29 November 2010

Post-Game Report: Newcastle v. Chelsea

My heart was with my boys from Tyneside as three of our starting XI were all on suspensions and we were playing against the reigning champion and (until yesterday) the table leader for basically the entire season. However, a communication error between Chelsea defender Alex and keeper Cech was capitalized upon by up-and-coming English national and Newcastle #9 Andy Carroll making the Blues come from behind to squeeze out one point from this away match, meaning Chelsea has only four points to show for their last five matches.

On one side, I firmly believe Tim Krul could’ve saved Kalou’s strike had it not been deflected off of Newcastle defender Simpson's leg and went in the net’s back corner. But then again, if it had not been for a simple error by a established defender, Carroll wouldn’t have had such an easy time putting the Toons up so early in the match. Newcastle had to stay on their toes just to try and keep Chelsea from scoring again, which they were trying to do furiously in the 2nd half. In the end, Chris Houghton is definitely a happy manager, his team’s efforts with four starters sitting out (again, three on suspension and captain Kevin Nolan out on injury) were exceptional, with first-time starter Sol Campbell and Ryan Taylor playing fantastic games. Other than Carroll, Newcastle weighed heavily on wingers Guthrie and Routledge and forward Sheola Ameobi to keep pressure on Chelsea throughout the match. However if a Man of the Match other than Carroll had to be picked, I would have to pick midfielder Tiote would be it.. The defending and sweeping he performed were absolutely top-notch and his tackles were, for the most part, well-timed and definitely needed. 

That isn’t to say that Chelsea didn’t play a great match. The footwork and passing of the Chelsea forwards is what earned them that injury time goal in the first half and continuously put pressure on the Newcastle backline during the 2nd half. However, this is definitely not the same team that played back in September. Perhaps the Blues are simply finishing out a downswing and will soon return to their top form. Or, just maybe, boys in Blue simply can’t perform as well as it seems they should on paper. 

Newcastle on the other hand doesn’t look outrageously talented on paper in comparison, despite having a well known striker in Andy Carroll, but they have put up some great results on their return to the big league, including the beatings dealt to Aston Villa and rivals Sunderland (6-1 and 5-1 respectfully). Yes, they have definitely had their low points (*cough* Bolton *cough*), but all things considering, the Toons walked on to the pitch today thinking they could pull out a good result and they definitely did.

Newcastle - Krul, Campbell, Taylor, Enrique, Simpson, Guthrie, Routledge, Tiote, Gutierrez, Ameobi, Carroll, Ranger (sub)
Chelsea - Cech, Ivanovic, Alex, Cole, Bosingwa, Obi, Malouda, Ramires, Anelka, Drogba, Kalou, Sturridge (sub)

Goals: Carroll (6'), Kalou (45')

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