Joe Willock’s second half strike was enough to beat an out of form Chelsea side who struggled to create chances.
The first half was a scrappy affair full of tenacious tackling and pressing without either side producing too many moments of quality.
Newcastle buoyed by the home crowd and their strong form will feel they had the better moments during the half, such as Miguel Almiron’s volley which blasted over the bar early on.
Chelsea struggled to get out of their half thanks to Newcastle’s aggressive press, only mustering up one half chance for Armando Broja, who hit an effort straight at Nick Pope on the swivel.
Newcaslte had a penalty appeal turned down right on the stroke of half time, after the ball hit Trevoh Chalobah’s arm at close range, bringing an end to a forgettable first 45 minutes.
After the break Newcastle came out with renewed motivation, missing a gilt edged chance through Sean Longstaff.
Chelsea had to weather the Newcastle storm before producing a chance of their own, with Conor Gallagher’s sweeping effort well saved by Nick Pope after some good play from Christian Pulisic.
Newcastle responded to this effort almost immediately with Joe Willock slamming an effort past Edouard Mendy into the Chelsea goal, to give his side a deserved lead. Almiron was played in down the right and was looking to pull the trigger himself before laying it off to Willock who stroked it in from the edge of the box.
Chelsea tried to get back into the game, with Kai Havertz failing to convert from two half chances. Otherwise Newcastle saw out the game comfortably, moving up to third in the league and condemning Graham Potter’s side to a third straight league defeat.
Here is what Absolute Chelsea learned from the loss against Newcastle.
1) Injury woes continue
With Reece James, Kepa Arrizabalaga, Ben Chillwell, Wesley Fofana, N’golo Kante all long term absentees, and Raheem Sterling ruled out with an illness, more injury problems are something Chelsea cannot really afford presently. However, Ruben Loftus-Cheek pulling up in the 5th minute meant there was another addition to Chelsea’s injury list. It looked as though the recently fit again Kalidou Koulibaly may have come off in the second half too, yet he was able to continue. The World Cup may have come at a bad time for those injured, but it will allow Graham Potter some time to revive his team with some much needed fresh faces, when the season resumes in late December.
2) Struggling to play out from the back
After struggling against both Arsenal and Manchester City’s aggressive pressing in the last week, it was more of the same against Newcastle for Chelsea’s defenders. Chelsea have really struggled to get the ball out of their own half in recent matches against teams who don’t give them time to settle, which in turn has made it very difficult to build attacks and create chances. The injury of Kepa may be a contributing factor to this problem, as he is undeniably a more progressive passer than Mendy. Yet regardless of personnel, Chelsea must solve this issue soon if they are to start building up their form, as presently they are placing untenable amounts of pressure on themselves during games.
3) World Cup offers chance to Reset
With many questions being asked around the world about the practicality of hosting a World Cup in the winter, during the middle of the European season, Chelsea may be one of the few teams that are thankful to the unusual calendar. With four losses out of five and three including three consecutive defeats in the league, a break from football could not come at a better time for Graham Potter and his team. The World Cup break will give him a chance to reset, spend some much needed time on the training ground, communicating his ideas to his players and try to build more understanding with his players. The chance for many first team players to recover from injuries will also help Chelsea, who won’t have to face the gruelling festive period without a large chunk of the squad. It will be interesting to see how Chelsea respond after the World Cup with returning players and fresh ideas.
4) More minutes for Academy Stars
Despite the less than impressive performance, there were more useful minutes in the tank for academy graduates such as Lewis Hall, Armando Broja and Conor Gallagher. Unfortunately none of them were able to assert themselves on the game as much as they would have liked against a strong Newcastle side, but matches like this will act as learning curves for some of the younger players as they look to establish themselves in the Chelsea side. Some of Chelsea’s bigger stars haven’t been performing recently, so it is nice to see Graham Potter give younger players some minutes, even if it is only a small consolation for the poor results.
5) New Signings required?
With large amounts of money being spent in the summer, Chelsea’s new owners would have hoped to improve on last season's solid third place season, yet at this point in the season the Blues have regressed. Graham Potter has not had a transfer window at the club, and it will be interesting to see how much money he will get to spend in January to boost his faltering squad. Rumoured deals for RB Leipzig pair Christoper Nkunku Josko Gvardiol are allegedly close, whilst Rafael Leao, Moises Caicedo and Leandro Trossard are also linked. Whether Todd Boehly and co respond to this poor form with more cash or not remains to be seen, but it would not be a surprise to see one or two new faces in the door.
Featured Image Credit: Alamy