Last weekend’s ‘You what?’ statistic was Chelsea’s possession at St James’ Park. At 81%, it has only been exceeded once in Premier League history.
When unbeaten Bournemouth visit Stamford Bridge on Saturday – with Nathan Ake being given a warm welcome home, and Cherries owner Maxim Demin chinking glasses with his Russian counterpart Roman Abramovic – a more balanced ratio is likely.
Newcastle set out to thwart, and almost pulled the trick off by lining up five across the back. Rafa Benitez’s men gave Morrie Sarri’s Chelsea free rein, with the Blues achieving the second highest number of completed passes in any Premier League game… in the process becoming the first team in Europe to reach the 2,000 pass mark.
But it was a quirk in the dying minutes that proved decisive, when Willian’s free kick was deflected into his own goal by DeAndre Yedlin, clinching victory after – moments earlier – an Eden Hazard pen and a Joselu equaliser suggested a draw was the likeliest outcome.
It means Chelsea’s unexpected early-season momentum continues, leading to harmony in a dressing room which had threatened to disintegrate, even as rumours persist that Abramovich is open to offers for at least a stake in the club.
If the Blues continue their current form into the impending international break, a steadily solidifying defensive line allied to an irrepressible midfield could continue to propel this team heavenwards.