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Season 2018-19
Chelsea (a) Premier League


Saturday 12th January 2019, 5.30pm.
Live on BT Sports

 Stamford Bridge

Conditions: Inoffensive

Admission: £30 (upstairs and downstairs)

Programme: £3.50


Newcastle United

2 - 1




9 mins A long lofted pass by David Luiz from inside his own half caught out United's defence, Matt Ritchie dragged wide to shadow Cesar Azpilicueta and Ciaran Clark allowing Pedro to nip in behind and lob the ball over the advancing Martin Dubravka. Clark appeared to have misjudged the flight of the ball as it dropped over his head but Pedro's first touch and finish were both superlative. 0-1

40 mins Christian Atsu won a corner that was swung over from the left by Matt Ritchie, leading to a second flag kick from the same side. This time Ritchie found Ciaran Clark who got between Antonio Rudiger and David Luiz to send in a powerful header from 12 yards that found the bottom corner inside the near post at the Shed End, a position handily just vacated by Pedro. 1-1

Half time: Blues 1 Magpies 1
57 mins 
Anyone wanting to know whey Newcastle concede so many goals from this position had the perfect example of Yedlin's awful defending. He was absent from his right back post as Eden Hazard forged forward and found Willian in space out to the right.

The US international then made little attempt to close Willian down or show him down the outside, allowing Willian to do what he does best - cut inside and curl a fine effort inside the far post.

Full time: Blues 2 Magpies 1

We Said


Rafa Benitez:

"We conceded a goal we could avoid but after that we were fighting for every ball. These players care, you could see that.

"We were working so hard against a good team, and we were doing well. Itís a pity that a player with quality made the difference at the end.

"We finished the first half - the last 20 minutes - being the better side. That, for me, is clear. In the second half, they started moving the ball with more pace. 

"You are getting tired, and itís not easy, but we finished with a corner, so we couldnít do more"
(apart from actually send the damn thing over into the box.....)

"You could see a lot of positives with the performance but no points. We knew that they would keep the ball and we had to maximise what we did when we got the ball. 

"We had some chances on the counter but our final pass wasn't there. What I can see is that we have to stay calm because it is a long distance race and next week against Cardiff will be massive.

"We have to win more games and we have to do well in the rest of the games. My feeling is that I have confidence in the team if they continue to work as they did today.

"We will have chances to get points against teams who will be closer to us. We have to be better than three teams and if we play like we did today we will do it.

"Whatever happens, this squad can stay up. If we work and play with the same passion, intensity and work rate, we will definitely have chances to get points against a lot of teams.

"We know we can beat some of the teams we still have to play, and in the end, that will make the difference. We have to beat the teams at the bottom of the table.

"We are quite close - we have seen that in a lot of the games against the big teams. When we play against the top sides, we have been close in every game, apart from maybe Liverpool in the last game. Manchester City, Arsenal, Manchester United - we have always been in the games.

"The team has played well and we have had chances, but the final decision in the final third is the decisive thing. If you want to get that right, you have to spend the money. For these players, clubs like Chelsea pay £40million, £50million, £100million, whatever.

"That makes the difference. When you're working so hard, but then one player like Willian makes the difference, you cannot do too much. You have to create chances, and we did that. But they take the chances, and, for you, it's much more difficult"

On Sean Longstaff:

"We knew we had problems with
(Mo) Diame and (Jonjo) Shelvey and we have a lot of confidence in him. We didn't want to put him in a position that would be too much for him. We knew it would be difficult, but at the same time we had confidence he could do well."

On Florian Lejeune:

"He gives us something on the ball, and he helps us to play the way we want to play sometimes from the back. He can play short or long, and I am happy with him coming back because he is another player and he can give us more competition."

On Rondon's late chance:

"He didnít have much power
(in the header) but at least we were there. And the point for me is the team was working so hard; they fight for each other, they fight for every ball, and they try until the last minute.Ē

On the owner's presence:

"I was talking with Lee Charnley before the game. I havenít seen Mike
(Ashley) afterwards, but I knew he was here."


They Said


Maurizio Sarri commented:

"I am really very happy with the result. I was really very happy with the performance at Tottenham.

"Today we started very well for 10 minutes. After the goal I think we thought 'now it's easy', but it wasn't. We slept for 20, 25 minutes, so at the end of the first half we were in trouble.

"We need to improve in the mental reaction. After our first goal something happened. We stopped to play for 25 minutes. We need to improve. It was really very important to get three points. For now it's enough.

"We were better in the second half. I'm very happy with the result but we need to improve mentally and technically because we lost a lot of the ball in a stupid way.

"I think our wingers attacked the space better than in the last five or six matches but we need to attack the box better.

"It's very difficult to understand. In the last five matches for us it really was very difficult to score. Today we scored after nine minutes, so the team thought today is very easy. We stopped to play and then we had problems.

"We were not able to react in the right way to the difficulty. Today wasn't a difficulty. We scored after nine minutes, so we had not to face difficulty. 

"But in the last match, for the first time in Watford, we reacted very well to the 1-1, after the goal in the last minute of the first half. I think, apart from the result, we reacted really very well in the last match with Tottenham. 

"Today we had only to manage a positive situation. I think we need to improve our mentality. Our mentality global, I think."

On Eden Hazard and his "false nine" role:

"At the moment in the defensive phase we are doing very well and one of the reasons, in my opinion, is that Eden is playing in that position.

In the second half my feeling was that he enjoyed (it). I played him there because I wanted to see the solution with the three small players.

"I think that at this moment it is a very good solution because we are not less dangerous in the offensive phase and in the defensive phase we are more balanced. 

"In the last six matches we have conceded only three goals and one was a penalty. Now we need to improve attacking in the box when the ball is out of the box. It is impossible for Eden to stay in the box."


Ciaran Clark scored for the third time this season, moving into second place in the scoring charts behind five goal Salomon Rondon. Like his efforts at home to Arsenal and at Burnley, this was a header. He now has eight NUFC goals: three this season, two last and three in the Championship.

Newcastle have scored just three times in their last six league and cup games but Matt Ritchie had a hand in all of them; his cross converted by Rondon at Watford, scoring the penalty against Blackburn Rovers and supplying an assist from a corner kick today.

Toon @ Stamford Bridge: Premier League era:

2018/19: Lost 1-2 Clark
Lost 0-3 (FAC)
Lost 1-3 Gayle
2015/16: Lost 1-5 Townsend
2014/15: Lost 0-2
2013/14: Lost 0-3
2012/13: Lost 0-2
2011/12: Won 2-0 Cisse 2
2010/11: Drew 2-2 Gutierrez, S.Taylor
2010/11: Won 4-3 Ranger, R.Taylor, Ameobi 2 (LC)
2008/09: Drew 0-0
2007/08: Lost 1-2 Butt
2006/07: Lost 0-1
2005/06: Lost 0-1 (FAC)
2005/06: Lost 0-3
2004/05: Lost 0-4
2003/04: Lost 0-5
2002/03: Lost 0-3
2001/02: Lost 0-1 (LC)
2001/02: Drew 1-1 Acuna
2000/01: Lost 1-3 Bassedas
1999/00: Lost 0-1
1998/99: Drew 1-1 Andersson
1997/98: Lost 0-1
1996/97: Drew 1-1 Shearer
1995/96: Drew 1-1 Ferdinand (FAC)
1995/96: Lost 0-1
1994/95: Drew 1-1 Hottiger
1993/94: Lost 0-1



To nobody's great surprise, Newcastle suffered their seventh straight loss at Stamford Bridge on Saturday, rounding off a miserable afternoon when results elsewhere had dumped them into the bottom three before their teatime kick-off. 

However, the margin of defeat was less than many had feared and despite a sizeable number of absentees, this was another spirited display against a top six side and an outcome that ultimately could be crucial if goal difference comes into play at the end of the season.

An opener from Pedro looked like the prelude to a mauling in West London, but the hosts failed to press their early advantage and it was United who grew into the game and took the chance given to find their feet as the half progressed. 

Florian Lejeune tested goalkeeper Kepa Arrizbalaga, while Salomon Rondon and Ayoze Perez both missed the target when presented with shooting chances before Ciaran Clark headed home amid scenes of great joy in one corner of what was otherwise an atmospheric void - despite pre-game blackouts, spotlights and leaping flames. 

Martin Dubravka pulled off a fine save to foil Pedro two minutes after the restart, denying Willian and Pedro again as the hosts looked to regain the lead. Reality intervened shortly before the hour mark though: Christian Atsu losing possession on the left (whether fouled or falling over was unclear) and the ball smuggled forward by Eden Hazard before Willian curled it home with deceptive ease.

Although it seemed inevitable that a third goal would follow if Hazard could be bothered to weave his way through our ranks, his side's lack of urgency in doing so left the result still in doubt until full time - although chances for a second Newcastle goal rarely presented themselves. 

Rondon did head wide late on when well-placed, but a lack of drive from the visitors was the cause of significant frustration in the away section - culminating in Ritchie's corner deep in added time being inexplicably played short to Atsu, whose cross harmlessly drifted out.   

(Rafa Benitez had looked less than enchanted with Newcastle's equaliser and the subsequent conversation with his coaches captured on TV suggested that the players had deviated from the allotted set piece routine. On that basis, the added time one was as per instruction - Dubravka's request to join the attack for one last fling visibly turned down by the bench).

It was hard to escape the nagging thought that we'd settled for this margin of defeat by the end and either wouldn't or couldn't try to alter that outcome: our reticence exemplified by a second half free kick outside the visitor's area when referee Chris Kavanagh actually made the defensive wall come forward, as it had retreated further back than the regulation distance.  

Five league games without a win then and while teams around us hit some form, our latest barren spell comes in the middle of a batch of tough fixtures. 

Our squad looks as threadbare as ever; injuries and international commitments meaning our central midfield today comprised a rookie (Sean Longstaff) and a wantaway underachiever (Isaac Hayden). 

Longstaff's fourth club appearance was his first Premier League start and he held his own against elite opposition, shaping attacks in the closing stages with some pinpoint passes out to the flanks.

Better Toon sides than this have lost by greater margins at this venue, but that's of no relevance to our plight. The fact that we achieved anything was due in part to Chelsea's shortcomings: had we possessed more quality and confidence, the situation could have been turned to our advantage.

There were some small elements of satisfaction here; not conceding a hatful and regaining the ability to score a set piece goal, something that was integral to our fortunes last season. The return of Florian Lejeune may also be significant, but he's a defender - our real need is at the other end. 

Failing to strengthen during January is unthinkable but only too believable. And even if funds are released, our mid-season transfer activity routinely verges on the laughable: hyped-up phantom bids or signings whose of limited worth (Henri Saivet) or none at all (Islam Slimani, Seydou Doumbia).

If our first-choice XI routinely struggles to score and keep clean sheets, then what logic suggests that a shadow side can hold its own, never mind prosper?

With fellow strugglers Cardiff City, Huddersfield Town, Burnley, Crystal Palace and Southampton all still to visit Tyneside, our destiny will be decided at home. Not beating Neil Warnock's lot would be a body blow; failing to actually try and win as per the Fulham home shambles absolutely inexcusable.

Before that though comes an unwanted FA Cup replay when our team selection hardly bears thinking about; begging the question just what the point of any of this actually is - and what staying up would really achieve, without a change of ownership and direction off the field.

Seeing media discussions about the "necessity" of Chelsea signing a striker sticks in the throat: Meanwhile Alvaro Morata and Olivier Giroud are benched, Tammy Abraham and Michy Batshuayi banished elsewhere. Meanwhile we do a loan swap deal for a Championship striker, splash out on another one from Stoke's stiffs and think that'll be enough to get by on. Why do we bother?

PS: Post-match headlines were filled by pro-Ashley pundits of dubious morality spouting yet more garbage about NUFC, something that was quickly and robustly rebuffed by fans and journalists. 

Forgive us if we don't rake over the ashes of a complete sideshow and diversion. These people are utterly irrelevant, just ignore them - don't let them poke you with a stick for their kicks and clicks. 


Page last updated 15 January, 2019