Chelsea vs. Newcastle: Rating the Blues Players at Stamford Bridge
It was the third game for the Blues this week, and it was their third win. Roberto Di Matteo's side faced their difficult schedule and took the full nine points. Now they sit at the top of the table with a comfortable goal differential.
It was probably the most complete game from Chelsea, and each player should be commended for his performance.
GK: Petr Cech, 7.5
Petr Cech picked up another clean sheet.
He wasn't called upon too often, but he came up big when necessary. In the 84th minute, Newcastle were desperately trying to cut the deficit in half, and Demba Ba looked to have pulled a goal back with a sharp right-footed shot.
Alas, Cech made a monster save, catching the shot and ending all hope Newcastle had of stealing a point.
LB: Ashley Cole, 7.5
Ashley Cole just gets the job done.
He's not incredibly flashy, doesn't have a blistering burst of pace and doesn't wow you with anything really. Nevertheless, Cole's technical ability still makes him one of the best left-backs in the world.
He played well again, and he's a big reason the Blues notched a clean sheet.
CB: Gary Cahill, 7.0
Gary Cahill was solid in the back.
With John Terry nursing an injury, Cahill and David Luiz teamed up in the back and held a clean sheet. There were some nervous moments, but Chelsea didn't concede a goal, and that's all that matters.
Cahill is still a little shaky while marking in the air, but his on-ball defending is exceptional. If he ever puts it all together, Chelsea will have a stud.
CB: David Luiz, 6.5
Sometimes, David Luiz is great to watch.
Other times, he simply gives you a headache.
While his energy and fitness are fantastic, his decision making is subpar. Luiz doesn't have enough patience, and he often exposes his partner by recklessly defending too far forward.
He doesn't grasp the idea of shadowing or patient defending; instead, he's always trying to win the ball, regardless of the position on the field.
Luiz has all the tools; he just needs to start thinking more.
RB: Branislav Ivanovic, 7.0
Branislav Ivanovic was solid again.
With the signing of Cesar Azpilicueta, it will be interesting to see how much Ivanovic plays. He has been in form this year, including an impressive striker rate.
Azpilicueta is the future, but Roberto Di Matteo might make him the present. Until then, though, Ivanovic would do well to keep his form.
CDM: John Obi Mikel, 7.5
John Obi Mikel did an excellent job in the holding midfield on Saturday.
He slowed down the Newcastle attack by stepping into passing lanes, winning the ball and tackling effectively. Any time the Toon started to move forward, Mikel would at least force them backward or wide.
He was arguably the most important player on the pitch, even if he wasn't necessarily the best. As much as Mikel usually frustrates me, he played a very solid match.
CM: Raul Meireles, 6.5
Speaking of players that frustrate me, Raul Meireles was back in the starting XI.
As usual, he didn't provide much of anything defensively. He stole a ball here and there, but he didn't offer much of a presence. Going forward, he was far from being a threat, and Newcastle United certainly didn't seem worried about him.
If he's not going to provide a spark going forward, Meireles simply doesn't bring much of anything to the table.
LAM: Ryan Bertrand, 7.0
Once again, Ryan Bertrand was playing in an advanced position.
Once again, he looked very uncomfortable.
Bertrand is skilled enough to get the job done, but he just doesn't seem to know how to be the first layer of an attack. His chemistry with Ashley Cole seems awkward and forced, resulting in a clunky attack if anything.
Again, Bertrand is talented enough to play first-team football at a lot of clubs. However, maybe it's just not quite his time at Chelsea. Instead of forcing him out of position, Roberto Di Matteo might be better suited to just holding him back.
CAM: Eden Hazard, 8.0
Eden Hazard finally got the chance to convert a penalty.
Without Frank Lampard in the starting lineup, Chelsea didn't have the normal penalty taker. Once Fernando Torres was fouled, the fans seemed to wonder who would step up. Without hesitation, Chelsea's favorite Belgian walked to the spot and waited for the ball.
It was a moment that Hazard will be remembered for. In a way, it was a passing of the torch. By coolly burying his penalty kick, Hazard solidified that his time is now.
RAM: Juan Mata, 6.5
Can Roberto Di Matteo just give Juan Mata a break?
The Spanish international has not stopped playing competitive football for more than a year now. He's been the focal point of an attack for a Champions League winner and an Olympic disappointment. He just can't get back to full fitness.
At some point, Di Matteo must take a risk and bench Mata. Obviously, he doesn't want to take his Player of the Year off the pitch, but maybe it would be better in the long run. Otherwise, Chelsea will be stuck with a shadow of their star.
ST: Fernando Torres, 8.5
Without a doubt, Fernando Torres was the man of the match.
He was dangerous in the first 39 minutes, but once he got his yellow card, Torres turned it on. He looked like the "El Nino" of old. He was pressing defenders, dribbling aggressively and running with a purpose. His hard work paid off in the form of a nifty goal right before the half.
Torres had a fire in his eyes on Saturday, and it was fun to watch. If he continues to play like this, Chelsea will be incredibly tough to beat.
Ramires came on shortly before the 70th minute, and he did what he was supposed to do. He provided Chelsea with a little spark, and he worked hard for over 20 minutes.
Ramires' role is in the process of changing. If he continues to adjust well, he will be just fine.
Frank Lampard, N/A
Lampard came on in the 88th minute and didn't affect the outcome of the game at all. After two solid performances earlier in the week, though, the old man deserved a day off.