Chelsea saw a big opportunity to try and expand their advantage in the race for the top four this past weekend as they prepared to take on Newcastle United in the late kick-off.
The big slip-up
Efforts from N’Golo Kante and Tammy Abraham came to nothing in the midst of the game and served, in many ways, as their best opportunities to get the win. Then, in the dying minutes of the game, Isaac Hayden was able to head Newcastle towards a truly historic victory.
Newcastle boss Steve Bruce was realistic, but still took the time to praise his team following such a huge win.
“I can’t fault my players for the way we defended. The big thing we need to do better is look after the ball and cause more of a threat. Today we didn’t seem to carry a threat. But one great ball or delivery – you may call it smash and grab, but it is good to see.
“We can’t press from the front like Chelsea do. If we did that we would come a cropper. We have to do it our way, a way that suits the squad we have got.
“We can get better but we have had results against the top teams. They find it difficult to play against us and that’s what we try to do.”
Blowing the race wide open
Chelsea manager Frank Lampard painted the picture of what happened, but made sure to praise his players in the process.
“We dominated every aspect of the game. They hit the bar in the first half but the rest of the game was ours, except scoring.
“Newcastle defend their box, you won’t make too many clear-cut chances against them. We controlled the game, we were at the end of their box. If we want to go to the next level we have to take chances and score in these kind of games.
“The lads have got their heads down in there. But the brutal reality of football is if you don’t score, teams stay in the game and something like that happens at the end.”
Newcastle fans can and will continue to complain about the current state of their club and so they should. Things need to change starting at the very top with Mike Ashley, but if we’re going to focus on what’s happening on the pitch, Steve Bruce has done a really admirable job.
Chelsea, though, have seen the wheels well and truly fall off in recent weeks. The nature of the top four race ensures that they’re still going to be in a with a chance one way or the other, but it seems like they really do need to bring in a few new faces at the very least during the January transfer window.