It didn’t take more than two seconds after the kick-off for Newcastle to reveal their cards and make it quite clear what they intended to do for the following 90 minutes: defend deep, waste some time, win cheap free kicks, and look to counter.
And so began the slog of Chelsea probing the massed ranks of the home side, who not only had all eleven in their own defensive third, but often as many as nine in their own box. Space was at a premium, both on the ground and in the air.
Chelsea did have the ball in the back of the net through Hakim Ziyech, but his goal was rightly chalked off for offside. At the other end, Christensen made a superb recovery tackle on Saint-Maximin on one of the rare times Newcastle crosses halfway.
The second half began much the same way the first ended, and it was Ziyech who again came close, after one of his long shots deflected off a defender but only onto the post rather than the back of the net.
The game started opening up a bit soon after, with a few yellows and a few openings handed out at either end. And then, almost immediately after making a couple substitutions, Chelsea would finally find the breakthrough, with Reece James hammering in a left-footed shot after collecting Hudson-Odoi’s cross.
Chelsea continued to press for a second goal, though with slightly less urgency than before, but got rewarded anyway as James hammered in a second, this time with his right. Jorginho then added a third from the spot after Havertz was tripped by the goalkeeper.
We were made to wait for it and certainly work hard for it, but that made the rewards of three goals and three points all the sweeter.
- Three changes from last weekend’s 7-0 against Norwich, two enforced with Mount a late scratch due to “illness” (Ziyech in) and Kovačić picking up a hamstring injury in training (Kanté in). Christensen for Chalobah the third change.
- RLC on for Kanté in midfield, Barkley playing up top after coming on for Ziyech; Saúl gets a few minutes at the end with Chelsea switching to 3-5-2
- Another clean sheet for Wingbacks FC
- Perfect day of football with Manchester City losing at home to Crystal Palace (0-2!) and Liverpool dropping two points against Brighton despite taking an early 2-0 lead
- Three-point lead at the top of the table!
- Next up: Malmö away on Tuesday