Chelsea hopes to advance in the FA Cup after their midweek exit from the Carabao Cup as they face Newcastle in their 4th Round tie.
Chelsea have to overcome Premier League opposition to advance to the 5th Round of the FA Cup as they face Newcastle in their 4th Round tie at Stamford Bridge. Chelsea have started this year badly and have only a solitary win against Brighton to their name, but will be hoping to change that.
After losing ground with their Premier League title defence as Chelsea trail leaders Manchester City by a massive 15 points, Antonio Conte would be hoping a good run in the Cups could salvage something from the season – Chelsea are still in the FA Cup and Champions League.
To begin with Conte and his Chelsea side, they have struggled in Cup competitions of late. Their 3rd round tie in the FA Cup against Norwich needed a penalty shoot-out to decide the outcome after a goalless 210 minutes of football over two legs.
Their opponents, Newcastle too are coming on the back of a defeat against Manchester City in the league and will take the FA Cup seriously. A victory against Chelsea would go positively to increase squad morale and confidence, which has been lacking in Rafa Benitez’ men of late.
Chelsea have not lost their last ten FA Cup ties with Premier League opposition and have beaten Newcastle in five of their last six ties, with the last one coming in 2006 when they recorded a 1-0 victory courtesy to a solitary John Terry goal.
Team News and tactics
Chelsea will again be missing key players for the 4th Round tie after losing Willian to injury during their clash with Arsenal. Adding the Brazilian to the list of injuries, other expected absentees are Thibaut Courtois and Alvaro Morata.
On a positive note, Chelsea could welcome Cesc Fabregas back into the squad after he recovered from his injury which saw him miss the midweek Carabao Cup clash. Ross Barkley could also be handed his first Chelsea start but Conte could still prefer Fabregas and bring Barkley from the bench.
There are no other injuries and Antonio Conte could start with Michy Batshuayi up front after using Hazard in the last clash as a false nine. Zapacosta could start ahead of Victor Moses while Alonso is expected to retain his place at Left wing-back. Azpilicueta, Christensen and Rudiger could retain their places, although Conte has the option to call up David Luiz back into the starting line-up.
Probable Line-up: (3-4-2-1) – Cabellero; Azpilecueta, Luiz, Christensen; Zappacosta, Alonso; Kante, Fabregas; Pedro, Hazard, Batshuayi.
Newcastle have no new injuries, although new signing Kennedy is unavailable for this tie as FA rules dictate a player cannot face his parent club.
Central defender Florian Lejeune could be in line for a return to the team after recovering from injury. The only other absentee would be full-back Jesus Gamez who recovers from ankle surgery and remains a long term absentee.
Newcastle manager Rafa Benitez would be hoping to go the distance in the FA Cup as well focus on the league so as to not drop in the relegation zone. Keeping key players fresh and fit would be his aim, but a clash against a team like chelsea could take a toll on the team.
Benitez could bring back Mikel Merino back into the squad, having not started a game since Newcastle’s victory over Luton Town in the FA Cup 3rd round. Rob Elliot is fit again and could be in line for a start against The Blues.
Benitez could yet maintain the ultra defensive approach against top-six teams and will look to do so against Chelsea, meaning Issac Hayden could feature as a defensive midfielder. Joselu is set to start as Newcastle’s lone striker, with Ayoze Perez sorely out of form does not fit into Benitez’ conservative approach.
Probable line-up:(4-1-4-1) Elliot; Yedlin, Lascelles, Clark, Dummett; Hayden; Murphy, Shelvey, Merin, Atsu; Joselu
1. Chelsea have progressed past Newcastle in five of their last six FA Cup ties, with the Blues winning 1-0 in their most recent FA Cup encounter in 2006 thanks to John Terry’s goal.
2. Chelsea are unbeaten in their last 10 FA Cup games against Premier League opponents at Stamford Bridge (W8 D2), with Arsenal the last side to beat them on their home turf in a sixth-round replay in March 2003.
3. Newcastle are looking to reach the FA Cup fifth round for the first time since 2006, with the Magpies falling at this stage last season, losing 3-0 to Oxford United at the Kassam. In fact, Newcastle have been eliminated in each of their last four FA Cup fourth round ties.
4. Chelsea have reached the FA Cup fifth round in 17 of their last 19 seasons, only failing to do so in 2010/11 and 2014/15.
Player to Watch
Michi Batshuayi has been in the news for some time now, mostly for his displeasure at sitting on the Chelsea bench. He has also been in the news for his recent links with Sevilla and Chelsea’s pursuit of Edin Dzeko would also have an immediate effect on the forward’s performances.
Batshuayi’s immediate concern is not a transfer to another club but to get more time on the pitch as a place in the World cup squad with Belgium is at stake. Batshuayi at times, has proven to be a good answer to Chelsea’s striking problem but not a consistent one.
In the scenario that he stays, a good performance in the FA cup would go a long way from cementing his place in the team, and with the Premier League and Champions League still in play for Chelsea, he could yet feature regularly, albeit from the bench for Chelsea.
Chelsea 2-0 Newcastle
Antonio Conte could count on his defence once more, despite an unfortunate blip against Arsenal in midweek. Newcastle attackers have quality in them but it sure is not expected to trouble Chelsea much.
With Cesc Fabregas back in the squad to add the missing creativity and his presence would let Eden Hazard play with much more freedom. Chelsea are expected to win this tie and go through to the next round of the FA Cup.