3 Positives and 3 Negatives from Newcastle 1 Chelsea 2
Sunday finished Newcastle 1 Chelsea 2.
A very different game, and result, from the match in May which rounded off the season so well.
A number of key players missing for Rafa Benitez, difficult decisions to make considering the options available.
Some very extreme stats came out of the game but the important one is that three goals eventually arrived in the final 15 minutes.
The Editor asked me beforehand to write about 3 positives and 3 negatives from the game.
New signings did well
I feared the worst when I saw the team, with the likes of Lascelles and Shelvey not being involved… plus obviously Kenedy missing too. It meant that there was a lot of pressure on the new signings Schar, Fernandez, Ki and Rondon to step up to the plate. On the whole, I thought the four of them did alright.
Of course Schar gave away a penalty, which was a harsh call, but I thought he did well over the ninety minutes, so too did Rondon.
Ki and Fernandez played a tad better in my opinion, giving a very good account of themselves. Fernandez, a big fella, looked quite commanding from centre half. While Ki, playing alongside Diame, did well defensively and looked the most likely of the midfield two to try and get forward and make something happen. Given the set-up it was always going to be hard for them, but on the whole I was really happy with how they did.
Joselu finding the back of the net again
I don’t think many fans would have predicted that Joselu would grab two goals against Tottenham and Chelsea at the start of the season. That is especially after a pre-season in which he failed to inspire many with his performances. Nonetheless, he has chipped in with two brilliant headers so far, the one against Chelsea yesterday certainly of note.
He may not be the long-term option this season, as I am sure Rafa will settle with Rondon at some point, but if he keep scoring goals, and chipping in then it is the perfect problem to have. I would start him against Nottingham Forest to give him another chance to get on the scoresheet and keep his confidence up.
More media attention
The media spotlight has been shining on Newcastle again in the past couple of weeks. The vast majority of people are probably sick of the comments from the likes of Wise, Gray etc but I think it is so important that we are at least being talked about.
It is imperative that these issues are kept in the public spotlight, so that they are advertised to not only national but global audiences. Regardless of what side of the Ashley fence you sit on, simply having the conversation about Mike Ashley, Sports Direct etc is exactly what he doesn’t want in my opinion. Newcastle are on TV again against Nottingham Forest, and then away to Manchester City, which can only bring more spotlight and attention to what is going on at the club. In this instance, I think all publicity is good publicity.
Now, I am one of those fans that simply can’t abide Rafa’s tactics against Chelsea which I found to be very similar to the ones he played at home to Manchester City last season.
A couple of points I want to make;
That does not mean I want him to play attacking football against Chelsea.
There are a few people saying “oh this is what got us to 10th last season” – it’s not.
We would get pumped 5-0 if we played any different? Again, that is just not true.
If I was manager (which I am obviously not – but I am a supporter) then I would be defensive against Chelsea, getting men behind the ball etc. This is how Rafa played against Spurs on the opening day, and how he played against Manchester United, Arsenal and Liverpool at home last season. This I have no qualms with at all.
What I do have an issue with, which I reiterated after the Man City game last season, is any Newcastle manager, regardless of the opposition, setting up his side not to try and win, or for that matter not even making an attempt to cross the halfway line. I just don’t think it is right and I don’t think it needed to be done.
Last bit on the subject too. That doesn’t mean I dislike Rafa, or have anything against him. I love him, he is the best thing to happen to this club for a good while, and probably the only positive thing about the club at this moment in time. Fans have to be able to question the manager. Not because they know better, not because they are entitled, but because that is football.
We all have to be pulling in the same direction, and that includes supporting the team and supporting the manager unwaveringly. However, this notion from some sections of the support that any fans questioning Rafa’s tactics in a game are somehow idiots, or less fans than they are, can go and do one for all I care!
Hard to see where the points are going to come from in near future
It has been a tough start. We really should have picked up three points against Cardiff last weekend, as it would have provided the squad with just a little bit of breathing space. Instead they head to Man City with just a little bit of pressure on, as although we know we won’t get anything, the longer the team goes without winning at the start of the season, the more questions are naturally asked. With City and Arsenal up next it doesn’t look great. Yet, we know we can beat Arsenal, especially at home.
I fear that the pressure to pick up three points going into the Palace game could be too much. I hope I am wrong! Football should teach us that there is always the chance to pull off a shock somewhere, lets hope it is on Saturday!
Strength in depth
It may sound a tad hypocritical given my praise of the new signings – but the squad on Sunday looked paper thin. Rafa made reference to having quite a few players out, but the bare bones of it is, that if you take away Lascelles and Shelvey, there really isn’t much there to work with.
The subs bench highlighted that. There is nothing we can do about it. We know who is to blame, and as Rafa says, we just have to get on with it.
What I am in no doubt about, is that regardless of how weak the squad is, I am sure that Benitez will get the absolute maximum out of them over the course of the season. If the results don’t go our way, it certainly won’t be because of a lack of effort on behalf of the manager or the players.
Stats from BBC Sport:
Newcastle 1 Chelsea 2
Chelsea: Hazard 76 (Pen), Yedlin 87 (OG)
Possession was Chelsea 81% Newcastle 19%
Total shots were Chelsea 15 Newcastle 6
Shots on target were Chelsea 3 Newcastle 2
Corners were Chelsea 5 Newcastle 4
Referee: Paul Tierney
Dubravka, Yedlin, Schar (Muto 79), Fernandez, Clark, Dummett, Ritchie, Ki, Diame, Murphy (Perez 73), Rondon (Joselu 62)
Darlow, Sterry, Longstaff, Atsu
Crowd: 51,791 (3,200 Chelsea)
(Alan Shearer finds result a ‘sickener’ – Read HERE)
(Match ratings for NUFC players from one of our writers HERE)
(Instant NUFC fan/writer reaction to Newcastle 1 Chelsea 2 – Read HERE)
(Was Rafa Benitez right to use such negative tactics considering players he had available and quality of opposition? Vote HERE)
(Rafa Benitez gives post-match update on Shelvey and Lascelles injuries HERE)
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