It's been a wild 45 minutes between Newcastle United and Chelsea. It should have produced about six goals and two red cards. Instead there has been just one goal and no red cards, but that hasn't made the game any less fun. Chelsea lead by a score of 1-0 at halftime in an absolute thriller, and if the first half is any indication, there will be more goals in this one.
Things got a bit chippy just six minutes in, when David Luiz took down Demba Ba, who appeared to be through on goal. Mike Dean showed just a yellow card when he probably should have shown red, and nothing came of the free kick. Three minutes later, Luiz committed a horrendous giveaway. He appeared to be in the process of having a minor meltdown, but had a decent 35-plus minutes after that point, while John Terry has been immense.
Daniel Sturridge has been perhaps the best player on the pitch, though Ryan Taylor's terrible defending certainly isn't doing his team any favors. He's been through on goal on multiple occasions, hitting the post and forcing a couple of saves out of Tim Krul. In the 14th minute, Sturridge drew a foul from Yohan Cabaye in the box and Mike Dean pointed to the spot. It appeared to be denial of a clear goal-scoring opportunity, but Cabaye was not booked.
Frank Lampard stepped up to take the penalty, but had it saved by Krul, the other contender for man of the match thus far. He's made four saves from open play and the penalty save in an absolutely brilliant performance.
In the 28th minute, Newcastle were forced into a substitution. Fabricio Coloccini, obviously struggling with an injury, was replaced by James Perch. Perch is hardly a natural central defender and is not nearly as good of a footballer in general, much less a center back than Coloccini. Chelsea had plenty of chances with their captain on the pitch, but they created more when he went off. The Blues could very easily have four or five goals, but at least they have one and the lead. Didier Drogba would eventually find that in the 39th minute.
After a slightly controversial throw in was given Chelsea's way instead of Newcastle's (Dean/his linesman got the decision correct), Juan Mata hit a lovely cross into the box for Drogba. He rose above Perch and powered a wonderful header into the back of the net, giving his team a well deserved 1-0 lead.
For more around the Premier League, including live coverage of this week's action, check out our Premier League Week 14 StoryStream. For more on the two teams, check out Chelsea FC blog We Ain't Got No History and Newcastle United blog Coming Home Newcastle. For more across the world of football, follow @SBNationSoccer on twitter.