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Alex error gifts Toon a point


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Newcastle 1-1 Chelsea

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Sunday 28 November 2010, Premier League, St. James' Park

A horrible November came to a close with further Chelsea frustration as the Blues were held to a disappointing 1-1 draw at Newcastle.

A calamitous miscommunication between Petr Cech and Alex allowed Andy Carroll to steal the ball and give Newcastle an early lead, but Chelsea rallied and equalised through Salomon Kalou on the stroke of half time. The second half was an entirely one-sided affair as the Blues besieged Tim Krul's goal, but a combination of sheer bad luck, pathetic misses and good saves from the Newcastle goalkeeper conceded Carlo Ancelotti's men to yet another disappointing result.

And with Manchester United's 7-1 demolition of Blackburn yesterday, coupled with a superb win for Arsenal at Aston Villa, Chelsea have lost top spot for the first time this season - they now trail Manchester United by two points and only goal difference keeps them above Arsenal in second place.

It has been a diabolical month for Chelsea both on and off the pitch - the sacking of Ray Wilkins and the resignation of Frank Arnesen has clearly troubled the side, whilst one Premier League win in five is indication of just how poor the Blues have been this November in light of a pile-up of injuries to key players, including John Terry and Frank Lampard.

After intense snowfall in the North East and a fantastic effort by Newcastle United and the city council to put the game on, some Chelsea supporters will perhaps wish the game had been postponed considering the largely insipid display put on by the Blues starting eleven. Though the second half was a marked improvement, an apparent lack of desire and commitment to the cause must be addressed if this catastrophic slump in form is to be turned around.

It was in typical fashion that Chelsea fell behind in this match - although comical is another word that would be satisfactory in describing the nature of it. A breakdown in communication saw Alex pass the ball back whilst Cech came out to claim it, and with the goalkeeper suddenly taken out of the match, Carroll was able to stroll in and knock the ball home to rub further salt into Chelsea wounds.

Thankfully from a Chelsea perspective, the visitors' response was more like the Chelsea who scored seventeen goals in their first four Premier League matches - as opposed to the two they have managed in their last four. Shots from Drogba and Anelka kept Krul busy, whilst Ashley Cole and José Bosingwa were enjoying productive afternoons and supplying an infinite amount of crosses from the flanks.

But for all of Chelsea's pressure, it took them until the forty-fifth minute to register a truly meaningful effort, and it was the equalising goal from Kalou. Chelsea broke forward and cute interplay between Anelka and Drogba allowed Kalou to space to strike goalwards; his effort taking the slightest of deflections as it nestled in the back of the Newcastle net - a hammer blow to the Toon.

With confidence coursing inside them, Chelsea began the second half in typically buoyant fashion, and Drogba demonstrated that with a brilliant burst of pace as he brought down Mikel's long-range pass and tested Krul with a snap-shot from just inside the box.

Minutes later it was Ivanovic warming the Newcastle goalkeeper's gloves, and Alex was beaten to the ball as Krul collected at the second attempt after his central defensive colleague has glanced an inswinging Malouda corner goalwards. At the other end, a rare Newcastle foray forward saw Carroll trouble the Chelsea defence but his header was straight at Cech.

That chance seemed to galvanise the home faithful, who inspired their team forward knowing that even in spite of their dominance, Chelsea were no longer the unbeatable giants who had started the season in irresistible fashion. That was shown as the hour mark passed after weakly punching a cross clear, Cech was thankful that Ashley Cole was well-positioned on the line to head away Wayne Routledge's fierce drive. After one-way traffic for the whole of the second half, Newcastle were suddenly throwing punches themselves.

In a game of fine margins, it was bad luck that denied Chelsea a deserved winner. First an accidental handball ruled out a superb turn and finish from the effervescent Drogba, whilst Kalou inexplicably poked the ball wide after a fortunate ricochet had fell into his path. It was to be a miss that Ancelotti's men would rue - and a late Sturridge miss could only compound the woe as Chelsea again surrendered more points.

The win against Zilina was supposed to have formed the cornerstone to a turnaround in fortunes, but make no mistake about it - this blip has become a full-blown rot.

___________________________________________________________________

Newcastle (4-4-2): Krul; Simpson, Campbell, Taylor, José Enrique; Routledge, Guthrie, Tiote, Gutiérrez; Ameobi © (Ranger 77), Carroll

Chelsea (4-3-2-1): Cech, Bosingwa, Ivanovic, Alex, Cole; Kalou, Ramires, Mikel (Sturridge 79), Malouda; Anelka Drogba.

The TalkChelsea.net Man of the Match was Newcastle's number 3, José Enrique

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whilst Ashley Cole and José Bosingwa were enjoying productive afternoons and supplying an infinite amount of crosses from the flanks.

I think this is one of the problems right now. The amount of times we were being exposed on a counter attack from NUFC was unbelievable. Though they didn't finish their chances they certainly could've had enough. I don't think, currently with our injury crisis, we should have both full back bombing forward because it's too much for Mikel to cover. There needs to be communication between Cole and Bosingwa to stop both of them going on, I think it needs to be one at a time. Under the current system, Anelka does not track back, making us very exposed on the right.

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I found moreorless the whole of the Newcastle team were excellent! However it was very difficult to choose between Tiote and Enrique as both were frankly fantastic yesterday.

Agree with you though LDN. We seem to lose all defensive discipline without our JT.

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Quite similar to Brum -there were countless chances to put this game to bed.

The loss of Wilkins and Terry and Lampard leaves a load of autonomous individuals temporarily -more team tactics need to be emphasised and emloyed.

I know that some people scoff at the importance of Wilkins, but the fact that he could speak fluent Italian was of massive importance in my humble opinion.

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