Any neutral observer watching today’s game between Chelsea and Newcastle United, would have seen a good competitive game that was good to watch.
Sam Allardyce – there’s no crisis at Newcastle
And anybody suggesting Newcastle United were a team in crisis before the game, would have had a hard job convincing anybody about that. The team played quite solidly, although we could have done better on Chelsea’s first goal. At half time it had been fairly even with Chelsea just beginning to get on top, in the last 20 minutes of the half.
But Newcastle came out fighting, like they had to in the second half, and were all square after 56 minutes. The goal followed great work down the left wing, by Charles N’Zogbia. The young Frenchman got to the byline and put in a hard cross that was finally bundled over the line. While Nicky Butt got credit for the goal, Wayne Bridge actually back-heeled the ball into his own net, which was clearly seen in TV replays of the goal.
And then surprisingly Newcastle raised their game further, and had Chelsea on the back foot for the next 30 minutes or so, as they went after the winner. The Magpies had Chelsea rattled several times during that period. But like all good teams, Chelsea came back into the game near the end, and scored the winner through Kalou after 87 minutes, although he was clearly offside, as TV replays continued to show (endlessly it seemed).
So a neutral observer would have seen a solid and spirited performance from a quite skillful Newcastle side, and if they had been told the club was in crisis, they would have rightly wondered what that was all about.
We think Sam’s right and too much has been made of our two pathetic performances against Wigan and Derby last week. We were hopeless in those games, so let’s be clear, there’s no doubt about that. 🙁
But this spirited performance will be a tonic for our supporters, even though we got nothing out of the game. There really didn’t look too much wrong with the lads today, and Michael Owen even returned from injury.
Michael Owen – returned in second half, after 6 weeks out with thigh strain
Maybe, just maybe, things will start looking up again. But against teams lower down in the league we must produce levels of performance like we did today. That’s going to be the key to whether this season is all we had hoped for.
If we had played like this in the last two games we’d have easily taken all 6 points. But we didn’t and that’s just one challenge Sam has with this group of players – making them consistent, game in game out. We could start with 3 points on Wednesday night against Manchester City.
That’s also likely to be a great game for the fans, and we have a good chance of getting all 3 points with more great support from the Newcastle faithful, who will be there in force, filling St. James’ Park to the rafters, as usual. They at least deserve another committed performance from the lads – let’s hope they get one.