Chelsea will be aiming to continue their winning momentum when they welcome Newcastle United to Stamford Bridge on Saturday.
Club football is finally back after a fortnight-long break. Chelsea and Newcastle United will both be looking to continue from they left off prior to the international break when they lock horns at Stamford Bridge on Saturday afternoon.
Chelsea are finally starting to find a stable footing under the tutelage of Frank Lampard, with winning slowly becoming a habit. The Blues have been victorious in each of their last four fixtures, the latest of which was a comfortable 4-1 win over Southampton at St. Mary’s Stadium.
Newcastle United, on the other hand, have stuttered at the start of the season, winning just two of the eight Premier League games so far. However, what is interesting to note is that both these wins came over ‘Big Six’ sides, with the latest shock result being the 1-0 success that piled on more woes for Manchester United and lifted Steve Bruce’s men up to 16th on the table.
The corresponding fixture last season ended in a 2-1 win for Chelsea, with Pedro netting the winner after Ciaran Clark had cancelled out N’Golo Kante’s opener. Ahead of the latest meeting between the two sides, The Hard Tackle takes a closer look at the encounter.
Team News & Tactics
The concerns surrounding N’Golo Kante are just not letting up. Chelsea’s midfield stalwart has picked up a fresh injury while on international duty with France, this time sustaining a groin injury during a warm-up session. Expected to be out only for a week, Kante has been ruled out for the visit of Newcastle United.
Andreas Christensen, too, has picked up an injury during the international break, with a hamstring complaint rendering him to the sidelines for the next couple of weeks. Christensen’s absence means Frank Lampard now has just two recognised centre-backs at his disposal, with Antonio Rudiger unavailable as well due to a groin injury.
Fikayo Tomori and Kurt Zouma, thus, pick themselves as Chelsea’s two central defenders for the game against Newcastle. In fact, the entire back four is expected to remain unchanged, with Marcos Alonso set to continue as the left-back in the absence of Emerson Palmieri (thigh), while Chelsea captain Cesar Azpilicueta is a certain starter on the opposite flank.
The full-back pairing will pose a constant threat in the final third, especially with Azpilicueta improving his creative output lately. With Kante on the treatment table, Jorginho will have a new partner in the midfield double pivot. Mateo Kovacic has been training after recovering from a thigh injury and is likely to get the nod ahead of Ross Barkley.
The rest of the side is unlikely to be tinkered with, seeing as both Willian and Callum Hudson-Odoi impressed in the win over Southampton. Mason Mount and Tammy Abraham, meanwhile, are certain starters and will be a part of Chelsea’s spine, with Willian and Hudson-Odoi being the two wide men. Kepa Arrizabalaga will take his place in goal for the hosts.
Probable Lineup (4-2-3-1): Kepa; Azpilicueta, Zouma, Tomori, Alonso; Kovacic, Jorginho; Willian, Mount, Hudson-Odoi; Abraham
Unlike his counterpart, Steve Bruce does not have any fresh injury concerns to deal with ahead of the trip to Stamford Bridge. Against Chelsea on Saturday, the Newcastle United manager will only be without three first-team players due to fitness issues and suspension.
Isaac Hayden will be serving the second of his three-match ban when Newcastle take on Chelsea, while Matt Ritchie (ankle) and Florian Lejeune (knee) are on the sidelines for at least the next month due to their respective injuries.
Bruce is unlikely to make many shuffles after frustrating Manchester United throughout the ninety minutes last time out. Emil Krafth could be the only change of the game, with the Swede replacing DeAndre Yedlin as Newcastle’s right-back.
Fabian Schar, Paul Dummett and Newcastle captain Jamaal Lascelles will form the three-man central defensive unit, with the trio remaining compact so as to squeeze out every bit of space at the back. Jetro Willems will complete the visitors’ backline, lining up as the Magpies’ left-back. Martin Dubravka will be the man between the sticks and is likely to be kept busy by the Chelsea attack.
Up ahead in midfield, Sean Longstaff will likely have brother Matty Longstaff for company in the middle of the park once again, with the duo impressing thoroughly against Manchester United. Miguel Almiron and Allan Saint-Maximin will provide the creative thrust from the flanks for Newcastle, but will also have to do a lot of legwork off the ball. Joelinton will lead the line for the visitors.
Probable Lineup (5-4-1): Dubravka; Krafth, Schar, Lascelles, Dummett, Willems; Almiron, Matthew Longstaff, Sean Longstaff, Saint-Maximin; Joelinton
1. Newcastle Asian Handicap +2.0 @ 1.550
2. Both Teams to Score – YES @ 1.95
1. Full Time Result – Draw or Newcastle @ 3.40
- Chelsea have won each of their last six Premier League games at home against Newcastle United, scoring 17 goals and conceding just thrice.
- Chelsea have only kept one clean sheet in 12 games across all competitions during Frank Lampard’s tenure.
- Newcastle United are looking to win back-to-back Premier League games for the first time since April.
- Chelsea have won just 36 per cent of their Premier League points in home games this season (5/14), the third-lowest ratio in the division. In a complete Premier League campaign, the lowest percentage of points won in home games the Blues have had is 47 per cent (39/83 in 2008-09).
- Steve Bruce has only overseen one victory in 21 Premier League matches as a manager against Chelsea, back when he was in-charge of Sunderland, at Stamford Bridge in 2010 (D5 L15).
Player to Watch
He had to bide his time under Maurizio Saari, waiting patiently for the few chances he was given. But, with Frank Lampard at the helm at Chelsea, Callum Hudson-Odoi should find opportunities more forthcoming at a time when fellow youngsters Fikayo Tomori, Mason Mount and Tammy Abraham impressing immensely.
Hudson-Odoi, too, has made his mark since returning to fitness, directly contributing to four goals (1 goal, 3 assists) in just 220 minutes. With Christian Pulisic out of favour and Pedro seeing his role reduced, Hudson-Odoi can potentially cement his place if he continues impressing.
A stubborn Newcastle defence, though, presents its own set of challenges, one Hudson-Odoi can counter with his change of pace. Can the young Englishman influence the game against a tricky opponent? It remains to be seen.
Chelsea 3-0 Newcastle United
Newcastle United are not a side to be taken lightly, especially with confidence likely to be high among Steve Bruce’s men following their win over Manchester United. Chelsea, though, will put them under far more pressure, relentlessly testing the mettle of a resolute defensive unit.
Tammy Abraham and Mason Mount are in irresistible form, and with Jorginho becoming quite the midfield general, the Blues might just end up running rings around Newcastle. The visitors should pose some threat on the break.
But, Chelsea look primed to thoroughly dominate the game and coast to a comfortable win. The Hard Tackle predicts a 3-0 win for Frank Lampard & co. in a result that will propel them into the top four.