Newcastle United travel to London this weekend to face an increasingly confident Chelsea side. Jose Mourinho’s club beat Manchester City 1-0 on Monday and could go top of the league with a win.
The Magpies are currently dealing with some turmoil off the field as well as on it. The departure of Joe Kinnear has many people saying that the club is in crisis.
But despite only having one win in their last six Premier League matches, Newcastle still remain comfortably in the top half of the table.
They need to return to good form in order to have any chance of qualifying for Europe next season. Newcastle remain eight points behind Everton for the Europa League qualifying position for next year.
Newcastle beat Chelsea 2-0 in the first meeting of the season between these clubs back on November 2nd. Yoan Gouffran and Loïc Rémy were on target on that day. But currently, these clubs appear to be heading in different directions.
Injuries and Suspensions
Newcastle is a club hurting right now. Fabricio Coloccini is still weeks away from returning. Yoan Gouffran has missed the last two matches with an undisclosed injury. It remains unclear whether he will return on Saturday. Papiss Cissé is still battling a back injury
Reports indicate that midfielder Cheikh Tioté has suffered a hamstring injury and could be out for three weeks, which would be a significant blow for the club. The Ivorian has been excellent all season.
Leading goalscorer Loïc Rémy will serve the second match of a three-match suspension. But Luuk de Jong came on as a substitute in the last match and could receive his first start for Newcastle on Saturday.
Chelsea remain a healthy squad. Fernando Torres returned to training this week after a long layoff due to a knee problem. He could be available for Saturday against Newcastle.
Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho has for some years now relied on the 4-2-3-1 formation. However, this year he has not been shy about tinkering with his line-up on occasion.
This week against Manchester City, he played Willian behind the striker, with Ramires and Hazard on the wings. In central midfield he played David Luiz, who is normally a centre back and new signing Nemanja Matić.
Those who understand Mourinho know that he could be unpredictable, although there is always method to his madness. His club is in the best form of the season, having lost only once in 14 Premier League matches.
Alan Pardew is probably facing a critical moment in Newcastle’s season and will need to figure out how to make up for the absence of Yohan Cabaye. Last week against Sunderland, Pardew field a 4-2-3-1 formation with Hatem Ben Arfa and Sammy Ameobi on the wings.
If Yoan Gouffran returns, it is perfectly reasonable to assume that Ben Arfa may return to a central position. With Tioté injured, Moussa Sissoko is likely to play alongside Vurnon Anita in a deeper role. If healthy, Papiss Cisse could start up front. But expect to see Luuk de Jong at some point.
Chelsea have been impressove since the New Year and look like serious title contenders. And amazingly, Chelsea have never lost a Premier League match at Stamford Bridge when the ‘Special One’ has been in charge, a stretch of 72 matches.
Newcastle United on the other hand, have lost four of their last six Premier League matches. They have failed to score in five of those matches. But the Magpies have played well against the Premier League elite this season, having beaten Manchester United, Tottenham, in addition to Chelsea.
Newcastle United will come out with a much better effort than in previous weeks. Chelsea will score first but Newcastle will respond in kind. The Magpies come away with a well-deserved draw.
Chelsea 1 – 1 Newcastle United