REACTION: CONFIDENCE IS KEY

Fernando Torres, who enjoyed one of his finest displays in a Chelsea shirt against Newcastle United at the weekend, believes his recent upturn in fortunes is simply down to playing regular first team football.

The Spanish striker, who scored our second goal in the 2-0 win, after earning the penalty which allowed Eden Hazard to give us the lead, has now netted three goals in four games. He is once again playing with a smile on his face, and there is little doubt that the team as a whole are reaping the rewards.

‘My confidence is back because I’m playing more,’ Torres said. ‘When you play more often you are confident, and with the new players we’ve signed, the team are playing more attacking football.

‘We know how strong we are when we need to defend, as we showed last season, and we now have two competitive ways we can play depending on the opposition.

‘It is great to see players like Eden Hazard come here and it is a privilege to play with him and Juan Mata who are the kind of players who play between the lines.’

Ryan Bertrand, meanwhile, who has started two of our first three games on the left of midfield, has spoken of his enjoyment at playing in a side which, on the evidence thus far, are on the path to become the great entertainers.

The 23-year-old is developing an understanding with Ashley Cole on the left-hand side, and the duo were instrumental in nullifying the threat of Newcastle’s Hatem Ben Arfa.

In what is a more unfamiliar position for Bertrand, though, he is being asked to contribute more going forward than defensively, and while he admitted it’s taking time to adjust, he is clearly relishing his new role.

‘It definitely is enjoyable playing with the likes of [Juan] Mata, Fernando and Eden [Hazard],’ said Bertrand. ‘The boys at the back and the midfield are giving us that structure and platform to play, so it’s very enjoyable.

‘I find I’m getting used to it as each game goes by, developing that relationship with Ash and telling my mind that I’m playing as a left midfielder rather than dropping too deep, but hopefully it’s getting better with each game.

‘We’re just going to take each game as it comes and, at the end of the season, if we do well enough, I’m sure we’ll be in amongst it.’

COLE: WINNING SMILES

Ashley Cole discussed changes to the method of Chelsea’s play this season following his part in Saturday’s 2-0 win over Newcastle at Stamford Bridge.

Roberto Di Matteo previously spoke of a degree of alteration with new players coming in rather than a complete revolution and the left-back, following three league wins out of three, confirmed some differences which appear to be working smoothly.

‘We have lost Didier Drogba who was a big powerhouse up front for us so sometimes we used to knock the ball up to him,’ said Cole, ‘but now we have signed a few smaller players so we have to get the ball down and play a bit more, and the second goal against Newcastle was a fantastic team goal.

‘We had maybe 10 or 15 passes and we stayed patient and in the end it was a great finish by Fernando.

‘It was hard for Fernando last season to get many games,’ he added, ‘but when he did play he worked hard for the team and now he is the main man he is full of confidence after the European Championships, and he scored great goal.’

Key to the nine-point opening to the league campaign has been Eden Hazard who now has six assists to his name as well as scoring his first Chelsea goal from the penalty spot against Newcastle.

‘I had to mark Eden when England played Belgium and I saw how dangerous he was,’ said Cole.

‘I said to the boys after the game this player is going to do well in the Premier League and so far he has. There is still a long season to go but the effort and the commitment and what he has done for the team so far has been brilliant. He deserves a lot of credit for the great start we have had and hopefully he can keep doing it throughout the season.

‘Before the game we were aware that we had not beaten Newcastle since 2007 at home so that was something we wanted to rectify and it was a great team performance. People like Eden, Juan Mata and Fernando worked non-stop for the team and it was a great result for us.

‘It is not just winning, we are playing some good football with it as well and the way we are doing it is very enjoyable to play in.’

CHELSEA TV EXCLUSIVE: TORRES ON WINNING START

Fernando Torres spoke to Chelsea TV following his goal and the team’s three points against Newcastle and reported on the mood in the camp.

A clip can be viewed here with the full interview available to watch via Chelsea TV’s online access where Roberto Di Matteo also talks to the channel about the game.

FINAL WHISTLE THOUGHTS: IN CONTROL

Having watched his side turn the table on Newcastle from last season’s home game – his only Stamford Bridge defeat so far – Roberto Di Matteo spread praise equally between his attacking and his defensive players.

May’s 2-0 defeat against the Tynesiders seems even further way now following the third victory of the new league campaign. Fernando Torres won a penalty which was converted by Eden Hazard in the absence of Frank Lampard for his first Chelsea goal. Then Hazard returned the compliment for Torres to net with a fine shot.

Unlike against Reading midweek, once Chelsea got ahead there was no slipping up at the back so a comfortable victory was ensured.

On the collective contribution
‘People will talk about the goalscorers but I was very pleased with our performance considering it was our third game in six days and we were playing against probably our toughest opposition,’ said Di Matteo. ‘In the first half we saw some good football again and we tailed off a little bit in the second half but probably because it was our third game in six days.’

On that man Hazard again
‘Hazard has quite a lot of assists and it was good for him to get his first goal, and the second goal from Torres was terrific play by us.

‘But it is not just Torres linking with Hazard. He has a very good link up and understanding with Mata and the other midfield players, and the whole team. Thanks to his team members he has been able to slide into our team and play very comfortably with the others.

‘We watched him a lot last season but it is a different league so you are never sure how quick he can adapt, but he seems to have found his feet very quickly and he is a wonderful player for us.’

On Torres’s bright start to the season
‘Torres was very important for us last season, maybe not scoring as much but providing and working hard for the team. He is a great team player as well. I know we ask strikers to score but not only that.’

On Chelsea’s defensive play and fielding a third centre-back pairing in three games
‘We controlled the Newcastle threats very well and we didn’t concede much to them because if you give a little bit of time and space to Ba, Cisse, Ben Arfa or Cabaye they can hurt you. Ryan Bertrand and Ashley Cole on the left-hand side did a wonderful job in keeping that side quiet and two clean sheets in the first three games, we can be happy with that.

‘We have three internationals we are using in the central defence position and we will need all three to be that strong, so it is great that the partnerships are working whichever two are playing. For us to be successful it is what we need. And we are playing Ivanovic on the right who is another who can centre-back.’

Newcastle boss Alan Pardew somewhat understandably highlighted the fact several of his team played in Greece on Thursday night but also had complements for the victors.

‘First half I thought we lacked a bit of spark but Chelsea were good. We had a go second half and didn’t shut up shop.

‘Hazard is a difficult player because he travels with the ball and buys time and when you have that, you can time your runs off him. He has that kind of nonchalance that marks him out as a great player. He made a difference to Chelsea from last year.

‘They are still an organised team and defend well. A lot of our attacks today would have opened up a lot of teams.’

MATCH REPORT: CHELSEA 2 NEWCASTLE UNITED 0

Summary
The Blues remain at the top of the Premier League, albeit having played a game more than most of our rivals, after a 2-0 win against Newcastle United, our third straight victory in less than a week.

It was an impressive performance which saw most of the damage being done before the break, as goals from Eden Hazard and Fernando Torres saw us seize the initiative.

Hazard opened the scoring from the penalty spot in the 21st minute, drilling his strike beyond Tim Krul after Torres had been brought down by Vurnon Anita.

It was a goal our performance had deserved, and a minute before the break we extended our lead, this time Hazard feeding Torres, who unleashed an unstoppable strike into the top corner.

Chances were few and far between in the second half but there was little doubt that we fully deserved the three points, our first win over Newcastle at the Bridge since the 2007/08 campaign.

Next week sees an interruption to our domestic season as we take on Atletico Madrid in the Super Cup, but we resume in a fortnight’s time with a London derby against Queens Park Rangers at Loftus Road.

Team news
Roberto Di Matteo made three changes to the side which beat Reading 4-2 in midweek. With captain John Terry missing with a neck injury, David Luiz came back into the side to partner Gary Cahill in central defence. Frank Lampard started on the substitutes’ bench, replaced by Raul Meireles, while Ryan Bertrand, an unused sub on Wednesday, was given the nod ahead of Ramires. Petr Cech captained the side in the absence of both Terry and Lampard, while both Cesar Azpilicueta and Victor Moses, our two latest additions, played no part in the game.

First half
Newcastle were unbeaten on their previous four league visits to Stamford Bridge, but it was the Blues who started the brighter of the two sides. Bertrand and Juan Mata linked up well down the left inside three minutes, only for the youngster to put too much weight on his cross, while soon after Meireles tried his luck with a speculative effort which sailed over the bar.

Torres then pounced on a loose ball, driving at the Newcastle defence, but after the Spaniard held it up intelligently, he laid it into the path of the advancing John Mikel Obi – a player not renowned for his goalscoring prowess – who fired over.

The visitors were content to defend deep and look to cause us problems on the break, and it was Demba Ba, scorer of their opener last week against Tottenham Hotspur, who had their first sight of goal, volleying high and wide from Hatem Ben Arfa’s pass.

Hazard, so instrumental in our opening two games, had been a peripheral figure early on, but the Belgian sprung into life in the 14th minute with a quick burst and shot which was comfortable for Krul.

Three minutes later and the Blues had the best chance of the game. A deep ball from Meireles found Torres with his back to goal, and as the striker controlled it and found Bertrand, his shot, under pressure from Fabricio Collocini, was straight at Krul.

The game had started fairly slowly, but it was turned on its head in the 20th minutes when we were awarded our third penalty in as many games.

Torres, who had looked lively in the early stages, darted into the Newcastle box before being tripped by Vurnon Anita, Phil Dowd showing no hesitation in pointing to the spot.

With regular penalty taker Lampard not on the field of play, it was Hazard who took responsibility, and the 21-year-old scored his first goal for the club with a powerful, low strike into the bottom corner.

Branislav Ivanovic, with two goals to his name already this campaign, almost made it three in three on the half-hour mark, rising highest to meet Ashley Cole’s cross, but Krul saved well down to his right.

Ten minutes before the break we almost doubled our advantage with a flowing move down the left which ended with Coloccini clearing Mata’s dangerous cross after he was fed by Hazard.

Shortly after, the Chelsea bench were on their feet when Torres looked to have been brought down by Coloccini after evading the defender.

It seemed a strange decision, and Dowd’s position as the most unpopular man in the stadium was compounded further when Torres was shown a yellow card for simulation.

Papiss Cisse, scorer of both Newcastle goals during their 2-0 win at the Bridge back in May, had Newcastle’s first real attempt on goal as the half drew to a close, capitalising on some sloppy defending by David Luiz, but his effort was easy for Cech.

Right on the stroke of half-time it was 2-0, with Torres scoring the goal his first-half performance had merited; exchanging passes with Hazard on the edge of the box before bending a delightful effort into the top corner with the outside of his right foot, giving Krul no chance.

Second half
There were no changes to personnel for either side at the break, Di Matteo clearly content with what he’d seen in the opening 45 minutes.

The first chance of the second half fell to the visitors as they looked to reduce the two-goal deficit, Ben Arfa twisting and turning on the edge of the box before fizzing a strike narrowly past Cech’s left-hand post.

As the heavens opened, the game began to open up, with Newcastle intent on forcing themselves back into it and the Blues eager to kill it off on the counter-attack.

Cech was forced into a smart save by Cisse at his near-post after Mikel’s clearance had ran into the striker’s path, while at the other end it took a last-ditch intervention from Yohan Cabaye to prevent Torres from meeting Mata’s cross.

Both managers made their first changes of the evening shortly after the hour mark, with Ramires replacing Mata for the Blues in a bid to inject some fresh legs, while Ryan Taylor came on at the expense of Danny Simpson for Pardew’s side.

With much of the game being played in the middle of the park as both defences looked to keep it tight, there was little goalmouth action to speak of at either end.

David Luiz and Meireles fired successive free-kicks over the bar for Chelsea, and with the clock ticking down, Pardew made his final two substitutions, Sylvain Marveaux and James Perch replacing Davide Santon and Cabaye respectively.

Bertrand almost put the game out of Newcastle’s reach with a low drive from outside the box, and would have, but for a deflection which saw it deflected behind for a corner.

With seven minutes left to play Newcastle were almost back in the game, Ba reacting quickest to a loose ball in the Chelsea penalty area, but as the striker fired towards goal, Cech made a stunning save low down to his right to deny him.

Lampard was introduced for Meireles with three minutes remaining as Di Matteo looked to utilise the midfielder’s experience and see the game out, and with Newcastle still hoping to force a nervy finish, David Luiz suffered a head injury as he collided with Ba clearing a dangerous cross.

Chelsea (4-2-3-1): Cech (c); Ivanovic, David Luiz, Cahill, Cole; Mikel Obi, Meireles (Lampard 87); Mata (Ramires 66), Hazard, Bertrand; Torres.
Unused substitutes: Turnbull, Essien, Romeu, Oscar, Sturridge.
Scorers Hazard 21, Torres 44
Booked Torres 39

Newcastle United (4-4-2): Krul; Simpson (R Taylor 63), S Taylor, Coloccini, Santon (Marveaux 73); Ben Arfa, Cabaye (Perch 76), Anita, Gutierrez; Ba, Cisse.
Unused substitutes: Harper, Williamson, Obertan, Amalfitano.

Referee Phil Dowd
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