Chelsea go top of the league – for a few hours at least – after an early own goal and a second half strike from Tammy Abraham made for a relatively comfortable afternoon for Frank Lampard’s men.
A late return from international duty for Thiago Silva meant Antonio Rudiger made his first start of the season whilst Kai Havertz and Christian Pulisic were once again sidelined.
You would be forgiven for going into this game thinking it could be a real struggle, given a torrid run of one win in seven games at St James’ Park. Every player in the starting XI were away with their national teams and Newcastle had a full week to prepare. Lampard had already expressed his concern with the early kick off, so things very much seemed to be going against us before a ball was even kicked.
However, any early fears were quickly eased as Chelsea asserted their dominance creating early chances for both Werner and Abraham who drew smart saves from Karl Darlow.
The deadlock was broken just ten minutes into the game as a Mason Mount cross was converted into his own net by Federico Fernandez. There was a VAR check for a push by Chilwell but there was nothing in it and the goal stood.
Chelsea kept pushing after the goal as Newcastle struggled to get out of their own half. Many chances came and went for The Blues and in all honestly we should have gone in at the break three, maybe even four goals up. The biggest opportunity fell to Timo Werner after being set up by Abraham, but he dragged his shot wide when he really should have scored.
Newcastle finally got a little bit of joy going forward, but still failed to get a shot on Mendy’s goal. This did give them a bit of confidence though, with Chelsea showing some complacency in their passing towards the end of the half.
A change at half time for Newcastle saw Fabian Schar replace Jamal Lascelles but it was the Swiss centre back’s partner Fernandez who almost cost his side another goal after Werner caught him on the ball giving him a clear run at goal, but the striker squandered another chance as he tried to put it on a plate for Ziyech but failed to connect properly and the ball was easily cleared.
Timo Werner made up for his earlier misses with a brilliant assist to set up Tammy Abraham for his third goal in three games. The German picked the ball up deep in his own half and just ran at the Newcastle defence skipping past two players with ease. He then cleverly picked out Abraham in acres of space, who then slotted the ball past Darlow to effectively put the game to bed.
It was yet another goal contribution for Timo Werner showing that despite missing some good chances, you can still count on him to score a goal or get an assist. He even had a goal disallowed just before he was subbed off, having just strayed offside.
In the last few minutes, Newcastle did see more of the ball, but it was a comfortable end to the game for Chelsea who climb to the top of the table.
From the outside, some may look at this result as Chelsea just beating another poor team, but it isn’t a win that we should underestimate. It was games like this last season which we struggled in the most, and three points against both Sheffield United and Newcastle isn’t something that should be overlooked, not only the victories but also the way in which we won. Another clean sheet is also something to be proud of, especially without Thiago Silva, as Mendy takes the lead in the race for the golden glove with four in five.
Lampard will be pleased with the performance and will go into a tough run of fixtures high on confidence. All players have come back in form and with absentees such as Havertz, Pulisic and Silva still to come back in there is no reason why we shouldn’t expect a title challenge.
Man of the Match – N’Golo Kante
There wasn’t a player on the pitch who had a bad game, however N’Golo Kante’s return to form is difficult to ignore as he put in another brilliant display in the centre of the midfield. Last season he was plagued with injuries and constant switches in formation meant he struggled to get an extended run in the team, but this term he has cemented his place in the side and looks to be a crucial player for Frank Lampard going forward. He once again leads in the league in terms of interceptions, another sign he is quickly returning back to his best. Again today he was always breaking up the play and his passing was very impressive. He was linked with a move away in the summer, but Kante is here to stay for a long time.