Chelsea will be aiming to consolidate their position at the top of the Premier League table when they travel north to take on Newcastle United this weekend.

Matchday 10 of the 2021/22 Premier League kicks off this weekend, and table-toppers Chelsea will be in action on Saturday afternoon as they prepare to face off against Newcastle United at the St. James’ Park.

Chelsea have been in fine nick this season and are currently on a five-game winning run across all competitions. The Blues mauled Norwich City 7-0 in their last Premier League encounter. But they were made to work hard in midweek in the Carabao Cup game against Southampton, where they only prevailed via penalties.

Nonetheless, coming up against a Newcastle United side that has looked out of sorts this season, Thomas Tuchel’s men will back themselves to get all three points and strengthen their grip at the top of the table. The Magpies remain one of the three teams in the Premier League that are yet to pick up a victory this season, which has left them rooted to the 19th spot in the standings.

After a 3-2 defeat to Tottenham Hotspur, Newcastle were held to a 1-1 draw by Crystal Palace last weekend. With no new manager appointed following Steve Bruce’s sacking, interim boss Graeme Jones will once again take charge of the team and hope to pull off a huge upset to get the Tynesiders off the mark for the season.

Team News & Tactics

Newcastle United

In his pre-match press conference, Graeme Jones has confirmed that Newcastle will be without just two players in the form of Paul Dummett and Elliot Anderson. Jonjo Shelvey is back in contention after serving out his one-match suspension, while goalkeeper Martin Dubravka is also available for selection for the visit of Chelsea.

Jones stuck with the 5-3-2 formation that Steve Bruce used to deploy for the game against Crystal Palace and is unlikely to make any massive changes to the team for Saturday’s game. Despite Dubravka’s return, Karl Darlow is likely to continue between the sticks for the home team, where he will be protected by three centre-backs in Emil Krafth, Jamaal Lascelles and Ciaran Clark.

Javi Manquillo and Matt Ritchie are expected to hold on to their spots as the two full-backs on the right and left sides, respectively. While the duo will have some attacking responsibilities, they will largely be needed to stay compact and provide defensive support to the centre-backs.

Isaac Hayden will offer further protection to the backline from the defensive midfield position, with the returning Shelvey supporting him. The ex-Liverpool midfielder will also have the onus of playing forward passes from the middle for the forwards, who ought to be Callum Wilson and Allan Saint-Maximin. Miguel Almiron will provide additional attacking support with his driving runs from the centre.

Probable Lineup (5-3-2): Darlow; Manquillo, Krafth, Lascelles, Clark, Ritchie; Shelvey, Hayden, Almiron; Wilson, Saint-Maximin

Chelsea

Chelsea will once again have to make do without their two main centre-forwards Romelu Lukaku and Timo Werner. Christian Pulisic has returned to training, but Saturday’s game comes too soon for the USMNT star. However, there is some good news for the Blues as Cesar Azpilicueta, Ruben Loftus-Cheek, N’Golo Kante, and Andreas Christensen are all fit again and available for selection.

There will be a host of changes made to the side that featured in the midweek cup clash against Southampton. Edouard Mendy ought to replace cup hero Kepa Arrizabalaga between the sticks. The returning Azpilicueta should slot right back into the starting XI, forming the three-man defence alongside Thiago Silva and Antonio Rudiger.

Reece James, who played as a centre-back in the midweek clash, should move to his regular right wing-back slot while Ben Chilwell is set to replace Marcos Alonso on the left. The duo will provide a constant attacking outlet for Chelsea on the flanks, and Newcastle will have their task cut out against the pair.

Jorginho is a certain starter in the middle of the park for Chelsea. And, the Italian is likely to be partnered by his regular partner N’Golo Kante, with Saul Niguez and the injured Mateo Kovacic set to drop out of the side. Loftus-Cheek will be hoping to get some minutes from the bench after his impressive recent run of form.

With Lukaku and Werner unavailable, Kai Havertz becomes the obvious pick for the No. 9 slot for Chelsea. The German international will have attacking support from Mason Mount and Callum Hudson-Odoi.

Probable Lineup (3-4-2-1): Mendy; Azpilicueta, Silva, Rudiger; James, Jorginho, Kante, Chilwell; Mount, Hudson-Odoi; Havertz

Key Stats

  • Chelsea have won two of their last three Premier League away games against Newcastle (L1).
  • Newcastle United have lost five of their previous six Premier League meetings with Chelsea, winning the other 1-0 in January 2020.
  • Chelsea are looking to win four consecutive Premier League matches under Thomas Tuchel for the second time They previously did so in February, with the fourth win during that run coming against Newcastle.
  • Newcastle are without a win in their nine league games so far this season. Only twice in their history have the Magpies failed to win any of their opening ten games of a league campaign.
  • Mason Mount has been involved in more Premier League goals for Chelsea under manager Thomas Tuchel than any other player at the club (11 – seven goals, four assists).

Player to Watch

Ben Chilwell

After having started the season as the second-choice behind Marcos Alonso, Ben Chilwell has enjoyed a tremendous turnaround of fortunes. The England international is currently one of the most in-form players in the Premier League, having scored in each of his three league appearances for the Blues this season.

The 24-year-old is showing his quality and the attacking threat he poses consistently, with his forward forays, dangerous deliveries into the box and goals making him a pivotal player for Chelsea. And, if Newcastle United wish to get anything from Saturday’s encounter, they will need to find a way to neutralise the threat posed by Chilwell from the left flank.

Prediction

Newcastle United 0-2 Chelsea

Chelsea have not been the most prolific team under Thomas Tuchel but showed last week against Norwich City that they can be unstoppable once they get going. Meanwhile, Newcastle United boast one of the worst defensive records in the Premier League this season and have not looked like a team capable of winning for quite a long time.

Considering the contrasting forms of the two teams and the difference in the quality of the squads, The Hard Tackle predicts a straightforward win for Chelsea at St. James’ Park on Saturday.

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