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Season 2017-18
Chelsea (h) Premier League
since 2012

Sunday 13th May 2018, 3.00pm
Live on Sky Sports

 St. James' Park

Conditions: Simply outstanding

One Mag & his dog



3 - 0




23 mins Jonjo Shelvey took possession just inside the Chelsea half and his low forward pass reached Matt Ritchie, who had drifted between two opponents and turned infield before lobbing a pass into the visiting area.

That bounced in front of the arriving Jacob Murphy just inside the six yard box, who had snuck ahead of the unaware Victor Moses. Murphy's first touch saw him scoop the ball up, which would have been enough for it to sneak under the crossbar if Thibaut Courtois hadn't sprung backwards and palmed the ball away from the goal line. 

The goalkeeper succeeded only in teeing the ball up nicely for Dwight Gayle though as he fell into the net, United's number 9 having the simplest of tasks to plant his downward header from five yards into the
unguarded Leazes End net. 1-0

Half time: Magpies 1 Blues 0

59 mins Murphy advanced down the United left before sending over a cross towards Ayoze Perez that fellow Spaniard Cesar Azpilicueta reached first and headed on across his own box.

Tiemoue Bakayoko had the opportunity to complete the clearance, but succeeded only in weakly hooking the ball into the path of
Shelvey outside the box. Controlling it on his chest, he immediately took aim and rifled a low shot goalward that Ayoze Perez deftly flicked on from seven yards out, taking it out of the goalkeeper's reach and into the bottom corner of the Gallowgate goal 2-0

63 mins Eden Hazard's tug on Perez resulted in a free-kick from the United right taken by Shelvey and fired towards Florian Lejeune in space on the left side of the box. His low cross was forced home by Ayoze Perez from close range, Jamaal Lascelles acting as something of a distraction by standing five yards offside, but remaining motionless as the set-piece unfolded. 3-0

Not on the beach

Full time: Magpies 3 Blues 0

We Said


Rafa Benitez:

"It is not enough just to finish tenth with four or five teams around you - what I would like is to be sure that the team is able to compete to finish above tenth.

"That means having the right quality, the right mentality and the right level through the whole season, not just for some performances.

"This group of players have done so well, so it would be easy to say, ‘Okay, well you are already in the top ten’.

"I think we have to do something more to make sure the group is stronger and more competitive.

"Then we can go to any stadium and think about going to win, rather than thinking that a draw might be a good result. We have to have the confidence in our team to be able to go anywhere thinking that we can win.

"The way that the team was working in the whole season, to be safe with five games to play was fantastic. It was a pity the bad run we had at the end, so we needed to try to do something to change our luck.

“We did it against Tottenham, although it was not enough, and we did it again today.

"It was a perfect day for the fans and the players.

"We finished in tenth position, it was a great game with great goals, and a really good atmosphere throughout the whole game and especially at the end. It was pretty much a perfect Sunday.

Asked about the serenading from the crowd:

"I was really proud of that, but you cannot sing the name of the manager if the team is doing badly. In this case, what the players did last season and what they have done this year was massive.

"The fans appreciate this togetherness, and the relationship we have created. The players care, and the manager and staff and everybody. We were all working together to achieve what we wanted to achieve, which is success for the club.

"A lot of people have been asking whether it is a bigger achievement than Istanbul in 2005. I think it is different because you are talking about the league. You are talking about nine or ten months of games, and that is always more difficult than just some games in a cup run.

"I have won some trophies, and maybe this achievement could be close to some of the top trophies that I have won. 

"I would not say if it was more or less than this one or that one, but I am really proud of this achievement.”

On his future:

"I still have one year left on my contract, so it is different. Now we have to make sure that we do the right things and are on the same page.

"The fans have ambitions and we have ambitions, and we have to know if everybody has the same feelings too. The potential is there.

"It is easy to see what we have, now we need to do something more and be a little bit better.

"It is clear what we need. 

"We have a couple of players on loan who are leaving and a couple of players who have finished their contract too. You need to sign players to be sure you have a good squad with competition. 

"There is one other thing that has been important too, and that we have had this year. 

"The medical staff, fitness coaches and sports scientists have done a great job because we haven’t had many injuries. Imagine this team with two or three injuries.

"You need to be sure you have competition, and enough levels within the squad to make sure you can approach any game thinking you can win. It cannot be the case that if you miss one or two players, the team is not the same. 

"We need a squad that has to be capable of competing in the Premier League.”

This year's Mike Ashley statement (he wasn't at the game, reportedly holidaying in Barbados):

"I would like to thank Rafa Benitez for his magnificent achievement this season.

"I would also like to applaud the players, led fantastically by the captain Jamaal Lascelles.
"On many occasions throughout the season they have been described as a Championship side, which I personally consider to be derogatory.

"Rafa, as always, has my full support, and contrary to some media reports that portray me as a pantomime villain, I will continue to ensure that every penny generated by the club is available to him.

"I hope very much that Rafa will remain at Newcastle United.

"Finally, I would like to thank the fans for their unrivalled support of Rafa and the team throughout the season."

They Said

Antonio Conte:

"We didn’t play a good game, but from the start, Newcastle outplayed us in many aspects. 

"Newcastle showed great desire, a great will to fight, a great will to take three points and to finish this season in the best possible way. I’m sure we can do better.

"We deserved to lose because our start wasn't good and we suffered by losing every ball. Newcastle were more determined than us.

"We didn't lose our Champions League place today, we had chances in the last two games, but to finish the season this way is not good for anyone connected to the club.

"When you are at the end of the season, this performance can happen, but the first person to answer for this must be the coach. I wasn't able to convey that determination to my players.

"We have six days to prepare for the final of the FA Cup and we have to change.

"I have a contract and I am committed to this club."



Newcastle finished the season in tenth place, their highest top-flight position since managing fifth in 2011/12 and equal to their tenth placing of 2013/14, both coming under Alan Pardew. 

Chelsea have now failed to win any of their last five visits to Gallowgate, Newcastle claiming four victories and a draw. Andre Villas-Boas was the last Blues boss to leave with all three points in December 2011, with Rafa Benitez, Jose Mourinho (three times) and Antonio Conte all failing.

This was Chelsea's 1000th Premier League game, joining Arsenal, Everton, Liverpool, Manchester United and Tottenham as the other PL ever-presents. Newcastle's missing seasons meant it was our 882nd game, with Aston Villa (924) the only other club higher. West Ham (844) and Manchester City (810) make up the top ten.

Blues @ SJP - Premier League era:

2017/18 Won 3-0 Gayle, Perez 2
Drew 2-2 Perez, Wijnaldum
2014/15 Won 2-1 Cisse 2
2013/14 Won 2-0 Gouffran, Remy
2012/13 Won 3-2 Gutierrez, Sissoko 2
2011/12 Lost 0-3
2010/11 Drew 1-1 Carroll
2008/09 Lost 0-2
2007/08 Lost 0-2
2006/07 Drew 0-0
2006/07 Lost 0-1 (LC)
2005/06 Won 1-0 Bramble
2004/05 Drew 1-1 og(Geremi)
2004/05 Won 1-0 Kluivert (FAC)
2004/05 Lost 0-2 (LC)
2003/04 Won 2-1 Ameobi, Shearer
2002/03 Won 2-1 og(Hasselbaink) Bernard
2001/02 Lost 1-2 Shearer
2000/01 Drew 0-0
1999/00 Lost 0-1
1998/99 Lost 0-1
1997/98 Won 3-1 Dabizas, Lee, Speed
1996/97 Won 3-1 Shearer 2, Asprilla
1995/96 Won 2-0 Ferdinand 2
1995/96 Drew 2-2 Albert, Beardsley (FAC) (2-4 pens)
1994/95 Won 4-2 Cole 2, Fox, Lee
1993/94 Drew 0-0

Closing home game results - PL era:

2017/18 Chelsea won 3-0
2016/17 Barnsley won 3-0 (Championship)
Spurs won 5-1
2014/15 West Ham won 2-0
2013/14 Cardiff City won 3-0
2012/13 Arsenal lost 0-1
2011/12 Manchester City lost 0-2
2010/11 West Bromwich Albion drew 3-3
2009/10 Ipswich Town drew 2-2 (Championship)
2008/09 Fulham lost 0-1
2007/08 Chelsea lost 0-2
2006/07 Blackburn lost 0-2
2005/06 Chelsea won 1-0
2004/05 Chelsea drew 1-1
2003/04 Wolves drew 1-1
2002/03 Birmingham City won 1-0
2001/02 West Ham won 3-1
2000/01 Aston Villa won 3-0
1999/00 Arsenal won 4-2
1998/99 Blackburn drew 1-1
1997/98 Chelsea won 3-1
1996/97 Nottingham Forest won 5-0
1995/96 Spurs drew 1-1
1994/95 Crystal Palace won 3-2
1993/94 Arsenal won 2-0

With Swansea (and Stoke) both relegated with 33 points, that meant we secured our Premier League status by beating Huddersfield Town 1-0 on March 31st with seven games remaining.

Finishing tenth netted United £21.9m while 15th was only worth £11.9m. Results elsewhere meant that defeat to Chelsea would have left us 13th, so this victory was worth around £6m. 2016/17 saw our Championship-winning performance bring in £7.1m (prize money and TV).

Newcastle's PL TV money for this season was £120.8m, the eighth highest in the league (highest was £148.9m for Manchester United).

Newcastle beat the Blues by three clear goals for the first time since they scored five without reply at Gallowgate back in November 1974.

Ayoze Perez ended up as United's top scorer in the Premier League with eight to his name, a brace in the FA Cup taking him into double figures in all competition. All but one of those eight came in the second half of games; his home opener against Arsenal the only exception.

Dwight Gayle scored for the first time in ten games by extending his seasonal total to six (all in the PL). Just two of those came at SJP, today's following on from another at the Leazes End against Leicester. In between those two, he's endured 10 scoreless home PL outings.

United scored just 39 PL goals this season - their lowest total since 38 in 2006/07. However, just 47 goals conceded is our best defensive PL display since letting in 42 in 2005/06.

NUFC PL scorers 2017/18:

Ayoze Perez 8
Dwight Gayle 6
Joselu 4
Jamaal Lascelles 3
Matt Ritchie 3
Christian Atsu 2
Ciaran Clark 2
Mohamed Diame 2
Kenedy 2
Aleksandar Mitrovic 1
Jonjo Shelvey 1
Isaac Hayden 1
Mikel Merino 1
Jacob Murphy 1
Henri Saivet 1
OG 1

A first clean sheet in seven outings was Newcastle's ninth in the PL this season.

United ended the season with a goal tally of 21 from their 19 home fixtures - their lowest ever total in the Premier League and less than the previous low of 22 in 1997/98 and 2006/07. 

The last time they scored less than that was in 1988/89 when they hit 19 from 19 home games, en route to dropping out of the old First Division in last place.  

This season's Leazes / Gallowgate home scoring split in the PL went massively in favour of the latter - 13 to 8 - while the first half / second half home goal count was 8 to 13.

The Magpies beat Manchester United, Arsenal and Chelsea at home during the same season for the first time in the Premier League - the last time they did that was in 1968/69.

Ahead of his departure from the club, there was an outing from the bench for Massadio Haidara, his first Premier League appearance since the 6-2 home win over Norwich City in October 2015.

That took the number of players used by United in their 38 PL games to 27 (we used 31 in our most recent top-flight season, 2015/16). Also out of contract and remaining unused on the subs bench was Jesus Gamez.




This is getting to be a bit of a habit.

For the third successive year, a Sunday afternoon in May saw St. James' Park provide the backdrop for a joyous affirmation of the Geordie Nation; a celebration of their beloved football team and a expression of gratitude for the work of a certain Spanish manager.

2016 saw the regret of relegation soon swept away by a display of defiance on and off the field, with pride restored by a 5-1 demolition of Spurs to a club then only looking forward.

2017 brought satisfaction in restoring top-flight status, a 3-0 win over Barnsley then unexpectedly combining with a Villan's foot to hand us the Championship trophy and raise spirits further. 

2018 provided the unadulterated joy of adding Chelsea to the list of big names cut down to size here recently; recent fears of demotion forgotten and a top ten placing marking genuine progress towards where we'd like to be. 

The postscript to those first two years of course was news that Rafa Benitez had opted to remain at the helm. Whether the hat-trick will follow though remains to be seen. We don't do logical here.

We'd exposed our musical roots with Wednesday's Elvis Costello-inspired headline and had we rifled through the records again today, the Damned's "Neat, Neat, Neat" would have been appropriate.

There were reassuring signs of life at Wembley in midweek that we'd refocused following the hangover that had come in the wake of mathematically ensuring our Premier League safety.

Today though was nothing short of glorious; a thoroughly deserved home win achieved by outplaying last season's Champions and this season's FA Cup finalists from the very first whistle.

Searching for a first win in five visits here and knowing that hopes of a top four finish were out of their hands after a midweek draw with Huddersfield Town, Antonio Conte's side at least needed to keep their end of the bargain and hope for some final day assistance from Brighton at Anfield.  

The big guns were there; messrs Barkley, Hazard and Giroud having put a combined 19 PL career goals in our net before today. However they weren't even firing blanks during the first half, only belatedly rousing themselves after the break to find Martin Dubravka in no mood to concede.

Proceedings were as one-sided as the league and cup contests at Stamford Bridge had been and a home goal looked on the cards before Dwight Gayle pounced after Jacob Murphy's first effort was foiled by Thibaut Courtois.

The excellent Jonjo Shelvey and revitalised Mo Diame continued to dictate play and possession, while Murphy proved be an able replacement for the ineligible Kenedy and indisposed Blues old boy Christian Atsu.

Gayle, Shelvey and Diame all tested the visiting 'keeper, with Ayoze Perez and Shelvey again firing narrowly wide as we went in search of the goals that our domination warranted.

If there was a worry it was that we'd only netted once before the interval and would surely face greater tests in the second period from a revitalised visiting side.

Whether hearing the half time score of Liverpool 2 Brighton 0 removed any sense of purpose from the visiting players is unclear, but little changed despite the enforced replacement of Gayle by Joselu and the same eleven players continued for Chelsea. 

A second home goal duly arrived thanks to the boot of Shelvey and awareness of Perez, and that prompted the only real moment of danger for the home defence when a Chelsea break seemed certain to end in Barkley scoring, only for Dubravka to magnificently intervene with his feet.

Within a moment or two the ball was in the Chelsea net for a third time in 40 minutes, prompting further waves of noise from all corners of the ground.

That concluded the scoring was complete, but the celebrations continued up to and beyond the final whistle; Rafa, his staff and his players returning for another well-earned lap of honour.

Three points meant that Newcastle saw off the challenge of a clutch of other clubs to retain tenth place (anything down to fifteenth was possible before this concluding round of fixtures). 

To finish in the top half of the table for the first time since 2014 is a magnificent achievement for a side that looked in genuine peril during a nine game winless run during darkest December.

The manager has done a remarkable job and the fans made it clear again today just how much they appreciate his achievements and realise the necessity of him remaining in post. Circus. Ringmaster. 

Despite a lifetime of cynicism, it's evident even to embittered malcontents like us that something noteworthy is happening here. It's no overstatement to say that life without Rafa and the unity he has brought to this club is quite simply unimaginable at present. He is a special one.

Our immediate future seems like a no-brainer, but we've been here too long to be anything other than hopeful that a suitable agreement can be reached and we can go forward together. Quite what a plan B would be were Rafa to exit is something we hardly dare to contemplate at this juncture.

Why would Lascelles stay, knowing that his mentor had been shabbily treated and forced out by faceless, unaccountable chancers that the club won't even acknowledge are on the payroll, let alone holding positions of decisive influence?

It's as much about the chain of command as it is about the budget; replacing well-established inertia with a more dynamic outlook and seeing things through. 

Post-match pub conversations included estimates of how many points Dubravka's excellence had earned us - but had the agreed loan deal been concluded earlier, his influence could have been greater and it might be us, not Burnley dusting down our passports. As for Slimani, don't even start.

No less than 10 of our 18 defeats this season were 0-1 scorelines - a fact that added to our comparatively low scoring record emphasising what a tight ship we've run. If that's not a good starting point to go from, I don't know what is. 

Anticipation what Rafa could achieve with an augmented squad is balanced by relief that we're led by someone with a quiet dignity that almost single-handedly adds an air of respectability to this club. 

That's bigger than tacky advertising signs, bigger than tabloid tales of puking up in pub fireplaces.

It's not just our team, reputation in the game and relationship with supporters that is being rebuilt though, much else remains to be achieved.

For evidence of poor decision-making, inept recruitment and evident under-investment look no further in Paul Dummett - a worthy recipient of "one of our own" chants, but our last successful Academy graduate, back in 2013. Seeing our U18s and U23s regularly beaten and outclassed by their counterparts at Championship clubs is an ongoing and perpetual embarrassment.  

As the Gallowgate banner proclaimed today, "where there is unity there is always victory"

Whether that view is held down in Shirebrook though remains to be seen, with the post-match statement from the owner more of a gesture and less of an insight into his current thinking. We remain confident that he won't be going anywhere though and remains the only game in town.

Sadly, it wouldn't be Newcastle United without a close season polluted by scare stories and doubts over our future direction and personnel. To move past that sideshow quickly and concentrate on the real business of improving the squad would be a welcome bonus - anything else risks diluting our progress and losing our momentum. Screw this up and it looks like sabotage.

PS: We reached a couple of personal milestones this season - victory at Leicester a fine way to mark 40 years watching the black and whites for one of us. The anniversary of your two "genial hosts" first doing this together in 1998 is also on the horizon. Look out for flags at half mast.....

After 20 years, our gratitude to everyone who contributes and tolerates us remains undimmed. We're daft enough to be doing this tripe anyway for ourselves; if it works for others then that's a bonus.  


This report is dedicated to Milburn Stand steward Trevor Toward who died suddenly following the home game against West Bromwich Albion last month. He'd been at SJP since 1996. RIP.

Page last updated 13 June, 2018