Few expected anything other than a Chelsea win this afternoon, but a second half collapse and resultant 3-0 defeat made for another difficult watch for the sold out crowd inside St James’ Park today.
One stat that perhaps says it all is the fact we had our one and only shot on target in the 84th minute. 21% possession never helps, however it wasn’t really a contest if the truth be told.
Defeats like this won’t define our season – Chelsea are European champions and top of the league for a reason – but there can be no denying that we are in dire need of a new manager; who has a big job on his hands to keep us up and build immediate momentum when he arrives.
We defended a little better in the first half and looked relatively organised for 65 minutes, but I wouldn’t say we were ‘competitive’ – something Jones has described us as after the match. After all, the lack of pressing, belief or attacking threat on offer left few inside the stadium feeling we’d hold on for a precious point or pull off an unlikely win.
With us sat like sitting ducks and struggling to get out, Chelsea found that all important breakthrough via a thumping strike from Reece James just after the hour mark – and they never looked back from there.
That goal was followed by another from the England international just 12 minutes later, with Jorginho scoring from the spot after Kai Havertz was brought down by Karl Darlow to make it 0-3.
The result leaves us stuck in 19th on just four points. To make matters worse, results elsewhere didn’t go our way, either.
Burnley beat Brentford 3-1 to move above Leeds and out of the drop zone, Southampton won at Watford to move seven clear of us and Crystal Palace stunned Man City with a 0-2 win at the Etihad – although I’m not so sure they’re relegation contenders based on their impressive start to the season.
Back to the game itself, I actually turned to my brother and said ‘that might be the closest we get to scoring today’ when Ryan Fraser got in down the left and fizzed a ball across the box just a two minutes in. Unfortunately, I was right!
Another frustration was Saint-Maximin today. He was way below his best at Palace and, aside from a stunning piece of skill that saw him leave Chilwell for dead, he was largely anonymous today and cut a frustrated figure.
The referee was poor, giving a few dubious yellow cards and missing a few clear fouls on ASM and Wilson, but our defending for some of Chelsea’s goals was even worse.
Graeme Jones has said all the right things and can take some credit for a solid point at Palace last weekend, but the team selection today left me and many others scratching their head.
We were crying out for Schar’s ball-playing ability, not to mention the fact Fernandez must be watching Clark – who struggled once again – and wondering how he’s being overlooked.
Dubravka’s ability to organise a defence is also something I feel we’re missing, while Almiron and Willock’s pace, energy and ability to break forward could’ve helped us carry much more of a threat on the counter?
Seems easy to say in hindsight, but these are changes many – including myself – were calling for prior to today’s game. Maybe Jones wanted continuity, yet a line up that didn’t work at Palace never felt likely to trouble the European champions.
With a trip to Brighton up next and us still without a win 10 games into the not so new season, it’s absolutely vital the new owners appoint a new man capable of galvanizing a group of players crying out for some fresh direction.
A final word must go to Wor Flags, who put on another brilliant display in the Gallowgate End.