Newcastle - Chelsea Preview: Continue the run

A resurgent Chelsea will take on Newcastle United at St. James’ Park on Saturday coming off the back of a string of confidence-boosting wins.

The 15-placed Blues are in the process of piecing together a horrid start to the 2015-16 campaign and with three wins in eight days under their belt, it’s a good time for Jose Mourinho and his men to visit Tyneside.

Newcastle boss Steve McLaren will have to make do with a severely depleted squad, with no fewer than 12 players considered uncertain to be available. However, the former England boss expects he’ll be given the all-clear to recall at least a few of those in doubt prior to kick-off.

Mourinho has no such worries in terms of his squad, but he will need to address one or two concerns. Thibaut Courtois and Diego Costa are the main absentees, while it’s a shame young Kenedy will be play no part due to a knock he picked up against Walsall in midweek.

Despite the Blues’ recent upturn in results, the fact we have lost three in a row to our hosts at St. James’ Park is an alarming statistic.

Whether or not Mourinho can end this streak will depend on how desperately the players want to maintain our current run. A loss to Walsall in the League Cup on Wednesday evening could’ve dealt a serious blow to player moral and our season at large, so it was a relief to see we didn’t underestimate our League One opponents. The result suggests Mourinho has managed to snap the squad out whatever trance had us gripped until the Maccabi Tel Aviv match – for now, at least.

The winless 19-placed Magpies’ dropped out of the League Cup at the hands of Sheffield Wednesday during the week. However, even though McLaren’s men look bereft of any confidence whatsoever, we need to be wary of how a team can retaliate in the wake of an embarrassing defeat.

Newcastle Form

(L) Newcastle 0-1 Sheffield Wednesday (League Cup, September 2015)
(L) Newcastle 1-2 Watford (Premier League, September 2015)
(L) West Ham 2-0 Newcastle (Premier League, September 2015)
(L) Newcastle 0-1 Arsenal (Premier League, August 2015)
(W) Newcastle 4-1 Northampton Town (League Cup, August 2015)

Chelsea Form

(W) Walsall 1-4 Chelsea (League Cup, September 2015)
(W) Chelsea 2-0 Arsenal (Premier League, September 2015)
(W) Chelsea 4-0 Maccabi Tel Aviv (Champions League, September 2015)
(L) Everton 3-1 Chelsea (Premier League, September 2015)
(L) Chelsea 1-2 Crystal Palace (Premier League, August 2015)

Last Five Meetings

Chelsea 2-0 Newcastle (Premier League, January 2015)
Newcastle 2-1 Chelsea (Premier League, December 2014)
Chelsea 3-0 Newcastle (Premier League, February 2014)
Newcastle 2-0 Chelsea (Premier League, November 2013)
Newcastle 3-2 Chelsea (Premier League, February 2013)

Newcastle Team News

Daryl Janmaat (illness), Rolando Aarons (knock), Jack Colback (shin), Cheick Tiote (knee) and Sylvain Marveaux (groin) are all likely to be in contention to plug the holes in the Magpies’ ravaged squad.

Papiss Cisse (back), Massimo Haidara (knee), Karl Darlow (ankle), Steven Taylor (hamstring), Paul Dummett (hamstring), Emmanuel Reviere (knee) and Curtis Good (thigh) make up the cascading list of longer term absentees.

Chelsea Team News

Kenedy will probably miss the chance to continue his impressive start to life at Stamford Bridge due to a calf injury he picked up against Walsall on Wednesday evening.
Fellow Brazilian Willian is also in doubt after he limped off the pitch against Maccabi Tel Aviv on 16 September.

Diego Costa serves the second of a three-match suspension after being found guilty of violent conduct during 2-0 win over Arsenal last Saturday. Radamel Falcao did little to impress in the League Cup midweek, so Loic Remy is most likely to lead the line.
Thibaut Courtois remains sidelined for an extended period with a torn meniscus.

Probable Lineups

Score Prediction

It would be naive to suggest this will be an easy game. Newcastle certainly won’t hand us three points without a fight, despite having a large chunk of its depleted squad keeping the club physiotherapists busy.

On the other hand, Chelsea appears to be on the verge of finding its feet. With the quality we have at our disposal, it only takes a handful of spurring results, not to mention a victory over the Gunners, to spark a winning run.

We should expect the Magpies to be physical, dogged and reluctant to afford us time on the ball. Regardless of their approach, the Blues must seek to control the game and take chances as they come. We need to take shots early instead of flicking the ball around the edge of the box with no end product – a lack of such directness has contributed to most of our poor results this campaign.

I think our newfound confidence will carry us to a positive result on Saturday – I’m predicting a 3-1 win. What are your score predictions?

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