A dominant performance gave us the three points against Newcastle United as we made it five consecutive wins and 12 games unbeaten in all competitions.
Chelsea were in almost complete control from the first minute to the last as we dimissed any thoughts of St James' Park being a bogey ground for us after some difficult recent trips to Tyneside.
We had the lead after just 10 minutes through a well-worked short corner, which resulted in Mason Mount sending a dangerous low cross into the six-yard box which the Newcastle defenders couldn't handle, as Federico Fernandez diverted it into his own net at the back post under pressure from Ben Chilwell.
We had to wait for the second goal despite our possession and making plenty of chances, but it did arrive in the second half when a brilliant run from Timo Werner ended with Tammy Abraham slotting past Karl Darlow.
The only surprise in Newcastle was that we only won by two goals, with Werner having one disallowed for offside and Mount and Zouma also going close.
Lampard had already confirmed that Thiago Silva would not be part of the team to face Newcastle United today following his long trip to South America during the international break. Antonio Rudiger was the man selected to take his spot at centre-back alongside Kurt Zouma, the German playing his first league game this season following Champions League appearances against Krasnodar and Rennes.
Thiago Silva's absence, combined with Cesar Azpilicueta and Jorginho being named among the substitutes, as Reece James and Mateo Kovacic retained their places, meant that N'Golo Kante captained Chelsea at St James' Park.
Ben Chilwell recovered from the knock he suffered with England to start at left-back and Kepa Arrizabalaga returned from injury to take the substitute goalkeeper's berth.
Newcastle United were without top scorer Callum Wilson, who has scored six of their 10 Premier League goals so far this season.
Newcastle looked to start on the front foot and won two early free-kicks in deep positions, the second of which required Ben Chilwell to be alert to head behind at the near post, resulting in a couple of early corners for the home side, but they came to nothing.
However, it was Chelsea who then created the first chance of the game, when Mason Mount won the ball well in Newcastle’s half and fed Timo Werner, whose low drive forced an excellent finger-tip save from Karl Darlow.
The clever corner from Mount found Reece James on the edge of the box, but his powerful first-time shot couldn’t find it’s way through the bodies.
We continued to control possession in the early stages and it wasn’t long before Darlow was called into action again, this time when Tammy Abraham got his head to a curling cross from the right by Hakim Ziyech.
From the corner that resulted, we took the lead. A clever routine saw Mount, Werner and Ziyech exchanging short passes out wide, creating space for Mount to whip a low cross across the face of goal. With Chilwell and others rushing to meet it, Newcastle defender Federico Fernandez bundled the ball into his own net at the back post under pressure.
There was a brief worry it might be ruled out as VAR checked the pressure from Chilwell hadn’t crossed the line into becoming a foul, but it didn’t last long and the goal was given. 1-0 Chelsea with 10 minutes played.
We weren’t looking content with a one-goal lead, though, and were soon threatening again when Mount set Werner running in the left channel, but Abraham couldn’t get on the end of the German’s teasing square-pass along the edge of the six-yard box.
Newcastle seemed incapable of getting possession of the ball as we continued to dominate the first half. Low crosses from wide positions seemed to be giving the home defence all kinds of problems, with James the next Chelsea player to take that route as we patiently probed for a second goal. This time Werner was on the receiving end, but he couldn’t make the contact he needed from a difficult angle.
Newcastle’s most threatening moment of the first half-an-hour came as Joelinton attempted to catch Edouard Mendy off his line with a shot from the edge of the centre-circle, but as it dribbled wide comfortably watched by our goalkeeper, it seemed to sum up the Magpies’ first 30 minutes, during which Chelsea had enjoyed a massive 81 per cent of possession.
The only surprise was that our lead remained so narrow. Mateo Kovacic won back the ball in midfield and Mount found Abraham in the box. When the striker controlled the ball under heavy pressure with his back to goal and laid it off to Werner, the German’s first touch made space for the shot but he tried to roll it into the corner and saw his effort go narrowly wide of the post.
The Geordies did follow that up with their first real attack since those early set-pieces, but Mendy was alert to rush off his line and smother the ball before they could get a shot away, and normal service was soon resumed as the play shifted back into Newcastle’s half and efforts by Mount and James had to be blocked strongly.
That attack had given Newcastle confidence to try again and things looked dangerous when Abraham’s pass was intercepted by Joelinton in a dangerous area and then Allan Saint-Maximin got possession in space to run at our defence, but N’Golo Kante did well to divert the shot wide.
Encouraged, the home side had their best spell immediately before half-time, finally managing some prolonged possession in Chelsea’s half. However, it came to nothing as they failed to manage a shot on target before the break.
Things got worse for Newcastle almost immediately as, after attempting to play on in the second half, captain Jamal Lascelles was forced to admit he couldn’t continue with the injury he had been struggling with for much of the first after stretching for a tackle on Werner.
We probably should have had the second goal when Werner rushed in to dispossess a hesitant Schar, who had just replaced Lascelles, just outside Newcastle’s box, but he unselfishly tried to set up Ziyech for a tap in rather than go for goal himself and couldn’t get enough power into his pass, allowing Newcastle to clear.
Zouma then rose highest to meet a Ziyech corner, but headed narrowly wide, as we continued to push in our attempts to give ourselves a safety margin in our lead.
There was a warning for the Blues not to get complacent, too, when a ricochet in our penalty area presented Hayden with a great chance to equalise, but he blazed over the bar with Mendy flying off his line to make himself big. Joelinton was next to attempt to bring Newcastle back level when he found space just outside the box, but he also couldn’t keep his shot down.
As we entered the last 30 minutes of the game, we had been served fair warning that our one-goal lead wasn’t as comfortable as our dominance of possession made it look.
Three points secured
That made our second goal very timely and it owed much to Werner’s pace. He picked up the ball deep inside our half and set off running forward with purpose. After beating two defenders and committing a third, he slid a perfectly weighted pass to release Abraham, and our number nine calmly opened up his body and slid the ball past Darlow and in off the right-hand post.
It was a moment of brilliance from Werner that was worthy of winning a match and we had the two-goal lead we had looked for so patiently. Given our control so far, it looked like it was going to take something extraordinary in the last 20 minutes to deny us victory at St James’ Park now.
Out of nowhere Newcastle nearly did produce something special, though, as a short free-kick found Sean Longstaff in space, and his powerful effort from long range hit the crossbar and went over. The Magpies then tried to change their approach, with Andy Carroll coming on to join Joelinton up front as Steve Bruce used his third and final substitute with 15 minutes remaining.
Almost immediately it looked like we had a third goal, as Werner rounded the goalkeeper and slotted in, but he was ruled offside and it was disallowed. It would have been no less than he deserved. That was Werner’s last contribution of a fine performance, as Lampard replaced him with Callum Hudson-Odoi in our first change.
Mount was the next to go close as he burst into the box in the right-hand channel, but he couldn’t make a clean connection with his shot and it bounced just wide of the far post. The Chelsea players were starting to enjoy themselves, even if Mendy did then make his first save with just over 10 minutes left, palming a deflected Almiron shot around his near post.
In truth, we rarely looked like leaving St James’ Park with anything less than the three points, especially after our second goal, putting in one of our most dominant performances of the season so far.
He may not have managed to get his name on the score sheet for a fifth Premier League game in a row, but Werner ran our opponents ragged yet again. He was unlucky to be flagged narrowly offside when he got the ball in the back of the net, but Abraham’s strike was all of the German’s making as he stormed up the pitch and took pretty much the whole Newcastle defence out of the game. That means he has been involved in 10 goals in his last six appearances for Chelsea, with seven goals and three assists.
The Champions League is back on Tuesday evening as we travel to France to face Rennes, before we return to Premier League action with a big London derby against Tottenham Hotspur at Stamford Bridge next Sunday.
Chelsea (4-3-3): Mendy; James, Rudiger, Zouma, Chilwell (Emerson 82); Kovacic, Kante (c), Mount; Ziyech (Giroud 87), Abraham, Werner (Hudson-Odoi 76)
Unused subs: Kepa, Christensen, Azpilicueta, Jorginho
Scorers: Fernandez og 10, Abraham 65
Newcastle United (5-4-1): Darlow; Manquillo (Almiron 66), Clark, Lascelles (c) (Schar 47), Fernandez, Lewis; Murphy, S Longstaff, Hayden, Saint-Maximin (Carroll 74); Joelinton
Unused subs: Gillespie, Krafth, Hendrick, Shelvey
Booked: Hayden 40, Murphy 45
Referee: Craig Pawson