Newcastle will be looking for redemption when they welcome high-flying Chelsea to St. James’ Park, barely three days after hosting Premier League favourites Manchester City in a match where they pushed the former league champions to the wire before eventually going down 2-0 in extra time.
Newcastle definitely gave a good account of themselves in that aforementioned Capital One Cup clash and manager Alan Pardew will be hoping that they have finally began to turn the tide after a run of just one win and three losses in their last five league games.
The Magpies currently find themselves 11th in the league standings, partly due to their woeful home form which has seen them pick up just one win in four league matches this season. The goals have also dried up somewhat in recent weeks, with Newcastle only scoring five goals in four home games.
In sharp contrast, Saturday's opposition arrive on the back of six straight wins in all competitions, with away wins over Schalke and Arsenal and a home win over Manchester City achieved in recent weeks.
One would therefore argue that this may be the wrong time for Newcastle to take on the blue juggernaut that is Chelsea, but a few facts make this game not as straightforward as one would think.
Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho is still looking for his first league win at Newcastle, having drawn twice and lost once during his first spell as manager. Chelsea’s away form has also been erratic to say the least, with just one away win in the league this season.
They also are not as free-scoring on their travels as they are at the Bridge as they have managed just four goals in four away matches. The head-to-head record is a dead-heat between these two sides, with both winning two games and drawing twice in their last six meetings. All indications therefore point to a tight match.
Mourinho will be the happier of the two managers as his side have come through a gruelling run of fixtures with only the long-term injury of Marco van Ginkel to report.
Pardew, however, has a defensive injury crisis to sort out as he faces the prospect of being without up to six defenders for the crunch tie. Paul Dummett limped off with a hamstring strain against City on Wednesday and he joins Massadio Haidara (hamstring), Ryan Taylor (knee), Fabricio Coloccini (groin), Steven Taylor (hamstring) and Jonas Gutierrez on the treatment table.
Neither manager is likely to start with players who were involved in midweek action, so the likes of Yoan Gouffran, Vernon Anita and Shola Ameobi may be rested for this one. Mourinho made no less than ten changes to his lineup against Arsenal in midweek, so he is likely to revert to the same 11 that played against Manchester City last Sunday.
Predicted Starting XI:
Newcastle: T. Krul- M. Debuchy, M. Williamson, M. Yanga-Mbiwa, D. Santon- c. Tiote, Y. Cabaye- L. Remy, M. Sissoko, H. Ben Arfa- P. Cisse.
Chelsea: P. Cech- B. Ivanovic, J. Terry, G. Cahill, A. Cole- Ramires, F. Lampard- A. Schurrle, Oscar, E. Hazard- F. Torres.
Fernando Torres in particular has looked like a striker reborn in recent weeks and, with three goals in his last two games, will be looking to claim another scalp and lift his side to the top of the league - temporarily at least.
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