It has not been one for the faint of heart at St. James' Park thus far.
It has been a match of few chances and lots of physicality thus far between Newcastle and Chelsea. It was an encouraging start for Newcastle, although most of us will be waiting for the other shoe to drop in the second half as Alan Pardew's men have been chronically unable to put together a single 90-minute match thus far this season. From the word go, Newcastle were having a decent look at the ball and putting some decent (if not testing) pressure on Petr Cech's goal with early chances falling to Papiss Cisse and Yohan Cabaye among others, but none could find the quality required to capitalize on the early pressure.
It was much a similar story on the Newcastle defensive end, however - Frank Lampard found himself about 12 yards out with acres of space on the end of a tidy Chelsea move, and he put it into the crowd instead of Tim Krul's net. Newcastle would continue to give as good as they were getting from the London side. The narrative of the first half would largely be built on two incidents that didn't involve goals - Chelsea's Ramires was yellow carded for a late, studs-up, high tackle on Jonas Gutierrez (not much problem with a yellow here, but the laws of the game sure would have allowed red) while former Toon man Demba Ba managed to get just past Fabricio Coloccini into the Toon box, getting off a shot that Colo deflected slightly. Tim Krul saved easily but couldn't corral the rebound which popped straight back to Ba who went for a headed follow up. Colo tried to clear with his foot but Ba got to the ball first - putting his header wide and getting a boot to the nose for his trouble. There was neither card nor foul forthcoming, and Ba would eventually be withdrawn in favor of Fernando Torres, so I'm sure there will be complaints from Chelsea although Demba Ba was stooped down to go at the header, so the incident fell in a bit of a gray area.
Newcastle would continue to pressure Chelsea, and it would pay off in big fashion late in the half as Davide Santon put in probably the most delicious cross we've seen in many months from the Toon - finding Jonas Gutierrez right around the penalty spot. The Argentine made no mistake with the head, steering the ball on across the Chelsea goal and in just inside Cech's far post.
We'll all be holding our breath for the second half as our squad have not put a whole shift in since... well, probably ever... but 1-0 at halftime is better than nothing.