Goals from Pedro and Willian helped Chelsea maintain their push for the top-four after a strong and well-deserved win over a resolute but ultimately defeated Newcastle side.
The Blues started positively when a pin-point David Luiz ball gave Pedro the chance to chip the keeper on the volley and give Chelsea the lead. The assister nearly turned goal provider shortly after as he was inches away from putting his side two goals ahead and then he became saviour at the back after clearing from his six-yard box from Newcastle first chance of the game.
Newcastle were not disheartened from the game’s opener though as Lejuene came close with a volley hit straight at Arrizablaga in the Chelsea goal. Ayoze Perez was next to test the Chelsea defence as his half volley was slashed just wide of the left-hand post. Newcastle’s resilience did pay off just before the break after Ciaran Clark’s well-placed header sent the teams in level.
After the break, Willian’s effort was well saved by Dubravka yet he could not stop the Brazilians effort shortly after as his fantastic curling shot gave Chelsea the lead again. The remainder of the second half passed largely without incident with neither side really coming close before the full-time whistle blew and the three points stayed in London.
Is it time for Willian to move on?
Since his arrival in 2013, Willian has been a loyal servant to Chelsea football club but it seems like now his time may well be up. Despite his fantastic effort on Saturday, evident cracks are beginning to appear.
His consistent appearance in the starting XI is blocking the development of Hudson-Odoi, one of Chelsea’s youth products and someone who many Chelsea fans would love to see given a run in the team. With Bayern Munich seriously interested in acquiring his services one would imagine that the pressure is on Sarri to give him a go. The Brazilian has been fantastic throughout his time in West London but either he has to go or accept life as a substitute.
A time of woe for Newcastle fans
Any time the transfer window opens is going to be a depressing period for Newcastle fans and their manager. It seems the Magpies will have very little money available to improve the squad and there still looks like very little chance of Mike Ashley selling.
The harsh reality of Premier League football now is that if you don’t spend money and pay decent wages then you will simply get eaten up and spat out. Very few clubs are successful with low spend and a low wage bill and although Benitez has somehow kept Newcastle in the league to date, one imagines that it is only a matter of time. Is it time for Ashley to invest or sell? For Newcastle fans, ideally, the latter but only time will tell.
How underrated is David Luiz?
Throughout his first spell at Chelsea, Luiz was known for two things: scoring screamers and making defensive errors, neither of which are expected of a centre back. However, after the 2014 World Cup Chelsea cashed in for him and then brought him back two years later. Since then he has been the bedrock of the Chelsea defence.
This season especially the Brazilian has looked superb. Minimal defensive mistakes combined with fantastic long range passing and superb vision has led to him being one of the best defenders in the league. All the praise and hype go to Virgil Van Dijk, and rightly so as he is having a superb season, but Luiz is criminally underrated, by both Chelsea fans and the media as a whole.
Do Newcastle have enough?
I don’t think any Premier League football fan wants to see Newcastle in the Championship, but I’m afraid that this may be a reality to which we have to come to terms with.
In the past few years they have had the shining light of Rafa Benitez to keep them up each season, but this year even the clever old Spaniard may not be enough. Newcastle looked toothless in attack and shakey at best in defence, and that is just not good enough for the standard to which they are required to play in order to stay in the league.
Newcastle would be missed if they went down, a fantastic club with years of history, but unfortunately, the same old problems rear their head, lack of spending.
Man of the Match – David Luiz
The Brazilian was flawless on Saturday. Superbly strong in defence, timing tackles expertly and keeping his junior colleagues in line, marshalling them to perfection. However, it’s this combined with his ability to see forward runs from his wingers and midfielders that gives him the award.