Newcastle v Chelsea – The Most Complete Tactics, Stats and Analysis You’ll Find Anywhere
Newcastle 2 Chelsea 0
Saturday 2 November 12.45pm
Few Toon fans will have seen this result coming, with Newcastle United running out 2-0 winners against a full-strength Chelsea side. Jose Mourinho has a poor track record at St James’ Park and Alan Pardew, under considerable pressure from both fans and the press for a myriad of reasons – including a terrible performance in the Wear-Tyne derby – got his game plan spot on.
Chelsea made the long journey up to Tyneside knowing a win would have taken them top for the afternoon but it was not to be as Newcastle turned on the style in the second half and deservedly secured three points, despite seven of Newcastle’s starting 11 having played 120 minutes midweek.
With injuries still plaguing Taylor and Coloccini, Pardew welcomed back Mapou Yanga-Mbiwa who, after serving his suspension last weekend against Sunderland, put in a solid if unspectacular performance against Manchester City midweek.
Hatem Ben Arfa continued his exile on the bench as Pardew chose Ameobi as a target man rather than a false nine. Ameobi was to be flanked by Gouffran and Remy, the latter of which has been Newcastle most dangerous player by far this season. Cisse remained on the bench as his struggles for form in the Premier League continue.
In midfield Pardew kept faith with the high intensity and workrate trio of Sissoko, Tiote and Cabaye, with Anita once again missing out, despite his tidy work in midfield.
The only first team injury Chelsea had to deal with was the continued absence of midfielder Marko Van Ginkel who, likely as not, wouldn’t have played anyway. Key to the way Chelsea play is the three behind the striker and this week Mourinho chose Hazard, Mata and Oscar with Schurrle and Willian on the bench. Kevin De Bruyne didn’t make the squad.
Lampard and Ramires were chosen as the centre midfield pairing and David Luiz was preferred over Gary Cahill, despite Cahill ordinarily being first choice.
Both teams started slowly and it was a poor game for the neutral early on. Newcastle were happy for Chelsea’s back six to have possession (the top six passing combinations all included Chelsea’s defence and Cech). Torres was preferred to Eto’o in attack after pouncing on Hart’s error last week but the Spaniard lacked pace in behind, the only runs beyond the defensive line were attempted by compatriot Juan Mata – who was caught offside twice in the first half.
Newcastle’s defensive frailty at set-pieces was once again evident as John Terry nodded a Mata corner onto the bar and Ivanovic, playing at right back, attempting an audacious overhead kick to follow up but seeing that deflect off the top of the bar.
Newcastle were rattled early on and struggled to retain possession. Up to the 30th minute the men in black and white had only had 29% possession and when they did have the ball, they were giving it away far too cheaply with just 72% pass completion.
Alan Pardew admitted after the match part of the plan was to let Chelsea have the ball, at least in their own half (Chelsea’s centre backs had 95 touches each, by far the most on the pitch) but he would have preferred Newcastle’s first shot on target to come before the 37th minute. As it was, Sissoko broke into space (after Santon headed clear another Chelsea chance from a corner) and, with options on his right, chose to shoot for the near post and Cech comfortably made the save.
There were a number of slight, some would say soft, fouls in the first half as either side struggled to inject any tempo into the match. There was 12 fouls in all in the first 45 minutes, three conceded by Sissoko and two by Tiote as both midfielders attempted to get the correct balance between pressure and fouling.
Ramires, the only outfield Chelsea player to start every game so far this season, lived up to his billing as a workhorse in the middle of the park but both he and Lampard failed to offer any incisiveness going forward, meaning their front four often received the ball in pressure situations and without enough space to weave their not inconsiderable magic.
Cheick Tiote put in a very good defensive performance, once again looking back to his best – harassing Chelsea’s players and not giving them time on the ball. While there was further evidence he should leave the Hollywood passes to Cabaye, he at least didn’t get a chance to blaze a shot into Row Z.
It’s telling that in his 52 minutes on the pitch Tiote managed 59 touches of the ball, as many as Ramires, a player with a similar job description, got in 90 minutes. Lampard only had 52 before he was hauled off in the 70th minute. Tiote also had a higher pass accuracy, a massive 95% to Ramires’s 79%, albeit 36 of 39 were short passes.
Pardew has come in for criticism for shifting former defensive powerhouse (for Toulouse at least) out on the wing but Sissoko looked to be getting the hang of his new role against Chelsea and is developing a good relationship with Debuchy, who continued to bomb forward and offer more of an attacking outlet. Sissoko instead tucked in to hassle Oscar or pick up Hazard, who liked to drift inside.
CHELSEA LACK WIDTH
Chelsea’s attacking midfield three failed to work as a unit all game. Mata, who has struggled for minutes thus far this season, was on the wing with Jose Mourinho continuing to prefer Oscar in the central role.
Mata, never likely to beat Santon in a foot race, frequently drifted inside with Ivanovic overlapping on the outside. Crossing, however, isn’t he Serbian’s strong suit and despite getting forward often, he offered little-to-no threat.
Hazard provided width on the left of midfield and caused Newcastle much more trouble than Mata on the right. Hazard dribbled at Newcastle’s back line six times and, on a different day, could have won a penalty under the challenge of Debuchy. As the game went on though Hazard faded – he looked to pick up a knock at one point and never threatened again despite staying on the pitch. By the end of 90 minutes, Chelsea had attacked down the right a massive 46% (just 15% of their shots came from that side though, demonstrating the lack of success).
When Chelsea had prolonged periods of possession, Newcastle’s back four would defend very narrow, often just the width of the 18 yard box and allow the midfielders and strikers to stop too much danger coming into the box.
SUB CHANGES GAME
Stand in captain Tiote, who had played so well, was forced off with an injury in the 52nd minute and in his place came the diminutive, but technically adept, Vurnon Anita. Newcastle took off.
Despite not offering the same physicality as the Ivorian, Anita showed for the ball on numerous occasions and his link up play with the strikers was first rate. Ramires and Lampard appeared unable to adjust to the new threat. Anita and Debuchy worked well together to manufacture space for a wonderful through ball to Sissoko who could have scored, but for a fine Petr Cech save.
From the resulting corner Ameobi did well at the back post but Remy – who had seven shots all game – could only fire straight at Cech. Ameobi was brought off after a poor performance in which he only won 11% of aerial battles, gave away two fouls and didn’t get a single shot off.
Anita’s introduction brought the best out of on-loan striker Remy who had, up that point, looked thoroughly disinterested. In his 40 minute spell Anita found Remy four times on the pitch, three of which launched counter attacks and one was the assist.
CHELSEA TRY TO INJECT PACE
With Newcastle in the ascendancy and only cranking up the pace of the game, Mourinho looked to inject pace of his own into his listless attack. Off came Torres, who didn’t manage a single shot, gave away two fouls and managed 38% pass accuracy, in his place Samuel Eto’o.
Off came Mata at the same time, perhaps adjudged to have drifted inside once too often and not offered enough in defence (something Mourinho is desperate to instill in him). Willian came on as a more direct attacking outlet and one with more pace.
The changes didn’t instantly stop Newcastle’s attacking momentum however. Remy and Gouffran paired well together to put the latter one on one with Ivanovic, Cech once again got down well to save at his near post.
Newcastle’s persistence with diagonal aerial passes paid off when Ashley Cole gave away a soft foul on Sissoko. After a word or two in his ear from Pardew, Cabaye delivered the ball on a plate for Gouffran to nod home. It was no less than he deserved with Gouffran once again putting in a monumental defensive shift (he made four interceptions, blocked two crosses and had an average position almost level with Debuchy).
NEWCASTLE GET LUCKY
Not long after the goal Mourinho made another offensive switch. On the 70th minute Lampard came off for Schurrle (who made just seven touches in his 20 minutes) with Chelsea now in a 4-1-4-1 formation. Oscar, who put in a great defensive shift (he made five tackles, level with Terry as the most on the pitch) had to drop deep to pick up the ball on numerous occasions from then on.
Chelsea came back into it for 10 minutes, Eto’o having a shot blocked before, on the 80th minute, Debuchy made the most important block of the game, saving a certain goal with his knees as Eto’o followed up from a Willian shot. It was a remarkable bit of defending that capped off a terrific performance for the right back, who balanced attacking and defence well all game.
From the resulting corner Schurrle should have done better – Newcastle once again looked frail from a corner – and Toon fans were beginning to believe it might be their day. In an attempt to relieve pressure, Newcastle attempted through balls but were caught offside twice in quick succession. Pardew also brought on Obertan for goalscorer Gouffran in an attempt to stretch the game more.
Soon afterward Anita wriggled free of one challenge and skipped past another, then squared for Remy to finish with aplomb, leaving Cech flatfooted for the second time and leaving Newcastle with the three points.
It was Anita’s introduction which changed the game and Cabaye also performed very well but it was Debuchy, who played on Wednesday night, who put in a 90 minute shift of excellence.
He made three tackles, the most for any Newcastle player, got 63 touches of the ball, the second most, and managed to not give a single foul away when faced with one of the best wingers in the league. He showed determination, strength in the tackle and composure, expertly dealing with at least one ball over the top.
His 80th minute block topped off a performance to be proud of, which also included three interceptions, 10 clearances and one rather iffy shot. No one’s perfect.
Some Newcastle fans will have to eat humble pie following this spectacular result. Pardew got his tactics spot on, ceding both territory and possession in the first half before allowing his players to roar back into it in the second.
Chelsea were poor, looking tired and unmotivated while Newcastle performed very well to sap creativity and guile out of what is ordinarily a very dangerous attack.
NUFC are in the middle of a tricky run of games with Tottenham away next weekend likely to prove incredibly tough. Coloccini is likely to be fit by then but having kept a clean sheet against a side with an attack as potent as Chelsea, the back four may well stay as it is.
Newcastle: Krul, Debuchy, Mapou, Williamson, Santon, Sissoko, Tiote (Anita 53), Cabaye, Gouffran (Obertan 84), Shola (Cisse 62), Remy
Unused Subs: Elliot, Tavernier, Sammy Ameobi, Ben Arfa
Chelsea: Cech, Ivanovic, Terry, Luiz, Cole, Ramires, Lampard (Schurrle 70), Mata (Willian 62), Oscar, Hazard, Torres (Eto’o 62)
Ref: Lee Mason
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