Chelsea will be looking to make it nine games without a defeat in all competitions when they take on Newcastle United in the Premier League on Saturday.
After the two-week hiatus due to the final international break of 2020, Premier League football returns to action this weekend. And we kick things off with an exciting clash at St. James’ Park where Newcastle United will face off against Chelsea on Matchday 9.
Newcastle have had a bit of a mixed start to the new season, having won and lost three each of their eight league outings so far (D2). Steve Bruce’s Magpies sit 13th in the Premier League table and head into the weekend’s fixture aiming to bounce back from a 2-0 defeat to Southampton prior to the international break.
Chelsea have recovered strongly from their early-season jitters, putting together an eight-game unbeaten run in all competitions, winning their last four on the bounce. Following their 4-1 win over Sheffield United, the Blues are fifth in the standings, three points off of leaders Leicester City and a win on Saturday would see them move to the top, although it might be temporary.
The corresponding fixture last season saw Newcastle pull off a surprise 1-0 win over Chelsea, courtesy a goal from Isaac Hayden deep into stoppage time. And ahead of their latest meeting at St. James’ Park this weekend, The Hard Tackle takes a closer look at both the teams.
Team News & Tactics
Jonjo Shelvey is back in training for Newcastle after having undergone surgery on a hernia problem and may be expected to play some part on Saturday. Matt Ritchie has also resumed light training which will be a boost for Steve Bruce. However, Dwight Gayle, Martin Dubravka, Ryan Fraser and Paul Dummett are pretty much ruled out.
SB on injuries:
"It might be a bit early for Jonjo Shelvey but he's trained over the last three days. Matt Ritchie is another one who has trained and it's good news for us all that they're around the group again and available for selection." pic.twitter.com/WX3sx2s71b
— Newcastle United FC (@NUFC) November 20, 2020
The big blow, though, could come with the absence of key man Callum Wilson, who was not pictured in training on Thursday and is a 50/50 for the game, having picked up a thigh injury, while Miguel Almiron could be relegated to the bench in lieu of returning late from international duty with Paraguay.
The hosts are expected to line up in the 5-3-2 formation that Bruce has used in recent fixtures with Karl Darlow continuing to deputise in goal for the absent Dubravka. Fabian Schar, Federico Fernandez and captain Jamaal Lascelles will form the three-man centre-back unit and look to deny spaces to the Chelsea forwards.
Additional support will come from wing-backs Jacob Murphy and Jamal Lewis, who will tuck in tight when not in possession but will be needed to provide the width when Newcastle spring forward on the counters. Jeff Hendrick and Sean Longstaff are certain starters in midfield and with Almiron a doubt, Isaac Hayden could get the nod with Bruce likely to opt for solidity in the middle.
The tricky Allan Saint-Maximin will slot in as one of the two forwards and look to cause problems to the visitors’ backline with his speed and movement. And with Wilson’s involvement a doubt, Joelinton could get the nod alongside the Frenchman on Saturday.
Probable Lineup (5-3-2): Darlow; Murphy, Schar, Lascelles, Fernandez, Lewis; Hendrick, Hayden, Longstaff; Joelinton, Saint-Maximin
Chelsea will continue to be without the services of Christian Pulisic as he recovers from an ankle injury, Frank Lampard has confirmed. Kai Havertz is back in training having completed his isolation period and tested negative for coronavirus, although he might not be rushed back for Saturday’s game.
Thiago Silva flew back in late from international duty with Brazil and might not be involved on Saturday but Ben Chilwell is likely to be fit and available after having sat out of England’s UEFA Nations League clash against Iceland due to a back problem.
Edouard Mendy has nailed down the first-choice spot in goal since his arrival in the summer and no changes are expected there on Saturday. Kurt Zouma is a certain starter at the heart of the defence but could see Antonio Rudiger partner him with Silva a doubt. England duo Reece James and Chilwell ought to line up as the two full-backs.
Jorginho ought to start as the deepest of the three central midfielders for Chelsea looking to pick the runs of his attacking teammates, while he will seek support from N’Golo Kante in the defensive side of things. Mason Mount, who impressed quite a lot for England during the international break, will take up the third slot in the middle.
Hakim Ziyech has established himself as a key cog of this side in a very short time. After a masterful display against Sheffield United last time out, his selection on the right is a no-brainer. With Pulisic still not fit, Timo Werner should continue playing on the left which would mean Tammy Abraham starts as the centre-forward for Chelsea.
Probable Lineup (4-3-3): Mendy; James, Zouma, Rudiger, Chilwell; Kante, Jorginho, Mount; Ziyech, Abraham, Werner
- Timo Werner to score anytime @ 1.80
- Over 3.5 Match Goals @ 2.62
- Chelsea have won five of their last seven Premier League meetings with Newcastle United (L2). However, the Blues have managed to keep just one clean sheet during this run.
- Newcastle United have lost just one of their last seven Premier League home games against Chelsea (W5 D1). Steve Bruce’s side won this exact fixture last season 1-0.
- Chelsea are unbeaten in their last six Premier League games (W3 D3). Only Tottenham are on a longer such run in the competition (7).
- Newcastle United have won two of their last three Premier League home matches (L1), as many as they had in their previous 11 (W2 D4 L5).
- Chelsea are the highest scorers in the Premier League so far this season, with 20 goals.
Player to Watch
Most goal contributions since the start of 2019-20:
76 – Robert Lewandowski
60 – Lionel Messi
51 – Timo Werner 🔵
50 – Ciro Immobile
47 – Cristiano Ronaldo
Scarily good output from Turbo Timo.
[League and CL stats only] pic.twitter.com/p48qYt6DQb
— ExpectedChelsea (@ExpectedChelsea) November 19, 2020
Having had a slow start to life in London, the German international has exploded into fine form in recent weeks. Werner was on target for Chelsea in each of their last four matches prior to the international break and also impressed in Germany’s win against Ukraine in the UEFA Nations League last week.
The last player to score in five consecutive matches for Chelsea was Didier Drogba. And, Werner, given the form that he is in, could go on to emulate the club legend this weekend. In the process, he could also become just the fourth German player to score in three Premier League games in a row after Jurgen Klinsmann, Dietmar Hamann and Leroy Sane.
Newcastle United 0-3 Chelsea
Chelsea haven’t had the best of records at St. James’ Park recently but prior to the international break, Frank Lampard’s side seemed to have finally clicked. Even though Thiago Silva might miss out, Newcastle aren’t likely to pose much of a threat in attack, especially with Callum Wilson a doubt.
At the same time, the form that the likes of Hakim Ziyech, Mason Mount and Timo Werner are in could spell trouble for the hosts on Saturday. With that in mind, The Hard Tackle is predicting a 3-0 win for Chelsea which should see them move to the top of the Premier League table.