Ends do not justify the means as Chelsea owners face test of nerve after Newcastle defeat

Ends do not justify the means as Chelsea owners face test of nerve after Newcastle defeat

Chelsea’s approach was always going to be justified by the end result.

Already six points behind high-flying Newcastle, Graham Potter understandably went with a defensive approach at St James’s Park.

It followed a dismal run of one win in the last four games for a side that had been knocked out of the cup and was sliding down the table.

Hardworking midfielders Conor Gallagher and Mason Mount were selected as no10s behind Armando Broja in an attack designed to play on the counter and work for the team.

It worked, to an extent, as third-placed Newcastle failed to get a shot on target in the first half.

However, at the other end, the west Londoners barely created a chance themselves.

Broja’s turn and shot in the first half was the only effort that troubled Nick Pope, who wasn’t forced into a difficult save until Gallagher’s curling effort in the 65th minute.

Newcastle grew in confidence as they were given possession and began to create. A flurry of efforts from Bruno Guimaraes and Sean Longstaff offered encouragement.

The goal eventually came for them after Joe Willock latched onto Miguel Almiron’s run to curl a shot from range past Edouard Mendy.

It was a remarkable turnaround to see a club that had 80 percent possession in a 3-0 win at this stadium last season be dominated by mostly the same players.

They are boosted by a brilliant manager in Howe who has had time to drill his team, adding quality Guimaraes in January and Sven Botman over the summer.

It will now be a test of nerve from the new Boehly-Clearlake owners to ignore the anger directed at their manager who follows the popular Thomas Tuchel.

Potter faced further criticism after using three players out of position at wing back over the 90 minutes.

Ruben Loftus-Cheek was one of those going off injured after just six minutes, joining six other players on the sidelines after Raheem Sterling pulled out with a ‘migraine’.

Gallagher became the latest to play at right wing back in the second half having never done so before.

Chelsea find themselves with a lot of time for reflection now as club football stops for six weeks and the World Cup soon begins.

They do so nine points behind Newcastle and eight points off the Champions League spots, sitting eighth in the Premier League table.