Newcastle’s record at Stamford Bridge in the Premier League era is not good to put it plainly. Other than 2012 with the two super strikes from Papiss Cisse, Newcastle generally come up empty-handed. Last night was no different.
The first half was particularly disappointing as Newcastle started the match a little too passively. Chelsea showed their class with an emphasis down our exposed flanks, leaving Newcastle reeling and down 2 goals at the half. It really could have been 3 or 4.
The second half was an improvement though we lacked a cutting edge. Miguel Almiron, Allan Saint-Maximin, and Joe Willock were just not able to reproduce their exploits from a week ago against his superior Chelsea side.
Steve Bruce was buoyed by the improved second-half display but rued his side’s inability to deal with the Blues in the first. Here are some of his take aways from the match as published in The Chronicle:
“We were excellent in the second half and in the first half we found it very difficult.
“The way they played, the system they had, the two inside forwards – we didn’t deal with it well enough.
“Second half we got to grips with it and we were more aggressive – a lot of positives. The first half was very difficult for us.
“With 10-15 minutes to go, we can ask a question. We’re disappointed with the first half if I’m being brutally honest. We got back in the game in the second half.”
The defeat does little to assuage growing relegation fears on Tyneside. While Newcastle are still seven points above 18th placed Fulham, we are rightfully concerned when in this precarious position in the table. Two relegations under Mike Ashley have removed any benefit of the doubt.
If Bruce is concerned, he’s not showing any outward signs of distress. He believes that if Newcastle continue to play like they did over the past few matches, and the second half last night, that they should be ok by the end of the season.
Here is what he said when asked about being dragged into a relegation fight:
“I expect a fight from us, there’s six, seven, or eight teams in the bottom half with a long way to go and a lot of games to play.
“If we show that spirit like we did in that second half we’ll be alright.”
Newcastle should be nowhere near the position they are in. They have squandered opportunity after opportunity to have a comfortable season. Now we are in a fight for safety without the one player we could not afford to lose in Callum Wilson.
Last night was not a fixture to pick up points in, but wasted opportunities this season placed extra importance on this match. The lads showed some fight in the second half in what was likely a lost cause.
Now it’s on to Old Trafford against Manchester United, who have been hit or miss against the bottom half of the table. Hopefully, the lads will come out inspired and ready to fight from the opening whistle as there’s not much hope we’ll have a seven-point cushion over Fulham by kick-off on Sunday.