Matic was out of the game through suspension, and Jose Mourinho had to name John Obi Mikel in his place.
The Nigerian international played well, and he is arguably better than Matic at his specific job - that of holding onto the ball. However, he is much more one dimensional than the 26-year-old Serb, and his lack of forward drive arguably cost the side as the Blues fell to defeat at St James’ Park.
There was no attacking intent from the midfielder, and his lack of pressuring movement on the Magpies’ midfield resulted in Cesc Fabregas having to work more than usual, and he was not afforded the time on the ball that allows him to excel as a playmaking force.
The Blues defeat has been largely put down to Matic’s absence, but just how much was he missed in the defeat to Newcastle?
|Goals per Game||Key Passes per Game||Goals Conceded per Game||Tackles Won per Game||Accurate Passes per Game||Passing Accuracy||Forward Pass Percentage||Appearances|
|Chelsea with Matic||2.4||13.2||0.8||16.6||461.4||85.5%||33.2%||14|
With Matic, the Blues have scored an average of 2.4 goals per game, and conceded just 0.8 goals per game. They play 13.2 key passes per game, and win 16.6 tackles. All in all, they dominate games over their opposition, and they hold a strong pass completion rate, with 33.2% of their passes moving forward. Their finesse in front of goal has allowed them to be more direct, and the presence of Matic who can drive through the middle negates the need to play needless passes in the midfield third of the pitch - something that the Blues did with Mikel in the side.
|Goals per Game||Key Passes per Game||Goals Conceded per Game||Tackles Won per Game||Accurate Passes per Game||Passing Accuracy||Forward Pass Percentage|
|Chelsea withouth Matic||1||24||2||21||534||85.2%||33.5%|
Despite playing almost double the amount of key passes than average in the loss to Newcastle, the Blues could net just once, and they conceded twice. They won more tackles, and the negligible differences in the pass completion and forward pass rate make their performance appear to be very similar to that shown for the majority of the season - if not better than usual.
However, with the Magpies sitting deep to absorb pressure, the lack of drive resulted in aimless passes between Mikel and Fabregas, and, although frequently camped in the final third, the key passes played were hardly threatening. They played more than 70 passes above their average per game tally, and whilst Mourinho has been keen on bringing a more possession based game to Stamford Bridge, Saturday showed that possession can negate the attacking threat needed to win games.
Mourinho will be grateful that Matic will once again be available for this weekend’s visit of Hull City to West London, but he will be without one of his other key men, with Fabregas missing the tie through suspension. Having already shown that Matic is an invaluable asset, it will be interesting to see how the Blues cope with their Spanish star missing in the middle of the park against the struggling Tigers.