ANOTHER TEAM ANOTHER BUS
Chelsea played out a scoreless draw with Joe Kinnear’s stubborn Newcastle United at Stamford Bridge, as the Blues once again failed to replicate their stunning away form. Chelsea were on top throughout, with only an offside call and some fantastic Shay Given saves preventing Scolari’s men from scoring. However, considering their modus operandi, Newcastle were deserving of their one point.
Chelsea were able to recall both Cole’s after injury related absences, whilst Ivanovic partnered Terry in defence. Cech also returned in place of Cudicini, who was sat on the bench alongside the fit again Michael Ballack. Didier Drogba was serving the first match of his suspension for the coin-throwing incident in the Burnley defeat.
Typically, Chelsea were on the offensive early and nearly took the lead after seven minutes. A gorgeous ball from Malouda found the run of Lampard in the area, but his goal bound header was fantastically saved by Shay Given, who was outstanding throughout. The Irish keeper flew low to his right to turn the ball away and preserve his clean sheet.
Then, the impressive Malouda drove forward towards the Newcastle goal, only to be denied by a late and perfectly timed challenge from Bassong. Our French winger was dynamic in his time on the pitch, making several incisive runs and delivering the ball with poise and accuracy.
Gutierrez flashed an ambitious volley miles high and wide up the other end, to jeers from the crowd, as Chelsea proceeded to camp in Newcastle’s half. Ivanovic displayed his significant aerial ability in meeting a corner, however his resultant header cleared the crossbar easily.
Bosingwa was another who was impressive, giving Chelsea old boy Damien Duff the run around in the first half. Our cavalier right back displayed particularly impressive skill in throwing in a few stepovers and delivering a left footed cross to the back post, where he found Ashley Cole. Unfortunately, his header bounced across the face of goal and out of play at the back post for a goal kick.
However, only a vital late intervention from Terry prevented Obafemi Martins grabbing a lead for Newcastle late on, as the Chelsea skipper successfully cut out a Gutierrez cross, after a rare Newcastle attack.
Joe Cole looked to have scored the opening goal for Chelsea, when he bundled the ball over the line after Given saved from Malouda. Lampard had provided an exquisite through ball, however Cole was adjudged to have been offside as Malouda shot. Lampard then almost caught Given out with a swerving free kick, however despite the cheers from the crowd the assistant referee ruled that he had indeed kept the ball in play.
Ameobi and Kalou entered play, replacing Martins and Malouda. As time ticked on, Gutierrez was then replaced by Charles N’Zogbia, as Newcastle continued their policy of defending deep and in numbers.
Michael Ballack replaced Joe Cole with nine minutes remaining. The German skipper was gifted a great chance to snatch the points late on, but his left footed strike found the side netting. Terry’s long range effort was deflected wide in stoppage time, only for Kalou to head wide from the resultant corner.
All in all, a frustrating afternoon for the Blues as we failed to gain maximum points for the fourth time at home this season, though Newcastle are still yet to taste victory at the Bridge in the Premier League. Next up, a trip to France to face Bordeaux, where Didier Drogba will be available, his ban only applying domestically.
Chelsea (4-1-4-1) Cech; Bosingwa, Ivanovic, Terry (c), A Cole; Mikel; J Cole (Ballack 81), Deco, Lampard, Malouda (Kalou 71); Anelka
Unused subs: Cudicini, Ferreira, Bridge, Mineiro, Sinclair.
Newcastle (4-4-2) Given; Beye, Coloccini, Bassong, José Enrique; Gutiérrez (N’Zogbia 76), Guthrie, Butt, Duff; Martins (Ameobi 60), Owen (c).
Unused subs: Harper, Cacapa, Edgar, Carroll, LuaLua.
Referee Phil Dowd