It was fitting that it would be in the pouring rain of London that Newcastle would face their first disappointing result of the League campaign. We went to Stamford Bridge last year in the midst of Chelsea's implausible runs in the FA Cup and Champions League, and it was clear that the distracted Chelsea squad wasn't prepared to see a Toon team so galvanized by the incredible play of Papiss Cisse. Today, there were no surprises, and Chelsea pretty well dominated the match from whistle to whistle, showing why they are the defending Champions League winners. A quick recap and instant analysis after the jump.
Newcastle fielded a squad at nearly full strength, bolstered by the return of Captain Colocinni, but weakened in the midfield by a lack of Chieck Tiote. Tiote's absence was felt almost immediately, as Jonas and Cabaye were incredibly quiet in the 4-3-3 whilst Vernon Anita scrambled desperately in the middle to try to match wits with Mata and Meireles. In the 22nd minute, Anita's light contact on Torres in the Newcastle box resulted in a Hazard penalty, which the young Belgian buried confidently in spite of Krul's correct guess. Chelsea never looked back.
While HBA, Ba, and Cisse had some decent chances and runs, the Chelsea defense was completely stalwart. Petr Cech was never truly tested, whereas the Newcastle defense was constantly on its heels. While Colocinni and Steven Taylor played strongly in the middle, the gap between Anita and Santon was exploited twice, both when Torres drew his penalty, and in stoppage time of the first half, when Torres stayed on his feet (amazing) and drilled a BRILLIANT shot in the upper 90.
In the second half, Newcastle looked completely exhausted and listless. The inclusion of Ryan Taylor for Danny Simpson in the 64th minute did bring some life to set pieces, but there was nothing truly inspiring. Clearly, the hangover from the trip to Greece was still lingering, and Newcastle will have to adjust accordingly to their new loaded schedule. While Anita was disappointing, it should be noted that it was his first full match, and with Marveaux, Ryan Taylor, and Perch all able to move into the midfield, we should be able to adjust accordingly once the players all get used to one another.
Newcastle has their return fixture against Atrmoitos on Thursday night, and then will host Aston Villa at home next Saturday.