That’s your lot, folks. Jacob Steinberg was at the Bridge, and his report is here. You know the pack drill: click, click, click. Thanks for reading this MBM. Stay safe and warm, everyone. Nighty night!
A word with Steve Bruce. “We sat off them a little bit in the first half. Werner caused us problems in particular. We changed things in the second half and got better. We got after them right from the off, there was more intent, which is what we’re trying to implement. Set pieces was a problem in the first half in particular, usually it’s a big strength of ours, so it’s something we’ll look at. There are a few positives in the second half. We have tried to change in the last eight weeks, and we are going to come unstuck now and again, but I am far happier in the way we played in the second half. Everybody’s making a fist of it, there are six, seven, eight teams all looking over their shoulder, but if we keep showing the same resilience, like we’ve shown the last month or so, then we’ll be OK.”
Tuchel also confirmed that Edouard Mendy is still Chelsea’s first-choice goalkeeper. “I am very happy that Kepa continued with a second clean sheet in a row. It was the moment to let him build his confidence. It was clear before that Edouard will be in goal from now on, because he recovered physically and mentally, and right now he’s the number one.”
Thomas Tuchel, ever the perfectionist, speaks to Sky Sports. “I liked the first half. We played with courage and a lot of purpose in the box. We had a lot of shots and managed to keep them away from our box. I liked that a lot. Our decision-making in the box can be more deadly, more precise, more decisive. The second half, we gave away shots, lost duels, suddenly there were corners against us. We played too many balls back. We did not keep the advantage to put the game into the opponent’s half. Our counter attacks were also not clinical enough to score a third goal and finish the game.”
The post-match managerial interviews are still to come. But Jacob Steinberg’s verdict has landed, so here it is!
It’s Timo time! “The first half was really good from us. We played a lot of very good football. I’m happy that I scored finally! There’s still a long way to go for the rest of the season, but if we keep going like this, I think it will be a good end for us. As a striker you always want to score. But at the end it’s a team sport, and if we win it is good. If I help my team with assists, by winning penalties, and now scoring, I am happy and very glad I scored today. My team brought me a lot of situations when I could score. It is really important for us to reach the Champions League, to reach for the top four, but look for next year as well.”
FULL TIME: Chelsea 2-0 Newcastle United
The Thomas Tuchel honeymoon continues apace, with Chelsea leapfrogging West Ham United and Liverpool into fourth spot in the Premier League. Newcastle stay 17th, but will take some heart from their performance. They fought well; they were just beaten by a better side, that’s all.
90 min +2: Lewis is down having taken a whack to the knee. Nothing too serious by the looks of it, and he’s soon up and about again.
90 min +1: Timo Werner has been named man of the match by Andy Hinchcliffe on Sky co-comms. Seems about right. He’s been excellent tonight. A goal and an assist. Ultimately the difference.
88 min: From the resulting throw, out on the right, Newcastle work the ball down the flank to win another corner. Carroll goes down in a grapple with Giroud, but it’s 50-50 and Chelsea get the decision. Carroll is not happy.
87 min: Shelvey dinks a free kick down the left for Almiron, who wins a corner off Kante. Carroll attacks the corner, but can’t get anything on it. Kepa eventually punches clear, albeit not in the most convincing style. But fair’s fair, he got it clear of immediate danger.
85 min: Fraser drives down the right but all the avenues close. With time running out, Newcastle look doomed. You have been watching …
83 min: Carroll and Joelinton combine crisply down the inside-left channel, a couple of flicks finding Almiron, just inside the Chelsea box on the left. Almiron meets the dropping ball first time, but it’s always heading high and wide. That was a tricky chance, the ball coming over his shoulder, and would have been one hell of a goal.
82 min: Lascelles works over yet another Chelsea player, this time winding Giroud as the pair contest aerially.
81 min: Carroll’s first act is to shove Azpilicueta in the back as he competes for a high ball in the Chelsea box. Free kick.
80 min: Andy Carroll, who scored against Chelsea in the 2012 FA Cup final for Liverpool, and should really have had two, replaces Willock.
79 min: James is immediately in the thick of it, driving towards the bottom right. Darlow does well to kick clear, especially as the shot took a nick off Lewis en route.
78 min: Nothing comes of the corner. And having just given Hudson-Odoi the big talk, he’s immediately replaced by James. Pulitzer, please!
76 min: Hudson-Odoi charges in from the right flank, forcing a corner. He’s been giving Lewis and Clark all manner of problems this evening. “It’s got to be torture to defend against Odoi,” writes Benjamin Park. “Since Tuchel has come in and he’s got more game time, every defender not necessarily struggles, but at least looks petrified whenever he gets the ball.”
74 min: Fraser crosses from the left. Willock pings a header down and up towards the top right. Kepa turns it around the post, a fine save by a goalie slowly gaining in confidence after all that jittery first-half footwork.
72 min: Fraser comes on for the uncharacteristically quiet Saint-Maximin.
71 min: Werner nearly zips clear of Lascelles down the inside left. Lascelles sticks a hand on his shoulder, the striker going to ground. It would have been a soft penalty, but it should have been given. Lascelles has certainly walked a thin line this evening.
69 min: Chelsea turn the screw a little, Giroud sending a close-range header straight at Darlow, Hudson-Odoi firing through the six-yard box from the right, neither Werner nor Giroud anticipating the cross. So close to a third that would put an end to the evening once and for all.
68 min: Almiron and Christensen chase a ball that’s heading out for a throw. Neither can put the brakes on before stepping onto the artificial surround, and both men clatter into the hoardings in full that’s-gotta-hurt style. A spectacular crash, but thankfully both survive it.
66 min: Corner for Chelsea out on the right. Mount sends it long. Newcastle clear. It’s suddenly gone a little scrappy. Not sure who that benefits, but with time marching on, as is its wont, it certainly doesn’t do Chelsea too much harm.
64 min: Alonso and Werner again combine cutely out on the left. Newcastle just about keep the door shut, but these two have been excellent tonight. A constant menace.
62 min: Shelvey spots Kepa a few yards off his line, and tries to score from the halfway line. Full marks for ambition, but it’s all a bit floaty and Kepa’s not going to be caught out by that. Another on-target save for the stats! Sam Johnstone and Jordan Pickford better watch out.
60 min: Chelsea come again, Werner again causing all manner of issues for Newcastle out on the left. His low cross tees up Alonso, whose drive is blocked. Werner tries again, and this time finds Kovacic, who attempts to find Hudson-Odoi with a diagonal dink. Too much on it. Goal kick. But after a slow start to the second half, Chelsea are beginning to cause a few problems again.
58 min: Hudson-Odoi, in a little space just inside the Newcastle box on the right, pulls back for Kovacic, who sends a screecher inches over the bar.
57 min: Saint-Maximin unceremoniously shoulders Azpilicueta off the pitch. The Chelsea captain isn’t happy. Newcastle have certainly made their presence felt physically this evening, as poor old Abraham can attest.
56 min: A free kick for the Toon out on the left. Chelsea hold an extremely high line. Almiron takes … but rolls it infield for Shelvey, whose shovel down the middle is easily batted back. All a bit odd.
55 min: But a goal up the other end will kill the game. Hudson-Odoi takes on Lewis down the right and hits across Darlow, who fingertips out for a corner. The corner’s worked short, then Darlow parries Azpilicueta’s low drive clear.
53 min: Saint-Maximin turns the burners fully on, reaching the byline and snapping a low cross to the near post. Willock can’t wrap his foot around the ball, sending his snapshot wide left. Half a chance out of absolutely nothing, that.
52 min: Gayle barges down the right and whips infield. Christensen heads away comfortably.
50 min: That’s a confident start to the second half by Newcastle, though, as they go in search of the game’s next goal. Breaking news: they can’t let Chelsea score it.
48 min: Gayle is bowled over by Jorginho, 30 yards out. Shelvey takes the free kick, sending a harmless one towards the top left. Kepa catches, and he’ll soon be passing Angus Gunn and Adrian on the old save-ratio chart if he keeps on like this.
46 min: Newcastle come out on the front foot, Saint-Maximin twisting down the left and teeing up Hayden to force a shot through a thicket of players. It’s an easy snaffle for Kepa, but that’ll do his dreadful shots-to-saves ratio the power of good.
Half-time checklist. Pour yourself a drink. Prepare a snack. Nip to the toilet. Subscribe to the Fiver.
HALF TIME: Chelsea 2-0 Newcastle United
The whistle goes to end a very good half for Chelsea and Timo Werner in particular. It’s difficult to see how Newcastle will come back from this.
45 min +2: … Azpilicueta intercepts and sends Mount into acres down the left. Mount drags a shot across the face of goal and wide right. A poor effort. For a second, that looked like three and out for Newcastle, who desperately need to hear the half-time whistle.
45 min +1: Werner flicks it on at the near post, forcing Shelvey to turn out for another corner. Shelvey clears the second. Newcastle launch a counter, but …
45 min: Some space for Alonso and Werner down the left. Another corner. Having scored their ninth goal of the season from a corner, can they make it ten before the break?
44 min: Kepa hoicks the ball out for a throw again, having made a meal of playing out from the back. He’s not had much to do, but his footwork hasn’t convinced.
42 min: Mount isn’t far away with a 25-yarder that curls just wide of the top left. Chelsea are playing extremely well.
40 min: Werner’s taken another smack in the mouth! Newcastle want to watch this, because after the first belt he set up one and scored another.
GOAL! Chelsea 2-0 Newcastle United (Werner 39)
The corner’s hit long. The ball clanks off Lascelles and drops to Werner at the far post. The striker swivels and steers it in from close range. He made that look easier than it was, because the ball didn’t drop perfectly for him, and he made sure of bundling it over.
38 min: A lovely sweeping move upfield by Chelsea, Kovacic starting it out deep on the left with a raking pass towards Mount in the centre, who shuttles it on to Hudson-Odoi on the right. A corner’s earned. From which …
36 min: A determined run by Hudson-Odoi down the right. Spaces opening up as a result. Shame then that he plays a strange ball infield that goes backwards and out of play on the other flank.