Premier League - Newcastle deny Chelsea top spot

Sun, 28 Nov 15:23:00 2010

Chelsea failed to move back to the top of the Premier League after they were held to a 1-1 draw by Newcastle United at a freezing St James' Park.

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Andy Carroll capitalised on a mix-up in the Chelsea defence to score after just six minutes, only for Salomon Kalou to grab the equaliser right at the end of the half.

Didier Drogba had a goal disallowed after the break as the champions began to dominate, but the Magpies held on for a well-earned point.

The Blues move up to second place above Arsenal on goal difference, and are now two points behind leaders Manchester United, while Newcastle move back into the top half of the table.

Chelsea may have avoided losing three league matches in a row for the first time in 11 years, but a lack of security at one end of the pitch and finishing at the other will remain a real concern for manager Carlo Ancelotti.

The goal was a prime example of their defensive woes. After Jon Obi Mikel had lost possession, the ball ran through to Alex who knocked it back to Petr Cech, but the 'keeper had already come off his line to clear, and Carroll pounced to prod the ball into an unguarded net for his ninth of the season.

The Magpies could have been ahead as early as the second minute when defender Steven Taylor met Danny Guthrie's free-kick with a glancing header that Cech parried into the path of Shola Ameobi, who then fired into the side netting with little of the goal to aim for.

Like Chelsea, Newcastle were struggling for available defenders. In the absence of the suspended Mike Williamson and Fabricio Coloccini, Taylor was making his first appearance of the season alongside Sol Campbell, who was also starting his first league game for Newcastle.

Campbell may be 36 years old and hardly getting a game, but his presence was an assuring one that time and again frustrated Chelsea in the first half.

The Blues, who were on course to go three league games without scoring for the first time in three years, slowly began to take charge of proceedings, but Drogba firing into the side netting and Jose Enrique clearing Alex's header from a corner off the line were as close as they came.

Ashley Cole, already the subject of boos from the Geordie crowd every time he touched the ball, invoked their ire even more when he went down all too easily in the box under a challenge from Cheick Tiote, an incident which Andre Marriner ignored.

The Blues were finally level just before the break when a well-worked move culminated with Florent Malouda feeding Kalou in the area. The Ivorian cut inside to shoot, and his strike took a deflection off Danny Simpson, enough to beat keeper Tim Krul and send the champions into the break on level terms.

The second half continued in much the same way, with Chelsea hogging possession but looking fragile whenever Newcastle came forward.

Cole came to the rescue on the hour mark when Cech came way off his line to punch the ball clear, but it landed at the feet of the impressive Wayne Routledge. The winger fired an early strike from outside the box that Cole headed clear on the line.

Drogba had the ball in the net when he brought the ball down, held off Taylor, and fired in off the post on the turn, but the goal was disallowed for the Ivorian using his hand to control.

Kalou could have wrapped up the points when Campbell, Taylor and Krul all got in each others' way, but he could only fire into the side netting, and the sharing of the points was assured.

Tony Mabert / Eurosport

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