Newcastle halt the Chelsea Express

Posted by Marc Duffy

Serena Taylor/Getty ImagesLoic Remy's late second-half goal sealed all three points for Newcastle.

Coming into Saturday's game off the back of six consecutive victories and nine games unbeaten, Chelsea suffering a 2-0 loss to turmoil-ridden Newcastle was a result few would have predicted.

Even more unlikely than Newcastle's victory was their clean sheet. Chelsea have racked up 23 goals in their last nine while Newcastle had not kept a Premier League clean sheet since August.

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Make no mistake -- Newcastle were good value for their win at the end of yet another controversy-filled week on Tyneside. Chelsea would have gone top of the league if they had claimed all three points (finishing before the Arsenal-Liverpool match), but despite having 61 percent of possession, they had only two shots on target to Newcastle's eight.

Even Jose Mourinho acknowledged Newcastle's superiority on the day in his postmatch news conference.

"I didn't like my team today, and I'm disappointed," he said. "I didn't like it, and I think we deserved to lose.

"We had a couple of good chances to score the equalizer, but they were more in the game than us. They fought more than us, were much more committed than us. They did much to win, and for sure they were the best team on the pitch."

The St James' Park atmosphere was initially subdued at the end of a week in which the football team lost a derby to archrival Sunderland, was eliminated from the Capital One Cup by Manchester City and banned several local journalists from using its media facilities. As the players took to the field, hundreds of supporters waved a copy of the Evening Chronicle, one of the publications banned, in a protest against Newcastle owner Mike Ashley.

The first half was a reflection of this somber atmosphere and grim weather; Chelsea looked only half-interested in the game. They almost looked like they expected just to turn up to win all three points. They attacked with pace but with no cutting edge while Newcastle soaked up all they had to offer.

John Terry hit the crossbar with a header, but both teams' goalkeepers could have sat together and read the Evening Chronicle, they had so little to do. Newcastle played Chelsea at their own game as the match went on -- sit back, let them come on and then break with pace when they won possession.

On the hour, Newcastle had the first real chance of the game. Moussa Sissoko went marauding down the right wing and tried to find the inside of the far post, but Petr Cech saved well. Then Loic Remy missed a great chance, shooting straight at the Czech stopper.

This lifted the crowd. They could smell blood, and they began to really get behind their team.

Shola Ameobi made way for Papiss Cisse, and although the Senegalese striker struggled when in possession, his superior movement and pace helped change the face of Newcastle's attack -- as did the arrival of Vurnon Anita for Cheick Tiote. All of a sudden, Newcastle were sharper and much more dangerous.

Newcastle took the lead on 68. Ashley Cole conceded a free kick, and after consultation with Alan Pardew on the touch line, Yohan Cabaye swung a ball to the back post and Yoan Gouffran was on hand to stab home. 1-0 and St James' was jumping.

Four minutes later, another rapid Newcastle attack with some great interplay between Sissoko and Remy was thwarted by a fantastic last-gasp tackle from Terry.

Chelsea kept breaking too, but Newcastle repeatedly soaked it up. The to-ing and fro-ing continued until Remy squeezed a second goal for Newcastle just inside of the post and the game was won.

There was still entertainment to be had with the rare appearance of Gabriel Obertan. The Frenchman found himself on the breakaway in stoppage time, and as he hurtled toward Cech's goal, he forgot to take the football with him.

The cheers and celebrations at full-time were as much relief as they were joy as Newcastle had beaten Chelsea at St James' for the second time in 2013.

The only downside was Pardew's provocative insistence to praise Ashley for the win in his postmatch interview. Not really necessary.

If this Newcastle team guarantees one thing, it's a footballing roller-coaster ride. Who knows what we will see when they head to White Hart Lane next week!

Follow Marc on Twitter @MarcSDuffy.


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