Not for the first time in recent weeks a late goal decided a game in Chelsea’s favour, and here we dissect the gritty victory over Newcastle with the help of data and statistics.
The Blues secured a fifth league win in a row courtesy of Kai Havertz’s sumptuous touch and finish from Jorginho’s defence-splitting pass with just a minute of normal time remaining. We remain comfortably cemented in third place in the Premier League table.
Blues show battling qualities
Since the return of club football at the start of February, Chelsea have now scored late goals in six matches, with five of those turning possible draws into victories.
There were extra-time winners against Plymouth and Palmeiras, before Hakim Ziyech netted an 89th-minute decider at Crystal Palace. Romelu Lukaku completed a turnaround at Luton Town with less than a quarter-of-an-hour remaining, and in our two most recent league games Havertz has scored in the 90th minute, sealing success at Norwich, and then the 89th to help us edge past Newcastle.
It is proof that even when Chelsea are not at our fluid best, we are remaining positive and patient until the closing stages, primed to take any late opportunities that come our way.
Subs prove pivotal
A big reason for that is Thomas Tuchel’s in-game management. Having started with a 4-3-3 against Newcastle’s deep 4-5-1, the boss switched to a 3-4-3 during the second half and finished the game with Christian Pulisic as a wing-back, hunting three points at the risk of losing one.
The earlier introduction of Romelu Lukaku and Mateo Kovacic on the hour proved critical to us finding a way through the visitors’ stubborn rearguard.
The presence of Lukaku in attack gave the Geordies an extra figurehead to worry about, and it was no coincidence our three on-target efforts fell to Havertz in the final quarter-hour of the game.
Meanwhile Kovacic was a bundle of energy in midfield, breaking Newcastle’s lines and driving us forward. He had 30 touches of the ball and was in possession for a total of 3.1 per cent of the game, both figures only marginally lower than those recorded by the man he replaced, Mason Mount. His passing accuracy of 92 per cent was bettered only by three players.
In the final 30 minutes our possession was 79.1 per cent (higher than our overall 72.8 per cent) as we pinned Newcastle back and finally found a way through.
Havertz the hero again
Ziyech, with one of a game-high three key passes he made, had come close to supplying a superb assist for Havertz, whose header was saved. Thankfully there was still time for Jorginho to find the German’s run.
N’Golo Kante, as dynamic as ever all game with three dribbles and four tackles won, then nearly registered an assist of his own, only for Havertz to be denied by a combination of Martin Dubravka and the woodwork.
The three Havertz chances epitomise the different threats he poses – aerially, in tight spaces in the box, and running in behind. As his season goes from strength to strength, it was fitting a goal of such outstanding quality separated the sides at Stamford Bridge.