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Willock takes Newcastle within two points of Man City with a win over Chelsea

After defeating Chelsea to earn its fifth consecutive Premier League victory, Joe Willock made sure Newcastle will proudly be in the top three heading into the World Cup break.

After exerting considerable pressure on Graham Potter’s team in the first half and letting two excellent opportunities pass him by just after the break, Willock finally made a breakthrough when he curled in from 18 yards after a strong run by Miguel Almiron.

Without Sterling and Aubameyang, a young Chelsea team improved in the second half once Christian Pulisic was added.

Nick Pope saved Conor Gallagher’s shot after the American’s run, but they could not defeat the well-prepared Newcastle.

Following Liverpool’s victory over Southampton, Chelsea has dropped to eighth place in the Premier League standings. They are eight points behind fourth-place Tottenham. This is the Blues’ third consecutive loss in the league.

Newcastle is making rapid progress under Howe

The team celebrated with their supporters at the final whistle following a competitive finale to the game in which some scorching challenges were traded. This game showed how quickly Howe’s side has advanced in the 13 months since it took over the club.

They displayed greater fluidity than their opponents for extended stretches, presumably in keeping with a more stable team lineup than Chelsea and as a result of having Bruno Guimaraes at the center of their midfield.

Given that Newcastle has been in its newfound status for six months longer than Chelsea, it may be no surprise that both teams have recently undergone takeovers.

The new owners have proclaimed that the team’s transition would take time. Still, Saturday’s result, performance, and atmosphere at the stadium suggested that Howe’s team is already prepared to confront the Premier League’s power structure.

Chelsea’s season is in turmoil

While Newcastle supporters celebrated their team’s 10-game unbeaten streak as they returned home, Chelsea supporters will be left wondering what has become of their team after they lost their third straight game overall.

The opposition put in a lot of effort, but Potter’s unpredictable team lineup again appeared fragmented. Their injury situation was best illustrated by three players playing right wing-back at various periods in the game.

The early injury to Ruben Loftus-Cheek was beyond their control, but when Cesar Azpilicueta was replaced at halftime, Gallagher stepped in and came the closest to scoring for Chelsea.

The visitors’ desperate attempts to score an equalizer resulted in unpleasant scenes at the end and pointed to an unsatisfied Chelsea camp, raising more questions for Potter. Pulisic was one of the few bright spots, and his running helped the visitors pin back Newcastle.

Potter: We didn’t have enough

Potter commented on his team’s defeat by the Magpies in a post-game interview with BBC Match of the Day.

“They were successful in a game with little chances. Even when we made changes, we needed more. They were pushing us back in the first half, which was obvious.”

“We could have avoided leaving the defensive third as often as we would have liked. So we added a man on the pitch in the middle.”

“Now that we’ve taken a break, we need to recharge. It is what it is for us in terms of the extremely difficult period we have experienced.”

“We must focus on the good. Many boys will be away, but we can take a break, regroup, and leave again after we return.”


Eddie Howe speaks about the win over Chelsea

Despite Newcastle sitting in third place in the Premier League heading into the World Cup break, Eddie Howe is reluctant even to consider the possibility of European qualifying.

He responded, “I don’t know about that,” when asked if playing in Europe next season was now a possibility.

“Simply put, we give every game our all. We have yet to consider any variations or effects of the games. We’ve only attempted to win them, and that’s the ideal strategy for us to use in the season’s remaining games.”

Newcastle’s victory over Chelsea gave them 30 points for the year, a milestone they did not reach last season until March 10—a sign of how far they have come.

“It’s good to hear that,” Howe said. “The season before was challenging and dissimilar from the one we are currently going through.”

“We aim to rack up points as rapidly as possible. Everyone is working together and fighting for the same goal right now, and the players tonight deserve a lot of praise for what they accomplished.”

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