Battered at The Bridge

Posted by Marc Duffy

Three months ago, Chelsea became Champions of Europe -- the first London side to ever win club football’s biggest prize. This after years of massive investment from Russian billionaire Roman Abramovich. I don't begrudge Chelsea success, as they aren't the only ones who have spent obscene amounts of money in recent years, but I mention it to put this game into perspective.
Since that night in May, Chelsea have added to their expensive squad with another 80,000,000 pounds worth of footballers. The starting XI fielded by Newcastle cost a total of about 44,000,000 pounds. Our summer spending has been limited to our means, with around 8,000,000 pounds spent on four players.

Newcastle were dealt a blow before kick off when Tiote was ruled out through injury on the same day he was linked with a move to Arsenal in one paper and Chelsea in another. In fixtures like this, I think Tiote is our most important player, so to lose him was a big problem.

Lineups:
Newcastle: Krul, Simpson (R.Taylor 64), Coloccini, S.Taylor, Santon (Marveaux 74), Cabaye (Perch 77), Anita, Gutierrez, Ben Arfa, Cisse, Ba.
Unused Subs: Harper, Williamson, Obertan, Amalfitano.

Chelsea: Cech, Ivanovic, Cahill, Luiz, Cole, Mata (Ramires 67), Mikel, Hazard, Meireles (Lampard 87), Bertrand, Torres.
Unused Subs: Turnbull, Essien, Romeu, Oscar, Sturridge.

Therefore, it was no great surprise to see £50,000,000 Euro 2012 Golden Boot winner Fernando Torres and £35,000,000 man Eden Hazard pull the strings throughout the game, scoring the game’s two goals. We didn't get to grips with either player and when Anita stupidly tripped Torres in the penalty area after 22 minutes, Hazard tucked the spot kick away. Definite penalty -- I don't even think Torres needed to throw himself theatrically to the ground like he did, though on this display it looks like he enjoyed it.

Torres added a second in first-half stoppage time with a nice goal, though Tim Krul in the Newcastle net might think he could have done better.

Chelsea cruised through the second half and we found ourselves with a couple of chances. The most notable opportunity fell to Demba Ba, but he couldn't make the most of it. In the end, the home side won comfortably.

Fact is, Newcastle looked jaded. Anyone who didn't know better would probably have assumed that the lot of them had played in the Europa League game. Yet again Papiss Cisse was not at the races - in his three games this season he has looked unfit and his touch has been very poor. More to come sometime soon from him I hope. Demba Ba was not much better.

The most worrying aspect of the display is how easily the Newcastle United midfield minus Cheick Tiote was bossed. We had no steel and very little heart. Cabaye was nowhere near as influential as he can be and Anita looked like a schoolboy struggling to come to terms with the pace and physicality of the English game. Don't get me wrong, I don't blame him for that and I'm not going to get on his back -- he's a young lad with definite ability and he's only been here for a matter of days.

The rumour mongers and Internet ITK's would have us all believe that Tiote missed out because he will be signing for Chelsea at some point soon -- and that Anita was brought in to play when that happens. If this fantasy world became a reality, we will struggle away from home this season. Let's hope Friday’s transfer deadline passes and we have not sold anyone. Remember, the common belief is that Ashley's business plan is to buy young payers cheaply and then sell them for a profit, something that we haven't done a single time in Graham Carr's time at the club.

So all in all, let's not get too down about this performance and result. We were away from home against a side that will (in my opinion) be title contenders this season. That fixture is now over; next up is a Europa League second leg on Thursday night (vs. Atromitos) and then Villa at home next Sunday.

Follow me on twitter @MarcSDuffy

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