Tuesday, December 7, 2021

Newcastle United 0-3 Chelsea: Blues go three points clear at top

SoccerNews in General Soccer News 30 Oct 2021

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Reece James’ second-half double stretched Chelsea’s advantage at the top of the Premier League as he fired the leaders to a 3-0 win at Newcastle United.

The Blues, without the injured duo of Romelu Lukaku and Timo Werner, initially lacked cutting edge in the final third as Kai Havertz took a central role up front.

Their main threat against a Newcastle team content to sit back and play on the counter was Hakim Ziyech, who saw a goal disallowed for offside and hit the post.

However, James eventually found a way through, lashing a superb left-footed drive into the top-left corner in the 65th minute before taking advantage of lackadaisical defending from Newcastle, who then conceded a late penalty to enable Jorginho to apply gloss to the scoreline. 

Chelsea moved three points clear at the summit after Liverpool were held to a 2-2 draw by Brighton and Hove Albion while Manchester City lost 2-0 at home to Crystal Palace.

Ziyech bent beyond Karl Darlow in the 28th minute only to see the offside flag correctly raised against him and then blazed over from close range after Callum Wilson was dubiously ruled to have fouled Andreas Christensen.

The former Ajax star hit the post when a long-range strike deflected off Jamal Lascelles, but Newcastle’s resistance was broken in style by James.

His second was less aesthetically pleasing, James slicing beyond a stricken Darlow after Ruben Loftus-Cheek’s effort was blocked with Newcastle’s defence all over the place.

Darlow’s bemusing foul on Havertz allowed Jorginho to coolly convert from 12 yards and help Chelsea solidify their position at the summit in emphatic fashion.

What does it mean? Chelsea look like cream of the crop

Chelsea were not at their best at St James’ Park and made heavy weather of things against a winless team. However, their ability to claim a comfortable win from a below-par performance on a day when two of their title rivals faltered illustrated their position as the strongest of the three favourites.

Newcastle are still three points adrift of safety, having seen fellow strugglers Burnley claim all three points against Brentford.

Clinical James the difference

Save for Ziyech, Chelsea struggled to craft clear-cut opportunities, but James took advantage of two difficult chances, his two goals coming from shots that carried a combined expected goals (xG) value of 0.099.

Newcastle need direction

Still without a win, the optimism that followed Newcastle’s takeover is fading. That they went on the defensive is no surprise, but the Magpies offered next to nothing going forward, finishing with an xG of 0.25.

The new owners have been patient in appointing a replacement to Steve Bruce, but that process cannot afford to drag on much longer. Newcastle need direction, and fast.

What’s next?

Chelsea visit Malmo in the Champions League on Tuesday before hosting Burnley in the Premier League next Saturday, when Newcastle have a tricky trip to Brighton.

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