Newcastle United held on for dear life as they stole a 2-0 victory from a shell shocked Chelsea at St. James’ Park. After a goalless first half, Newcastle dug deep in front of their home fans to find a loop hole in a reinforced and resolute Chelsea defence. The victory means that Newcastle United will displace Swansea City and move two places to 9th, one place behind Manchester United. This victory was indeed the perfect tonic for Alan Pardew after the past week’s disappointments- the 2-1 Tyne-Wear Derby loss and the 0-2 League Cup heart break against Manchester City.
Alan Pardew made 2 changes from the side that were left in tears in the League Cup tie against Manchester City, with Yohan Cabaye and Loic Remy coming in for Vurnon Anita and Pappis Demba Cisse respectively. Jose Murinho made a whole host of changes to his starting XI with Petr Chec, John Terry, Fernando Torres, Ivanovic, Ramires, Eden Hazard and Oscar making their return to the first team after the 2-0 League Cup victory over Arsenal in midweek. The previous meeting between the two was in February, when Newcastle walked away 3-2 victors from a closely fought battle at the same location.
Chelsea were the first off the blocks in the first half, after Jose Mourinho surprised many by starting both Oscar and Juan Mata together in midfield, which seemed to be a master stroke in the first half. Instead of flair, Alan Pardew opted for a physical XI consisting of Mike Williamson and Yanga-Mbiwa at the central defensive position, with the colossal Cheick Tiote employed in central midfield, clad in the captain’s armband despite the presence of 1st choice captain Yohan Cabaye. Shola Ameobi too made a start, with Pardew opting to go with Ameobi’s physical presence forward as well.
The first half saw Chelsea dominate the posession, with Newcastle playing second fiddle. Early in the first half, a defensive lapse allowed Chelsea captain John Terry to head towards goal, which was cleared off the line quite beautifully by Davide Santon. The similar chance fell for John Terry once more as Santon came to his side’s rescue again, keeping the match at level pegging. The right wing of Newcastle comprising of Moussa Sissoko and Mathieu Debuchy was the main source of attack for the home side in the first half, with the latter trying his hand at the long passes down the field, with the objective of picking up a header from the sharp Loic Remy or Shola Ameobi. As most of the strikers have been this season, Fernando Torres looked as sharp as ever and attacked the Newcastle goal with purpose, hence creating many a chance. The rain came down heavily on the St.Jame’s Park turf as the referee Lee Mason brought the first half stalemate to a close.
The second half began as Chelsea were ushered early to the pitch from the dressing room, as they began the second half with a flurry of chances. The first substitution came for the home team as captain Tiote made way for Vurnon Anita. After repeated attacks on the Chelsea goal by a rejuvenated Newcastle United, Newcastle finally broke the dead lock courtesy of a foul on Moussa Sissoko by Ashley Cole. This time, captain Yohan Cabaye stepped up and made sure that his free kick resulted in a Yohan Gouffran header into Petr Chec’s goal. Shell shocked, Jose Mourinho made his changes and brought on his rescue team- Samuel Eto’o, Willian and Andre Schurrle for Torres, Juan Mata and Frank Lampard respectively.
With a rejuvenated Newcastle, came a rejuvenated Loic Remy. The Frenchman organised several counter attacks and combined well with Sissoko and Cisse, hence making life absolute hell for John Terry and David Luiz. Mathieu Debuchy, who was perhaps the man of the match, made a clearance, which opened up Chelsea, only for Remy to be adjudged offside.
However, Remy would have his bitter sweet revenge, when Vurnon Amita crafted a lovely pass for the French international, who found the bottom corner courtesy of his magical left foot. Chelsea had a shot at redemption when Willian and Samuel Eto’o caught the Newcastle defence unawares with twin shots on goal, both blocked by Tim Krul and Mathieu Debuchy. After 5 minutes of stoppage time, the match came to a close at 2-0 in favor of the home side, and a frustrated Jose Mourinho stating in the press conference that his Chelsea side didn’t deserve to win.
From here, Newcastle United travel to White Hart Lane, as Newcastle would be looking to continue their form from today’s game to grad 3 points at North London the following week. As for Chelsea, they face West Bromwich Albion at home, a fixture wherein they would need to pick up the victory in order to keep the momentum going for this season.Published 02 Nov 2013, 21:20 IST