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Premiership - Newcastle Home 22nd November 2008 - 0-0


Alan

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Uncomfortable Home Truths Begin to Surface for Scolari

By Alan McGuinness

A quick glance at the 0-0 score line gives the impression that this game was a closely fought affair; It was anything but. Chelsea created a whole host of chances but again looked lacking in ideas at home, a worrying trend that is growing more noticeable as the season progresses.

Newcastle were resolute in defence, but the Blues had enough chances to win two games, let alone one. As it stands, Scolari evidently needs to come up with a Plan B when faced with games like this in the future.

Frank Lampard began the onslaught by forcing Given into a brilliant save from his header.

Nicolas Anelka - who has been in such rich form recently - hit a tame shot at Given soon afterwards.

Florent Malouda then managed to worm his way into the box, but went down before he could get his shot away. The French winger appealed in vain for a penalty.

In the absence of both Alex and Ricardo Carvalho Branislav Ivanovic filled in at the back alongside John Terry and he looped a header over the bar as Chelsea lay siege to Newcastle’s goal.

It was all one way traffic, and at times Chelsea were guilty of overplaying the ball when a simple pass would have sufficed. Joe Cole’s attempted back heel to Frank Lampard on the edge of the box being just one example.

Ashley Cole came agonisingly close to opening the scoring, but his header looped wide of the post with Given stranded.

The Chelsea players must have been wondering how the game was still goalless going into half time, and the second period was to prove just as frustrating.

Joe Cole thought he had put the home side ahead when he bundled the ball in from Malouda’s shot, but the linesman judged him to be offside.

Another talking point ensued when Given caught a Lampard free-kick on the line, prompting shouts that the ball had crossed the line, but Phil Dowd dismissed any such claims.

As the half went on, the home side’s frustration grew. Gaining possession wasn’t a problem, it was doing something with it. Faced by banks of black and white shirts, Chelsea looked clueless and flatfooted.

Luiz Felipe Scolari failed to make any game altering changes, and waited until the 81st minute to replace the erratic Deco.

Consolation can be gained from the fact that Arsenal continue to flatter to deceive and that Liverpool also dropped points at home to Fulham.

One of the hallmarks of Chelsea’s domestic dominance under Jose Mourinho was their near perfect home form. Scolari’s lack of a Plan B at home is starting to become ever more obvious.

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