Drogba 38, Kalou 89, Sturridge 90+2
Sometimes you can trace the outcome of a game to an incident early on, even if it didn’t lead to a goal and so it was at St James’ Park when in the fourth minute Chelsea defender David Luiz pulled Newcastle striker Demba Ba to the ground on the edge of the area but was only shown a yellow card.
“No one wants to see teams reduced to 10 men,” we’re told “especially not the neutrals.” But more than that, neutrals like to see consistency from referees and the implementation of the laws of the game and in this case, with Luiz the last man and the incident in front of goal, a red card should have been shown.
Had the visitors lost a man, especially that early, this would have been a very different game and probably a very different result. As it was, it was incident-packed with Chelsea just deserving the win albeit with the score line being harsh on Newcastle.
If anything this was the worst performance from Alan Pardew’s team in a trio of league games which was supposed to test whether the start they’ve had was a fluke and they were second best throughout.
Ryan Taylor (without the support of the suspended Jonas Gutierrez in front of him) was particularly poor down the left but they were still in the game with a minute to go and hit the woodwork several times as well as drawing a number of fine saves from Peter Cech.
It was his counterpart, Tim Krul, in the Newcastle goal who had the standout game with a string of fantastic stops. After 14 minutes he saved a penalty from Frank Lampard after Yohan Cabaye tripped Daniel Sturridge in the area.
There was little Krul could do 24 minutes later when Cabaye was at fault again, letting Mata get free after receiving a contested (but rightly given) throw-in to cross for Didier Drogba, who beat James Perch – on for the injured Fabio Collocini – with a strong header.
The second-half continued in a similar vein with the teams trading chances but Chelsea always looking the most likely to win. With a minute to go and most watching, no doubt, wondering how the match was not 4-5, substitutes Fernando Torres and Salomon Kalou combined the seal the win for the visitors. To rub further salt into Newcastle’s wounds Sturridge grabbed a third three minutes later.
A second Premier League win and a second clean sheet in a row for Chelsea will be just the fillip they need after the fairly torrid few weeks they’ve endured. Such is the fickle nature of football, if they can get a result against Valencia on Tuesday the season will look very different for Andre Villas-Boas.
For Newcastle the result will leave a bitter taste, especially after the Luiz incident early on. Worse, though, is the fact that as well as losing Coloccini, Steven Taylor also limped off injured just after Chelsea’s second. The centre-back partnership has been ever-present this season and all of a sudden the threadbare nature of Alan Pardew’s squad is becoming all too apparent.
Newcastle (4-3-3): Krul, Simpson, Steven Taylor, Coloccini (Perch 27); Ryan Taylor; Guthrie Cabaye; Obertan; Lovenkrands (Sammy Ameobi 71) Ben Arfa (Shola Ameobi 45), Ba.
Chelsea (4-3-3): Cech, Ivanovic, Luiz, Terry, Cole; Ramires, Romeu, Lampard (Meireles 60); Sturridge, Drogba (Torres 78), Mata (Kalou 74).
Did you know… Newcastle have four more points now than they did at the same stage of the 2003/03 season, when they finished third.
Check out the Euro 2012 odds and get some tips on the European Championships betting.