Chelsea have to settle with a point and second place after dominating game
Newcastle were without numerous influential first team players in the form of Joey Barton, Fabricio Coloccini and Mike Williamson all suspended whilst club captain Kevin Nolan is out with an ankle injury. However, this didn’t seem to be much of a disruption for The Magpies as they started very brightly indeed. In just the second minute Danny Guthrie swung in a free kick which Steven Taylor got his head to, Cech saved well but the ball dropped to Ameobi but he could only send his volley into the side netting.
Newcastle’s early pressure paid off though as Routledge over hit a through ball for Andy Carroll seemingly leaving a straight forward clearance for Alex. A communication breakdown between the Brazilian and his goalkeeper saw Alex knock the ball past Cech and leave the onrushing Carroll an open goal which he duly pounced on and put the home side one nil up.
Early Chelsea frustration showed as the first yellow card was shown as early as the 21st minute for a cynical trip by Ramires on Gutierrez.
The first real chance for the away side came in the 26th minute from a header from Alex as he looked to make up for his blunder. His effort had Krul beaten, but Jose Enrique was there on the post to make the clearance.
Chelsea were taking a hold on the game by this stage enjoying the lion’s share of possession and winning a few corners, they were lacking a cutting edge though as Drogba and Anelka failed to link up effectively.
Routledge was looking dangerous on the right side for Newcastle though, largely on the counter-attack and his cross on 30 minutes had to be scrambled away by the Chelsea defence.
There was a controversial moment on 37 minutes as an Anelka through ball saw Drogba charging after it but then going down after a coming together with Cheik Tiote. The referee gave nothing and the replays showed that there was very little contact between the two, with Drogba throwing himself to the floor looking for a free kick and possibly a red card for Tiote.
Ameobi nearly pounced to make it two for Newcastle as Carroll won a header from a deep free kick which he does so well and the ball bounced in the box but Cech just beat the Newcastle captain to it.
There was a strong penalty shout for Chelsea as half time approached as Ashley Cole burst into the box from the left and went down again under a challenge from Tiote. Andre Marriner wasn’t impressed, but replays showed there was contact. Cole seemed to take some revenge in the next minute as he seemed to leave the boot in on Tiote after an aerial challenge.
Chelsea’s pressure finally paid off a minute before the interval as a lovely move coming from midfield started by Mikel ended in a goal. The Nigerian played it into Malouda who layed it off for Soloman Kalou who excellently took it in his stride with a clever flick, skipped away from Campbell and got a shot off. It was slightly deflected off Danny Simpson and that was enough to beat Krul to make it 1-1 just before the referee’s whistle for half time.
The second half started in fairly cagey fashion with it not being until the 56th minute that the first attempt on goal came in. It was Drogba who got his shot away, showing his quality for the first time as he took the ball down on his chest on the edge of the box and struck a left foot volley that was well stopped by Krul.
The game seemed to open up a little after this as Gutierrez and Routledge looked good on the Newcastle flanks. It was nice play from the latter that saw him cross well for Carroll who won his header but was penalised for a push on the defender.
Newcastle claim very close to a second goal in the 62nd minute as Cech produced a very poor punch from a left sided cross and the ball fell to Routledge who hit a fierce volley past the Czech keeper, but Cole was there to make an excellent goal line clearance.
The game was becoming fairly end to end as Drogba again had a volleyed effort well saved by Krul as the ball bobbled in the penalty box.
With twenty minutes to go a Drogba cross struck Enrique on the arm in the penalty area, but the he was so close to the Ivorian when the cross was made a penalty was rightly declined. From the resulting corner Ivanovic rose well to win a header but it was straight at Krul who saved comfortably.
With 77 minutes on the clock, Drogba had a goal disallowed for handball. The frontman again employing his signature move of a volley on the spin with his back to goal but he controlled the ball with his arm before hammering it home and it was rightfully disallowed.
The first substitution was made in the 78th minute as the stand in captain Ameobi was replaced by the 19-year-old Nile Ranger.
The substitution was followed by the best chance Chelsea had to win the game as the ball some how escaped Tim Krul and two Newcastle defenders as it bounced through the box leaving Soloman Kalou with an open goal which he somehow managed to put wide.
Ancelloti was really going for the win as he took Mikel off for the much more attacking option of Daniel Sturridge with ten minutes to go, but Newcastle were doing well to stifle all of their attacks, albeit at the expense of yellow cards for both Tiote and Guthrie who took their defence duties a little too far.
Chelsea huffed and puffed looking for a winner right to the end but just couldn’t break Newcastle down as the game ended 1-1.