Chelsea were punished for the numerous chances they missed as Isaac Hayden’s 94th-minute header gave Newcastle the win. Newcastle were strong in defence while Chelsea had a better attack. A draw would have been deserved by both sides. Chelsea’s inability to be clinical in front of goal was the ultimate reason for the result.
Frank Lampard made just one change to the team that started against Burnley with N’golo Kante coming in to replace Ross Barkley. The Frenchman had a key influence on the game and could have made it 1-0 with a clear one-on-one chance against Martin Dubravka but fired it straight at the keeper’s legs. Mason Mount had a better chance to shoot at goal but didn’t take it. Tammy Abraham almost got one when he slotted the ball past Dubravka but it was cleared off the line by Matt Richie, who came on early in the game to replace Jetro Willems.
The Magpies had their own chances when they hit the crossbar early on and had two other chances in the game before they scored in stoppage time. Cesar Azpilicueta was caught off guard for a throw-in and ended up in a Newcastle corner against the run of play. Willian’s clearance of the resultant corner found its way to Allan Saint-Maximin who found Isaac Hayden unmarked in the Chelsea box to guide it past Kepa Arrizzabalaga. Although it was a close-range header, the question could be asked if he could have done better there. Despite making some magnificent saves since his debut in England, there are still aspects that question his ability to be one of the world’s best.
Most of Chelsea’s 18 attempts were created by 20-year-old Reece James who just penned a new 5-year contract. He was instrumental to Chelsea’s attack until the 75th minute when he had to be withdrawn due to an injury as he limped off the field. The injury, if serious, would adversely affect Chelsea’s attack and defence in games to come. Emerson, who replaced Reece James, fired a shot from outside the box but it went slightly wide of the goal via a deflection. Willian zoned in and out of the game but couldn’t do anything significant except for shooting waywardly with his left foot.
On the other hand, Chelsea’s reliable trio of Mason Mount, Callum Hudson-Odoi and Tammy Abraham misfired causing Lampard to change two of the three players. Lampard has spoken about the game and has stated that ‘there’s only so much we can do in training’ and the players need to have a ‘killer instinct’ in front of goal. Despite staying away from the transfer market, games like these will force the manager to find new players to inject some motivation into the team.
St. James’ Park remains Chelsea’s haunting ground as it is the only stadium outside the ‘Big 6’ where the Blues have won less often in the Premier League. The Blues are 5 points clear of Manchester United ahead of their game against Liverpool. Next up is a Premier League home game against Arsenal on Tuesday.