Chelsea will look to return to winning ways and keep a firm hold of the fourth place on the Premier League table when they face Newcastle United on Saturday.
Chelsea may not be in a rut as far as results are concerned. But, one glance at it will make you aware of the profligacy the Blues have suffered from when it comes to scoring goals. The problem has reared it’s ugly head time and again, with the latest Premier League result being a 0-0 draw with lowly Southampton.
Things are likely to improve, with Chelsea linked with several strikers. For Saturday though, at the very least, Maurizio Sarri will have to make do with the options at hand, something Newcastle United will be looking to take advantage of.
Rafa Benitez has done a more than commendable job this season, considering that the club failed to land most of his targets and are still struggling to back him in the transfer market. The confidence might be low in the Newcastle dressing room. But, Benitez knows Chelsea are vulnerable and will station his side up to gather a shock result at Stamford Bridge.
Chelsea ran away with a 3-0 win the last time these two teams met at Stamford Bridge in a Premier League fixture. Newcastle will be hoping for better fortune on Saturday as we take a closer look at the two squads.
Team News & Tactics
Maurizio Sarri had preferred to field Andreas Christensen alongside Antonio Rudiger. But, the Dane is out injured, which would mean David Luiz comes back into the starting eleven to partner the German international. The rest of the back four should remain the same despite widespread criticism aimed at Marcos Alonso’s performances.
N’Golo Kante and Jorginho are set to start. Cesc Fabregas to AS Monaco is now a done deal while the likes of Danny Drinkwater and Ruben Loftus-Cheek are unlikely to be given a start. Ross Barkley has been disappointing as well, which means Mateo Kovacic should complete the midfield.
Callum Hudson-Odoi’s upturn in form has seen a change of stance by Chelsea as regards the academy ace’s availability. The youngster should start out wide on the left, with Pedro on the right. Sarri is likely to use Eden Hazard in the False Nine role after the strikers failed to deliver against Southampton.
Probable Lineup (4-3-3): Kepa; Azpilicueta, Rudiger, Luiz, Alonso; Kante, Jorginho, Kovacic; Pedro, Hazard, Hudson-Odoi
The injury list is an ever-growing one for Rafa Benitez, who has really been served the short end of the stick, with no real reinforcements coming in and players being sidelined on a regular basis. Kenedy is ineligible to take the field against his parent club while Ki Sung-yueng and Yoshinori Muto are away on international duty.
Benitez will be aware the five-man defence trick has not worked against top opposition and could revert to a more attacking three-man backline. Martin Dubravka has been immense in his duties and will be responsible for keeping Chelsea quiet.
Federico Fernandez, Jamaal Lascelles and Ciaran Clark should form the backline, with DeAndre Yedlin and Javier Manquillo acting as the wing-backs or the wide midfielders.
Jonjo Shelvey is doubtful but should still start on Saturday, even if he might not be 100% match fit. He will be accompanied by Isaac Hayden, with Ayoze Perez and Matt Richie behind the lone striker. Salomon Rondon will likely lead the frontline.
Probable Lineup (3-4-2-1): Dubravka; Fernandez, Lascelles, Clark; Yedlin, Shelvey, Hayden, Manquillo; Ritchie, Perez; Rondon
1. Newcastle United Asian Handicap +2.0 @ 1.650
2. Under 2.5 Match Goals @ 2.20
1. Newcastle Clean Sheet – YES @ 11.00
1. Chelsea have scored at least two goals in their last 15 meetings with Newcastle United.
2. Newcastle United last kept a clean sheet at Stamford Bridge in May, 2012, with a Papiss Cisse double ensuring a 2-0 win.
3. Chelsea have won just 3 of their five league matches following their 2-0 win over Manchester City, all three of them with a single goal margin. In fact, the Blues have failed to find the back of the net in each of their last two Premier League games at Stamford Bridge.
4. Newcastle United are the lowest scorers in the league (15) after Huddersfield (13).
5. Eden Hazard has not contributed to a Chelsea goal in his last four appearances.
Player to Watch
A player Chelsea were ready to sell, Callum Hudson-Odoi has seen his club’s stance change, perhaps seeing his performances and the fact that Bayern Munich are ready to go close to their transfer record in order to land the youngster. Hudson-Odoi has impressed Sarri, as per the manager’s own words.
And. with the Blues lacking reliable options in attack, Hudson-Odoi’s emergence could perhaps allow Sarri to use Hazard in a central role regularly.
Chelsea 0-0 Newcastle United
It could actually turn out to be another drab draw for Chelsea, who are struggling to get goals in. Eden Hazard as a False Nine has also been a hit-and-miss thing for Chelsea this season while other players have failed to step up. For Newcastle, it has been Martin Dubravka who has been the key player and the difference maker this season.
We believe it should pan out this way, with Chelsea continuing to attack and Dubravka withholding the barrage. A 0-0 draw awaits us.