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Chelsea 3-4 Newcastle: Game Recap

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I didn't see the game, so naturally I'll have less to say than usual.

I predicted a 3-2 loss in the game preview, and I wasn't far off. Newcastle United handed Chelsea their first competitive defeat of the season in a thriller at Stamford Bridge. Teams don't put four goals past the Blues particularly often, and even if Chelsea were virtually unrecognisable, Newcastle still deserve a lot of credit for coming to London and attacking.

Carlo Ancelotti chose to rest the bulk of his first teamers, fielding just John Terry and Nicolas Anelka out of his preferred starting XI. The rest of the team was comprised of the second string and the youth, with Ross Turnbull, Jeffrey Bruma, Patrick van Aanholt, Yuri Zhirkov, Gael Kakuta, and Daniel Sturridge all handed starts. In fact, the match got off to a perfect start, with Kakuta and van Aanholt combining to give Chelsea a 1-0 lead within two minutes.

The lead didn't last very long, and Chelsea's defence was rather flimsy throughout. Absent their midfield protector Jon Obi Mikel and without Ashley Cole and Branislav Ivanovic, it's hardly a surprise that the defenders didn't have their best day. Van Aanholt might have done better in the 27th minute - the young fullback failed to cut out a cross and let Nile Ranger in with a far-post volley to level the scores, and just five minutes later the Blues were down after an excellent free kick from Ryan Taylor.

2-1 at halftime failed to reflect just how porous the home side was, who looked like the team we're used to going forward but a drunker version of Wigan on the other side of things. The second half saw Gael Kakuta withdrawn, apparently for a back injury, to be replaced by Salomon Kalou. John Terry was also taken off, the captain's health prohibiting a full 90 minutes of play in a more or less irrelevant match before the key clash against Manchester City on Saturday.

It wasn't long before Chelsea were down even further, with Shola Ameobi taking advantage of some rather baffling goalkeeping by Ross Turnbull, who dived straight over a weak daisy-cutter to increase the deficit to two. Granted, the defence didn't help by failing to challenge the Newcastle man, but on this showing from the 25 year old, England have found their natural successor to Robert Green. Things got worse for the Blues, Salomon Kalou coming off with a thigh problem just eleven minutes after the interval, to be replaced with Josh McEachran. This was Chelsea's last substitute, a fact made meaningful by yet another injury five minutes later as Yossi Benayoun limped off the field.

Down to ten men and facing a two goal deficit, Chelsea didn't look to be in good shape, but they seemed to be revived by going a man down. Alex hit the post before Anelka pulled a goal back, converting a cross from van Aanholt, who was making up for his hand in Newcastle's opener with some very good attacking play. Fifteen minutes later, and Alex (somewhat questionably) went down in the area under Cheik Tiote's tackle, and Anelka was again on hand to score, cooling slotting home the resultant penalty.

With four minutes to go, the game might have been destined for extra time, but right after Paulo Ferreira had rattled the Newcastle post with a corker of a volley Ameobi popped up to score again, this time with a header off a corner kick delivered by Jonas Gutierrez. Despite chances to equalise in the six minutes(!) of injury time, Chelsea were unable to pull level and send the game to extra time, suffering their first home loss in the Carling Cup for several years in the process.

While the loss isn't a particularly big deal, the injuries are. It's currently unclear how badly each of Kakuta, Kalou, and Benayoun are hurt, but it seems as though each of them are in line to miss multiple games, which may have a big impact on the team. Daniel Sturridge stands to benefit most should Kakuta and Kalou be out for an extended period, but considering his rather wasteful display tonight one has to wonder whether seeing more of the England U-21 international would actually be a good thing.

With the Carling Cup out of the way for a year, Chelsea can concentrate on the rest of their season. I won't lie; it's disappointing to go out so early, but for a team as successful as Chelsea are, the League Cup was the last of our priorities, was treated as such, and this sort of result should be expected when we treat real matches as reserve games. I'm sorry I missed the game - there'll be a goal by goal tomorrow but no match analysis unless a full replay somehow drops on my head from the sky. Seven goals to cover is plenty!

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