Blues routed by Newcastle as indiscipline and poor play sees the Londoners humbled 4-1
By Paul Lagan at St James Park
Newcastle United 4 v Chelsea 1 52, 227
Individual indiscipline, collective lack of responsibility and chronic poor play summed up Chelsea's disastrous 4-1 defeat at St James Park this afternoon.
The home side had 13 players unavailable for selection – three goalkeepers on the bench suggested this would be a difficult match for the Toon after the Blue's two recent results – a 4-1 win at Spurs and a 4-4 draw at home to Man City.
Perhaps the Londoners were overconfident given the squad the Magpies put out.
But it was anything but a walk in the park for the Blues.
Newcastle were rough in the tackle and gave no quarter – putting Chelsea into uncomfortable positions and unsettling them to the point where frustration, a needless sense of whinging and generally a high sense of frustration were their undoing.
Chelsea walked into the storm of the Toon and were unable to overcome it.
Yet it was a promising start by both sides - end-to-end stuff,
Chelsea's lack of discipline in midfield to prevent transitions, rather than controlled attacking play led to the unusual pinball style of football – good for the neutrals, worrying for the partisan.
That said it was the visitors who had the first chance when Conor Gallagher made a thrusting run on the left on nine minutes, but his attempted right-footed curler was well wide of the mark.
Gradually Newcastle took control of the ball and only a brilliant headed clearance from Thiago Silva on 10 minutes prevented Alexander Isak from heading home from a deep Anthony Gordon cross.
This signalled what was coming, a home goal and so it came to pass. Good work around the Chelsea area by the Toon's Lewis Miley saw him bisect the defence and Isak was on hand, and free to control the ball and smash it past Robert Sanchez.
But against the run of play, the Blues equalised with a piece of sensational dead ball skill from the boot of Raheem Sterling who won a free kick just outside the Newcastle penalty area.
Whether Nick Pope was distracted or simply memorised, he just remained rooted to the goal-line and watched the ball zip past him. The fact the ball wasn't in the corner but quite deep across the goal will suggest that while, well executed, Pope should have taken a more active part in preventing the leveller.
A brilliant counter-attack by the Blues almost saw them go ahead as they moved thee ball with speed and purpose from goalkeeper to the edge of the United area. Only Pope's spring-like dive to his right to deflect a Gallagher shot round the post prevented an almost perfect goal.
Kieran Trippier was u lucky, four minutes from the break when his free-kick smacked off the crossbar for a goal kick.
Chelsea got a free kick just outside the Newcastle penalty area seconds after the restart.
Up stepped James this time, who blasted high and wide of goal.
From that point onwards it was all Newcastle and they got a deserved second goal on 58 minutes.
A terrific cross from the right by Gordon, was perfectly placed for Jamaal Lascelles, who rose unchallenged to head home.
Less than 60 seconds laster it was 3-1 and disaster from the away side – and it was self-inflicted beyond belief.
Palmer perhaps should not have passed back to Silva, but the Brazil star failed to control the ball on the edge of his penalty area and Joelinton snaffled the ball and let rip to smash the ball home.
Chelsea head coach Pochettino must have sent the signal to the bench as they made a triple substitution on 68 minutes. On came Armando Broja, Mykhailo Mudryk and Moises Caicedo – off went Gallagher, Jackson, and Lesley Ugochukwu.
Any hope that Chelsea might recover from this ended on 72 minutes, when an already booked James, made another silly foul and the red card followed the second yellow.
Pochettino then brought in defender Levi Colwill for midfielder Palmer.
Gordon then produced a bit of class to slot home number four on 62 minutes.
It was all over by then, but in truth Newcastle set out to break down the fragility of thee Chelsea's confidence and it worked a treat.
Teams: Pope, Trippier, Schar, Lascelles, Joelinton, Gordon, Isak, Livramento, Almiron, Guimaraes, Miley
Subs< Dubravka, Karius, Gillespie, Dummett, Richie, Diallo, Murphy, Ndiweni, Parkinson.
Chelsea: Sanchez, Cucurella, Badiashile, Silva, Stirling, Enzo, Jackson, Ugochukwu, Palmer, Gallagher, James
Subs: Petrovic, Disasi, Mudryk, Madueke, Broja, Caicedo, Colwill, Maatsen, Matos
Referee: Simon Hooper