Chelsea missed the chance to close the gap on the Premier League leaders, despite fighting back from two goals down at St James’ Park. The champions found themselves trailing after Ayoze Perez and Georginio Wijnaldum put Newcastle on course for their first win of the season. Ramires and Willian scored in the last 11 minutes to save a point, but they couldn’t find a late winner.
Loic Remy was the man selected to replace Diego Costa, who served the second game of a three match suspension. The usual supporting cast returned to the team following the rotated side at Walsall. John Terry was on the bench once again, with Gary Cahill and Kurt Zouma together at the back.
That team was expected to keep up the Chelsea revival, especially after Manchester City’s heavy defeat to Tottenham earlier in the day. This was a perfect opportunity for the visitors to cut the gap on those at the top, and really boost their title hopes. Despite that, they made a horrific start to the game, producing an awful first half display that saw them go in trailing at the break.
Minutes before half time, Newcastle sent the ball in towards the box, with Zouma inexplicably not clearing the ball as it came to him. It then fell to Perez, who pulled off a fantastic touch and finish to put the hosts ahead. In truth, Chelsea were lucky to only be 1-0 down at half time, after their woeful performance.
That luck ran out after an hour, as Wijnaldum headed in from a corner. Cesc Fabregas let the Dutchman roam free in the box, and he took advantage of that to head home to double the lead. Willian was introduced right after that goal, with Ramires to follow soon after. Those two changes went on to alter the course of the game.
The breakthrough came when the visitors upped the tempo. Zouma sent a long pass out to Eden Hazard, and his touch took him free of his marker. He teed up the substitute Ramires, and the Brazilian smashed home a great effort from distance. With 11 minutes left on the clock, suddenly all was not lost for the Blues.
Pedro failed to equalise when he was put through on goal, but they had another great opportunity minutes later. Willian had a free kick from the left hand side, and his inswinger baffled Tim Krul, after none of his defenders got a head to the ball. The effort sailed through, levelling the scores.
Chelsea went pushing for the winner after that, but the third goal just wouldn’t come for them. They left St James’ Park which just a point, which means this is another two points dropped for the champions. They now trail leaders Manchester United by eight, leaving them with a massive task to reclaim their title.
LCN Verdict: Ramires