Newcastle United defender Ciaran Clark said the game on Saturday initially went according to their plan, but Reece James’ “wonder strike” made the difference for Chelsea.
The Blues eventually secured a 3-0 win at St James’ Park, but despite their domination, they had a hard time breaking down the hosts’ resilient defence.
To put it into perspective, Chelsea had 75 per cent possession of the ball in the first half but failed to register any shot on target before the break. Newcastle, who are still without a win in the Premier League this season, were clearly happy to sit back and fight for a point.
Fortunately for the Blues, James broke the deadlock in the 65th minute, which, according to Clark, changed the game. He told Newcastle United TV after the game:
“We frustrated them for the first 60-65 minutes — that was our game plan. We knew they were missing a few players, but we also knew the quality they could bring in. So yeah, we wanted to frustrate them and catch them on the counter-attack.
"We managed to do that, and it took a wonder strike from James — it was a great finish. After that, their quality and experience showed. If we had managed to hold out for another 10 minutes, it [would have been] a different game then. It’s just ifs and buts, but they’re top of the league, and they’re there for a reason.”
Well, after James’ opener, Graeme Jones’ men had no other choice but to play more actively to at least get a point. It consequently gave Chelsea more space in the final third, and they capitalise on it.
The Blues clearly deserved their win, though, having finished the game with 79 per cent possession — their highest so far this season.