Chelsea's poor home form continued on Saturday with a depressing goalless draw at Stamford Bridge. The only glimmer of light came with results from elsewhere, with each of the so-called big-four failing to score and unable to capitalise on the Blues' discomfort.
In stark contrast to the perfect away record of seven wins in a row, Chelsea have now been held by Tottenham, Man United and the Geordies, as well as having lost to Liverpool. The old assumptions about home superiority no longer seem as strong.
Chelsea boss Luiz Felipe Scolari felt as if his team had been defeated. "Who won today?," he said. "Newcastle because they came here to draw with us. The players tried but it is not the day for us. They are the winners today.
"We played 70 per cent of the game in the opponent's half and we tried 10 times to score a goal. They didn't try to make anything against us" he lamented.
Chelsea did look like the better team. They created plenty of opportunities to score but lacked the telling final touch. With their main striker Didier Drogba just starting his three game domestic ban, one wonders who might score next week when Arsenal visit the Bridge.
Scolari was asked whether he should have changed the formation in order to break through Newcastle's stubborn defence, but he insisted that his team had the capabilities to score .
"I didn’t want to change tactics as we were playing well," said the Brazilian. "We had 70 per cent of the ball and
10 shots on goal. How many chances did they have against us? How many shots on goal? Zero."
Chelsea should have taken an immediate lead in the seventh minute but Shay Given was in decent form and made a fine save to prevent Frank Lampard scoring. Florent Malouda had picked out the England midfielder, who had been an injury doubt before the match, with a deft chip into the penalty area but Given thwarted his effort.
Given once again frustrated the Frenchman 10 minutes later when he anticipated a shot after Malouda had outwitted Fabricio Coloccini in the penalty area.
Chelsea peppered the goal with shots over the next 15 minutes with Branislav Ivanovic and a recovered Ashley Cole brushing the wrong side of the woodwork after beating the keeper.
It was more of the same in the second half; Anelka had a good opportunity early on, but with the goalmouth gaping, he blasted his shot directly at Given, who was fortunate to see it bounce off his chest.
The Blues also had a goal ruled out for offside in the 54th minute. Lampard slotted a through-ball through to Malouda, whose shot was stopped but not held by Given, and when Joe Cole bundled the loose ball over the line it was adjudged to be from an offside position.
Captain John Terry had demanded three wins from three games this week with a crucial Champions' League fixture against Bordeaux on Wednesday and the all-London clash with the Gunners on Sunday. This wasn't the emphatic start to that trilogy of games he was hoping for.