Chelsea 0-0 Newcastle United – Newspaper Reaction, Match Report, Player Ratings

Match reports

The Observer, Jamie Jackson: "On an afternoon when fellow leaders Liverpool also drew, here was a large and unwanted dollop of frustration for Chelsea, whose display had Big Phil muttering right to the end, and their fans walking away with complaints that it had all been too casual."

Sunday Telegraph, Patrick Barclay: "To avoid defeat in a Premier League match at Chelsea is no longer a startling achievement – Liverpool have won at Stamford Bridge this season and Tottenham, as well as Manchester United, drawn – but for Newcastle to head back north with only their third away point of the campaign may have a positive psychological effect, for all the negativity of their tactics here. We shall see; next weekend they are at Middlesbrough and maybe there they will try a shot at goal."

Sunday Times, Joe Lovejoy: "Much has been made of the positive difference in Chelsea under Luiz Felipe Scolari, but one unwanted change is their home form. For four years, Stamford Bridge was the impregnable fortress around which so much success was constructed. Under Scolari they have dropped nine points at home already, which contrasts sharply with their 100% record away."

Independent on Sunday, Chris McGrath: "[T]his startling scoreline can only be partly explained by [Chelsea’s] own ineptitude in front of goal. Credit is also becoming due – overdue, perhaps – to the growing resilience of a team now beaten only twice in eight starts under Kinnear."

Official Chelsea FC Website: "The first goalless draw at Stamford Bridge since February means home form continues to fall short of the Blues’ perfect away record."

The preamble

A most enjoyable seven days on the mighty Chelsea Blog has sustained me during a long and arduous stay in the cold, grey and frankly uninteresting suburbs of Munich. As a group, we have made much headway in our study of philosophy, the beautiful game, beer and Andy Townsend. Fellow bloggers, I salute you.

Having been in the homeland of Immanuel Kant (OK, not quite, but his mum was German so he could have made an “All Time German Philosophers XI” had Nietzsche tweaked his hamstring in the warm-up), I have pondered our recent philosophical excursions and considered the influence of Kant himself on what has been a rather interesting week in football. The results were surprising.

In north London, our former pupil William Gallas (whinging Kant) has been ruminating on the generation gap between himself and the new students at the Emirates who seem wedded to the Wenger ideal of romanticism but have thrown in a spot of disrespect for their elders whilst they’re about it. I for one can’t imagine why anyone wouldn’t have the utmost respect for Billy; another great mystery of life to which the answer is almost certainly 42.

Back at the coal face, many of our learned posters considered the career of another former pupil of the Chelsea school, the afore-mentioned Andy Townsend, and concluded (quite accurately, I might add) that he was simply a right Kant and not worth pondering any further.

Elsewhere, I spent Wednesday evening with several German gentlemen who, not unreasonably, thought that the combined forces of pure and practical reason (and a good degree of historical evidence) were reason enough to stick a few Euros on Joachim Low’s men to knock Fabio Capello and his resurgent charges off their perch. They hadn’t, however, bargained on John Terry popping up at the back stick late on to deliver a pretty stern critique of the afore-mentioned theories. Pick the bones out of that, son, as they don’t often say in Unterföhring.

I did scan the English media the next day and it seems that the great football thinkers of our time (well, some broadsheet hacks) give England a decent chance of not making a complete hash of the World Cup in 2010 on the basis of recent performances. Which if you ask me is…

Wait for it…

Putting Descartes before the horse.

(Alright, you try and shoehorn another piss-weak philosophy related pun in here after three glasses of red and see how far you get, eh?)

Which brings me, in a rather tenuous and not in the slightest bit seamless sort of way to today’s opponents – Newcastle United; noted followers of the school of completely delusional football romanticism. Their current leader, Joe ‘Fucking’ Kinnear, a former professor of the Crazy Gang school, met with the gentlemen of the press upon his return from the wilderness and informed them of his conversion to the Age of Enlightenment by calling them all a bunch of utter Kants.

OK, this really has to stop here and now. On with the game…

The good

  • We didn’t lose, did we?
  • If possession and shots on target meant points, we’d be laughing. Actually a very good performance overall, despite the lack of any money shot.
  • Both Coles and Ballack are back again.
  • No other bugger within 10 points of top spot (where we still sit) managed to make the old onion bag bulge.
  • Performance was pretty good; if someone hadn’t put Viagra on Shay Given’s cornflakes this morning, things might have been a little different.
  • I think we managed to get through 90 minutes without anyone else getting injured.

The bad

  • We missed a chance to go clear at the top. Bugger.
  • Nine points dropped at home now – we don’t really want to be squandering too many more (and certainly not next Sunday).
  • Decisions, decisions – was Joe Cole really offside? How many 50/50 calls didn’t go our way? Even Big Phil started to lose his rag with it all.
  • Another two games without Drogba when we’re starting to need him most.
  • We’re starting to look a bit Jekyll and Hyde in terms of our home and away performances.
  • Which Kant schedules major District Line engineering works on a match day?

Player ratings

With one eye on our trip to Bordeaux this week, I’ve pondered examples of the region’s main export when rating today’s performances (2005 vintage – a good year for us). I have also consulted Jancis Robinson who has verified these marks in accordance with internationally recognised wine ratings. Judge’s decision is final.

  • Cech, Terry, Mikel, Cole (J), Malouda and Lampard all rated as a Château Beauregard 2005 Pomerol; rich, firm, generous and well structured – 92/100.
  • Cole (A), Deco and Anelka all rated as a Château D’Angludet 2005 Margaux; ripe, elegant, subtle and oaky – 93/100.
  • Bosingwa and Ivanovic both rated as a Château Léoville Barton 2005 Saint-Julien; refined, intense, stylish and enormous – 95/100.
  • Ballack and Kalou rated as a Château Montbrison 2005 Margaux; balanced and expressive, but need longer – 90/100.

Man of the Match

Jose Bosingwa.

The questions

  • When was the last time the ‘Big 4’ all failed to score in the same round of fixtures?
  • Did Newcastle have any other ambition than parking the bus, Ant and Dec, Jimmy Nail, the Likely Lads and Bigg Market in front of their goal?
  • Was this evidence of a lack of cutting edge on our part or just the fallout from a (pointless) international friendly interlude in the week?
  • Is Joe Fucking Kinnear the first person with that middle name to visit Stamford Bridge since Mark Fucking Nicholls?
  • Are Arsenal now funnier than Spurs?

Final thoughts

An odd Premier League day all round, really. No goals at all for any of the top five and a few slightly off colour performances seems to suggest that midweek travels didn’t particularly help those hoping to challenge for the title. With Liverpool looking to have the easier of next week’s fixtures (Agent Zola’s struggling West Ham visit Anfield, while we host Arsenal and United visit Eastlands for the Manchester derby), a win today would have been useful.

Missing players are returning to fitness which is good news, but for my money the real missing piece for much of this season has been Drogba. The majority of his goals for us have been scored at home as he is a far more difficult player for a team visiting the Bridge to play ‘deeper’ against than Anelka; add his ability to intimidate centre halves and bring others into the game and it isn’t hard to see why we’ve struggled at times without him. Our passing game is exceptional, but as has been proven so often in the past there are times when a Didier-shaped blunt instrument is the only answer.

All that said, the Premier League table should still make comforting reading for anyone who doubts our resilience; there is a long way to go yet and judging by the season so far, plenty more plot twists to come.

Blue flag, flying high etc.

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