Due to the absence of first choice central midfield pair Kevin Nolan and Cheik Tiote the team selection for Chelsea took on an experimental look. Joey Barton moved inside to partner the versatile Ryan Taylor as the duo’s replacements. In another experiment Peter Lovenkrands moved out onto the wing with Argentinean Jonas Gutierrez deployed in the hole behind the lone striker. The changes did not cause too much of a problem with the team providing a spirited resistance despite having their backs to the wall for much of the game. They showed character after coming back from conceding a very early goal against one of English football’s top teams.
A lack of alternatives in the squad provided an opportunity for some of the club’s young players to make their mark. Irishman Shane Ferguson made a rare start on the left wing and produced another mature performance. His pace and skill down the left provided an outlet when Newcastle were short of options in attack. Later in the game Kazenga Lua Lua and Sam Ameobi were both introduced from the bench, both following in the footsteps of their more recognised older brothers by representing the club. The younger Ameobi has impressed for the reserves this season and joined his brother on the pitch for the first ever time. There may be another opportunity to make a name for themselves in the final game of the season against West Brom.
Newcastle left back Jose Enrique has denied claims he is in negotiations with Liverpool to move away from St James’ Park. The Spaniard has been linked with a move to Merseyside regularly for the past few months with his future in doubt. In an interview with Radio Marca he said: “Liverpool is a big club but I am not negotiating with them at the moment, I am calm at Newcastle. My dream is to play for the Spain national side and I think that I have a chance. I have improved as a footballer since my arrival to England.” Enrique was back to his very best against Chelsea producing a classy display against highly rated opponents. If he does depart in the summer then Pardew will have a huge void to fill in his absence.