There was a period here when Chelsea were in danger of being induced to coma by Newcastle, whose best tactic of late is to bore an opponent towards complacency.
The Blues had taken an early lead and were so dominant that cattle from the nearby Town Moor could have wandered into their vacant half and not interfered with play. Indeed, Chelsea goalkeeper Edouard Mendy was left to graze alone for the entirety of the opening half hour.
But entering the final 25 minutes they had allowed the game to drift. It helps, then, when you have a player like Timo Werner to drag you from a slumber.
Just after the hour mark Tammy Abraham was slotted in by Timo Werner to place a cool finish past Newcastle’s Karl Darlow
The England international timed his run to stay onside before curling a right-footed effort into the bottom corner of the net
Abraham punched the air in celebration after finding the back of the net to double Chelsea’s margin in the north east
MATCH FACTS AND PLAYER RATINGS
Newcastle United: Darlow 6.5, Manquillo 5.5 (Almiron 65′ 6), Fernandez 5, Lascelles 5 (Schar 45′ 4.5), Clark 5.5, Lewis 5.5, Murphy 5.5, Hayden 5, Sean Longstaff 6.5, Saint-Maximin 6 (Carroll 74′ 5), Joelinton 5
Subs: Shelvey, Hendrick, Krafth, Gillespie
Booked: Murphy, Hayden
Chelsea: Mendy 6, James 7, Zouma 6.5, Rudiger 6.5, Chilwell 6.5 (Emerson 82′), Kovacic 6.5, Kante 7.5, Mount 7, Ziyech 6.5 (Giroud 86′), Abraham 7, Werner 8 (Hudson-Odoi 76′ 6)
Subs not used: Arrizabalaga, Christensen, Jorginho, Azpilicueta
Goal: Fernandez (OG) 10, Abraham 65
Referee: Craig Pawson 7
The manner of what he did next had an element of ‘enough is enough’ about it. He knew it would be a travesty were his side to emerge with anything less than three points. And so he embarked on one of the finest solo assists we will see this season.
The German collected the ball in his own half, some 70 yards from goal, darting between two black-and-white jerseys, skipping by a third and rolling the perfect pass into Tammy Abraham, who applied the perfect finish to complement the creator’s flourish. Game over.
‘You need players of that quality to win games,’ said Frank Lampard, whose side moved momentarily top of the Premier League.
‘The pace he travels with the ball is something special. He was so unselfish and you rely on those players who are top-class.’
Beating Newcastle in this state is perhaps not the best barometer of your title credentials. But another clean sheet – their fourth on the spin away from home – coupled with the chances created and Werner’s brilliance was evidence enough of a team heading in the right direction.
Chelsea had started the first half brilliantly but finished it a bit like Newcastle. That happens when exposed to Steve Bruce’s side, a contagious levelling that saps you of energy and ideas the longer a game goes on.
That is not to be facetious, it really does work. Just ask the likes of Spurs and Wolves, superior teams who have opened full of life before being put to sleep, woken only by the sound of the full-time whistle, two points shy of the three they had taken for granted.
And Chelsea were so good during the opening 30 minutes. They were 82-per-cent possession good, and had the chances to decorate their dominance.
Early Chelsea pressure saw Federico Fernandez turn Mason Mount’s cross into the back of his own goal after just 10 minutes
The Newcastle man lost his bearings as the ball flicked up and off his leg and headed towards the goalmouth to make it 1-0
Ben Chilwell peeled away to celebrate after pressuring the Newcastle defender into making the error inside his own area
The £50million man was mobbed by his team-mates for his role in the opening goal of the contest at St James’ Park
Werner was searching a fifth consecutive game with a goal – not since Didier Drogba in 2009 has a Chelsea player achieved that – and he very nearly had it within four minutes only for Karl Darlow to brush his low steer around the post.
Darlow sure does have the opportunity to shine in this side – no goalkeeper has made more saves in the division this season – and he produced another magnificent stop in turning Abraham’s close-range header over the crossbar.
But he was left brutally exposed for Chelsea’s opener on 10 minutes. It was easy, so easy. Mason Mount worked a one-two on the right and strode unopposed into the penalty area before crossing to the far post, where defender Federico Fernandez bundled into his own net under pressure from Ben Chilwell.
Was there a push? VAR checked it. But Fernandez’s indiscretion had came before contact from Chilwell.
Werner then somehow scuffed wide when in on goal after yet more generous home defending on the half hour.
But Chelsea, by now becoming bored of the ball, were beginning to doze. Newcastle should have entered the break level when Allan Saint-Maximin escaped in the box only for his shot to be blocked by Antonio Rudiger, the defender making a desperate lunge in the goalmouth.
Mere moments into the game fellow summer signing Timo Werner fizzed a low shot to test Newcastle stopper Darlow
Joelinton was afforded few chances on the ball in the opening 45 minutes as the visitors held the lion’s share of possession
The second half continued in much the same manner with Newcastle, to be fair, growing in confidence. At least, that was, until Werner’s intervention.
Chelsea are now unbeaten in 12 in all competitions, and Lampard said: ‘It’s nice to be in the position we are and to have gained confidence from the clean sheets, which were a problem for us earlier in this season and parts of last.
‘But it’s important to be humble, we know it’s a long race. We need to keep working and be consistent. The international break was challenging but we came here against a team we lost to last year. We dominated possession and we scored our goals, and we could have scored more.’
With the likes of Werner, Chelsea are sure to score a helluva lot more.
Scroll below to relive how the action from St James’ Park unfolded with Sportsmail’s Ieuan Ivett.
FT: Newcastle 0-2 Chelsea
Chelsea take all three points at St James’ Park in a match where they never had to get out of first gear.
Federico Fernandez’ own goal gave the Blues an early lead and Tammy Abraham sealed the three points midway through the second half.
90mins: Newcastle 0-2 Chelsea
Three added minutes.
89mins: Newcastle 0-2 Chelsea
Sub Olivier Giroud almost makes an instant impact with an athletic volley but he is offside from Reece James’ cross.
87mins: Newcastle 0-2 Chelsea
Newcastle are pushing for at least a consolation goal now with Andy Carroll on the pitch. Chelsea are having to concentrate until the final whistle.
79mins: Newcastle 0-2 Chelsea
Mason Mount does well to spin Federico Fernandez and get inside the box but scuffs his effort wide at the crucial moment.
78mins: Newcastle 0-2 Chelsea
Tammy Abraham has all but sealed three points for Chelsea with his second half goal.
76mins: Newcastle 0-2 Chelsea
Timo Werner has the ball in the back of the net but it is brought back for offside. He’s been at the heart of the action but still hasn’t put his name on the scoresheet.
73mins: Newcastle 0-2 Chelsea
OFF THE BAR FOR NEWCASTLE! Sean Longstaff fired a thunderbolt from range following a Newcastle corner but it rattles the bar. Would have been very special.
65mins: Newcastle 0-2 Chelsea
GOAL FOR CHELSEA! Tammy Abraham puts it past Karl Darlow via the post after Timo Werner’s good work on the counter attack.
61mins: Newcastle 0-1 Chelsea
ANOTHER CHANCE FOR NEWCASTLE! Joelinton receives the ball from Allan Saint-Maximin on the edge of the box, but he leans back and his curled effort goes high and wide.
59mins: Newcastle 0-1 Chelsea
HUGE CHANCE FOR NEWCASTLE! Issac Hayden finds some fortune and is one-on-one with Edouard Mendy inside the box but he fires over the bar. A free-kick is awarded but warning signs for Chelsea.
56mins: Newcastle 0-1 Chelsea
CHANCE FOR CHELSEA! Kurt Zouma rises highest from a corner and his header goes just wide of the post.
54mins: Newcastle 0-1 Chelsea
Sub Fabian Schar takes far too much time on the ball and Timo Werner speeds in and gets in on goal. However, he fluffs his lines and doesn’t put enough power in the pass across goal. A moment to forget for the German.
53mins: Newcastle 0-1 Chelsea
The second half has started in a much more even fashion, with Newcastle trying to impose themselves a little more in Chelsea’s half.
46mins: Newcastle 0-1 Chelsea
And we are back underway…
HT: Newcastle 0-1 Chelsea
Chelsea enter the break 1-0 up after Federico Fernandez’ own goal early on. They have been good value for the lead and could have doubled it when Timo Werner missed a one-on-one. Newcastle began to look more comfortable in the latter stages but are lacking much creativity in the final third.
45mins: Newcastle 0-1 Chelsea
One minute added time. Jamaal Lascelles is down injured.
44mins: Newcastle 0-1 Chelsea
Newcastle find themselves growing into the match just before the half-time whistle. Jamaal Lewis floats in a ball to Jacob Murphy who can’t direct the ball goalwards.
36mins: Newcastle 0-1 Chelsea
CHANCE FOR NEWCASTLE! Allan Saint-Maximin tries to find some space on the edge of the box and his effort is crucially blocked by N’Golo Kante.
33mins: Newcastle 0-1 Chelsea
A rare attack from Newcastle almost sees a great chance as Allan Saint-maximin was not far from putting in Jamaal Lewis inside the box but Mendy claims the ball.
31mins: Newcastle 0-1 Chelsea
BIG CHANCE FOR CHELSEA! Timo Werner finds himself one-one-one inside the box but he somehow drags it wide of the target. Should have been two.
29mins: Newcastle 0-1 Chelsea
Pretty ambitious from Joelinton there. He steals the ball on the half way line and sees Mendy off his line in the Chelsea goal. While the idea of lobbing him from halfway was good, the execution was not.
24mins: Newcastle 0-1 Chelsea
Chelsea are looking completely dominant as we move through the halfway period of the first half. Newcastle are sitting eleven men behind the ball and holding on to just the one-goal deficit.
Reece James puts in a great cross for Mason Mount who can’t get a touch on the ball inside the six yard box.
17mins: Newcastle 0-1 Chelsea
If your name is Federico Fernandez… look away now.
15mins: Newcastle 0-1 Chelsea
Another chance for Chelsea! Werner is causing plenty of problems on the left wing and his ball into the box is inches away from the incoming Tammy Abraham.
11mins: Newcastle 0-1 Chelsea
GOAL FOR CHELSEA! Own goal from Fede Fernandez. Mason Mount fires a ball across the face of goal and the defender cannot sort out his feet quick enough.
10mins: Newcastle 0-0 Chelsea
ANOTHER GOOD SAVE! Karlo Darlow is called into action again after Hakim Ziyech swings in a delightful ball to Tammy Abraham, who forces a great save from the Newcastle stopper.
9mins: Newcastle 0-0 Chelsea
Chelsea enjoy some possession inside Newcastle’s half as the hosts begin to drop deeper, allowing the Blues’ stars to find their feet after a hectic start to the match.
Mateo Kovacic tries his luck from range but it’s off target.
5mins: Newcastle 0-0 Chelsea
GOOD SAVE! Timo Werner gets his first sight of goal after being put through by N’Golo Kante. Karl Darlow gets down low quick and pushes it past the post.
3mins: Newcastle 0-0 Chelsea
Good start for Newcastle. Joelinton breaks through the Chelsea midfield and wins a free-kick that results in Fede Fernandez tries to create a chance from. They have a couple corners in succession.
KO: Newcastle 0-0 Chelsea
And we are underway as the Premier League returns.
FIVE minutes until kick-off
The players are coming out of the tunnel and we are just a few minutes away from kick-off.
Bruce couldn’t risk Wilson
Steve Bruce is without star striker callum Wilson today, but he admitted he simply wasn’t worth risking due to his current injury.
He told BT Sport: ‘I couldn’t risk Wilson with the amount of games coming up if he’d have played and pulled it and he would have been out for six weeks, I’ve erred on the side of caution.’
Cole fancies Chelsea to be in the title race…
Joe Cole fancies Chelsea to be in the Premier League title race this season after their busy summer transfer window.
He told BT Sport: ‘The quality that’s been added, I can’t see how they cannot challenge for the title. Fantastic talent and a great manager and a club with the tradition of winning things. You know the recent history of the club in the last 20 years, you have to win things.’
The warm-ups are underway…
The warm-ups are well underway and the final preparations are being made ahead of the 12:30 kick-off.
The more eagle-eyed among you may notice the new Premier League footballs for the upcoming winter months.
The players have arrived…
The Chelsea stars have been pictured entering St James’ Park through the strict coronavirus protocols.
Hopefully this won’t be in place much longer and fans can return to the stadiums soon.
Chelsea are clear favourites to take three points…
Match odds via BonusCodeBets
Newcastle to win 11/2
Chelsea to win 1/2
Timo Wener to score 4/5
Joelinton to score 4/1
Both teams to score
Over 2.5 goals 8/11
Under 2.5 goals 11/10
In-form Ziyech starts for the visitors…
Hakim Ziyech has been named in Frank Lampard’s side for his third Premier League start for Chelsea.
Coming off the back of three goals in two matches during the international break, Newcastle will have to keep their wits about them this lunchtime if they are going to keep him quiet.
CHELSEA TEAM NEWS
Here’s how the Blues line up today! 🤝 #NEWCHE pic.twitter.com/OjBatGRfY9
— Chelsea FC (@ChelseaFC) November 21, 2020
NEWCASTLE TEAM NEWS
This is how we line-up for #NEWCHE at St. James' Park this afternoon.
HWTL! ⚫️⚪️ pic.twitter.com/xBVkgOxsj3
— Newcastle United FC (@NUFC) November 21, 2020
And welcome to Sportsmail’s coverage of Newcastle vs Chelsea as the Premier League returns following the international break.
Stay tuned for team news, build-up and live commentary as Frank Lampard’s side look to continue their unbeaten run.