Pedro, Willian Goals See Chelsea to Narrow Win over Newcastle in Premier League

Matt JonesFeatured ColumnistJanuary 12, 2019

LONDON, ENGLAND - JANUARY 12:  Pedro of Chelsea celebrates with teammate Willian after scoring his team's first goal during the Premier League match between Chelsea FC and Newcastle United at Stamford Bridge on January 12, 2019 in London, United Kingdom. (Photo by Harriet Lander/Copa/Getty Images)
Harriet Lander/Copa/Getty Images

Chelsea moved to within a point of third-place Tottenham Hotspur in the Premier League on Saturday with a 2-1 win over Newcastle United at Stamford Bridge.

The Blues got off to an ideal start when Pedro latched on to an excellent long pass from David Luiz after nine minutes and lifted the ball over Newcastle goalkeeper Martin Dubravka.

However, there were boos from the home fans when Newcastle levelled after 40 minutes through Ciaran Clark's excellent header from a corner.

In the second half, the home side moved back in front with two moments of class. First Eden Hazard spun away from a couple of challenges in midfield and played in Willian, who bent a sumptuous shot from the edge of the area beyond Dubravka.

Spurs can extend the gap back to four points over Chelsea when they take on Manchester United on Sunday at Wembley Stadium. The Blues are six points clear of Arsenal, who are in fifth.

             

Chelsea Should Sell Willian, Back Hudson-Odoi

Matt Dunham/Associated Press

In Willian and Callum Hudson-Odoi, Chelsea have two wingers who have been linked with possible January departures. If they are to lose one in this transfer window, it should be the former.

Once again, Willian frustrated for long spells. He played out on the left flank and was wasteful when he advanced into dangerous areas; the Brazilian had an excellent chance to put Chelsea back in front after Newcastle's equaliser but skewed it wide.

The Blue Prophet Twitter account was critical of how Willian performed in the first period:

He did conjure a moment of magic to put the Blues in front. Nevertheless, broadcaster Alex Goldberg did not back down in his criticism of the player:

Despite his wonderful curled finish, if Barcelona have made an offer worth £50 million for Willian—as reported by Jason Burt of the Daily Telegraph—then they must consider it. The Brazil international may be industrious and versatile, but it would be savvy business by the Blues given he's 30.

Crucially, they have a young winger who appears ready to step up in the form of Hudson-Odoi, whom Bayern Munich have bid £35 million for, according to Sky Sports. Chelsea supporters would love to see the youngster given a run in the team between now and the end of the season.

                 

Chelsea Need Defensive Revamp to Challenge for Titles

Matt Dunham/Associated Press

In Luiz and Marcos Alonso, Chelsea boast two of the Premier League's most productive defenders from an attacking sense. However, they are part of a defence that is leaking cheap goals on an increasingly regular basis.

In the first period, we witnessed both sides of Luiz. He produced an outstanding pass to release Pedro for the opening goal:

He was then culpable for Newcastle's equaliser after he wasn't aggressive enough in attacking Matt Ritchie's corner, per Liam Twomey of ESPN FC:

Alonso was also nowhere near his best, continuing a frustrating run of form. The Spain international was erratic with his delivery and often slow to get back when Newcastle countered.

The defensive portion of the team is something that may need addressing in the summer. Antonio Rudiger has been excellent this year, but the two aforementioned players have struggled at times, while Cesar Azpilicueta has not been as effective since being shifted back to right-back this year.

The Blues simply don't have a defence upon which they can build a title-winning team.

                 

What's next?

Chelsea are back in action on Saturday in the Premier League with a visit to London rivals Arsenal. Newcastle have an FA Cup third-round replay with Blackburn Rovers to negotiate on Tuesday before they host Cardiff City in a crucial top-flight match on Saturday.

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