Chelsea 2 Newcastle 0
The improvement in Chelsea has even filtered through to Timo Werner. A player who looked lost under Frank Lampard has found purpose under Thomas Tuchel. The downtrodden air has disappeared and it was Newcastle's misfortune to encounter Werner at his spiky best, driving Chelsea to a comfortable win over limited opponents.
It has not been easy for Werner in recent months. He has looked drained of confidence in front of goal and has struggled to nail down his position at times. Yet there have been promising signs since Tuchel’s arrival last month. A simple positional shift has made a difference. Playing as an inside-left, Werner has felt his belief return. It brings him closer to goal and he was excellent as Chelsea dismissed Newcastle with ease, creating Olivier Giroud’s opener before scoring for the second time in 20 matches.
The Tuchel effect is taking hold. Lampard’s successor has not taken long to lift Chelsea out of their mid-table drift and back into the top four. This was another polished victory, even if Newcastle were anaemic in defence and attack. They are seven points above the bottom three and are far from safe on this evidence.
Chelsea took their cue from Mateo Kovacic’s urgent passing from central midfield, pressing high and probing from every angle. There was a purpose to their play and a clarity to their coordinated patterns in attack, whether they were tearing down the flanks or trying to find a way through the middle.
The football was blistering at times and Newcastle were fortunate not to concede twice during the opening 10 minutes, escaping when César Azpilcueta's header was cleared off the line before Tammy Abraham nodded a glorious chance wide after a slick combination between Mason Mount and Callum Hudson-Odoi on the left.
It was a poor miss from Abraham, whose evening worsened when Kovacic sprung him clear with a lovely ball over the top in the 15th minute. The striker moved clear and looked certain to open the scoring until Jamaal Lascelles intervened with a superb challenge, taking the ball before playing the man.
Chelsea’s appeals for a penalty were correctly waved away and it was not long before Abraham limped off, making way for Giroud.
The change made no difference to Chelsea's threat. Giroud was swiftly involved, spraying a beautiful pass to the left for Marcos Alonso. It was just a shame that Alonso's instant volleyed cross was a touch in front of Werner, who turned wide from close range on the stretch.
Werner refused to feel sorry for himself. The German was lively throughout, troubling Newcastle with his direct dribbling on the left and was always willing to run with the ball. His persistence paid off when he zipped clear in the 30th minute, making space before driving a low cross into the six-yard box. Karl Darlow could only push the ball out to Giroud, who slammed the loose ball into the empty net.
Chelsea were rampant, going close again when Werner fired over from Kovacic’s pass. Newcastle were hanging on. Their organisation had disappeared and they cracked again when a corner bounced off Lascelles before falling to Werner, who controlled before bundling in his first league goal since November 7th.
By that stage it had become clear why so many Newcastle fans are opposed to Steve Bruce. There was no spark to the visitors, no conviction with the ball. It felt like an exercise in damage limitation from start to finish and, while allowances must be made for Callum Wilson's absence in attack, it was impossible to excuse the complete lack of any ambition.
Newcastle barely functioned as an attacking force without Wilson, who is out for eight weeks with a hamstring injury. They had no presence without their leading goalscorer, with Miguel Almirón struggling as a false nine and Allan Saint-Maximin an irrelevance on the left.
Chelsea cruised throughout the second half, hunting hungrily for more goals. Hudson-Odoi, reborn as a wing back in Tuchel’s 3-4-2-1 system, kept rumbling down the left, testing Newcastle with a series of crosses. Mount was as bright as ever. Alonso, always keen to attack, had a fierce shot charged down when a goal was on the cards.
There was no need for Chelsea to exert themselves. Newcastle were never going to recover from two goals down, even though Joe Willock almost injected late intrigue with a glancing header. Kepa Arrizabalaga, making his first start in the league since October 17th, denied the midfielder with a fine save. – Guardian