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Needless to say, we had the last laugh – Newcastle 4 Chelsea 1

3 months ago
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It was a bit of a strange one heading into this. Everyone was surely delighted with a standard Saturday 3pm, finally returning to St James’ Park  for the first time since the fair and unquestionable victory over the fine sportspeople of Arsenal three weeks ago.

Back to back defeats at Dortmund and Bournemouth had made the season look a bit less promising in the meantime, but surely the biggest downer on everyone’s mind, was the crippling injury list.

There’s always hope with Eddie Howe’s tight-lipped press conferences that a surprise might be lurking, as he pretends not to have spoken to anyone about the availability of certain players and it will be as much a surprise to him as anyone, if said person were indeed to make the squad anytime before the clocks go back, then BAM! That bloke starts, looks fully fit and plays a blinder.

Today we were stricken by the nauseating other side of this coin as Joe Willock was omitted from the squad entirely.  A recurrence of the Achilles injury that has plagued him for what feels like best part of a year making for very bad news, as it doesn’t feel like one that can be run off in time for next weekend.

Lewis Miley it was then, who followed up his maiden PL start with a first at SJP. The boy looks a talent, but you had to wonder about whether he was going to be over exposed against a midfield filled with international experience, that cost a mere £227 million to assemble (and that includes Conor Gallagher who came through their system). Thank god the authorities are stepping in to stop financial shenanigans from the likes of Everton.

Miley was a relative old head when you had a look at bench, with the untested trio of Amadou Diallo, Alex Murphy and Michael Ndiwnei promoted from the U21s to sit alongside no less than three keepers. I did raise the question with my mates as to whether anyone could imagine a scenario where Mark Gillespie ended up on the pitch here, then instantly regretted tempting fate with our recent luck.

I wonder how much this miserable and unfortunate series of events affected the crowd, as we’ve suddenly become used to flocking into St James’ full of confidence. Chelsea’s recent return to some semblance of form (thrashing Spurs before a spectacular draw with Man City) added to the mood. The return of Isak countered this, but this was diluted by fear of him getting injured, along with anyone else to be fair.

Anyway, it may have been the presence of Isak or the benefit of the international break, but this was a lot more vibrant from the off than the jaded, miserable business that occurred at Bournemouth. United looked up for it and Bruno in particular set the marker for a trademark dominant performance that belied the fact he’d been playing on the other side of the world in the small hours of Wednesday morning. As for Miley, the performance he produced was mature and impressive enough without considering he was directly opposite a £107m World Cup winner in the absolutely pocketed Enzo Fernandez. Miley would show this with a key contribution first half, officially becoming NUFC’s youngest Premier League assister.

Trippier’s floated cross was just a tad behind Gordon, who was sent wide but recovered to steam back towards the centre and aim for Joelinton, who’s terrible touch sent the ball to Miley. With everyone around him all up-a-height, the youngster calmly played a perfectly weighted pass through the Chelsea defence to find a slightly surprised Isak in position to turn and finish smartly past Sanchez. Fully deserved and hopefully an early sign that the Swede is 100%.

Alexander Isak Goal Celebration Newcastle

IMAGO/Sportimage

The bubble was almost burst quickly as Gordon slipped horribly off the ball and went down in a heap as we all feared the worst. He was fine, but had no sympathy for fellow slippee Thiago Silva who managed to fluff the ball out of play during his own pratfall, while young Anthony appeared to point and laugh.

There was a moment of bubble deflation to be honest, as Chelsea found an equaliser within ten minutes. Lascelles was caught in possession horribly by Sterling, who broke ominously then went down easily under the desperate attentions of Trippier. I wondered if playing for a free kick was the best bet with Cole Palmer seemingly available to play in, but this was not Raheem Sterling’s first rodeo, and he lashed an impressive free kick over the wall and past the stranded Pope. This led to an hour of booing for his dive and rightly so.

Trippier delivered an excellent corner over the Chelsea defence and onto the head of Joelinton at the back post, but Joe repeated his awful trick of messing up headed chances from extremely close range, finding the Leazes end when the net was the correct option. Tripps then stepped up again from the set plays, hitting a magnificent free kick which smacked the bar before bouncing out, when down into the net would again have been a lot nicer.

There were even moments at the other end, with Pope at his brilliant best saving at full stretch from Fernandez, then a tad less brilliant when his awful clearance went straight to Gallagher, who complemented it with an equally terrible effort on goal. Half time and breathe.

I have to confess my concern was that the visitors would have a lot more options from the bench as the game entered its final stages. So it was just splendid that we spent 90 seconds putting the result to bed around the hour mark.

First, a bit of karma on Sterling, as his careless push on Trippier (and subsequent ball booting) got him booked and earned a free kick wide on the right. Newcastle worked this brilliantly, quickly moving it across to the left and letting the defence drift out, before Gordon delivered an outstanding ball onto the head of the criminally unmarked Lascelles, who bulleted it in for his first goal since Eddie Howe’s absent debut against Brentford over two years ago.

This was potentially an advantage we could hold for the remaining half hour but people had other ideas. From the kick off the legendary high press had Chelsea panicking and it was a bit mind boggling to see a player of the undoubted pedigree of Thiago Silva make such a hash of things, miscontrolling the ball under pressure from Joelinton (better tie up your laces and don’t trip). Joe steamed into the box and the finish was a moment to savour as he lashed it past Sanchez with a satisfying thunk of the net. Chelsea looked done and we could maybe start game managing for Paris.

That press would come into effect again as Chelsea’s ill advised attempts to play out from the back saw James under pressure from Gordon, which saw him concede possession then commit a clumsy foul. A second yellow followed, although at the time I had no idea that the first had been for a petulant incident of booting the ball away after United were awarded a benign free kick in the first half.

Reece James Chelsea

This sending off was made sweeter when evidence emerged of him gloating a few years back when the previous incarnation of Chelsea that was relatively competent beat the previous incarnation of Newcastle that existed to advertise budget sportswear. Needless to say, we had the last laugh.

The rest of the game was great fun. Schar did one of his mad drives forward and Sanchez just denied him another worldie. Isak, Almiron, Gordon and Lascelles were all protected a bit with substitutions and the previously mentioned untried youngsters got themselves on for a triple debut.

This was made easier by the fact we had hit 4-1 by this point. Almiron’s dink over the top with the outside of his foot to set Gordon away was a thing of beauty, but there were still two defenders between his run and the goal. Gordon steamed in and found an opening between Thiago Silva and Badiashile to finish across Sanchez and into the opposite corner.

This was again shoddy stuff from the Blues at the back. My thoughts by now had turned to the quick rematch at Stamford Bridge in a mere 24 days. A repeat of this display would see us move to within very real range of winning the league cup and today’s events were very encouraging in that direction. However, there are six massive fixtures occupying that small space of time and the conspiracy of fates against us needs to cease and desist a bit if this prospect is to become any sort of reality. If the walking wounded start to filter back then the ominous list ahead could form part of a Merry Christmas, but any further distress of this kind will just be too cruel.

It is a massive testimony to Eddie Howe’s coaching and the squad approach we have, that this team is so capable in such difficult circumstances. A once feared opponent successfully despatched with one hand tied behind the back.

Hopefully a repeat of that sentence next weekend but next up the almighty challenge of PSG as we look to breathe life into a faltering Champions League campaign. Tall orders everywhere we turn, but if anyone can, it’s Eddie’s Mags…

You can follow the author on Twitter @Mr_Dolf

Stats via BBC Sport:

Newcastle 4 Chelsea 1 – Saturday 25 November 3pm

Goals:

Newcastle United:

Isak 13, Lascelles 60, Joelinton 61, Gordon 83

Chelsea:

Sterling 23, James 73 red card

(Half-time stats in brackets)

Possession was Chelsea 45% (44%)  Newcastle 55% (56%)

Total shots were Chelsea 7 (6) Newcastle 14 (6)

Shots on target were Chelsea 4 (4) Newcastle 5 (1)

Corners were Chelsea 2 (2) Newcastle 4 (1)

Referee: Simon Hooper

Attendance: 52,227 (Chelsea 3,000)

Newcastle team v Chelsea:

Pope, Trippier, Lascelles (Dummett 86), Schar, Livramento, Bruno, Lewis Miley (Diallo 90+2), Joelinton, Almiron (Alex Murphy 87), Gordon (Ndiweni 90+2), Isak (Ritchie 81)

SUBS:

Dubravka, Gillespie, Karius, Parkinson

(One Chelsea starter and two subs cost more than all 20 Newcastle United players – Read HERE)

(The photo that all Newcastle United fans will absolutely love… See HERE)

(Newcastle 4 Chelsea 1 – Instant NUFC fan / writer reaction – Read HERE)

(By then a lot of the Chelsea fans had also departed… Read HERE)

(Newcastle United smash Chelsea at St James’ Park – Newcastle 4 Chelsea 1 – Read HERE)

Newcastle United confirmed matches to mid-January 2024:

Tuesday 28 November 2023 – PSG v Newcastle (8pm) TNT Sports

Saturday 2 December 2023 – Newcastle United v Man U (8pm) TNT Sports

Thursday 7 December 2023 – Everton v Newcastle (7.30pm) Amazon

Sunday 10 December 2023 – Tottenham v Newcastle (4.30pm) Sky Sports

Wednesday 13 December 2023 – Newcastle v AC Milan (8pm) TNT Sports

Saturday 16 December 2023 – Newcastle v Fulham (3pm)

Tuesday 18 December 2023 – Chelsea v Newcastle (8pm) Sky Sports

Saturday 23 December 2023 – Luton v Newcastle (3pm)

Tuesday 26 December 2023 – Newcastle v Forest (12.30pm) Amazon

Monday 1 January 2024 – Liverpool v Newcastle (8pm) Sky Sports

(Weekend of Saturday 6 January 2024 – FA Cup third round matches)

Saturday 13 January 2024 – Newcastle v Man City (5.30pm) TNT Sports

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