A relatively uneventful affair at St James Park burst into life with a late flurry of goals ending in a win for Chelsea.
Eden Hazard gave Chelsea the lead from the spot but Joselu headed in Deandre Yedlin’s cross with ten minutes to go.
Newcastle were on course for a fortunate point but Marcos Alonso’s low shot was turned into his own net by Yedlin.
Here are five things we learned from St James Park.
1. Chelsea’s lack of transfer planning is harming English talent
There’s a good reason that Gareth Southgate and Steve Holland avoided St James’ Park on Sunday. If they had made the journey north ahead of naming their next England squad on Thursday, they will have been very disappointed to see no English players in Chelsea’s starting team for the first time this season.
Ross Barkley was replaced by loan-signing Mateo Kovacic and Ruben Loftus-Cheek made the bench and remains low in the pecking order at Chelsea.
Failing to shift Thibaut Courtois early in the transfer window meant that Chelsea were second fiddle to the Spanish clubs in the negotiations and had to take Kovacic on loan, at the expense of their existing English talent.
Maurizio Sarri said that Loftus-Cheek might be able to leave in January, however by then it seems it will be several months too late. “I have spoken with him twice this week, after I spoke to the club, so I think that Loftus-Cheek will remain with us,” said the Chelsea manager. “We can speak again about his situation, but only in December.”
2. Rafa prepared to stand firm
Not many people fall out Rafa Benitez and live to tell the tale, and Jamaal Lascelles is the latest player who can tell you that.
According to reports, Lascelles was dropped from the squad after falling out with the Newcastle manager over tactics. The captain is said to have been unhappy about Benitez’s decision to play him on the right side of a back three when he wanted to play in the middle.
Lascelles watched on from the stands as Fabian Schar, Federico Fernandez and Ciaran Clark formed a three-man defensive line.
3. Chelsea burden weighs heavy on Eden Hazard
Chelsea are a side that boasts an enormous amount of individual talent, but there’s an astonishing amount of pressure on Hazard being the one that unlocks defence, and this comes from the Chelsea players.
There seems to be an astonishing lack of confidence amongst the Chelsea forwards that they must score through Hazard. A prime example of this was when N’Golo Kante had space to shoot on the edge of the area but instead opted to roll the ball to Hazard who had a couple of players for company. He collected the ball, was forced away from goal, and when he looked up the Chelsea players just started back at him waiting for something to happen.
4. Newcastle here to make up the numbers
Whether it’s what fans want or not, Newcastle were completely uninterested in getting up the pitch and causing Chelsea problems as they prioritised defending.
A 5-4-1 is never going to score too many goals, but there is scope get into attacking areas as team of the desire is there. Each time Newcastle won the ball back there was nobody wanting to get forward and the fans were getting frustrated.
It’s all well and good aiming to come away with a draw, but nobody wants to pay to watch their side have just 17 per cent of the ball.
5. Sarri has a problem with N’Golo Kante
N’Golo Kante has been one of the best players in the Premier League in the last three seasons, but new Chelsea manager Maurizio Sarri appears to have a problem fitting him into his system.
The incoming manager insisted on bringing Jorginho with him from Napoli, and you can see why. Sarri is playing Jorginho in the position which Kante has occupied in the couple of seasons which means the French midfielder has been given a new role.
Even when Willian replaced Pedro in the second half, Kante was wasting his talent on the right wing.
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