Reigining champions Chelsea welcome Newcastle United, led by former manager Rafael Benitez to Stamford Bridge in matchweek 15 of the Premier League.
Chelsea have picked up some decent form over the course of the past few weeks. They haven’t lost since that shock 2-1 loss against Crystal Palace back in October and in the Premier League, they’ve only dropped points against Liverpool since then, playing out a 1-1 draw.
Benitez’s men on the other hand, are not having the best of seasons. As things stand, they are currently in 12th place and are five points clear of the relegation zone. They haven’t won a game since October and have only 4 Premier League games this season.
Chelsea are only expected to be without David Luiz, Michy Batshuayi and Charly Musonda. Antonio Conte left some key names out of the teamsheet against Swansea and they will most likely return to the starting XI when they take on Newcastle.
Cesar Azpilicueta will likely come back in for Antonio Rudiger in defence, with Gary Cahill and Andreas Christensen holding onto their places in the center of defence. Marcos Alonso and Davide Zappacosta are also expected to start as wingbacks.
Victor Moses made his first appearance since returning after injury against Swansea, but he will likely be eased into the starting XI, rather than get thrust into the action directly. Tiemoue Bakayoko is expected to come in and join Cesc Fabregas and N’Golo Kante in midfield.
Pedro and Willian are expected to make way and Eden Hazard will likely come into the starting XI and join Alvaro Morata upfront.
Probable Starting XI(3-5-2): Thibaut Courtois; Cesar Azpilicueta, Andreas Christensen, Gary Cahill; Davide Zappacosta, N’golo Kante, Cesc Fabregas, Tiemoue Bakayoko, Marcos Alonso; Eden Hazard, Alvaro Morata
Benitez is expected to be without the services of Jamaal Lascelles, Christian Atsu and Paul Dummett. The Spaniard had made a number of changes to the side that lost to Watford when they face West Brom a few days ago, and it is likely he will revert to the same starting XI.
Rob Elliot is expected to come back in between the sticks, while Javier Manquillo is expected to come back in for Chancel Mbemba at right back. Ciaran Clark, DeAndre Yedlin and Florian Lejeune are all expected to retain their places in the starting XI.
Jonjo Shelvey and Mohamed Diame are expected to replace Isaac Hayden and Mikel Merino in central midfield, with Jacob Murphy and MAtt Ritchie retaining their places on the wings. Ayoze Perez is expected to make for DWight Gayle to come and team up with Joselu to form a 2-man strike force.
Probable Starting XI(4-4-2): Rob Elliot; DeAndre Yedlin, Florian Lejeune, Ciaran Clark, Javier Manquillo; Matt Ritchie, Mohamed Diame, Jonjo Shelvey, Jacob Murphy; Dwight Gayle, Joselu
- Newcastle have failed to win 17 of their last 18 Premier League away matches.
- Chelsea have lost only 1 of their last 22 first division games against Newcastle at Stamford Bridge.
- Chelsea have scored a minimum of 2 goals in 6 of their last 7 matches against Newcastle at Stamford Bridge in all competitions.
- Newcastle manager Rafa Benitez has won only 1 game at Stamford Bridge while managing an visiting team.
- Chelsea have kept 4 clean sheets in their last 5 top flight games.
1. Over 2.5 goals @ 1.60
2. Alvaro Morata to score anytime @ 1.66
1. A penalty in match – YES @ 3.50
Player To Watch
Chelsea: Eden Hazard
The Belgian was left out of the starting XI of their 1-0 victory against Swansea and despite getting all three points, he was certainly missed. Chelsea’s most in form player the moment, he can’t seem to put a foot wrong and will be desperate to add to his tally of 6 goals and 6 assists this season in 17 games this season.
Chelsea 2-1 Newcastle United
With all due respect to Newcastle United, despite having trouble against the ‘smaller’ teams this season, Chelsea should come away from this tie with all three points. Newcastle’s away form has been abysmal this season and they haven’t won a game since October.
Besides that, they havent beaten a side in the top half of the table this season and only managed to snag a point against Liverpool at St.James’ Park.
Benitez’s men can take inspiration from the likes of Crystal Palace, Burnley, Bournemouth and Swansea, who have either beaten the Blues or made life extremely difficult for them with squads far weaker on paper.
Benitez would surely love to get a draw or a victory on his return to Stamford Bridge as it would do his team’s confidence a world of good, giving them a much needed shot in the arm to help reinvigorate their season.