Timo Werner finally ended his Premier League goal drought as Chelsea eased past Newcastle with a 2-0 win to move into the top four.
The hosts, who named Kepa Arrizabalaga in goal for his first league game since October, took the lead in the 31st minute when substitute Olivier Giroud – on in place of the injured Tammy Abraham – struck from close range.
Werner (39) then doubled the advantage eight minutes later, ending a run of 14 games without a goal in the league.
1000 – Timo Werner has scored his first Premier League goal for Chelsea in exactly 1000 minutes – since netting against Sheffield United in November – ending a run of 31 attempts without finding the back of the net in the competition. Relief. #CHENEW pic.twitter.com/1DaodRBhBU
— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) February 15, 2021
After the break, Arrizabalaga was called into action on a couple of occasions, saving Jonjo Shelvey’s free-kick before keeping out Joe Willock’s header, but Chelsea were comfortable as they secured a fourth straight league win under Thomas Tuchel.
Victory sees Chelsea move above Liverpool and West Ham, who beat Sheffield United 3-0 earlier on Monday, to move into fourth. They remain unbeaten in six games in all competitions since Tuchel’s arrival at Stamford Bridge.
Meanwhile, Newcastle stay 17th but they are now seven points clear of the relegation zone.
How Chelsea eased to victory…
Tuchel sprung a surprise before kick-off, naming Arrizabalaga in goal in place of Edouard Mendy, but the Spanish goalkeeper was a bystander for much of the first half as Chelsea dominated.
- Kepa Arrizabalaga made just his fourth Premier League start of the season. The under-fire Spain goalkeeper has played second-fiddle to summer signing Edouard Mendy in west London this term. But Thomas Tuchel promised the £72m signing from 2018 a “new start”, and the Blues’ new boss has delivered on that pledge. Kepa kept a clean sheet in Thursday’s 1-0 FA Cup win at Barnsley, and has earned himself a first league start since October. Tammy Abraham started up front alongside Timo Werner, having notched the winner at Barnsley.
- Dwight Gayle started up front for a Newcastle side looking to build on their 3-2 league win over Southampton last weekend.
Dwight Gayle cleared Cesar Azpilicueta’s goal-bound header off the line before Abraham headed wide at the far post after being picked out by Mason Mount.
Abraham was then brought down in the penalty area by Jamaal Lascelles, who was deemed to have got the ball by referee Peter Bankes, but the Newcastle defender did also catch the Chelsea striker. Abraham, who was seemingly in a lot of pain, attempted to run the injury off but he was forced off shortly afterwards with an ankle injury
Chelsea: Arrizabalaga (7), Azpilicueta (7), Christensen (7), Rudiger (7), Hudson-Odoi (8), Jorginho (7), Kovacic (7), Alonso (7), Werner (9), Mount (8), Abraham (6).
Subs: Giroud (7), Kante (6), James (n/a).
Newcastle: : Darlow (6), Krafth (5), Lascelles (6), Clark (6), Lewis (6), Hayden (6), Shelvey (6), Saint-Maximin (5), Willock (6), Almiron (5), Gayle (5).
Subs: Joelinton (6), Fraser (6), Carroll (n/a)
Man of the match: Timo Werner.
Giroud came on for Chelsea and their dominance continued as Werner poked wide at full stretch after Marcos Alonso’s header back into the Newcastle penalty area.
They eventually took the lead just after the half-hour mark as Karl Darlow spilt Werner’s cross to gift Giroud a simple finish from close range.
Werner then ended his goal drought, tapping in at the far post after Giroud had failed to connect with a corner at the near post.
Newcastle failed to cause Chelsea any real problems. Arrizabalaga comfortably saved Isaac Hayden’s deflected shot before keeping out Shelvey’s goal-bound free-kick.
Willock tested the Chelsea goalkeeper late on with a powerful header from Ryan Fraser’s cross, but the Spaniard was equal to the task as the hosts eased to victory.
Newcastle have lost six of their last seven away Premier League games (W1) after losing just one of the six before that (W2 D3).
What the managers said…
Chelsea boss Thomas Tuchel: “I liked the first half where we played with courage and had a lot of touches in the box. We managed to keep them away from our box, but our decision-making can be more deadly and precise to create more chances.
“We lacked this throughout the first and second half. The first three minutes of the second half was the picture of the rest of the game where we made a few mistakes. The guys have two days off now so perhaps they were eager to keep these two days off but the counter-attacks in the second half were not clinical enough for us to score a third goal to finish the game.
“We should be flexible enough to change but we won’t change for the sake of it.”
On Kepa Arrizabalaga starting: “Edu [Edouard Mendy] is the No 1 and this is clear. It was clear before the game and it stays like this. I’m pleased that Kepa kept a second clean sheet in a row to build up his confidence. We hoped for the very best performance and the clean sheet, but Edu has now recovered physically and mentally so from now on he will be No 1.”
Tuchel: A big step but a long way to go
Chelsea manager Thomas Tuchel told Sky Sports:
“Top four is the target and it stays the target. There are many teams behind chasing us. We had many points to recover and there are many games still to come. We have to play games against sides at the top and the bottom, and we knew we had to take a big step for our confidence.
“Maybe the team suddenly felt it had something to lose but it feels psychologically like it’s a big step. There’s still a long way to go.”
Newcastle boss Steve Bruce: “Whether we were passive or just didn’t come to terms with them well enough. We knew how they would set up, but they caused us problems and we found it a struggle in the first half. We changed it at half-time and we did better. We got after them better and right from the off in the second half there was more intent.
“Set-pieces was a problem for us in the first half in particular. They had too many first contacts so it’s something we’ll have to look at. There were a few positives in the second half and there will be times where we’ll get unstuck. I was far happier with the way we went about the second half.
“There’s that many teams involved at the bottom so I don’t know how many points it will take [to stay up]. There are six or seven teams looking over their shoulder but if we show the resilience of the last month or two, we’ll be OK.”
Man of the match – Timo Werner
⭐️ Man of the Match, Timo Werner
4 shots, 1 on target, 1 goal
2 chances created
11 touches in opposition box (most in match)
🔵 He has the most PL goal involvements for @ChelseaFC this season – 10 (5 goals, 5 assists)#CHENEW pic.twitter.com/pceGpitMXH
— Sky Sports Statto (@SkySportsStatto) February 15, 2021
Sky Sports’ Andy Hinchcliffe: “The man of the match has to be Timo Werner. He completely changed the complexion of the game. He has made one, scored one, and he does deserve a goal. His recent performances have been excellent. He is brave, he is always wanting to make use of the ball and make things happen. I am just really pleased for him that he has been able to find the back of the net, finally.”
Chelsea play to Werner’s strenghts
Sky Sports’ Jamie Carragher on Timo Werner:
“It was really interesting to see how he was used tonight. He’s been played wide left and through the middle since he arrived and tonight it was almost a mixture of both. It’s been a move to get the best out of Werner – at times wide, at times inside – switching with Marcos Alonso was something that happened constantly throughout the game.
“It looked like something that was certainly worked on tonight – getting the best out of the big-money signing.”
Werner delighted to score… finally!
Chelsea striker Timo Werner told Sky Sports:
“The first half was really good from us. We played some really good football and I’m happy that I’ve scored, finally! As a striker, you always want to score. The last month I’ve not been happy not scoring but in the end it’s a team sport. I’ve been providing assists with penalties, but I’m very glad that I’ve scored today.
“For a striker, it’s worse when you don’t get chances but in the past I’ve been getting chances and missing them. The important thing is to keep going and the goals will come like it did today.
“I thought it would be just my luck [when VAR was called]. But in the end I’m really happy.”
Opta stats – Tuchel’s impressive start continues
- Chelsea have won four Premier League games in a row for the first time since November 2019 (a run of six under Frank Lampard).
- Thomas Tuchel has picked up 13 points from his first five Premier League games in charge of Chelsea (W4 D1), level with José Mourinho’s first five with the club and bettered only by Carlo Ancelotti and Maurizio Sarri (15 pts each).
- Thomas Tuchel is just the third manager to see his team concede just one goal in his first five games as a boss in the Premier League, after José Mourinho with Chelsea and Peter Taylor with Leicester (no manager has shipped no goals in their first five games in charge in the competition).
- Chelsea ‘keeper Kepa Arrizabalaga kept his first Premier League clean sheet in five appearances (11 goals conceded in previous four), since a shut-out against Norwich in July 2020.
Chelsea are back in action on Saturday, February 20 when they travel to St Mary’s to face Southampton in the Premier League; kick-off 12.30pm.
Meanwhile, Newcastle travel to Manchester United on Sunday, February 21; kick-off 7pm.