Saturday afternoon’s early kick off saw Chelsea, post ‘perfect October’ take on a Newcastle United that continue to flail on Tyneside.
It is worth noting that half an hour before kick off an interview with Juan Mata was aired on Football Focus. The Spaniard, though seemingly out of favour under Mourinho at the start of this season came across as a model professional, confessing his World Cup and Premier League aspirations and atmosphere at the club. An interview that was ostensibly meant to create speculation around his future coincided with Chelsea Player of the Year being named in the starting line up at St. James’ Park.
David Luiz was preferred to Gary Cahill at centre back, whilst Torres deservedly started.
After a quarter of an hour, a corner swung in by Mata was caned onto the bar by John Terry’s forehead before a deflected overhead kick by Ivanovic was tipped over by Tim Krul.
Juan Mata would then go to ground under an untidy penalty from Mathieu Debuchy. No appeal. No penalty. Replays later suggested otherwise.
Chelsea held the majority of the possession over the first half an hour before Alan Pardew’s cagey Newcastle team began to string a few passes together, although not working Petr Cech’s goal in the slightest.
With Newcastle’s deep back four, plus Tiote and Yanga-Mbiwa sitting disciplined just in front, Chelsea’s midfield amigos were struggling to make sparks in the damp and dreary weather.
Newcastle United’s off and on field problems have been well documented since their fall from overachievement two seasons ago. Qualifying for the Europa League in their first season back in the Premier League has been a lonely high note over the past few years at St. James’. With Alan Pardew only finger deep into his bizarre 10-year contract the Toon are desperate for points, and they were playing as such.
Mourinho took his seat in the dugout minutes before his team took to the field for the second half – suggesting a real lambasting of his championship chasing side had just taken place.
But it was Newcastle who took the tempo, pace and game from Chelsea and created four good chances in the opening 15 minutes of the second half. Chelsea’s passing was sloppy and the midfield trio and anchoring two drifted further and further apart.
Fernando Torres departed the field after only 17 touches all game, for Samuel Eto’o. One step forward, two steps back. Juan Mata was replaced by Willian, not making the headlines he’d have been hoping for after his midweek exploits.
It was coming. And it came. Chelsea were made to pay for not taking the second half by the scruff, with Yohan Cabaye swinging a free kick onto the noggin of Yoan Gouffran to head home.
Nothing seemed to tick and Chelsea were too late to wake up and smell the coffee this early Saturday afternoon. Moments after Eden Hazard scorned a decent chance to level matters, Loic Remy took the game from Mourinho and Chelsea after being teed up by Vurnon Anita. Start the bus.
It is difficult to point fingers and put Chelsea’s dismal performance down to one thing. No cutting edge and no motivation or tempo on the ball will have Mourinho taking double sessions this week. Newcastle had the wind in their sails in the second half, although in truth they didn’t play like a team with any real talent or guile.