It had been a relatively quiet week at Newcastle United.
More than likely because we are approaching the middle of January, so takeover talk will slow down as we get closer to the end of the month. Also because it is January, there were no new signings to announce, or even appear to be on the horizon. We will have to wait for 31 January to be treated to a loan signing. Who is it going to be this year?
I can’t stand Chelsea. Of all the teams in the Premier League, especially the ‘bigger’ sides, Chelsea are the ones who I never like to see do well.
It may still be the hangover of the game yet to wear off, but I would go as far as saying I dislike them more than Sunderland… maybe.
Nevertheless, an away day in the capital makes for a good day of drinking from pub to pub. On this particular day it provided me with a chance to meet up with my family who had travelled down to the game, as well as members of the London Magpie Group.
The only surprise that came in Rafa’s squad was that Sean Longstaff was to start. Although our injury crisis in the middle of the park was well documented, I still thought Rafa would opt against playing Longstaff, and instead throw Clark, Lejeune, or Schar in central midfield beside Hayden.
His decision was totally vindicated because Sean Longstaff had a great game.
We finally made it in the game after being searched and manhandled by four Chelsea stewards. Same sh.. every year at Stamford Bridge.
Aside from a last minute short corner which left me hurling abuse at Matt Ritchie for a good 20 seconds, I came away from Stamford Bridge thinking there really wasn’t much more that Newcastle team could have given. In fact, for long periods of the game, I thought we had a good chance of getting a draw, maybe even sneaking a win.
Chelsea were poor, but after an early opening goal from Pedro, things looked ominous. My Rondon first goal bet was down the pan and I had a feeling it could be another high scoring defeat like we saw at Anfield.
The first goal seemed to happen in an instant with Sideshow Bob picking out a wonderful pass to Pedro. At first I thought Dubravka was caught in no-man’s land but really it was just a fabulous first touch and finish to put it past the on-rushing goalkeeper.
From that point onwards we found ourselves going up a gear with Lejeune playing really well, starting attacks off from the back, Yedlin offering a threat out wide, Rondon holding the ball up well and Isaac Hayden again giving 100% in the middle of the pitch.
Sean Longstaff may not have stood out to the naked eye, but when you consider that he made his first ever Premier League start up against (in my opinion) the best central midfielder in the world in Kante, the best player in the league in Hazard, as well as Kovacic and Jorginho, he didn’t put a foot wrong and can hold his head high.
Despite playing well, the equaliser still came as a shock to us all and pandemonium ensued in the away end. Sometimes when we are this bad, and there is no expectation, just a goal, one moment of ecstasy, is enough to make your day, and this was a good example.
We came out for the second half looking rather comfortable in truth. However, it only takes one moment of brilliance from one of Chelsea’s mega-signings to win them the game. Yedlin was poor in the second half, but even he, nor Dubravka, could do an awful lot about Willian’s finish.
From that point Chelsea saw the game out with relative ease, although on the day, they didn’t look up to much at all.
The only negative being it took Rafa until the 81st minute to make a positive substitution. However, I don’t think I have agreed with any subs he has made! Always a strange one for me.
It mystifies me why Chelsea fans hate this guy so much, especially after he won them the Europa League.
If ever a squad showed just how much Rafa has his hands tied behind his back, then it is this one. We will go into the game against Blackburn on Tuesday night probably resting Sean Longstaff for the weekend. We are now in a position in which we are relying on having a kid, who has started one league game, fit for the weekend.
Rafa has made it clear he will honour his contract, but there is just no way he will sign a new one, he’d be mad to do it.
Brilliant once again in a sold out away end which sang non-stop for 90 minutes.
As for the Chelsea fans, well they were silent, now there’s a surprise…
Rio Ferdinand’s a wa..er, pass it on…
Stats from BBC Sport:
Chelsea 2 Newcastle 1
Chelsea: Pedro 9, Willian 57
Newcastle: Clark 40
Possession was Chelsea 66% Newcastle 34%
Total shots were Chelsea 10 Newcastle 9
Shots on target were Chelsea 6 Newcastle 2
Corners were Chelsea 8 Newcastle 5
Referee: Chris Kavanagh
Dubravka, Yedlin (Manquillo 82), Lejeune, Lascelles, Clark, Ritchie, Hayden, Longstaff, Perez (Murphy 82), Atsu, Rondon
Woodman, Joselu, Schar, Fernandez, Sterry
(David Pleat reviews the match HERE)
(Instant NUFC fan/writer reaction to Chelsea 2 Newcastle 1 HERE)
(Match ratings and comments on all NUFC players v Chelsea HERE)
(Maurizio Sarri says his players thought it was too easy – Read HERE)
You can follow the author on Twitter @_jonathandc