It feels like an eternity, but Chelsea are back in less than 24 hours. Frank Lampard’s men will travel to St James’ Park to take on Newcastle for the 9th game of the 20/21 Season. The Blues enjoyed a rather pleasant and injury free international break with many getting on the score sheet for their respective countries. Chelsea have been in stupendous form, yet to lose a game in their last 5 Premier league games and Frank Lampard has finally found his best XI and formation on the pitch. It is a welcome sign for Chelsea fans seeing our new signings pick up the pace alongside some familiar faces from last season who have been putting up equally great performances with their new teammates. Newcastle will no doubt be another challenge for the weekend and are usually a team clubs never underestimate. Even-though Steve Bruce’s men are currently 13th on the Premier league table, they have picked up points from both Spurs and Everton this season. Playing a classic low-block in either a 3-5-2 or a 5-4-1, they will be a tough side to break down on defence, especially at Home and It will be a tough outing for the Blues. If Chelsea manage to secure a win on Saturday, it will see Chelsea move to the top of the table for the first time this season ahead of Leicester city on goal difference.
Head to Head
Newcastle will face Chelsea for the 51st time in the Premier league era on Saturday. The magpies have won 13 games and out of these 13 wins, 12 have been at St James’ park, the recent victory coming from last season after a disappointing 0-1 outing for Chelsea. The blues have only won 7 games at St James’ park in the Premier league era with our last victory back in 2018 was off an Eden Hazard penalty and a Deandre Yedlin own goal. That victory was also Chelsea’s first win at St James’ park in over 7 years with the previous one coming back in 2011. The Blues have only won 2 of their last 8 games played away with a total of 2 wins, 2 draws and 4 losses. Historically, the statistics do not favour Chelsea at St James’ park and Newcastle will look to use it to their advantage.
Ones to Watch! – Newcastle
The former Bournemouth forward always enjoys a goal against Chelsea. He has been in impressive scoring form for Newcastle, scoring 6 in 8 games in the Premier league. Callum Wilson’s movement behind the lines and his aerial presence will be the biggest threat to Chelsea. He has taken the most shots and ranks third among aerial duels won in the Newcastle squad. Shutting down Callum Wilson should be on top of the priority list for Chelsea on Saturday.
Allan Saint – Maximin
The French forward’s dribbling prowess and technical ability on the ball will be a massive presence for Newcastle. Alongside forward Callum Wilson, Maximin was deployed by Steve Bruce as a second striker in a 3-5-2 in his last 3 games and his link up play and dribbling will pose the biggest threats to Chelsea’s defence. The forward has not had the most prolific scoring seasons with just 2 goal contributions to his name this season, but he is one who has the potential to be a game-changer for Newcastle.
Frank Lampard will travel to Newcastle without Christian Pulisic, Kai Havertz and Thiago Silva. Christian Pulisic is not fit to start after a hamstring niggle he faced in warm up two weeks back and is expected to be fit soon. Kai Havertz who was diagnosed with COVID – 19 has tested negative and has started training. However, he will not be part of the travelling squad. Thiago Silva who is fit will not be ready on time to travel to Newcastle due to travel fatigue post playing for Brazil in the international break. Timo Werner was not pictured in training after returning from international duty but is expected to start.
Newcastle have a long list of injuries with Martin Dubravka, Ryan Fraser, Paul Dummett and Dwight Gayle all nursing injuries of various degrees. It is expected that most of them will not be ready on time to face Chelsea. The biggest question of all will be the fitness of Callum Wilson, who was diagnosed with a Thigh injury before the International break. He was not pictured in any of the training pictures ahead of the game and as of now, is expected not to play vs Chelsea. Miguel Almion, like Thiago Silva is expected to be out for the game due to travel fatigue. The good news for Newcastle fans is the return of midfielder Jonjo Shelvey and Matt Ritchie who were pictured in training yesterday ahead of the game.
Expected Starting XI
Depending on the fitness of forward Callum Wilson, I expect one of Joelinton or Andy Carroll to start alongside Saint – Maximin in a 3-5-2. I expect Jonjo Shelvey to start in a midfield 5 with Sean Longstaff, Jeff Hendrick with wingbacks Jamal Lewis and Jacob Murphy. The back 3 of Jamal Lascelles, Federico Fernandez and Fabian Schar are expected to start with Karl Darlow in goal.
3-5-2 – Darlow, Lascelles, Fernandez, Schar, Shelvey, Lewis, Murphy, S. Longstaff, Hendrick, Saint – Maximin, Carroll
I expect Chelsea to line up in a 4-3-3 with two changes overall from the team that secured the victory at home to Sheffield United, Antonio Rudiger for Thiago Silva and Callum Hudson Odoi replacing one of Tammy Abraham or Timo Werner. Frank Lampard has not made too many changes to his XI this season and I expect him to field the same XI with minor changes
4-3-3 Mendy, James, Zouma, Rudiger, Chilwell, Kante, Kovacic, Mount, Ziyech, Werner, Hudson Odoi
Predictions and Final Thoughts
The biggest Achilles heel of this fixture is that Chelsea’s record hasn’t been the best historically at St James’ park. However, this might change with the current squad. Even with the absence of important squad members, i predict Chelsea to win 4-0 with goal contributions from Ben Chilwell, Timo Werner, Hakim Ziyech and Callum Hudson – Odoi. Newcastle’s defensive line face a more fluid and a revamped Chelsea attack compared to what they did last season and I don’t expect them to pose much of threat forward especially if forward Callum Wilson is not fit to start.
If Chelsea win, they will go to the top of the Premier league table for the first time this season prior to results elsewhere with 8 points and a better goal difference than the rest of the top 5. This will be an important game for Frank Lampard’s men, an opportunity they cannot afford to miss out on and I expect them to secure the top spot with a win and put pressure on the rest of the league.
Newcastle vs Chelsea
St James’ Park
Kick off – 12:30pm BST