Miles Starforth's match analysis: Chelsea 3 Newcastle United 0
There’s a very good reason why strikers cost so much money.
Scoring goals is the hardest thing to do on a football pitch at the top level, and goalscorers, especially good ones, come at a premium.
Right now, Newcastle United simply aren’t scoring enough goals.
Take yesterday’s FA Cup tie against Chelsea at Stamford Bridge, which the club lost 3-0.
Rafa Benitez’s side were as good as their hosts for the first 30 minutes, but they just couldn’t take their chances.
One-time Newcastle target Michy Batshuayi – who, interestingly, could yet be loaned out by Antonio Conte – opened the scoring in the 31st minute, and that was that.
United – who entertain Burnley at St James’s Park on Wednesday night – need to start winning Premier League games.
To do that they need to score more goals.
Another striker would certainly help, but, up to now, the club’s owner Mike Ashley, has been unwilling to break a transfer record set before in 2005.
Benitez was giving little away in the Stamford Bridge press room after the fourth-round defeat.
United’s manager talked of his “confidence” that the club would strengthen before the deadline, but he didn’t seem particularly confident.
Benitez knows that time is fast running out.
So far, the club has only signed one player – loanee Kenedy – on loan in this month’s transfer window.
Benitez needs more help.
And the cost of not doing business could be far greater.
Benitez had recalled Henri Saivet to his starting XI for the tie. Saivet had sparked a comeback against West Ham United on his last appearance in the capital, but this wasn’t to be his day.
Newcastle, set out in a 5-3-1-1 formation, made a promising start. Chelsea struggled to get going, and the visitors looked comfortable and confident on the ball.
They were also combative out of possession, and Chancel Mbemba, also recalled to the team, got an early yellow card for bringing down Eden Hazard on the edge of the box.
Chelsea offered little in the first half-hour, while United threatened on the counter-attack. Both the home side’s first-half goals would come from quick breaks forward.
A superb ball from Pedro found Hazard, who played it inside to Marcos Alonso. Alonso played in Batshuayi, who shot into an empty net from eight yards.
It was the same story for Chelsea’s second goal, scored in the 44th minute.
Saivet gave the ball away in midfield and within a couple of seconds Hazard had found Batshuayi in space. The striker’s shot took a massive deflection off Jamaal Lascelles on its way past Karl Darlow.
Massadio Haidara, making his first appearance of the season, was too slow to track back.
Newcastle had had half-chances themselves. They just hadn’t been able to take them.
Darlow stopped a deflected volley from Alonso after the break, but the game was gone, long gone, and it was just a case of how many goals Chelsea would score on their way to the fifth-round.
There were more chants from United fans calling on owner Mike Ashley to “get out of our club”.
Newcastle were camped deep in their own half for long spells, and Alonso netted Chelsea’s third from a free-kick.
United fans can only hope that Ashley gets the message between now and deadline day.