London, March 14
Chelsea were made to strive in their first game at home since the UK government placed strict sanctions last week on their Russian owner Roman Abramovich which has put the club in turmoil and under restrictions on expenditure. While Newcastle are relishing their new-found wealth having been bought by the Saudi Arabian Investment Fund for 300 million last October, Chelsea, have suddenly been jolted out of their financial comfort.
They made hard work of their 1-0 win over Newcastle, their fourth consecutive win amid the confusion surrounding the club. Chelsea manager confirmed that their travel plans to Lille for Wednesday’s Champions League game are largely unaffected despite the restrictions placed on expenditure.
Chelsea’s technical and performance advisor, Petr Cech, became the club’s most senior member of staff to speak about the turmoil. Worryingly, he refused to guarantee that the club can complete the season, saying: “We have to admit that we can go day by day because it’s not in our hands. The conversations are going on that we can operate in a way that we can finish the season.”
When asked whether the club can continue paying all their employees, Cech added: “I hope so. But I don’t have the answers.”
The game remained goalless for 89 minutes with neither side able to find openings. There wasn’t a shot on target in the first half hour and only in added time at the end of the first half that Chelsea goalkeeper, Edouard Mendy, was forced to make a diving save from a fine volley by Miguel Almiron. Prior to that Dan Burn headed narrowly wide from a cross by Matt Targett.
Kai Havertz missed an excellent chance when his header went straight into the goalkeeper after receiving a pass from Hakim Ziyech in the 72nd minute.
Earlier, Havertz was fortunate not to receive a red card when he elbowed Burn in the 39th minute when both went up to head the ball. Burn suffered a cut near the eye and Havertz was shown the yellow card.
Newcastle were upset at not being awarded a penalty in the 57th minute when Trevoh Chalobah tugged at the shirt sleeve of Jacob Murphy and appeared to put his leg in front of the winger’s stride which sent him sprawling to the ground. Despite the check on VAR the penalty was somewhat surprisingly not given.
Chances were missed by both sides and a goalless draw beckoned until a minute from time when Chelsea put an end to Newcastle’s nine-match unbeaten run in the Premier League. It was also the first time they failed to score in 10 games.
Havertz, took his goal superbly despite Burn in close attendance. He controlled the pass from Jorginho with one touch from the outside of his boot and then slamming the ball into the net from eight yards for his fourth goal in three matches.
In stoppage time, Chelsea nearly got a second when Havertz’s shot as pushed against the bar by Martin Dubravka in the Newcastle goal.