As the full-time whistle blew at a cold and chilly St James’ Park, champions Chelsea found themselves knocked off their perch and into an unfamiliar second position, looking above them rather than down on the rest of the Premier League.
Carlo Ancelotti’s men fought out a draw which was their first point in three games and only fourth out of a possible 15 in their last five games - easy to say that this is a sticky spell for the Blues.
Chelsea’s performance was good, however, as they came back from going behind early on in the game via a self-inflicted mistake by Alex which led to an open goal for Andy Carroll who gleefully pounced with Petr Cech in no-man’s land. It was a further sign of the defensive troubles that Chelsea are experiencing without captain marvel, John Terry.
It was a response of Champions however as Chelsea slowly grinded the Magpies defence down and equalised on the stroke of half-time through a well worked goal, ended by Salomon Kalou. Newcastle fans could have been forgiven for thinking there was only going to be one winner. Despite Chelsea controlling much of the second half, the inevitable bombardment of the opposition goal well associated with the Blues never really occurred.
Both Drogba and Anelka looked off the pace at times further displaying Chelsea’s troubles in front of goal at the moment. Kalou’s strike yesterday made it two goals in five games for the Blues – very worrying indeed.
So what exactly is the reason for this sudden occurrence of poor form? Many argue that Ancelotti has been undermined by the powers above in the Stamford Bridge hierarchy and it’s easy to point towards the exit of trusted right-hand man Ray Wilkins as Chelsea have failed to win a league game since his acrimonious departure.
Many may also point towards the key absences of influential trio John Terry, Frank Lampard and the ever dependable Michael Essien as the reason for Chelsea’s demise.
Whatever the reason, however, it is when the chips are down that true ‘champions’ rise to the fore. That is the major test for this Chelsea side. A test probably not faced by Ancelotti since his arrival on these shores.
Manchester United’s thrashing of Blackburn on Saturday ensured that they are now front-runners in this exciting, unpredictable league and served as an untimely reminder to Ancelotti that they are determined to wrestle the title back from London.
To add salt to Chelsea wounds, the Blues’ early superior goal difference has also been dramatically wiped put with a ‘15-goal swing’ in the space of a month in United’s favour.
Disclaimer: The views in this article are that of the writer and may not replicate those of the Professional Footballers' Association.