Newcastle United v Chelsea – Where To Start?
Where to start? Newcastle United today put in the best home performance of the season (not hard admittedly), in a fashion that suggests we will climb away from the relegation scrap in style. Chelsea were sent back as hoped on the wrong end of a 3-2 defeat and a 90th minute winner. Does it get any better?
Questions were there to be asked of our team today, we have a woeful home record this season – only topped by Wigan Athletic for the number of losses. Newcastle had been full of flair and dash as they overcame Villa through the week but tired badly towards the end of that game. Could Newcastle’s new look team of Cavaliers answer the questions that would be posed by a far superior team than Villa?
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Chelsea, although in a small amount of self-imposed turmoil themselves, offer a supreme threat on the road. Barring the absence of Hazard, Benitez wheeled out his big guns today. John Terry returned to the fold following an absence through injury, add him to Lampard and historically with those two in the team, Chelsea rarely lose. Not to mention the returning Demba Ba, he once of Black and White persuasion, now newly turned to the dark side. He with a point to prove like all ex-players looking to twist the knife that little deeper.
However, Newcastle United were exactly that – United. They were up for it from the beginning and put in the sort of display that makes your heart pound with pride. The lads with only two Englishman in the starting XI; snapped into tackles, hustled, harried and were clever on the ball when they had possession. No daft long punted balls aimlessly lofted from the back (Williamson didn’t even make the bench), but movement, interchanges, spinning into space. This all sounds simple stuff but has been sadly lacking and NUFC have shown a real lack of ideas when presented with a tough nut to crack. Make no bones, CFC are a tough nut, yes they are conceding goals, but they have so much quality they can punish any team at the other end.
When the team news emerged, I along with many others questioned Jonas’ inclusion. Many feel he is fortunate to be in the team due to a lack of quality end product; be that crossing, goals or killer assists. In truth he has never brought that but Pardew remains loyal and if fit seems to have a place in his first XI. Should Marveaux stay fit for a run of games, that may test this theory, but today Jonas put in another 100% performance, but this time topped it with a fantastic headed opening goal.
This was a stunning team goal, and just reward for a tireless first half performance – and timed perfectly (so I thought). It came in the 41st minute when Cabaye drilled a lovely ball out wide to Santon. Davide as is his norm, cut in onto his right and swung in a great ball from the left into the box. Who was there to rise like a salmon that would have had Big Al himself smiling but Jonas Gutierrez! He leapt above the statuesque defence and nodded a perfect header into the right hand corner of the net. Cech did not even dive such was the quality of the finish. Get in lad! Cisse spurned a couple of chances and Cabaye struck a few long range efforts.
Yohan Cabaye (everybody knows his name) was the conductor of his very own black and white orchestra. Make no mistake, everybody danced to his tune and not a beat was missed. We were well worth the lead. The only real chance of note fell to you have guessed it – Ba who drilled a right footed effort at Timmy Krul, who saved well, but it looped back up to the head of Ba who bravely headed the ball towards goal but thankfully it fell just wide. This in no small part was due to Captain Colo nearly volleying Ba’s nose into the net as he leant into head it. Poor lad, nose squashed – withdrawn. Shouldn’t laugh like but a little snigger is permitted! Purely accidental it must be said. It’s moments like that when you start to think, “is this our day?”.Now the fun begins.
Newcastle have taken the lead against a number of teams this season and not been able to hold out, not just for a draw but just as often being completely turned over. Stoke, Everton and Reading spring to mind. Here we are, one up at half time, can we hold on? Well NUFC bless them are not a team that goes one up and then parks the bus. Not like the Liverpool teams of old, or George Graham’s boring Arsenal, or indeed Mourinho’s Chelsea. In days gone by, you let in the first to them you might as well go home.
If we tried to park the bus we would probably park it in front of the wrong goal such has been our disarray this season! But would we ever swap it? Might live a bit longer if we did! In true Newcastle style after performing so well we conceded not one, but two goals, to go behind in a game that we should never have been behind in. Gutted, and that sinking feeling crept in. Bloody Groundhog Day! Not today.
To be fair they were both fantastic goals from two fantastic players. The first a long range dipping scud missile from Frank ‘Duck face’ Lamps who nearly burst the net. You have to hold your hands up to goals like that. But the lads did not fold and kept attacking with intent, Sissoko getting stronger and stronger as the game went on. More about him later. The second goal NUFC conceded was another superlative finish from Mata, a left foot first time curler from the right of the box into the top left corner. Another worldy of which you cannot do much about.
Again the lads remained resolute and with their new found spirit it was one for all and all for one from our trio of Norman aces. People are comparing Sissoko to Vieira, I don’t think that is a fair comparison – on Vieira! This guy is a colossus. People have creamed their pants about Yaya Toure, to me this guy looks every bit as good and more. I think he is quicker. The way he was bursting down both wing channels, breezing past Cole on one occasion, and Ivanovic the next he reminded me of an ex Toon legend and midfield magician Paul Gazza Gascoigne. Honestly, that is how good I think this lad is. In my mind he has won us the last two games and was the absolute pivot around which Newcastle’s engine room rotated.
It was breathtaking as Cisse cleverly controlled and clipped the ball out to Gouffran galloping down the left on yet another blistering counter attack. He took it in his stride and raced in on goal before unleashing a fierce left footed drive of which Cech could only parry. But who had made another lung busting run to keep up with play? You guessed it, our magnificent “7” again, Moussa Sissoko to calmly tap into an unguarded net.
The last number 7 we had who scored goals for fun from midfield was Robert Lee, bought for a not too dissimilar fee from Charlton, albeit 20 years apart. If Moussa turns out to be anything like Bobby Lee – we will all have a new hero. This equaliser was most certainly good timing. Chelsea had not been allowed to settle in their lead and strangle the life out of the game.
Nerves could have easily kicked in for our boys but backed by an unbelievable crowd we continued to pour forward looking for the winner. The fact it came in the 90th minute was remarkable and for us this time! The team ran and celebrated en masse with Pards, JC and his staff. The roof of SJP has since been spotted orbiting the planet after having been lifted off! All in all the perfect day, a good old fashioned Saturday match and 3pm kick off, followed by sending the cockney team back home with nowt. Oh yes and the Mackems lost too! Let us savour the moment!
Next up is Spurs away Saturday dinner time, Live on Sky. Bring it on! HTL
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