Saturday, 6th December 2014; 1245 GMT
St. James’ Park, Newcastle
Chelsea FC and its travelling contingent of fans will make the 270-mile journey northwards up the M1 motorway to take on a resurgent Newcastle United at St. James’ Park for a Saturday lunchtime kickoff.
In what appears to be a thaw in the love-hate relationship Alan Pardew has shared with the Magpies faithful this season, his team are on a fantastic run of results collecting 16 out of a possible 21 points in their last seven Premier League games. They now sit at the relative safety of the top half of the table but know that a few bad results will see them slip into the relegation dogfight again. What will also please the supporters is the fact that they have not only won games, but also won them by playing attractive football.
On the other hand, Chelsea fans only share a love-love relationship with Jose Mourinho and who can blame them for it. The Blues are now unbeaten in 14 games in the Premier League dropping only 6 points in the process. However, they also need to be wary of Pardew’s men since the Portuguese manager has not managed to win against them yet at St. James’ Park. Newcastle’s goalscorer in 2 of the last games is now a Chelsea player and Loic Remy would expect a less-than-welcoming reception if and when he does come on.
Team news and tactics
Tim Krul, Gabriel Obertan, Davide Santon and Siem de Jong aren’t expected to see any action this match, but the hosts will hope to have captain Fabricio Coloccini back and Rolando Aarons is also expected to be back from a hamstring injury. Ryan Taylor is also few weeks away after fresh knee injury concerns. Sissoko and Jack Colback both return from suspension which will be a huge relief for Alan Pardew in an already truncated match-day squad available for selection.
Newcastle have always been strong at home and they will be looking to counter Chelsea in a 4-1-4-1 formation with Chieck Tiote expected to be stationed just in front of the defence. Steven Taylor will be expected to replace the injured Williamson in that back four while the return from suspension of Jack Colback and Sissoko will mean that Mehdi Abeid and Yoan Guffran will make way for them. Remy Cabella had his best game so far for Newcastle against Burnley and should be expected to retain his spot.
Jose Mourinho has a relatively poor record against Newcastle at St. James’ Park and the Magpies will look to continue that streak. The ever-faithful Geordie crowd will make sure that the visitors from London are given a tough time.
Possible lineup (4-1-4-1) : Elliot; Janmaat, Haidara, Dummett, Taylor; Tiote; Colback, Sissoko, Cabella, Perez; Cisse
Chelsea, on the other hand do not have any major injury concerns but have a few things to worry about on the suspension front. Their ever-present Nemanja Matic is suspended for this game with Diego Costa returning from one. Gary Cahill was subbed-off at halftime against Tottenham but is expected to be fit for this trip.
Chelsea will lineup in their usual 4-2-3-1 formation with John Obi Mikel replacing Matic in front of the back-four. He will be partnered by Cesc Fabregas in that midfield duo with Eden Hazard, Oscar and Willian expected to feed Costa from the attacking midfield positions. A settled back four in front of Thibaut Courtois has helped Chelsea become the second meanest defence in the league and they will look to keep the in-form Newcastle team away from goal.
Although Chelsea and especially Mourinho have a poor record in recent times at St. James’ Park, they should consider themselves the favourites coming into this match. Newcastle will be tough to beat at home and they will put up a fight – especially in the defensive end – but Chelsea will be expecting that and Mourinho drilling that home during training this week.
Possible lineup (4-2-3-1): Courtois; Azpilicueta, Terry, Cahill, Ivanovic; Fabregas, Mikel; Oscar, Hazard, Willian; Costa
Player to watch out for
Diego Costa (Chelsea)
The well-rested Spaniard is available for this match and will be expected to cause trouble to the Magpies defence. With a fierce competition for the Premier League’s golden boot already hotting up, Costa will look to these games to establish himself as Chelsea’s main man in attack.
- Newcastle are the only team yet to score in the first 30 minutes of game in the Premier League.
- Eden Hazard has scored 4 goals in his last 3 games against Newcastle.
- Chelsea will look to become only the fourth team after Man City, United and Arsenal to go 15 games unbeaten in the League
Newcastle 1 – 2 Chelsea
Mourinho should be able to get one over Alan Pardew this time around based on the sheer form that Chelsea are in. The visitors will have a tough time no doubt, but should run out winners at the end of the day.