Premier League: Willian’s Genius Breaks Geordies’ Hearts

Chelsea 2-1 Newcastle United

A beautiful second-half goal from Willian gave Chelsea a narrow win over Newcastle in front of a packed crowd at Stamford Bridge.

Pedro had given the Blues a first-half lead, but a superb header from Ciaran Clark drew the Magpies level before Willian won it for the hosts. Maurizio Sarri’s Blues had a chance to extend the lead over fifth place in the Premier League to six points after Arsenal’s defeat away to West Ham. The visitors gave them a real game, but Chelsea’s quality eventually shone through.

According to Premier League 2019 odds, Newcastle should avoid relegation, but they are back in the bottom three after Cardiff City won a point to move ahead of them.

Highlights of the game

Chelsea had plenty of the action in the opening stages and went ahead on just nine minutes. David Luiz carved the Newcastle defence open with a precision ball for Pedro, and the Spaniard lifted a delicate lob over the keeper and into the net. We said Chelsea needed to be more ruthless in front of goal, and Pedro was exactly that.

Pedro and Willian help Chelsea see off a stubborn Newcastle side 2-1 at Stamford Bridge in the Premier League

Chelsea’s Pedro celebrates after scoring his side’s first goal

Newcastle needed a change in game plan and it was no help for Rafa Benitez that winger Kenedy was unavailable to play against his parent club. Chelsea continued to dominate the game with Luiz heading narrowly wide and Pedro forcing a good save from Martin Dubravka with a 25-yard effort.

But the visitors did begin to work their way into the game. Ayoze Perez had an excellent chance to level when Salomon Rondon put him clean through, but he sliced his shot wide of  Kepa’s post. Then Newcastle stunned the home crowd as they drew level when Ciaran Clark met Matt Ritchie’s corner and bulleted a header past Kepa and into the net. 1-1.

For all Chelsea’s first-half possession, Newcastle had fashioned as many chances as the home side. And the Blues came out in the second half determined to rectify that. N’Golo Kante took advantage of a lucky deflection to collect the ball and put Pedro clean through on goal, but this time Dubravka got down to make a brilliant save.

But there was not a lot the visiting keeper could do when Willian restored Chelsea’s lead with a touch of genius. Eden Hazard, who had been quiet up to now, ran at the Newcastle defence before laying the ball off to the Brazilian, who then curled a beauty beyond Dubravka and into the corner of the net to send the home fans wild.

Willian had a glorious chance to make it three when Luiz put him through with a superb ball, but he failed to do what Pedro had succeeded in when the Newcastle keeper thwarted his lobbed attempt.

Newcastle had a great chance to get back in the game on 85 minutes: Manquillo picked out Rondon with a floated cross, but the striker’s header flew wide.

Key statistics

Ciaran Clark heads home to level the scoreline between Chelsea and Newcastle in the Premier League

Newcastle United’s Ciaran Clark celebrates with his teammate Sean Longstaff after scoring his side first goal

The us odds pointed to a comfortable home win and it was well-deserved in the end, but a one-goal lead is never relaxing.

This was the first time Chelsea had scored at home in three games which was a welcome return for the fans, and this win means Chelsea has lost only one of 24 home Premier League games against Newcastle.

Eden Hazard had a quiet game but he has now made ten assists to add to his ten goals in the Premier League.

Newcastle have only lost four games away from home and it’s their home form which has dumped them into relegation trouble, losing at St James Park to Manchester United last week. But the Premier League 2019 results already in today had left the Geordies in the relegation zone.

What’s next?

There is a huge game for Maurizio Sarri’s team next week as he takes them to the Emirates to face Champions League rivals Arsenal. A result there will cement their top-four place for a few weeks to come.

Meanwhile, Newcastle have a busy week ahead; first is a tricky FA Cup replay away to Championship side Blackburn Rovers. And then it’s back to St James’ Park where they have a crunch match at home to relegation rivals Cardiff City. They need to get their home form going soon or it will be a nervy run in for the Geordies, and anything less than three points against Neil Warnock’s strugglers will sound alarm bells.

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Hazard ready to hit top gear

Chelsea manager Maurizio Sarri is tipping Eden Hazard to thrive in the coming weeks after the Belgian inspired his team to a 2-1 win at Brighton.

Hazard laid on the opener for Pedro with a superb pass at the Amex Stadium and then raced clear after taking a ball from Willian to score Chelsea's second goal.

The Blues looked to be cruising just beyond the half-hour, but Brighton stuck to their task and set up a dramatic finish when Solly March hooked home with 25 minutes left.

Hazard has eight goals and nine assists this season in the league for Chelsea and his manager is tipping the 27-year-old to really come good now.

"I think that Hazard could have played better because his level is a very high level," said Sarri. "He can do more for him and for us.

"But I think after the two injuries, he lost the physical condition. Now he's improving. In one or two matches he'll be back at the top."

Chelsea had to withstand the late attacks from the Seagulls to record their first win in three away matches and stay in fourth in the Premier League, two points behind Tottenham.

Chelsea are 3/10 to beat Leicester at Stamford Bridge on Saturday. The Foxes are 8/1 with the draw priced at 9/2.

Chris Hughton felt Brighton were unlucky to be two down at the break, giving themselves too much to do from that point.

"They had two chances in the first half and scored two goals," said Hughton. "We started the game well but you can't give them the leg up by going behind.

"Then you have to have a response in the second half which we did in the second-half."

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Hazard ready to hit top gear

Chelsea manager Maurizio Sarri is tipping Eden Hazard to thrive in the coming weeks after the Belgian inspired his team to a 2-1 win at Brighton.

Hazard laid on the opener for Pedro with a superb pass at the Amex Stadium and then raced clear after taking a ball from Willian to score Chelsea's second goal.

The Blues looked to be cruising just beyond the half-hour, but Brighton stuck to their task and set up a dramatic finish when Solly March hooked home with 25 minutes left.

Hazard has eight goals and nine assists this season in the league for Chelsea and his manager is tipping the 27-year-old to really come good now.

"I think that Hazard could have played better because his level is a very high level," said Sarri. "He can do more for him and for us.

"But I think after the two injuries, he lost the physical condition. Now he's improving. In one or two matches he'll be back at the top."

Chelsea had to withstand the late attacks from the Seagulls to record their first win in three away matches and stay in fourth in the Premier League, two points behind Tottenham.

Chelsea are 3/10 to beat Leicester at Stamford Bridge on Saturday. The Foxes are 8/1 with the draw priced at 9/2.

Chris Hughton felt Brighton were unlucky to be two down at the break, giving themselves too much to do from that point.

"They had two chances in the first half and scored two goals," said Hughton. "We started the game well but you can't give them the leg up by going behind.

"Then you have to have a response in the second half which we did in the second-half."

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Premier League: No Eden, No Hazard!

Burnley vs Chelsea

As Premier League games go, a trip to Turf Moor has been one of the toughest assignments outside of the top six in recent seasons.

With Chelsea missing arguably the best player in the world at the moment, Eden Hazard – shining for both club and country – after suffering a back injury, this seemed a potential banana skin for the west Londoners without their top scorer and talisman.

Yet in the end it was no Hazard, no problem!

Highlights of the game

Burnley failed to upset Premier League 2018 betting odds

Joe Hart shows disappointment against Chelsea after ending their clash in a clean sheet

It only takes a second to score a goal and the outcome was never in doubt from the moment the 2017 champions took the lead.

Willian’s fine shot had curled against the base of Joe Hart’s post a moment earlier but Chelsea were not deterred and within 60 seconds Ross Barkley played through Alvaro Morata who showed that his confidence is slowly returning by toe-poking the ball past the former England shot-stopper.

Manager Maurizio Sarri was on his way to becoming the first Chelsea boss to remain unbeaten in his first 10 Premier League matches in charge.

It took until 12 minutes after the restart for the visitors to make their superiority count but make it count they did with two goals inside five minutes.

First Barkley, who rescued a point for his side late on last weekend, produced a curling 25 yard shot.

Then he claimed his second assist of the match to set up Willian who this time beat the helpless Hart and the post with a superb curling finish.

Ruben Loftus-Cheek scored his fourth goal in two days in the second minute of stoppage time with a left-footed effort to sum up Burnley’s miserable day.

It would have been more had Hart not tipped a header from substitute Olivier Giroud onto the bar also.

Sean Dyche’s side – who welcomed back Robbie Brady for the first time since he suffered a knee tendon injury last December – stay 14th but should not be concerned by the manner in which they were beaten – the gulf in resources between these two clubs was reflected in the scoreline.

Indeed, Burnley have not beaten Chelsea at Turf Moor since a 3-0 second tier victory in April 1983 and the Premier League 2018 betting odds on a repeat were always bordering on the highly unlikely.

Meanwhile, Barkley is now showing signs of form that persuaded the club to part company with £15 million for his services earlier this year and he is fast producing some of the Premier League 2018 highlights.

Chelsea are now unbeaten in their opening 10 top-flight games for only the fifth time, a run that includes their title-winning seasons of 2005-06 and 2014-15.

On both occasions they didn’t lose a match until the 12th and 14th league matches respectively.

The side is now up to second spot – for 24 hours at least –and maybe, just maybe – Sarri has helped the club rediscover its mojo which it seemed to lose, despite FA Cup success, in the final months of his predecessor Antonio Conte’s regime.

As both Conte and Jose Mourinho, their boss during those title winning years, can testify, it’s when the going gets tough that some players seemed to go missing.

But, so far, Sarri has injected positivity into life at Stamford Bridge and has the results to back that up.

He can do no more than that.

Key statistics

Burnley last beat Chelsea at home in the top flight in 1973 thanks to a goal from Frank Casper.

Burnley’s 3-2 victory at Chelsea on the opening day of last season is their only triumph in 25 Premier League matches against the established top-six teams.

Chelsea’s only defeat in nine Premier League games against Burnley was that 3-defeat (won seven, drawn two).

Chelsea have kept only three clean sheets in their 36 top-flight away matches against Burnley, in goalless draws in 1963 and 1970.

The Blues are the only Premier League side yet to fall behind in an away match this season.

Ten of their 23 league goals this season have been scored in the final 15 minutes of matches.

Barkley has now scored in three successive league games for Chelsea, the first Englishman to do so since Frank Lampard in February 2013.

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What’s next?

It’s back-to-back away games coming up for Sean Dyche’s side.

Burnley travel to their Claret counterparts next weekend in the Premier League.

They face West Ham (November 3) before visiting Leicester City a week later.

Chelsea face four matches, three at Stamford Bridge over the next fortnight.

The League Cup match against Derby and then home EPL fixtures against Crystal Palace and Everton which are sandwiched by a visit to Belarusian minnows BATE Borisov in the Europa League.

 

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Willian: ‘No fear’ for Blues

Willian say Chelsea have "no one to fear in the Premier League this season" following their impressive start.

The Blues remain unbeaten under Maurizio Sarri, with six wins and three draws under their new boss hoisting them to third place.

Brazilian playmaker Willian felt last weekend's last-gasp leveller in the 2-2 with Manchester United at Stamford Bridge was an indication of the spirit in the Blues squad this term.

Maintaining their unbeaten run in those circumstances against former manager Jose Mourinho and his Red Devils was a key moment.

"We know how important it is to play big games and to score in the last minute (against Manchester United) was amazing," he told Sky Sports.

"We have no one to fear in the Premier League this season, we have a team who will fight until the end and I am sure we are going to do that."

Chelsea surrendered their title last season in meek fashion, finishing fifth, a whopping 30 points behind champions Manchester City.

After nine games the Blues are just two points adrift of Pep Guardiola's team, who are second behind Liverpool in the early running.

Willian, 6/1 to score first in Sunday's trip to Burnley, suggests the turnaround is all down to Sarri.

"It's been a very good start, we've played good football and it's all credit to Sarri," Willian said.

"The way he works, it is all about playing good football and he has given us more opportunities to show our quality more."

Chelsea are 4/11 to win at Turf Moor, with the home side 10/1 and the draw priced 4/1.

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Barkley’s form thrills Willian

Chelsea midfielder Willian is pleased that Ross Barkley is playing so well at the moment – for club and country.

The 24-year-old moved to Stamford Bridge from Everton for £15million in January but injuries restricted him to just two Premier League appearances for the club last season.

However, he has played a key role in Chelsea's fine start to the campaign and has scored in his last two Premier League appearances – against Southampton and Manchester United – as well as impressing for England in the Nations Cup games against Croatia and Spain.

Brazil international Willian said: "Ross is one of the players who can make the difference. I am very happy for him because we know how difficult it was for him at the start.

"He arrived here, began training, got an injury, came back and got an injury again. But this season he is playing very well, is scoring goals and is back in the national team.

"We can see he is becoming more confident. It's normal when you start to play – you feel more important, you feel confident on the pitch."

Chelsea face BATE Borisov in the Europa League on Thursday. They can be backed at 7/2 to win the Stamford Bridge clash by a three-goal margin while Barkley is 2/1 to score at any time in the encounter.

The Blues are also available at 1/3 to beat Burnley at Turf Moor on Sunday.

Willian anticipates difficult derby

Brazil international Willian believes Chelsea can cause Arsenal problems in Saturday's Premier League clash between the two London teams.

Both sides have new managers this term, with ex-Napoli boss Maurizio Sarri replacing Antonio Conte at Stamford Bridge and Unai Emery succeeding Arsene Wenger as the Gunners chief.

The Blues have made the better start to the campaign, having won 3-0 at Huddersfield Town on Saturday, while Arsenal were beaten 2-0 on home soil by Manchester City 24 hours later.

Willian, who has suggested he would have left Chelsea if Conte had remained in charge of the club this season, is enjoying working under Sarri, with the 30-year-old saying: "Is it fun to play this way? I think so. We have a lot of players with quality up front, like Eden Hazard and Pedro. Players like that want to play football.

"That's why he (Sarri) talked about 'fun' football. This is what we will try to do this season. Is this like Brazil's Samba style? Yes. This is what we do in Brazil and are trying to do here, playing with skill and movement.

"The manager tells us to play, to enjoy ourselves on the pitch, with responsibility. Now we have a different style, that's why we can create problems for Arsenal.

"Of course, it will be a special game against Arsenal because it is a derby. It is always difficult against them."

Chelsea can be backed at 4/5 to beat Arsenal and are available at 7/1 to win the match from behind. Meanwhile, the Blues are 6/4 to score in both halves against Emery's team, who are 15/8 to finish in the top four of the Premier League this season.

Willian set to stay at Chelsea

Brazil international Willian says he has decided to stay at Chelsea after holding positive talks with new Blues boss Maurizio Sarri.

The 29-year-old had been linked with a move away from Stamford Bridge this summer and was criticised by Sarri after failing to return to pre-season training on time.

Willian says he fell out with previous Chelsea manager Antonio Conte but is far more content now that Sarri has succeeded his fellow Italian.

Conte led Chelsea to the Premier League title in 2016/17, his first season at Stamford Bridge, but the Blues struggled last term and eventually finished outside the Champions League spots in fifth.

Willian came off the bench for the final 30 minutes of Sunday's 2-0 Community Shield defeat to Manchester City at Wembley, and said afterwards: "I've always been clear about enjoying playing for Chelsea.

"I've never told [anyone] that I wanted to leave the club but some situations that happened with the other coach left me upset.

"But now it's a new cycle. I had a nice conversation with the new coach. I hope this can be a year of victory for us.

"My will is staying at the club, unless they want to sell me. We never know, but I've always been clear about my wish of staying here."

Chelsea can be backed at 4/6 to finish in the top four of the Premier League this season while they are available at 4/7 to beat Huddersfield Town in the first game of the campaign on Saturday. Meanwhile, Willian is 25/1 to be their top goalscorer this term.

Sarri seeks Willian talks

Chelsea head coach Maurizio Sarri wants to know why Brazil international Willian has not returned to Stamford Bridge for pre-season training on time.

Willian has been linked with moves to Manchester United and Real Madrid after representing his country at World Cup 2018.

"I am not happy about this situation but, before I answer, I would like to speak to him," Sarri said after Chelsea lost to Arsenal 6-5 on penalties following a 1-1 draw in the International Champions Cup in Dublin.

Meanwhile, Ross Barkley is keen to impress Sarri after recovering from a long-term injury.

Barkley, who moved to Stamford Bridge from Everton in January, only made four appearances for Chelsea last season because of a troublesome hamstring injury.

"I arrived here with a long-term injury," Barkley said. "I didn't play many games because of that… from the time that I joined in January, I have got my body feeling better than ever before."

Chelsea face Manchester City in the Community Shield on 5th August. Sarri's side can be backed at 5/4 to lift the trophy at Wembley while they are 4/6 to finish in the top four of the Premier League this term. Willian is 25/1 to be their top goalscorer in 2018/19.

Mourinho pleased to be second

Jose Mourinho said Manchester United's win over Chelsea was important as it took them back up to second in the Premier League table.

United won 2-1 at Old Trafford, Romelu Lukaku and Jesse Lingard scoring for the home side after Willian had given the visitors the lead.

Antonio Conte's team hit the post in the opening minutes but took the lead just after half an hour, Willian starting and finishing the move with Eden Hazard also involved.

United though responded well and were level five minutes later, Lukaku scoring against his old club from close range.

Chelsea had chances to retake the lead but it was United who got the winner in the 75th minute, Lukaku crossing for Lingard to head home.

The win means that United overtake Liverpool in the league table, back up to second, 13 points behind Manchester City.

Mourinho, speaking to the BBC after the game said the result was notable, not because it was against his old club but to establish their position in the Premier League table.

He said: "It is very special as we beat the champions, who are a fantastic team, who are very difficult to beat and because this is the three points that keep us in second place which is the place we are fighting for.

"It opens a little gap, not much to Chelsea, and it is a very important result for us. It feels special as the players gave everything. It is not possible to win against a team with the quality of Chelsea without the quality we gave."

United are next in action a week on Monday when they travel to Selhurst Park to take on struggling Crystal Palace.

They are 1/2 for another win with Roy Hodgson's side 6/1 and the draw priced at 3/1.

United, still in two other competitions, are 2/1 to win the FA Cup while they are 20/1 to lift the Champions League trophy at the end of the season.

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