Maurizio Sarri achieved something no other Chelsea manager had managed in these past seven years.

After four defeats and a draw since 2011, the blues took all three points back to London.

Despite dominating possession, the new Chelsea boss believes that playing at St James Park will be difficult for any team this season.

As for the much talked about tactics, Maurizio Sarri admitted he was very surprised, as he’d never seen Rafa Benitez play with a back five in Italy. At Napoli and Inter Milan, I think Rafa had a few more quality options than what he was faced with on Sunday…

I must admit that like a fair few foreign managers coming into English football these days, such as Klopp and Guardiola (plus Rafa of course), I like Sarri’s style.

Obviously he has shown he wants to always try and play attacking football but off the pitch he comes across well.

Asked about Yedlin’s clash with Giroud just before the Newcastle equaliser, rather than automatically claim it was a foul, the Chelsea boss didn’t claim any outrage that play was allowe dto continue.

Likewise when asked about the penalty, rather than saying it was definitely a spot-kick, Maurizio Sarri simply said he was too far away to tell.

Not any consolation getting beat by a team with a decent manager of course but in the past it has been an extra annoyance when losing to certain clubs, you had the extra irritant of a manager moaning about every decision, no matter how ridiculous, even when they had won.

Maurizio Sarri:

Do you expect other teams to be so defensive against Chelsea?

“I don’t know. In Italy it was usual, of course not against Inter, Rome, Juventus but if we played against the last ten in the table, it was usual. I don’t know about here in England though.

“In Italy I have never seen Rafa play with five defenders and also so compact, so it was really very difficult.

“We needed to move the ball very fast and be patient.”

Were you angry with the apparent elbow on Giroud before the Newcastle goal?

“No.

“I thought only that it was the first time of our opponent of our box, it is impossible, was a bit unlucky, but I don’t know if it was an elbow or not. I was too far away.”

Did Giroud suffer?

“I don’t know.”

Pleased with the win in the end?

“We knew that here was a difficult game for us, for every team.

“Only in the last season Chelsea lost here, Manchester United lost here, Arsenal lost here.

“So I think it is not so easy to play here against this opponent.”

What did you think of the penalty decision?

“It is the same, I saw it from far away.

“The benches are on the line of the half, so for me it was really difficult for me to say if it was a penalty, the same for the action on the other side. I was about 50 or 60 metres, I am not able to say. I am not a referee and I don’t want to be a referee ever.”

A real test of character?

“I think so.

“To draw with five minutes to the end it would have been more difficult. I think that this team from a character point of view is a strong team.”

Hazard?

“I think he played very well.

“Maybe it would have been better for him to play 70 or 75 minutes but after the first goal Kovacic asked me to make the substitution.

“So it was impossible for him to rest.”

Stats from BBC Sport:

Newcastle 1 Chelsea 2

Goals

Newcastle: Joselu

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

Newcastle United:

Dubravka, Yedlin, Schar (Muto 79), Fernandez, Clark, Dummett, Ritchie, Ki, Diame, Murphy (Perez 73), Rondon (Joselu 62)

Unused Subs:

Darlow, Sterry, Longstaff, Atsu

Crowd: 51,791 (3,200 Chelsea)

(Alan Shearer finds result a ‘sickener’ – Read 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? How Newcastle fans voted HERE)

(Rafa Benitez gives post-match update on Shelvey and Lascelles injuries HERE)



  • SuperDesHamilton

    In Italy Benitez had Koulibaly, Hamsik, Mertens, Jorginho, Ghoulam, Insigne, Calljeon & Albiol.

    He’s got Diame, Schar, Joselu, Murphy & Ki here. I wonder why 🧐

    Also worth noting sarri was left a very good spine & squad to pick up where Benitez left off at

    • Kneebotherm8

      I think Sarri acknowledged that when he took over from Benitez..

  • Tony English

    Seems an honest bloke. Not sure about the Pulis style cap and cigarette eating though.

  • Rob

    Not blaming Rafa as we don’t have sufficient quality to go toe to toe with top 4.

    However, I don’t want to support a team that looks to kick the oppositions best players out the match and have a lone big man upfront without much if any support. If I wanted that I’d support a Pulis Stoke side one of warnocks concoctions.

    We have squad limitations but surely don’t need to resort to some of what we saw yesterday.

    city, Liverpool and Arsenal will find a way over 90 mins to score and when they do it tends to be game over.

    I had hoped Muto might have been a player with pace to start and support Rondon on a fast counter attack.

    • 1957

      Sub 20% possession will see you defeated 9 times out of 10 against any opposition… in the 5 minutes we pushed them back they looked vulnerable and we scored. Sadly we didn’t keep it up we just repositioned the bus.

      • Rob

        Yep we had a bus as plan A, B and C.

        Hard to watch us play like FA Cup minnows due to under investment.

        • steve

          I disagree, Plan B looked good once we conceded, unfortunately we reverted straight back to Plan A.

  • Kenny

    the blame lies at the door of the vermin Ashley, not Rafa

    • Tony English

      100% Kenny.