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(First and only) Carling Cup Recap: Chelsea 3-4 Newcastle

Carlo Ancelotti likes to win. So, too, do I. It is safe to say then that both of us are a tad chafed this evening.

You likely are, too. Unless, that is, you are a Geordie.

Newcastle arrived at Stamford Bridge on Wednesday with a particularly forgettable history round those parts. It had been, after all, 24 years since they had exited the Bridge with a win. Not anymore.

The Toon won. Four goals to three. Surprising, sure. Deserved, yes. In the end, the match proved to be somewhat enthralling, largely ridiculous - and most definitely a League Cup classic.

It was that kind of night.

What you need to know
• We lost. For the first time this season.
• Newcastle could've had five or six.
• We played with 10 men for 30-plus minutes.
• The fight displayed by our 10 men was a sight to behold. Well done.
• Nicolas Anelka played his finest match for the club. Ever.
• Josh McEachran announced his talent to the world.
• Ross Turnbull played his last match for Chelsea.

Of Note
Injuries. They're back.

Just damn. I can deal with defeat in the League Cup. I cannot, however, deal with injuries to an already shallow side.

Three - all potentially serious - were suffered in the loss. Gael Kakuta succumbed to a back injury, likely picked up when the lovable Ryan Taylor absolutely tore through the French prodigy during the opening half. Ridiculous. Salomon Kalou was the next to fall victim, collapsing under no threat whatsoever just eight minutes after being introduced. It's a suspected calf injury, one that may well keep our favorite Ivorian super sub in the training room for a handful of weeks. Then there was Yossi Benayoun, who, similarly to Kalou, crumbled to the floor chasing a through ball. The Isareli has a calf problem, and also may be afforded an extended vacation.

"I'm not so disappointed. It's not our priority, we have a very important game this weekend," King Carlo said of the match. "We have three injuries. Kalou a thigh injury – I don't think he will be available for the next few games. Benayoun also has a massive problem with his calf. Both need to have more time to rest. We will see in the next day or so how long they will be out for. We will know more tomorrow but they do not look good. Kakuta (also) has a back problem."

Best case scenario? A couple of weeks for both Yossi and Salomon. Worst case? I dare not think about it.

Take a bow, Josh
My goodness. Such an introduction to English football should not be allowed.

Yes. Josh McEachran was that good on his home debut. McEachran, 17, wowed with a composed, assured performance. This in the midst of a match of real pressure, of real circumstance. It was he, rather than several more experienced members of the club, who looked at home. Sublime.

He played simple. Never overextending himself. And never - well, almost never - giving the ball away. His close control was stunning. There were hints of a certain Chelsea legend in there, you know. Sir Frank Lampard anyone?

Remember the name.

Tactical gaffe?
Did our fearless leader, for once, get his selection wrong? Perhaps.

A midfield of Yuri Zhirkov, Ramires and Benayoun, eh? Intimidating would be the last word used to describe that trio. Unbalanced would be a more apt description.

Lacking a true holding midfielder left us exposed to the counter on numerous occasions. Zhirkov and Ramires' decision to speed up play, rather than opting for a more controlled tempo, also was a mistake. The forced introduction of McEachran, and his decision to play it simple, resulted in a much more effective brand of football. I would think Carlo would have taken note.

Le Sulk? Never
Not on your life. The movement, as always, impeccable. But the tireless running, the industry, the leadership? The Frenchman was an inspiration.

It seemed, in the closing stages of the second half, as if Anelka was carrying the team all by his lonesome. He nearly was, what with the ineffectiveness of Zhirkov and Sturridge in the forward attack. He was all over the place, in midfield constantly, doing whatever needed to keep us within a shot.

His brace was superb. The penalty, as silky as his movement has become.

Never did I think I would see Nicolas Anelka leading by example. It was truly enlightening. Why he did not received the captain's armband when Terry departed is beyond me. Most deserving the mercurial Frenchman was.

The lone worry would be his fitness. No doubt he'll feature against City on the weekend. Marseille in midweek would appear another start with Drogba to serve the last game of his suspension. And Arsenal to follow? My word.

No. Just no.

Leader of men.

Player Ratings
Ross Turnbull

More of the same - and obviously not in a good way. Terrible positioning, particularly for Newcastle's second, and even worse keeping for Newcastle's third. Had decent command of his box, but hardly a redeeming factor. Would be shocked to see him feature for the first team again. 3

Paulo Ferreira
His excellent start to the season, like the club's, crumbled on Wednesday. Nervy at times, evidenced by the horrific back-pass that eventually lead to the visitor's third. He did, it must said, strike a wonderful volley in the final minutes that struck the crossbar. 5

John Terry
Distinctly average from our captain. His cameo, of 45 minutes, was fairly comfortable though it was far from imperious. Obviously recovering from injury; let's just hope he's not just fit, but also at speed, for the trip to Manchester City. 6

Jeffrey Bruma
Tisk, tisk. No need to jump in for the tackle when beaten, son! Of course, I refer to the foul which led to Newcastle's second. That being said, the Dutchman is not quite ready for the rigors extended by Premier League opposition. Found Ameobi, of all people, to be a mountain of men. Seriously. Furthermore, his positioning is of worry. 5

Patrick Van Anholt
Our very own Gareth Bale? I'm going off the boil, I know. Regardless, our other young Dutch defender was very bright. At fault for Newcastle's opener, but responded beautifully. Provided constant menace in attack, though his defending is still developing. Regardless, a very promising display from the 20-year-old. 7

I feel for him. He hasn't been in London at all long, and already is being asked to play out of position. Tried his darndest, but is simply not a holding midfielder. Was back to his rampaging self when we were forced to play with 10. The promise is there. 6

Yossi Benayoun
An aging halogen bulb, perhaps the annoying one in your office. The Israeli flickered in and out of the match until the injury - one that Ancelotti referred to as "massive" - ended his night. Here's to hoping for a swift return, though it doesn't look good. 6

Yuri Zhirkov
Bland. This from a man who expects opportunities this season. Not on this evidence. 4.5

Daniel Sturridge
Quite poor. Surprisingly considering his encouraging display in Zilina. How many times did he give the ball away? His shoot-on-sight policy was rubbish as well. Toed the line of petulance, in all honesty. 3.5

Gael Kakuta
Unfortunate would be the word to describe the French prodigy's day. A lively start to the match was derailed by Taylor, whose late challenge sent Kakuta into a somersault. He wasn't the same afterward, and was substituted at halftime. Bogus. 6.5

Nicolas Anelka
It's already been mentioned. What more need be said? The Frenchman was at his best - better than his best - on this day. 9.5

Played a pivotal role in our rise from the embers. Almost an auxiliary forward in the closing stages, even winning the penalty that sent most of us into a bemused uproar. Ruined it all by losing Ameobi for what proved to be the winner. Irritating. 6.5

Salomon Kalou
Eight minutes. That's all the enigma received. And now a quick letter to our favorite winger: Dear Salomon, I hope your thigh - the one that sent you to the floor reeling early in the second half - is not shredded. Cheers, bro. N/A

Josh McEachran
Have you ever seen such a cameo? Stunning. Simply stunning. 8.5

Bonus: The man of the hour. KTBFFH


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