Chelsea vs Newcastle: Frank Lampard’s dedicated faith in youth sees Chelsea gather more momentum

Jack Rathborn
The Independent
Chelsea celebrate after Marcos Alonso scores: Reuters
Chelsea celebrate after Marcos Alonso scores: Reuters

Chelsea continue to gather momentum off the back of Frank Lampard's dedicated faith in his young side, though an older head in Marcos Alonso proved decisive to deny a stubborn Newcastle side in a victory that lifts the Blues into the top four.

After being nullified for large spells, Lampard turned to one of the forgotten men in the premature stages of his Blue revolution. Christian Pulisic was summoned from the bench and able to reward his manager for the opportunity with regular involvement in a late surge to extract three precious points.

Frank Lampard’s side immediately began prioritising width following a pre-game downpour and Newcastle’s compact quartet shielding the central trio of a back five. After probing patiently through Jorginho, Callum Hudson-Odoi was handed the initiative. The 18-year-old’s quick feet worked enough room to tease a ball to Willian at the back post, but the Brazilian headed narrowly wide. Hudson-Odoi then clipped the ball towards Mason Mount, who swivelled inside the area and forced Martin Dubravka to punch clear.

But while Steve Bruce’s side were relishing defending in open play, they came unstuck after the restart at a corner, as Tammy Abraham wriggled free of Ciaran Clark to thump a header off the crossbar.

Still level though, Lampard’s second move saw the recently despondent Pulisic enter the game for Mount in perhaps his preferred role: tucked in behind Abraham.

The American quickly found space inside the box, stretching to meet Hudson-Odoi’s dragged effort but was unable to turn home under pressure. But his erratic movement was starting to unsettle the Magpies, who had previously mastered their positional briefs. Pulisic gathered himself though, impressively hunting for space and an opportunity to insert his influence on a game that had frustrated the hosts for so long.

A neat touch and turn saw him open up a channel of space and he confidently carried the ball before moving it quickly on to Hudson-Odoi after being swarmed by black and white shirts. The England Under-21 international found the spare man, Alonso, who drove home to finally break the visitors’ resistance.

Suddenly a player that was forlorn just days ago, after exiting a game for the United States, was reinvigorated, relishing the freedom to play up alongside Abraham and able to receive the ball in and around the penalty area.

Chelsea celebrate after Marcos Alonso scores (REUTERS)
Chelsea celebrate after Marcos Alonso scores (REUTERS)

Mateo Kovacic's burst unsettled Newcastle further and he slipped in Pulisic, who unselfishly squared for Abraham for what should have been a second. The England striker incredibly missed though, provokiing an incredulous look to aptly demonstrate the resouding shock around the ground.

Without that cushion, Chelsea were forced to absorb some late pressure from Newcastle, who tossed the ball towards Kepa Arrizabalaga's goal in a hurry. But they succeeded with minimal fuss, as the Chelsea sides of yesteryear would do so routinely, and now they have a manager with the conviction in his selection and his ability to inspire a response from a squad brimming with potential.

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