Chelsea were held to a 1-1 draw in their third pre-season game against Newcastle United with Nicolas Jackson scoring the Blues’ goal early on in the match
It certainly felt like the ‘cut-off’ pre-season game for Chelsea against Newcastle United. That, probably, is the last game where Mauricio Pochettino will experiment so much, with the remaining two matches preparing for the season ahead.
It was game three of five of the Blues’ tour of the United States – one that ended in a 1-1 draw versus the Magpies. It was a very intense and frantic first-half, and it was easy to forget that it was a pre-season encounter because of the high standards being set, with both goals coming in the opening 45 minutes.
The ever-impressive Nicolas Jackson opened the scoring for Chelsea on 12 minutes. The 22-year-old striker ran behind the Newcastle defence to latch onto the end of a ball played brilliantly by Ian Maatsen. A calm finish in front of goal gave Jackson his second in as many matches.
The Magpies, though, equalised on the stroke of half-time with former Atlanta winger Miguel Almiron finding the bottom corner which led to a massive roar from his adoring supporters. That turned out to be the final goal of the game, with the second-half settling down a lot more and feeling like more of a pre-season match between the two Premier League rivals.
Yet again, there was some interesting tactical decisions from Pochettino as he continues to get to grips with his new squad. He started Christopher Nkunku as the No.10 behind Jackson in a 4-2-3-1 formation but he was not always happy with what he saw from the former.
In the first ‘one-minute hydration break’, took on 25 minutes into the match, Pochettino was getting his point across to Nkunku. The cameras and microphones meant we were able to hear some of the stuff that the Argentine told Nkunku.
Pochettino was telling Nkunku that too often he was playing as the second striker and he needed to drop a little bit deeper and play as an attacking midfielder. We did see the France international drop more afterwards and try to get more involved with the play, allowing Jackson to have more space as well.
However, Jackson was replaced at half-time and Nkunku was moved further forward and into the centre-forward role. The Frenchman nearly got himself on the scoresheet after linking up with Conor Gallagher but his shot was well saved by Nick Pope.
Nkunku was then brought off later in the game with youngster Mason Burstow getting a runout up front. Unfortunately Chelsea could not find the decisive goal but yet again there were many positives to take from the match.
Once again, Jackson showed his quality and the significance of having a natural centre-forward at the club. Gallagher looked very bright when he came on and Malo Gusto also did really well up against a talented Newcastle attacking line.
Up next for the Blues is the final match of their Premier League Summer Series campaign against Fulham on Sunday evening (UK time). Then it’s a one-off match against Borussia Dortmund, just 10 days before they take on Liverpool in the Premier League.