Chelsea went to the top of the table, temporarily at least, as Tammy Abraham put the finishing touch to an easy win at Newcastle.
Chelsea shrugged off the early Saturday start that Frank Lampard wants scrapped as they cruised to a 2-0 victory at Newcastle United in the Premier League.
An own goal from Federico Fernandez and a second-half finish from Tammy Abraham gave the visitors a comfortable win against opponents who barely threatened.
Victory took Chelsea to the top of the Premier League, for a few hours at least, as they returned from the international break with a lively display at St James’ Park.
A stumbling Fernandez turned in a cross from Mason Mount for the opener in the 10th minute, with the largely quiet Abraham striking midway through the second half.
5 – Since his debut in September 2014, no Premier League player has scored more own goals in the competition than Federico Fernández (5 – level with Lewis Dunk). Misfortune. pic.twitter.com/p6Op0uHwa7— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) November 21, 2020
Karl Darlow made a sharp early save from Timo Werner’s low shot and the goalkeeper excelled for a second time when he touched Abraham’s powerful header over the bar after an excellent cross from the left by Hakim Ziyech.
The Newcastle goalkeeper did not get near a whipped cross from Mount moments later, though, when the ball came in from the right and Fernandez put the ball into his own net.
Newcastle, weakened by the absence of injured leading scorer Callum Wilson, had won five of their last seven Premier League home games against Chelsea.
But Werner should have doubled Chelsea’s lead in the 30th minute only to slip the ball wide and half-chances continued to come the way of the visitors, who had 78.9 per cent of possession in the opening 45 minutes and played 439 passes against a meagre 109 from Newcastle.
Newcastle captain Jamaal Lascelles took a blow late in the first half and was replaced by Fabian Schar for the second 45 minutes, with the replacement soon caught napping by Werner who yet again ought to have scored.
The Germany international raced in from the left and had only Darlow to beat, but he tried to give Ziyech an easier finish and made a mess of his pass.
Abraham’s goal essentially ended the contest, as he rifled home off the inside of the right post from Werner’s pass, with Sean Longstaff denied a stunning consolation when his strike bounced off the bar.
Werner was denied by an offside flag after rounding Darlow to net, but two was enough for Chelsea.
What does it mean?
Lampard made the point in his pre-match news conference on Thursday that he is no fan of the early weekend kick-offs, suggesting they were an unnecessary inconvenience. His view is unlikely to have been affected by this stroll on Tyneside, but at least he had no cause for fresh complaint. The bulk of his squad have been away with their national teams for the last fortnight, but Chelsea were a cohesive unit again and it is now seven games unbeaten for them in the Premier League. Mid-table Newcastle were not at the races and were thankful for Chelsea’s finishing not always being as sharp as it might have been.
Chelsea keep it clean
Former Blues midfielder Joe Cole told BT Sport after the game: “I don’t think Frank will thank me, but if you look at that, you’re looking at a team of title contenders.”
Perhaps key to their chances of staying in the frame for silverware will be Chelsea’s defending, which has in previous season been as a weak link. The recalled Antonio Rudiger paired up with Kurt Zouma in the centre of the backline, with Thiago Silva rested, and showed he can have a big part to play. Rudiger made two of the three blocks by Chelsea players and also had three clearances, while Zouma stood out with six clearances while also winning nine of his 12 aerial duels.
Goal a tonic for Tammy
Abraham was curiously off the pace and largely a passenger in the first half, when he had just 13 touches, which was 17 fewer than any other outfield Chelsea player. He played just six passes in that opening 45 minutes – the lowest total of anyone on the pitch – and only three of those passes were successful. His early header almost gave Chelsea the lead, but he has to offer more than that to be a regular starter for Lampard. The goal helps his cause, no doubt, but this was not Abraham’s best day for the Blues.
Key Opta Facts:
– Chelsea have won 26 Premier League games against Newcastle United – only versus Tottenham (30) have they won more games in the competition.
– Timo Werner has been directly involved in 11 goals in his last 10 appearances in all competitions (8 goals, 3 assists).
– Since the start of last season, Tammy Abraham has scored 23 goals in all competitions, 11 more than any other Chelsea player.
– Since his debut in September 2014, no Premier League player has scored more own goals in the competition than Federico Fernandez (5 – level with Lewis Dunk).
Newcastle travel to Crystal Palace on Friday evening for their next Premier League assignment. Chelsea are busy before then, with a trip to French club Rennes for Tuesday’s Champions League match.