Newcastle 0-2 ChelseaEmbed from Getty Images
Chelsea’s comfortable win on Saturday keeps firm belief that Frank Lampard could win the League this year.
The West London side are becoming a fierce opponent to face, with a consistent defence and an expansive array of attackers. The score line makes the game look a lot closer than it was, and if it wasn’t for Magpies keeper Karl Darlow it could have been a cricket score.
Steve Bruce set up the Magpies in their usual 5-4-1 formation, which has brought him defensive stability. However, when a team like Chelsea press with intent and play with such a high line, it became more of an attack vs defence drill, with the Blues comfortably in charge.
A measly 29% possession for Newcastle after 90 minutes will not come as a shock, but Bruce will take what he can from this game and move onto their next game away at Crystal Palace with hopes of improvement.
Chelsea’s relentless pressure and direct attacking play was rewarded 10 minutes in, as Mason Mounts low cross was turned in by Newcastle defender Federico Fernandez. There were some desperate calls for a foul on the Argentinian, but after a VAR check the goal stood.Embed from Getty Images
Thiago Silva missing out due to injury will have concerned Chelsea fans, as the Brazilian has been instrumental in the defensive renaissance under Lampard. However, Antonio Rudiger stepped up when called upon and had a solid game, keeping a clean sheet.
Chelsea looked resolute at the back once again, new keeper Edouard Mendy has made a phenomenal start to his Chelsea career after being thrown in the deep end to fix the Kepa crisis. The Senegalese international has kept four clean sheets in his five appearances and is yet to lose in his new team. He marshalled the backline well and helped start phases of attack from the back.
Chelsea’s new striker Timo Werner went in at half time frustrated, after being denied goals by Darlow on multiple occasions. With the former Leipzig player, it feels as if we are yet to see his full potential in England. However, Chelsea fans keep catching glimpses of this man’s potential and it is only positive looking forward for him.
Perhaps the most exciting part of Chelsea’s side is their fullbacks, Ben Chilwell and Reece James. The two England internationals are building a fantastic relationship, and after seeing the benefits of a cohesive fullback pairing with Liverpool last season, Lampard will be happy to have found these two exciting players under his wing at Stamford Bridge.Embed from Getty Images
Many fans wondered how last season’s top goal scorer Tammy Abraham would fit into the mould this year, with the signing of Werner. Lampard has deployed Werner and Ziyech as old school inside forwards, cutting into their stronger feet respectively, giving middleman Abraham plenty of service going forward.
This was epitomised 65 minutes in as Werner burst through flailing legs towards goal, where he had the composure and selflessness to slip Abraham in who tucked away his chance neatly.
Newcastle did have some fight in the second half as they went from 5-4-1 to 3-4-3 and tried to get back into the game. However, after the second goal the wind was knocked out of them, and Chelsea ensured there would be no late goals.
The rest of the game was routine for Lampard’s men. Chelsea set up and held the ball whilst still knocking on the door for another goal. Newcastle’s only shout of the game came from midfielder Sean Longstaff, who had a pot shot from 35-yards-out rattle the crossbar, completely beating Mendy.
Newcastle fans will feel deflated after Saturday’s loss. There was no intent of going at the big team and giving them a game, until it was too late. It was a question of damage limitation, something no fan likes to see from their side.
It would appear as if the players are becoming a team under Lampard. If Chelsea fans were to cast their minds back to September when they lost to Liverpool, the gulf in performance is incredible. Players are finding their feet in their preferred positions and there is a clear cohesion between the West London side.Embed from Getty Images
In the post-match interview, Lampard reiterated his sides need for consistency. This factor has been the difference for Chelsea being a decent side or a title contender. If Chelsea can dig out these wins home and away, there is no reason they cannot lift silverware this year.
There is not much Newcastle can take away from Saturday’s defeat. Bruce even admitted in his post-match interview his side were far too deep in the first half, and got off to an awful start:
“We conceded early for the fourth or fifth time this season, which is not healthy in the Premier League. We have to address that. We went far too deep in the first half which is always a problem, when you try to play that way.”
This win was important for Chelsea in a few ways. Firstly, it brought Lampard his first managerial win away at St James’ park, after last seasons 1-0 defeat. Similar to Sheffield United last weekend, Lampard is eager to shirk any shackles of last year and turn more one points into three.
This will also give the Blues the confidence they need to go into next Saturday’s game. Lampard comes up against old boss Mourinho once again, however this time the stakes are even higher.
This fixture will not be a simple teacher vs apprentice. With no clear runaway leader, this game could be seen as one of the first important matches in shaping this campaigns title race.
With Spurs beating Manchester City, the pressure is on both managers to keep their winning form going, and we can only expect a classic London derby this Saturday, in what will be a huge chance for one side to assert themselves as serious title challengers.