Newcastle United in dire need of reinforcements but Mike Ashley can't see it

Given Newcastle United’s atrocious record at Stamford Bridge, Saturday night’s showing against Chelsea was actually one of the better performances we’ve witnessed at this venue in years gone by.

There was nothing wrong with the way Rafa Benitez’s men went about their business against an expensively assembled Blues side and the fighting spirit and determination was there for the travelling Geordies in the famous Shed End to see.

However, the bigger picture is much more worrying for the Magpies and home form from earlier in the season is now coming back to haunt them as they sit in the bottom three of the Premier League.

Mike Ashley was in the main stand at the Bridge and may have looked on wondering what the problem is for United after they went close to gaining what would have been a very respectable point.

Newcastle United manager Rafael Benitez during the Premier League match at Stamford Bridge, London.
(Image: PA)

But as Benitez paced around his technical area he looked a frustrated man as he knew with a little bit more backing, this side is capable of going toe to toe with the top flight’s big boys.

Lack of investment in key areas is absolutely choking United again this season.

The game was decided by two moments of true quality as Pedro dinked the ball over Martin Dubravka from a long ball in the first half, before Willian craftily picked his spot with a piece of raw skill just before the hour mark to score the winning goal.

 

Other than that, Newcastle matched Chelsea for endeavour and they created their fair share of chances before just falling short.

There’s not much you can do to stop players like Willian and Pedro when they get into those positions, but with one or two more creative players, United could well have forced a second equaliser.

Again, had Benitez’s side had a little bit more pace and little bit more quality they may well have had Kepa Arrizabalaga sweating in the final stages.

Chelsea usually have the game sewn up long before the end against Newcastle, but on Saturday evening the crowd were nervous and the moans and groans around Stamford Bridge were evident as they managed to scrape over the line.

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Although Toon fans did fear the worst when Pedro latched on to David Luiz’s pass after nine minutes to put Chelsea ahead.

At that stage you wondered if this could end up being five or six, but Newcastle’s response was positive and they almost started playing with some freedom.

Ciaran Clark’s equaliser was richly deserved but perhaps it came too early as Chelsea had 55 minutes to respond and didn’t fail in their task after the break.

Despite the defeat, Benitez feels that confidence is still good within his squad and that bodes well ahead of what feels like a season defining week.

The FA Cup replay at Blackburn Rovers is not Benitez’s priority, but he can do himself a favour by getting into the hat for round four to reward the fans who are sticking by their team with thousands of Geordies heading for Lancashire on Tuesday night.

 

Beating Cardiff City back at St James’ Park next Saturday is now crucial and Newcastle will climb back out of the bottom three if they see off Neil Warnock’s side.

Despite the handful of positives that emerged from the clash against Chelsea, it’s points that United need most badly.

It’s now just one win in 10 Premier League games and four wins in all competitions from 24 matches this season.

With 16 games to go Newcastle are fighting for their Premier League lives again.