Newcastle crisis as Taylor ruled out for season

Newcastle United 0 Chelsea 3

St James' Park

After a dose of cold reality with successive matches against the two Manchester clubs and Chelsea yielding a single point, Newcastle United were plunged into an ice bath by yesterday's news that their defensive strongman Steven Taylor will miss the rest of the season. He requires surgery on an achilles injury sustained towards the end of Saturday's game as Salomon Kalou and Daniel Sturridge scored late goals to secure victory by a flattering margin.

It is a huge blow, not least as Taylor, who was brought up on Tyneside, epitomises the spirit that has underlined the club's unexpectedly successful start to the campaign after losing players like Kevin Nolan, Jose Enrique and Joey Barton. The goalkeeper and the whole back four had remained unchanged through the first dozen games as Newcastle soared as high as third before slipping down to a more realistic sixth amid the recent run against Champions League opposition. Much earlier in Saturday's game Taylor's partner Fabricio Coloccini, the team captain, limped off with a thigh strain and he is unlikely to be fit for this weekend's visit to Norwich.

With Mike Williamson, who played 29 games last season, still absent, Newcastle's manager Alan Pardew admits he will have to consider buying a central defender in January. "Williamson's back running and I'd suggest he might have an outside chance of playing in the Christmas programme, but I don't think they'll be involved before then," Pardew said. "Like all the teams in the Premier League, we've got a big, healthy squad and we've invested well. We've had a brilliant season so far, but injuries are going to come our way and you have to cope with it. If you have to ask players to play in different positions, then so be it."

The effect of disruption was evident once Coloccini went off, however, with James Perch, inexperienced at this level, being outjumped by Didier Drogba for the opening goal and struggling to cope with the menacing counter-attacks that Chelsea launched throughout the second half. Pardew, meanwhile, was left "sick in the stomach" by a combination of the injuries and the referee Mike Dean's refusal to send off David Luiz in only the fourth minute after he brought down Demba Ba just outside the penalty area. Pardew claimed yesterday that Dean had admitted his mistake.

The visitors' performance, Drogba suggested, was "more like the Chelsea of old". Which would be fine except that three League titles, three FA Cups and two League Cups in the last seven seasons were not sufficient for a demanding owner and so the task for the latest manager is to construct an entirely new Chelsea while maintaining, if not improving, that level of success. Andre Villas-Boas has unsurprisingly found it a daunting task and he knows that a second successive 3-0 win to spring into fourth in the table will count for nothing if on Tuesday he becomes the first manager under Roman Abramovich whose team fail to reach the knockout stage of the Champions League. That will be their fate if Valencia leave Stamford Bridge tomorrow with either a win or a score-draw. On the other hand, should Chelsea secure the result they need, morale will be high for the visit of Manchester City a week today.

"If we go past Valencia we will set the right emotional stimulus to face the League leaders," Villas-Boas said. Emotions were high all round the ground on Saturday, from the pre-match tributes to Gary Speed, through the Luiz incident to the late brace of goals celebrated so provocatively by Chelsea's fitness coach Jose Maria Rocha that Villas-Boas had to apologise on his behalf.

The changing of the guard will continue in January, Nicolas Anelka, who has lost his place to Sturridge, and the Brazilian defender Alex have both had their requests to leave agreed to. Frank Lampard will also have a decision to make about his future if he continues to be substituted as early as the 60th minute, which clearly annoyed him.

sportWWE latest including Sting vs Triple H, Brock Lesnar vs Roman Reigns and The Undertaker vs Bray Wyatt
Arts and Entertainment
Louis Theroux: By Reason of Insanity takes him behind the bars again
tvBy Reason of Insanity, TV review
Arts and Entertainment
Cassetteboy's latest video is called Emperor's New Clothes rap
videoThe political parody genius duo strike again with new video
Arts and Entertainment
tvPoldark, TV review
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

No postcode? No vote

Floating voters

How living on a houseboat meant I didn't officially 'exist'
Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin

By Reason of Insanity

Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin
Power dressing is back – but no shoulderpads!

Power dressing is back

But banish all thoughts of Eighties shoulderpads
Spanish stone-age cave paintings 'under threat' after being re-opened to the public

Spanish stone-age cave paintings in Altamira 'under threat'

Caves were re-opened to the public
'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'

Vince Cable interview

'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'
Election 2015: How many of the Government's coalition agreement promises have been kept?

Promises, promises

But how many coalition agreement pledges have been kept?
The Gaza fisherman who built his own reef - and was shot dead there by an Israeli gunboat

The death of a Gaza fisherman

He built his own reef, and was fatally shot there by an Israeli gunboat
Saudi Arabia's airstrikes in Yemen are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Saudi airstrikes are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Arab intervention in Yemen risks entrenching Sunni-Shia divide and handing a victory to Isis, says Patrick Cockburn
Zayn Malik's departure from One Direction shows the perils of fame in the age of social media

The only direction Zayn could go

We wince at the anguish of One Direction's fans, but Malik's departure shows the perils of fame in the age of social media
Young Magician of the Year 2015: Meet the schoolgirl from Newcastle who has her heart set on being the competition's first female winner

Spells like teen spirit

A 16-year-old from Newcastle has set her heart on being the first female to win Young Magician of the Year. Jonathan Owen meets her
Jonathan Anderson: If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

British designer Jonathan Anderson is putting his stamp on venerable house Loewe
Number plates scheme could provide a licence to offend in the land of the free

Licence to offend in the land of the free

Cash-strapped states have hit on a way of making money out of drivers that may be in collision with the First Amendment, says Rupert Cornwell
From farm to fork: Meet the Cornish fishermen, vegetable-growers and butchers causing a stir in London's top restaurants

From farm to fork in Cornwall

One man is bringing together Cornwall's most accomplished growers, fishermen and butchers with London's best chefs to put the finest, freshest produce on the plates of some of the country’s best restaurants
Robert Parker interview: The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes

Robert Parker interview

The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes
Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

We exaggerate regional traits and turn them into jokes - and those on the receiving end are in on it too, says DJ Taylor