Reece James’ superb double en route to Blues en route to 3-0 win as Hakim Ziyech struggles against Newcastle

Chelsea beat Newcastle 3-0 at St James’ Park without a known striker on the field.

Duo Rhys James put the Blues on their merry-go-round, but Hakim Ziyech struggled as his future at Stamford Bridge came into further doubt.

Chelsea beat Newcastle 1-0 at St James' Park to top the Premier League

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Chelsea beat Newcastle 1-0 at St James’ Park to top the Premier LeagueCredit: Reuters

The first half was uneventful on Tyneside with Hakim Ziyech being the busiest attacker as the Moroccan scored an offside goal.

But after the match went on without goals, life exploded in the second half as the Blues equalized nine minutes before the end of the match.

James opened his account in the 65th minute with a superb effort with his left foot, before completing two goals after 12 minutes by hitting a half ball into the net.

Jorginho scored a perfect penalty in the 81st minute after Kai Havertz was dropped.

The 3-0 win put Chelsea three points clear at the top thanks to Liverpool’s draw and Manchester City’s defeat.

Here’s what Simon Phillips of SunSport thinks of the Blues’ individual performance.

Thomas Tuchel cut a frustrating character for most of the first half at St James' Park

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Thomas Tuchel cut a frustrating character for most of the first half at St James’ ParkCredit: Reuters


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Edward Mendy – 6/10

I forgot he was even playing at times when Newcastle were negative.

It did its job when needed and was well distributed.

Andreas Christensen – 6

Some unusually sloppy moments from him today, unnecessarily giving the ball away.

It’s also frustrating not to search often for the forward pass, and to consider the easier options instead.

Thiago Silva – 7

He was hit twice by a physical threat from Callum Wilson and looked a bit uneasy.

But as always, he was Chelsea’s best defender during possession and that really helped the Blues dominate the game.

Thiago Silva was great on the ball as the Blues kept a clean sheet

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Thiago Silva was great on the ball as the Blues kept a clean sheetcredit: Getty

Antonio Rudiger – 7

He didn’t really make the most of his possession and got frustrated and hit a pass that wasn’t much.

But he was strong defensively and his speed was always a staple on both ends, and as the match went on he became more and more impactful.

Rhys James – 9

The only Chelsea player who looked like a threat during a frustrating first half as the Blues struggled to break a negative block for a low Newcastle.

Unsurprisingly he was the one who finally broke the deadlock with a beautiful goal for Chelsea, and his second finish was even better.

Reece James double rescues frustrated Chelsea strikers

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Reece James double rescues frustrated Chelsea strikersCredit: (c) 2017 Bruce White.Photographer_All Rights Reserved

N’Golo Kanti – 5

A little lost in a game like this when you’re attack against defense and you haven’t been doing enough in attack for Chelsea.

He was called up not long in the second half.

Jorginho – 7

He tried to open the stubborn Newcastle defense with some smart passes, but to no avail.

He fought well and was a good body there on the rare occasion Newcastle tried to counterattack.

Ben Chilwell – 7

As with Christensen, there were several occasions where he gave the ball unnecessarily and despite trying to join in the attack was not his usual threat.

He improved in the game though and became an offensive threat to Chelsea when they eventually scored.

Hakim Ziyech – 4

Awful first 45 minutes of it there are no two ways about it.

He was very predictable on the ball, every time he got the ball pretty much he cut inside and fired an extra pass to restore possession to Newcastle.

He broke a lot of Chelsea attacks.

He improved in the second half and was unlucky not to score, but that wasn’t enough to save him from falling into Tuchel’s hands.

Hakim Ziyech was the worst player on the pitch for Chelsea

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Hakim Ziyech was the worst player on the pitch for Chelsea

Callum Hudson-Odoi – 7

Instead, he hit and miss in the first half of it as he did at least try to make things happen and drive on defenders, but those around him weren’t really on the same wavelength and his final passes were poor too.

He was on the ball a lot in the second half again and looking to get things done.

Kai Havertz – 6

He fought hard as the lone striker, and was a threat to Newcastle at least.

But he was very aloof and fed on scraps, and I often saw him fall to catch the ball as a result.

Kai Havertz played the lone striker in the absence of Romelu Lukaku and Timo Werner

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Kai Havertz played the lone striker in the absence of Romelu Lukaku and Timo Werner

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Sub

Ross Barkley for Ziyech (63 min) – 7

A threat as is often the case when he sits on the bench and gives Chelsea something different.

Ruben Loftus-Cheek for Kanti (63 min) – 8

Chelsea looked better when they came in, cooled the ball and were good at possession.

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