Gab Marcotti feels Chelsea made some serious mistakes during the summer transfer window and are now paying the price. (1:58)
NEWCASTLE, England — Newcastle continued their remarkable early-season form with a deserved 1-0 win over Chelsea at St James’ Park. Joe Willock got the only goal of a game which ended with players and coaches from both sides pushing and shoving on the edge of the Newcastle penalty area.
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Eddie Howe’s side did an impromptu lap of honour after the final whistle and will re-start the Premier League season in third following a start to the campaign that has seen them lose just once. Chelsea, meanwhile, head into the World Cup break on the back of a dismal run of four defeats from their last five games in all competitions.
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Eddie Howe and Graham Potter will have very different feelings whenever they glance at the table over the next six weeks. Newcastle are up to third, just two points behind champions Manchester City, and have ensured they will be in the Premier League’s top four at Christmas for the first time since the 2001-02 season.
Chelsea, meanwhile, have now lost three consecutive Premier League games for just the second time this century and will be outside the top four at Christmas for just the third time in the last 21 years. Newcastle have won five league games in a row and Howe would be forgiven for thinking that the World Cup has come at the wrong time. He can only hope that the impressive momentum his team have built up is still there when domestic football resumes after the World Cup.
In the other dug-out, Potter looks like a man in need of a break. Parachuted into the job mid-season after Thomas Tuchel’s sacking, the former Brighton boss has had precious little time to breath since taking over at Stamford Bridge in September and after a good start in his new job, Chelsea have limped to the break with just two wins from their last eight games.
The debate at the start of the season was whether Newcastle could break into the top six. The debate during the World Cup break should be whether they can crack the top four and qualify for next season’s Champions League. On paper their 1-0 win over Chelsea looks narrow but it was far more comprehensive than the scoreline suggested. The home side were well on top for most of the game and deserved Willock’s fine goal when it arrived midway through the second half.
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While Arsenal, Manchester City, Tottenham, Manchester United, Liverpool and Chelsea will all play in Europe in the new year, Newcastle have an advantage of playing just one game a week until the end of the season. It will give Howe more time to prepare his squad and give his players vital rest in between games and they shouldn’t be discounted as Champions League hopefuls.
Against Chelsea, Nick Pope made a fine save from Conor Gallagher, Sven Botman defended well and Miguel Almiron worked as hard as ever. Even without key players like Alexander Isak and Allan Saint-Maximin, this is still a very good side and the rest of the Premier League’s traditional top six have been warned.
England and the U.S. will have to wait until Nov. 25 for the Group B showdown in Qatar but the second half at St James’ Park turned into a small preview Christian Pulisic lined up against Kieran Trippier. Pulisic was dropped to the bench after starting the Carabao Cup tie with Manchester City in midweek but came on at half-time at the expense of Cesar Azpilicueta and was almost immediately clattered by Tripper — set to be England’s starting right-back at the World Cup — on the halfway line. Trippier was deservedly booked, but when the pair came together moments later it was the Newcastle right-back who won the dual.
Pulisic picked up the ball on the Chelsea left but just as his dart into the penalty area began to look dangerous, he was expertly nudged away by the England man. Pulisic had one run and cross that prompted enthusiastic applause from Potter, but other than that Trippier was well in control every time the two faced off. The next time Pulisic and Trippier see each other will be in Qatar with — possibly — a place in the second round of the World Cup at stake.
Newcastle: Pope 8, Trippier 8, Burn 7, Botman 7, Schar 7, Longstaff 7, Guimaraes 7, Joelinton 7, Willock 7, Almiron 7, Wood 5.
Subs: Wilson 6, Murphy 6, Targett 6.
Chelsea: Mendy 6, Azpilicueta 6, Koulibaly 5, Chalobah 6, Hall 7, Loftus-Cheek 5, Jorginho 6, Kovacic 5, Gallagher 6, Mount 5, Broja 6.
Subs: Silva 6, Pulisic 6, Cucurella 6, Havertz 6, Ziyech 6.
A mature performance from an experienced defender and he kept Pulisic very quiet.
The England midfielder barely saw the ball in his last appearance before the World Cup and was substituted early.
Newcastle looked the better side and got a well-deserved goal in the second half.
Newcastle take the lead over Chelsea midway through the second half. @NBCSportsSoccer
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Form of his life. 🌟 pic.twitter.com/8n96tinQUU
Graham Potter on going into the World Cup break after a poor run of form: “We can’t do anything about it [the break] and we have to use it as a positive. We’ll have a couple of players back [from injury] and we can use the time to refocus, reflect and get ready for the second half of the season. There’s a lot of football to play, a lot of learning that’s happened over the last eight weeks and the break, we’ll have to use it as positively as we can.”
Eddie Howe on Newcastle’s form: “We just want to get as many points as quickly as we can. The players deserve huge credit, it was up there with our best displays this season. I don’t really know about that [qualifying for Europe]. We haven’t thought about any permutation or consequences of the games, we’ve just tried to win them and I think that’s the best way for us to attack the second half of the season as well.”
– Chelsea have now failed to score in the first half in each of their last five Premier League games.
– This is Newcastle’s longest unbeaten run in the PL since a run of 14 games between May-Nov. 2011.
– Last time Chelsea went five or more games winless in PL was in 2012 when they went seven games without winning.
Newcastle: Eddie Howe’s side go into the World Cup break on a high, and have a friendly against Rayo Vallecano on Dec. 17, before a Carabao Cup match against Bournemouth on Dec. 20, followed by Premier League at Leicester City.
Chelsea: Potter’s men are in trouble as they host Bournemouth on Dec. 27, followed by a visit to Nottingham Forest on Jan. 1 and then a clash against Man City on Jan. 5.