Following Arsenals capitulation against West Ham earlier in the day, Chelsea took full advantage of the situation as they picked up all maximum points in their clash with the Magpies at Stamford Bridge, consequently cementing their top 4 position with 6 points ahead of rivals, Arsenal.
The men in blue lined up in a 4-3-3 formation, fielding players such as: Kepa, Rudiger, Azpilicueta, David Luiz, Alonso, Kante, Jorginho, Kovacić, Willian, Hazard and Pedro. Their opponents, Newcastle played in a much more defensive formation, 4-5-1, fielding players such as: Du’bravka, Yedlin, Lascelles, Lejeune, Clark, Ritchie, Hayden, Longstaff, Atsu, Perez and Rondon.
The first half started pretty much good for the Blues as it took only just 9 minutes for them to find the back of the net, owing to poor defending from the Magpies. The goal came off the boot of Pedro Rodriguez who was played through by David Luiz and in a split second, Pedro skillfully lifted the ball over Du’bravka for his 7th goal of the campaign, putting the hosts ahead.
For a huge chunk of the first half, Chelsea dominated the game with their free flowing “sarriball” gameplay, coming close on several occasions to double their lead. Newcastle on the other hand soaked in pressure from the men in blue and took their chances when they presented themselves. They began to put pressure on Chelsea during the closing half of the first 45 minutes. Atsu and Rondon combined effectively to push for an equaliser but their attempts went wide.
The Magpies came close to equalising on the 35th minute with Ayoze Perez’ right footed shot from outside the box, after being played through by Salomon Rondon misses. The pressure to get an equaliser became intense for Chelsea to handle and the aftermath was the goal they conceded five minutes to the end of the first half. Newcastle got their well deserved equaliser, scored by Ciaran Clark whose header found the bottom left corner, beating Kepa.
Chelsea were swift to push for a 2nd goal as Willian’s right footed shot from the left side of the box misses after being played through by Jorginho. Newcastle also responded back but Matt Ritchies shot also missed. The first half ended in a stalemate however Chelsea clearly dominated the game by far.
The Second half started with Chelsea pushing for a second goal and on the 47th minute Pedro almost doubled the lead but his right footed shot was saved by the Newcastle shot-stopper. Newcastle were much more better than they were in the first half, rising like the phoenix, they tried their best possible to upset the hosts. Atsu came close in the 48th minute to double the lead for the magpies, but his header went wide.
Chelsea still remained the dominant side and they reaped the fruit of their hard work as Willian’s right footed shot from the left side found the back of the net on the 57th minute after being played through by Hazard who had a quiet first half.
The match remained that way for quite sometime till gaffer, Sarri decided to put in Ross Barkley for Kovacić on the 62nd minute; a tactical decision to hold the midfield and press harder in a bid to crack the Newcastle defense. Both sides tried to add to their tally during the course of the second half as chances were created. Chelsea tried to score more while Newcastle tried to equalise so as to get far away from the relegation zone. Willian came close to replicating Pedro’s goal in the 65th minute but missed.
Rafael Benitez opted for a double substitution as he took out both Ayoze Perez and Yedlin in favour of Manquillo and Murphy on the 82nd minute. 2 minutes before then, Pedro was subbed off for young star, Hudson-Odoi while Eden Hazard gave way to world cup winning Olivier Giroud, 3 minutes before the end of stoppage time. Salomon Rondon came close to equalising for the magpies on the 86th minute but headed wide Manquillo’s cross.
While Chelsea held on to secure their win, Newcastle pushed forward to find an equaliser and came close to doing just that. However, Sean Longstaffs’ attempted shot was blocked by the rock solid Chelsea back line; gifting them a treasured corner kick.
Ritchie took the corner, passing the ball to Atsu who due to pressure sent the ball wide off target, infuriating his teammates. After 95 minutes of free flowing football, Chris Kavanagh signalled the end the game with Chelsea winning the tie 2 goals to 1 at Stamford Bridge. The win for Chelsea puts them in fourth place with 47 points, 6 points ahead of Arsenal who lost to West Ham while Newcastle on the other hand continue their battle to leave the relegation zone as they currently sit in 18th position.