Chelsea were made to work hard for all three points, as they edged a stubborn Newcaslte United side 1-0 at Stamford Bridge on Saturday.
The first half saw Chelsea struggling to find a way past the resolute Newcastle United defence. But, they did have a few openings, courtesy the brilliant Callum Hudson-Odoi, who was at his creative best. On the opposite end, the visitors posed a threat to the Blues’ defence on the break, although the Magpies could not test Kepa Arrizabalaga.
Chelsea continued to dominate the proceedings post the break and finally broke the deadlock in the 73rd minute when Marcos Alonso struck with a powerful drive. Thereafter, the hosts could have added a couple of more goals, if not for some brilliance by Martin Dubravka and DeAndre Yedlin.
With the result, Chelsea climbed up to fourth on the Premier League table, level on points with Leicester City. The Hard Tackle now runs the rule over Frank Lampard’s men following their fifth successive win in all competitions.
Kepa Arrizabalaga: 6/10
A quiet afternoon for Kepa, who had the best seat in Stamford Bridge to watch Chelsea dominate the game. With Newcastle United not mustering up even one shot on target, the Spaniard had more work to do with his feet than with his gloves. But, he will be glad to have kept his second clean sheet of the season in the process.
Cesar Azpilicueta: 7/10
Azpilicueta made a shaky start to the game, with Allan Saint-Maximin troubling him early on. But, the Chelsea captain soon found his feet and kept a check on the tricky winger, helped by Jorginho and Willian. Going forward, he was a constant outlet, but his crossing was not quite up to the mark. One area of the game which needs more consistency.
Kurt Zouma: 8/10
Zouma has had a mixed start to the season. But, Saturday’s performance showed that he might just be starting to find his feet at the heart of the Chelsea defence. With the wily Joelinton leading the line for Newcastle, Zouma needed to be at his feet and he followed the Brazilian everywhere before keeping Andy Carroll quiet late on.
An awkward moment on the ball aside, the Frenchman was assured on the ball as well. A step in the right direction.
Fikayo Tomori: 6/10
After his struggles last time out against Southampton, Tomori had the chance to prove that the nervy performance was not a one-off. But, the young defender had his fair share of hairy moments once again, this time against Newcastle.
The tricky Miguel Almiron was a tough prospect to deal with, especially with Tomori not quite disciplined enough to hold his position at the back; his distribution was poor as well. Much more stable in the second half, with Chelsea thoroughly dominating.
Marcos Alonso: 7/10
A sub-par performance that was saved by the match-winning goal. With Chelsea in command, the Spaniard spent most of his time in the opposition half. But, that meant Almiron had plenty of space to exploit in behind Alonso, which piled on the woes for Tomori.
Hardly delivered a convincing pass into the box. But, his shot was powerfully struck and earned Chelsea all three points, thereby bumping him up a point.
Ross Barkley: 5/10
Into the starting lineup due to N’Golo Kante’s absence through injury, Barkley started off well, putting in the hard yards defensively. Picked up a knock early on and that meant he could not make much of an impact going forward before he was rightly taken off towards the end of the first half.
Jorginho continued from where he had left off against Southampton, completely bossing the midfield battle on Saturday. With Newcastle looking to sit back, Jorginho sprayed balls forward quickly to find his teammates in pockets of spaces, completing 6 of the 7 long passes he attempted. Did a lot of legwork off the ball as well, winning 5 tackles and making as many as 10 recoveries.
Showed a lot of intelligence when finding teammates around the Newcastle box, with a clever pass to Azpilicueta being particularly impressive. The standout moment, though, was the deft touch that released Willian for a driving run before Tammy Abraham was eventually denied by DeAndre Yedlin. The turnaround continues for Jorginho, who can do little wrong at the moment.
A game of two halves for Willian. Mostly uninvolved in the first 45 minutes, he did get a glorious chance to hand Chelsea the lead in the first half but disappointed with his headed finish, denying Callum Hudson-Odoi a deserved assist. Much improved post the interval, complete with his driving runs and typical work-rate. Needs to improve his end product, though.
Mason Mount: 5/10
A rare off day for Mount, who, like Willian, could not finish off a great chance created by Hudson-Odoi in the first half, shooting straight at Martin Dubravka. Apart from that moment, the young Englishman could not find a way into the game, struggling to impose himself as he usually does in the final third. Deliveries from set-pieces the only positive on the day.
Callum Hudson-Odoi: 9/10
The brightest spark in the game right from the get-go. Making his second Premier League start of the season, Hudson-Odoi was a bundle of energy and looked full of purpose to make things happen. Two moments of brilliance saw him create space on his own before finding Willian and Mount. On another day, he would have been credited with an assist for each instance.
Callum Hudson-Odoi (18) vs Newcastle United:
5 shot assists
4/5 long balls
4 ball recoveries
1 foul won
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But, Hudson-Odoi finally had the assist his performance deserved, showing tremendous awareness to find Alonso. Hudson-Odoi now has four assists and a goal in just 310 minutes of action this season – quite the game changer. The first teenager to create 5+ chances in a Premier League game for Chelsea since Romelu Lukaku in May 2012.
Tammy Abraham: 6/10
Nobody embodied Chelsea’s frustrations in the first half better than Tammy Abraham. The Blues’ striker was feeding off scraps in the first 45 minutes and had just 10 touches on the ball.
Much more involved in the second half, when he had as many as three quality chances coming his way; Abraham struck the crossbar with the first, headed over from the second and was denied by Yedlin for the third.
Mateo Kovacic: 7/10
An early substitution, Kovacic replaced Barkley as half-time neared. And, the Croat made a great deal of difference, with his driving runs ensuring Chelsea opened up more spaces in the final third. Got stuck in to win the balls in the final third, not letting Newcastle get away from their box. Even more dangerous when Pulisic came on, combining well with the USMNT international.
Christian Pulisic: 7/10
Given the final half-an-hour, Pulisic was a completely different cup of tea for the Newcastle defender compared to Mount. The summer arrival made a real impact with his burst of pace and it was only a stupendous save by Dubravka that denied him his first Chelsea goal. Sliced open the Magpies’ defence before laying the ball for Hudson-Odoi, who found Alonso for the winner.
Reece James: N/A
On for the last few moments of the game, James made his Premier League debut as a late substitute.