Chelsea never got out of third gear, but we never got off the drive. Considering we had nothing to lose and everything to gain, it was a performance lacking in fight, desire or any sort of urgency to get at a beatable looking Chelsea side.
They looked edgy in the opening stages but the chances they handed us just exposed our total lack of quality and confidence in front of goal. Another striking example of why Rafa Benitez MUST be backed in the final few days of the window.
In the first half, both defences made mistakes – the difference being that Chelsea punished both of ours, while an isolated Matt Ritchie and Dwight Gayle rarely looked likely when they were gifted opening by an edgy looking Chelsea defence.
You are just not going to trouble a team like Chelsea when you’re toothless up top and error prone at the back. It perhaps sums it up when, despite conceding three goals, Karl Darlow was quite possibly our best performer.
Here’s what Rafa’s had to say post-match:
? POST-MATCH AUDIO: Rafa Benítez spoke to @bbcnewcastle, @talkSPORT and @5liveSport after the Magpies exited the @EmiratesFACup at the hands of @ChelseaFC. #NUFC #EmiratesFACup pic.twitter.com/QeOqaIkHZI
— Newcastle United FC (@NUFC) January 28, 2018
We’re yet to reach the fifth round of the FA Cup under Mike Ashley’s tenure, and although today’s trip to Chelsea was never going to be easy, it would’ve been nice to see us play with much more urgency. We fielded a decent enough side, with several players who had a real point to prove, however so many just failed to deliver today.
We went through the motions. I didn’t expect a win, it’s Chelsea away, but I’d have expected us to make much more of a game of it – especially when Chelsea were well below their best yet still strolled to victory.
NUFC’s Man of the Match: The travelling Toon Army – they were the only ones who kept going from first minute to last and deserved so much more.
A huge few days ahead, off and on the pitch. A win against Burnley and the signing of a new striker by Wednesday’s deadline feels essential, but I’m getting less and less confident as time goes on.