Cole Palmer outdoing Foden as Chelsea save Mauricio Pochettino’s blushes

Cole Palmer outdoing Foden as Chelsea save Mauricio Pochettino's blushes

Cole Palmer-inspired Chelsea extended their unbeaten run across all competitions to seven 90-minute matches with a 3-2 victory over Newcastle at Stamford Bridge. Palmer’s first-half strike was flicked home by Nicolas Jackson before he scored his 11th Premier League goal of the campaign in the second period. Mykhaylo Mudryk came off the bench to net a third with a mazy solo effort.

Cole Palmer outshining Phil Foden as Gareth Southgate watches on

Dominating the pre-match agenda was which forward would win the race to be England’s wildcard at Euro 2024. Chelsea ace Palmer and Newcastle’s Anthony Gordon have both enjoyed excellent campaigns but it was the Blues man who came out on top.

Palmer is in a league of his own and is even outperforming Manchester City star Phil Foden this season. His 11 goals are on par with Foden’s tally, and his extra assist means he has more goal contributions than his former City colleague.

Where Chelsea would be without the 21-year-old – whose summer transfer from City felt like a mere punt at the time – is an uneasy question for Mauricio Pochettino. His 25-yard drive midway through the second half sent Chelsea on their way to another important triumph.

Mauricio Pochettino blushes spared as control lost again

A theme of Chelsea’s season has been their inability to control the duration of a half. Pochettino’s side were relatively comfortable in the first half and had taken the lead through Jackson.

But a series of mistakes allowed Alexander Isak to equalise and Newcastle ended the half as the more dominant team. It was only when Pochettino moved Palmer and Raheem Sterling closer to Jackson at half-time that Chelsea regained control.

A nervy ending should have been avoided, only for another error to allow Jacob Murphy to thump home from a tight angle. If Chelsea are to get back into European competition, they cannot allow momentum in matches to slip away so easily.

Alexander Isak comes back to haunt former suitors

Newcastle star Isak showed Chelsea exactly what they are missing in attack. Although Nicolas Jackson scored the Blues’ opener with a clever flick, the Senegalese striker’s inconsistency has been a major concern over the course of the season.

In Isak, Chelsea might have had the answer to their scoring problems. The west Londoners reportedly expressed an interest in the Swede in 2022, prior to his move to Newcastle from Real Sociedad that summer.

Isak scored his 12th Premier League goal in 20 appearances this season, taking advantage of errors from Axel Disasi and Trevoh Chalobah before guiding a wonderful effort into the corner from 20 yards. Isak would be an excellent signing for Chelsea in the summer if Newcastle need to balance their books.

Malo Gusto sets up Reece James fight

Malo Gusto has been a rare positive in an underwhelming season for Chelsea. The Frenchman’s performances mean Mauricio Pochettino has not missed the impact of club captain Reece James, whose own campaign has been blighted by a series of injuries.

But with James returning to fitness soon, Pochettino has a big decision to make. Does he stick with Gusto and keep James on the bench? Or does the Argentine coach bring James straight back into his team?

James’ return also opens the possibility of Pochettino adopting a back three, with the England international as a right-sided centre-back and Gusto as a wing-back. Gusto caused plenty of problems for Dan Burn down Newcastle’s left-hand side and has developed into one of the Premier League’s best full-backs.

Blunt Newcastle will concern Eddie Howe

This was a battle of two Premier League managers facing serious pressure at their respective clubs. Pochettino came out on top against Eddie Howe, whose Newcastle side are struggling to build on the momentum of last season’s Champions League qualification.

Sensational strikes by Isak and Murphy aside, this was a blunt performance that failed to cause a confidence-ridden Chelsea side any harm. There have been murmours of Newcastle’s hierarchy considering a change in the dugout for some time, and this display will hardly help those reports disappear.