic for Cesar Azpilicueta, pushing Conor Gallagher to the right-wing back role.
The home team continued to push in the second half, and they were rewarded for their efforts in the 67th minute.
Almiron received the ball out wide on the right and took the ball inwards. He took a touch too heavy on the edge of the area, straight in the path of Willock, who passed in a powerful shot past Edouard Mendy and into the back of the net.
Potter then made a triple change, bringing on Marc Cucurella, Kai Havertz, and Hakim Ziyech, and while the visitors saw more of the ball in the last quarter of the match, they were unable to make it count.
With seven minutes of added time, things started to get tense as Nick Pope got carded for time wasting, while Sean Longstaff saw yellow for a tactical foul on Cucurella. Jamal Lascelles even got booked despite not being on the pitch for trying to stop Chelsea from taking a throw-in. After the final whistle, players from both teams went at it, and the referee was forced to take names down for post-match warnings. Despite the nervy ending, the home side were clearly just happy with the three points.
Newcastle will play a club friendly with Rayo Vallecano during the World Cup before taking on Bournemouth in the fourth round of the Carabao Cup on the 20th of December. Chelsea’s next match will also be against Bournemouth in the Premier League on December 27th.
TALKING POINT: NEWCASTLE LEAPFROG TO THIRD
Newcastle under Howe have been an absolute revelation. They now enter the World Cup period having in third, only behind Arsenal and Manchester City. His side were not at their best today, and were lacking good touches and smart passes in the final third, but their press was as relentless as ever, and they kept on pushing Chelsea until they found an opening. St. James’ Park was in full voice for the majority of the match, and the fans’ hope will be that the good form continues long past the World Cup break.
On the other hand, the break cannot come soon enough for Chelsea, and Potter must take the time to take a long hard look at how he can improve his side. Despite a large pool of talent, his side have barely shown glimpses of being cohesive in these last few matches, and he needs to find a solution to the London club’s struggling form.
PLAYER OF THE MATCH: SVEN BOTMAN
There were quite a few Newcastle player of the match contenders, including Kierran Trippier and Fabian Schar, but Sven Botman seemed to be the beating heart of the home side’s defence and managed to stay calm under pressure no matter which Chelsea player he was up against, whether it was Armando Broja in the opening minutes, or Kai Havertz towards the end of the match.
He finished the match with two tackles, two interceptions, two clearances, 5/6 aerial duels won, and a 90% pass accuracy. Seeing his calming presence compared to the tactical mess that was Chelsea’s backline, despite them having players like Silva and Kalidou Koulibaly, shows how integral he’s become to Newcastle.
NEWCASTLE: Pope 7, Trippier 7, Botman 8, Schar 7, Burn 6, Longstaff 6, Joelinton 7, Willock 7, Almiron 7, Guimaraes 6, Wood 6 … Subs: Targett 6, Murphy 6, Wilson 6.
CHELSEA: Mendy 6, Azpilicueta 5, Chalobah 6, Koulibaly 5, Loftus-Cheek N/A, Kovacic 6, Jorginho 5, Hall 5, Gallagher 6, Mount 6, Broja 6… Subs: Cucurella 7, Silva 7, Havertz 6, Pulisic 6, Ziyech 6.
52’ – CHANCE FOR NEWCASTLE: Newcastle should be 1-0 up here! Trippier does well, and the ball comes in. Mendy is able to block the shot from Wood, but the ball ricochets, and suddenly the keeper is out of position. Guimaraes takes the shot, and Jorginho does well to come out and save Mendy by blocking. Newcastle keep the ball, and Almiron sets up Longstaff, whose half-volley sails over. It’s a difficult chance, but he is in a ton of space and should do better there.
62’ – BIG SAVE: Chelsea finally have attacked! It only took them about an hour. But it’s a big save from Pope! Gallagher takes a shot from the edge of the area, and Pope tips it around the post with his fingertips.
67’ – GOAL! NEWCASTLE 1-0 CHELSEA: WHAT A STRIKEEEEEE!!!! It looked like it was going to be Almirons as he goes from right to a central area, but he takes a slightly heavy touch, and Willock lashes a powerful and precise shot that rockets into the back of the net. WHAT. A. GOAL!
82’ – CHELSEA CHANCE: Cucurella aims a low ball for Havertz, who just can’t get a touch on it. All he had to do was poke it home at the near post to make it 1-1.
98’ – FINAL MINUTES: Chelsea are doing everything to get the ball somehow in the back of the net. So many challenges and the referee plays advantage, except when Longstaff sends Cucurella flying. That earns him a booking. Lascelles also gets booked. He’s not even on the pitch, but he’s trying to stop Cucurella from taking a throw-in. What a wild final minute.