Chelsea are back in action featuring in the lunchtime kick-off on Saturday afternoon. The Champions take on Newcastle United at the Bridge and are in a good form. In their last six Premier League games, Chelsea has won five and drawn one (1-1 away at Anfield, last weekend). Newcastle, on the other hand, has only picked up 4 points from the last 18 available. The Toon’s last win came on October 21st at home to Crystal Palace. That was a scrappy victory with Mikel Merino scoring at the death.
Key personnel are likely to be recalled. Cesar Azpilicueta should return to the starting eleven after missing his first game under Antonio Conte on Wednesday night. Azpilicueta returning could mean either Antonio Rudiger or even Gary Cahill missing out. It would be harsh on Rudiger since he did score on Wednesday night but Conte has replaced Cahill before Champions League fixtures. Cahill was on the substitutes bench for victories at Stoke and Bournemouth, ahead of Champions League ties against Atletico and Roma. Eden Hazard will also return to the starting eleven after he featured as a substitute on Wednesday night. In his last five appearances in all competitions, Eden has 3 goals and 2 assists so would fancy his chances against a vulnerable Newcastle side.
There is not any new injury news for the Champions. David Luiz remains unavailable as is Charly Musonda. Michy Batshuayi and Kenedy have returned to full training but are both unlikely to feature on Saturday. Batshuayi will return to the bench in the near future and Kenedy will most likely feature against AFC Bournemouth in the Carabao Cup quarter-final at the Bridge.
Newcastle, managed by former Chelsea manager Rafael Benitez come into the game on the back of a 2-2 draw away at West Brom. The point in Birmingham stopped at rot of four consecutive defeats. In those four defeats, Newcastle only scored one goal – the opener in a 4-1 defeat away at Manchester United, coming from Dwight Gayle. Jamaal Lascelles, Christian Atsu, who joined the Toon permanently from Chelsea in the summer, and Paul Dummett are likely to miss out on Saturday.
- Chelsea has only lost one of their last 22 top-flight home games against Newcastle (W15, D6).
- Newcastle’s only away victory against Chelsea in the Premier League came in May 2012 under Alan Pardew. Newcastle won 2-0 with Papiss Cisse scoring a brace.
- Chelsea have dropped eight points at home in the league this season, two more than in their title-winning 2016-17 campaign
- Willian scored in both fixtures the last time these sides met in the 2015-16 campaign; Newcastle is one of four clubs he’s scored home and away against in the Premier League (along with Everton, Southampton and Stoke).
- The Magpies have won just one of their last 18 Premier League away games (D4, L13).
- Rafael Benitez has only won one of 12 competitive games as an opposition manager at Stamford Bridge, all with Liverpool (D4, L7). His sole victory ended Chelsea’s 86 unbeaten run at Stamford Bridge in October 2008.
Prediction: Chelsea 3-0 Newcastle.