In another highly-anticipated pre-season friendly in the United States, this time in Atlanta inside the gorgeous Mercedes Benz Arena, Newcastle United held Chelsea to a 1-1 draw after already drawing one against Aston Villa (3-3) last Sunday.
The game kicked off with both teams making their way onto the pitch in front of a ridiculous 70,000+ crowd in attendance in the football-connoisseur city of Atlanta.
Newcastle United manager Eddie Howe stopped inventing and reverted to his favored and most-logical 4-3-3 formation after catastrophically using a three-man defensive line in the draw against Villa.
The tactical change seemed to provide Newcastle with some stability very early on, as they enjoyed periods of possession and looked comfortable on the ball, until Nicolas Jackson (12th) stroke gold barely 10 minutes into this thing.
A well-timed through ball carved open the Newcastle defense, allowing Nicolas Jackson to calmly slot the ball past goalkeeper Martin Dubravka and give Chelsea the leadsmoothly.
Despite the setback, Newcastle gradually grew in confidence as the first half progressed, this time boasting a starting XI that could very well be seen once the Premier League arrives early next month. Barring the presence of Academy talent Lewis Miley—who Howe confirmed after the final whistle will be staying with the first team next season—on the left wing, the other nine outfield players made for a very chalky selection—flip Bruno for Miley, and there you have it.
The Magpies put Chelsea under pressure, and the efforts paid off when forward Miguel Almiron, a favorite among both the Newcastle and Atlanta’s faithful, equalized just before halftime. Almiron displayed his clinical finishing ability, opening his body to convert a well-placed through ball and send the ball past Chelsea’s goalkeeper, Kepa Arrizabalaga.
Marc Cucurella tried to jump into Anthony Gordon’s through ball, risked it all in an attempt to steal the pass, miscalculated, and left Miggy all open for the Paraguayan kid to slot one in and make it all a 1-1 draw.
The second half saw both teams make changes to their line-ups in a bid to find the winning goal, not before Fabian Schar had to left the pitch early having picked up an injury that saw him off by the 34th minute. After the game, Howe said that it didn’t look like Schar suffered any serious injury and that the issue is not expected to drag into the season nor affect the Switzerland international for a long period of time.
At the end of the day, neither side could find the breakthrough goal, although the final minutes featured some interesting play including a highlight thanks to—who else—Newcastle’s GK1 Nick Pope who made a stunning save to deny Chelsea’s Ben Chilwell from finding the winner in the game that saw the England international play for the first time since he underwent surgery at the end of last season.
Newcastle move on and will face Brighton in the final game of the Premier League Summer Series on Friday at the Red Bull Arena in New Jersey, home of the New York Red Bulls, before returning home to host back-to-back games against Fiorentina and Villarreal on the first weekend of August.