Chelsea will be hoping to set aside their off-field distractions and focus on getting a positive result when they host Newcastle United in the Premier League.

Even as the club continues to deal with the fallout from the UK Government sanctioning Roman Abramovich, Chelsea will look to focus on the matters on the pitch when they lock horns with Newcastle United at Stamford Bridge on Sunday.

Chelsea find themselves in a state of turmoil following the sanctions against their owner, which has left the club in a precarious position with regard to their immediate future. The Blues have seen their sponsors suspend agreements due to the sanctions. They have also had to stop new ticket sales, and have had their credit line frozen by Barclays, leaving them in a lurch.

Amidst this crisis, the onus will be on Thomas Tuchel to ensure that his players remain focused on the task at hand and consolidate their position in the top four. The Blues head into Sunday’s contest on the back of a 3-1 victory over Norwich City, which was their fourth win in a row in the Premier League. Chelsea currently have a firm grip on third place, sitting ten points behind Liverpool in second and eight clear of fourth-placed Arsenal.

Newcastle United, meanwhile, are one of the most in-form teams in the Premier League, having not lost a single one of their last nine league matches. Coming into the weekend’s set of fixtures, only Liverpool have collected more points than the Magpies in 2022. Eddie Howe’s side have won each of their previous three matches, most recently defeating Southampton 2-1 to rise to 14th place in the standings, ten points clear of the drop zone.

The reverse fixture ended 3-0 in favour of Chelsea, courtesy of a second-half brace from Reece James and a Jorginho penalty. However, Newcastle will hope to make the most of the west Londoners’ off-field distractions and extend their unbeaten run on Sunday.

Team News & Tactics

Chelsea

Reece James and Ben Chilwell are guaranteed absentees for Chelsea ahead of the game against Newcastle United. Apart from the full-back duo, Callum Hudson-Odoi is a doubt with an Achilles injury. Cesar Azpilicueta (stomach bug), Christian Pulisic (illness) and Marcos Alonso (Covid-19) could also miss out.

Given the lack of options in the wing-back slots, Thomas Tuchel could be forced to field a traditional four-man defensive line with Andreas Christensen and Malang Sarr operating as the full-backs on the right and left sides, respectively. Thiago Silva and Antonio Rudiger should line up in the centre, shielding Edouard Mendy between the sticks.

Jorginho will be tasked with offering protection to the defence and controlling the tempo of the game from deep in midfield. N’Golo Kante and Mateo Kovacic will provide the legs and energy in the engine room for the hosts and look to take the game to the Magpies. The creative burden will be borne by the attacking midfield duo of Hakim Ziyech and Mason Mount.

Kai Havertz, who has scored five goals at Stamford Bridge in all competitions this term, should spearhead the attack for Chelsea on Sunday. Romelu Lukaku and Timo Werner will be options from the bench.

Probable Lineup (4-3-2-1): Mendy; Christensen, Silva, Rudiger, Sarr; Kante, Jorginho, Kovacic; Ziyech, Mount; Havertz

Newcastle United

Kieran Trippier and Callum Wilson are ruled out for the visiting side, while Joelinton and Allan Saint-Maximin are also doubts due to injuries. Bruno Guimaraes also struggled with cramps in the last game against Southampton and will be subjected to a late fitness test, as will Fabian Schar (groin) and Emil Krafth (cramp).

Eddie Howe will stick to the 4-3-3 setup that is working so well for his side recently, with Martin Dubravka lining up in goal. Schar, if fit, will partner Dan Burn at the heart of the defence. Javi Manquillo and Matt Targett ought to be the two full-backs on the right and left sides respectively.

Jonjo Shelvey will anchor the midfield for Newcastle, while also utilising his range of distribution to play passes for the forwards to run onto. Both Guimaraes and Joelinton are likely to be passed fit for the game and feature from kick-off. The latter’s energy and work rate off the ball will be key for Newcastle in winning the midfield battle.

Ryan Fraser should get the nod on the left flank, with Saint-Maximin likely to be eased back into action. Jacob Murphy should hold on to his place on the right and look to cause problems to Malang Sarr. Chris Wood, who got off the mark for Newcastle against the Saints earlier this week, is expected to lead the line again on Sunday.

Probable Lineup (4-3-3): Dubravka; Manquillo, Schar, Burn, Targett; Guimaraes, Shelvey, Joelinton; Murphy, Wood, Fraser

Key Stats

  • Chelsea have won each of their last eight Premier League home games against Newcastle United
  • Newcastle United have won just one of their previous 27 away league games against Chelsea (D7 L19), winning 2-0 in May 2012 under Alan Pardew.
  • Chelsea are undefeated in nine home matches in the Premier League since a 1-0 loss against Manchester City in September (W4, D5). However, the Blues have kept just two clean sheets in those games. 
  • Newcastle are on a nine-game unbeaten run in the Premier League (W6, D3). Only Liverpool have won more top-flight points in 2022 than the 20 by Newcastle before the weekend.
  • No Chelsea player has scored more goals at Stamford Bridge in all competitions this season than Kai Havertz (5). However, only one of the German forward’s five strikes at home has come in the Premier League.

Player to Watch

Mason Mount

The Chelsea academy graduate enjoyed a productive game against Norwich City earlier in the week. He finished the game with a goal and an assist to help his team earn an important victory. Mount was pulling the strings in the final third against the Canaries, while his link-up play with Kai Havertz, at times, was a treat to watch.

After a few dull displays, the 23-year-old England international looked to be in the zone again. The Chelsea manager and the fans will hope that Mount can build on that and lead the team to another victory against Newcastle United at the weekend.

Prediction

Chelsea 2-1 Newcastle United

Newcastle United are in fine fettle heading into the weekend clash, having gone unbeaten in nine and won each of their last three games. On the other hand, Chelsea have won each of their previous four games in the league. The Blues showed that they could set aside everything and keep their eyes on the ball during the midweek win over Norwich City.

The Blues have a fine record against Newcastle at Stamford Bridge and considering that Mason Mount and Kai Havertz are starting to click, The Hard Tackle predicts a narrow win for the hosts, with the Magpies expected to put up a tough fight.

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