I now know how Barca felt.
I used to get annoyed when teams like Barca would keep passing the ball around and while we fought hard defend and counter attack, but now I know how they felt on the other side. This game was basically attack vs defence as Newcastle for about 70 minutes of the game sat with 9 men in front of the penalty box. Chelsea are the first team in Europe to reach 2000 passes or more and that is stark contrast to our play style last season.
The lineup was exactly as predicted as Kovacic and Hazard got their first starts of the season. The game was tough and the stats alone tell you the story as 82% possession, and 15 shots on goal although only 3 were on target. If we were to win this game then Chelsea would need luck and that luck came in the final 20 minutes of the game as Hazard opened the scoring in the 76th minute via a penalty. The foul itself was dubious but their was no questioning Hazard. Joselu scored a banging header in the 83rd minute after Yedlin seemed to have elbowed Giroud but play was allowed to carry on. Karma caught up with Yedlin in the 87th minute as an Alonso shot was deflected into goal by him to seal the three points for us.
Parking the bus is frustrating and while its great if your team does it and manages to get the points at the end of the game it is also frustrating when your teams basically puts a siege on the opposition goal and only come away with a point. Benitez set his team up perfectly and I personally hope they manage a draw or more against City next week. As far as players are concerned, Kepa did not have much to do during the game and the goal was not his fault, while the defence was shaky at times particularly down the left hand side but as Sarri has said that may take a few signings and or time on the pitch to sort out. Jorginho was brilliant as he dictated play and controlled the midfield and he seems to already be leading opinions as the signing of the season as without him Sarriball would take ages to getting used to. Kante was his destructive self as he got into forward positions and broke up play. Kovacic had a good game but nothing out of the extraordinary as more game time and interactions with team mates will be needed. Pedro was great and lively as he as been under Sarri, while Morata did the simple things well as there was no real space from Newcastle to break in between the lines and the game needed a striker of Giroud’s quality. Hazard was awesome but showed why it will still take time for him to get into full flow. Willian was decent, Barkley was decent, and Giroud held the ball up well when he came on.
Teams that set up as well as Newcastle did against us are always tough to break down and only time and luck will improve that aspect of play from Chelsea. Improvements and the drive continues as Chelsea continue to go unnoticed and sit third in the table with 3 wins in 3. A game at home against Bournemouth awaits before the international break. COME ON CHELSEA!!