The Newcastle vs Chelsea matches had many twists in turns to it. In the early stages Newcastle were badly exposed with acres of space in front of Newcastle full back Ryan Taylor. Hatem Ben Arfa was given (or took on) a free role and only sporadically occupied a spot on the left side of midfield.
The graphic below illustrates Ben Arfa’s position when receiving passes.
Ben Arfa never made it out for the second half and Daniel Sturridge who had enjoyed an enormous amount of freedom in the first 45 minutes found he had to drop deeper and wider to pick up passes in the second half.
Drogba’s first half goal gave Chelsea a lead but Demba Ba and Shola Ameobi (second half substitute) spearheaded a spirited Newcastle response. However, although the pair unsettled the Chelsea defence the return in terms of shots on target by the pair was limited to just a single effort from Ba.
Juan Mata was again the creative fulcrum for Chelsea. He set up the opener for Drogba and his ability to pick out the right pass and to execute made him the games best outfield player during the 75 minutes he played.
Despite many in the media dismissing the late acquisition of Mikel Arteta by Arsenal as a signing two or three years to late the former Everton midfielder has fitted in extremely well.
He opened the scoring against Wigan but again it was his ability to pass the ball quickly and accurately that stood out. Arteta is rarely able to find the killer pass into the penalty area ala Fabregas but he does offer a quicker and more direct approach.
United won through a Phil Jones goal but United struggled and fortunately – for United – Villa were even worse. Villa’s passing was generally woeful through out. Particularly bad was Chris Herd (who was substituted after 59 mins) and Emile Heskey (who cam off the bench 5 mins. later).
Later on Monday a look at what the new Sunderland boss Martin O’Neill has to work with and from.
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