Chelsea completed a disappointing Premier League campaign with a miserable 3-0 defeat to Newcastle at St James’ Park on Sunday.
This was almost certainly the worst performance that Chelsea have put in in any competition this season. A curious starting XI combined with a total lack of application and football intelligence ensured that they were on the back foot from the first whistle.
Thibaut Courtois had already had to make two sharp saves from Jonjo Shelvey and Mohamed Diame before he was picking the ball out of the net, when Dwight Gayle nodded Newcastle deservedly ahead on 23 minutes. There were further chances for Shelvey and Ayoze Perez as Chelsea failed to respond to conceding, the visitors ending the half without a single effort at goal.
The second half began a little brighter, with Olivier Giroud’s ingenious flicked shot being tipped over by Martin Dubravka. The resulting corner, however, was played short and then all the way back to Courtois, a snapshot of the team’s overall attitude.
A sloppy clearance by Tiemoue Bakayoko was seized on by Shelvey, whose shot was turned in by Perez for 2-0. The same player then took advantage of slack marking from a set piece and tapped in from close range to make it 3-0.
Marcos Alonso, Cesc Fabregas, Willian and Antonio Rudiger have all earned a good rest ahead of next weekend’s FA Cup final. Absolutely nothing else to take from this game except the final whistle.
No tempo, no commitment, no accuracy, no belief, no marking, no movement, no bravery, no ambition, no decent crosses, no notable link-up play, no pride. A shameful display from the outgoing champions.
Manager rating out of 10
2 — When a team take the field with such a lackadaisical attitude, the buck stops with the manager. Players can underperform, but the obvious failure of Antonio Conte to instill a sense of pride and motivation in them is a dereliction of duty.
The starting XI was also strange. Either rest everyone for the trip to Wembley or go out guns blazing. Instead it was another wishy-washy selection that saw Chelsea’s key players — Eden Hazard and N’Golo Kante — risked in a game that Conte clearly couldn’t have cared less about. After doing so well to get back into the race for the top four, consecutive curious selections have helped to undermine those ambitions.
Player ratings (1-10, 10=best; players introduced after 70 minutes get no rating)
GK Thibaut Courtois, 8 — The most overworked player in the Chelsea team, it was thanks to him that the scoreline was not far worse. The only player to be able to hold his head high.
DF Cesar Azpilicueta, 5 — Made one decent defensive header but even the usually dependable Spaniard was generally off his game. Played Perez onside for the third goal.
DF Andreas Christensen, 4 — Probably wished he hadn’t been restored to the team after being led a merry dance by Newcastle’s forwards. Didn’t track Gayle’s run for the opener.
DF Gary Cahill, 4 — Has played well recently when deployed in the centre of the back three, but was well off the pace on the left at St James’ Park. Struggled to deal with Matt Ritchie and was left chasing shadows for most of the game.
MF Victor Moses, 4 — Switched off in the build-up to the first goal, allowing Ritchie to win the header from which Gayle scored. Also blunted the attack when getting forward.
MF N’Golo Kante, 5 — Largely overrun by Diame, this was a rare poor game from the Frenchman. Won a few tackles but was never the disruptive presence that has been such a familiar sight at Chelsea.
MF Tiemoue Bakayoko, 4 — There were a few nice touches and one decent run, but overall his was a passive and limp display. His poor clearance led directly to the second goal and he was also sluggish in the build-up to the first.
MF Ross Barkley, 4 — Struggled to get into the game, which was understandable given his lack of football in the past 12 months. Almost scored but for Dubravka’s outstretched leg.
MF Emerson Palmieri, 4 — Another that never got to grips with Ritchie’s movement. Didn’t supply anything of note going forward, choosing to cut back each time and kill any momentum.
FW Eden Hazard, 5 — Always scurrying about without ever pulling a rabbit out of a hat. Miles from his sharpest, as with the rest of his teammates.
FW Olivier Giroud, 4 — Starved of service, he had just one glimpse of goal that forced a good save from Dubravka. Nevertheless, his movement was poor and spent most of the game as a bystander.
FW Alvaro Morata, NR — Like all the replacements, he was handed a thankless task after being brought on at 3-0 down.
FW, Willian, NR — Caught his teammates’ malaise after coming on, with a heavy touch thwarting a promising counterattack.
FW Pedro, NR — Blazed a shot into the top tier of the stand. An impressive feat at St James’ Park.
Phil is one of ESPN’s Chelsea bloggers. You can follow him on Twitter @PhilLythell.