09:53am, August 27th ,2018
Rafa Benitez deployed an ultra-defensive lineup against Chelsea, but Maurizio Sarri’s men still found a way to score twice and earned a victory over Newcastle United. The Magpies formed a defensive bunker in the back and chased the ball in their own half for the majority of the match.
By the time Newcastle experienced an offensive revival, it was far too late. To be quite frank, there were hardly any positives from Newcastle in this match as they let Chelsea take control from the opening whistle. Here are five things we learned from yesterday’s loss.
Worst Passing Team
In 95 minutes of action, Newcastle only completed 200 passes against Chelsea. To put things into perspective, Jorginho completed 92 passes on his own in the first 25 minutes of the match for Chelsea, which completed 913 passes as a team.
Newcastle cannot succeed in the Premier League with such dismal passing. The lack of passing in midfield leads to a lack of scoring opportunities. It also places unnecessary pressure on the defense to put in extra work chasing the ball. Thus far this season, Newcastle have only completed 892 passes and they need to bump that number up immediately.
Lack of Urgency
Newcastle did not seem lost or unorganized in yesterday’s match, but they did not play with the level of urgency that is needed against a top side. Newcastle spent most of the match playing eight or nine men on defense and then going on the counter-attack when they had the ball.
The problem, however, is that most counter-attacks were ineffective and meaningless. The Magpies must provide more support for players leading a counter-attack, especially next week against Manchester City.
Why Isolate Rondon?
Salomon Rondon was known as an average striker at West Brom because he was often isolated under the tactical systems of Tony Pulis and Alan Pardew. Well, Rafa Benitez did the same thing yesterday. Rondon showcased his strength to recover the ball and move forward even with multiple defenders ahead of him.
Benitez’s ultra-defensive approach against Chelsea significantly limited Rondon’s ability to create scoring opportunities. It is normal to be cautious against elite opponents, but players like Rondon need a supporting cast in order to create chances, as we saw against Tottenham.
The Joselu Question
To everyone’s surprise, Joselu has scored all of Newcastle’s goals this season. His header against Chelsea marked his second goal in three matches for the Magpies. Joselu’s poor form last season is what led Benitez to bring in Salomon Rondon and Yoshinori Muto. This season, it is Joselu who is making a case for himself to start more matches going forward.
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