Chelsea vs Newcastle United
Date: Saturday 2nd December
Venue: Stamford Bridge
TV: Sky Sports Main Event
Chelsea host Newcastle United in the 12.30pm kick-off on Saturday at Stamford Bridge.
This fixture sees Rafa Benitez return to the Bridge for the first time since leaving the club in 2013, however he will be concerned heading into this fixture given his Newcastle side have only collected 1 point in their past five league games. Chelsea meanwhile have collected 13 out of 15 points in this time, keeping 4 clean sheets in the process. Rafa will be hoping that he can turn Newcastle’s fortunes around against his old team.
With a crucial Champions League fixture on Tuesday and a busy upcoming Christmas schedule, Conte may opt to rest some key players in this game. A 3-4-3 formation is likely in that case as the Italian could decide to rest either one of Hazard or Morata. The key question will be whether David Luiz returns to the squad after Chelsea’s impressive defensive record in the league since his omission from the side. With Azpilicueta back fit, he will likely start with Cahill, and then the battle for the third centre back slot will be between Rudiger, Luiz and the young starlet Christensen.Embed from Getty Images
In the past Benitez has been the victor against Conte, however this was with a side blessed with the talents of Gonzalo Higuain and Marek Hamsik when at Napoli. This will certainly be a much tougher battle, with Newcastle currently lacking defensive structure as they have conceded 9 goals in their past 3 games. After recording a point in their last game with a 4-2-3-1 formation, and in turn halting a run of four losses, the manager will likely choose this same shape. Unfortunately, Newcastle won’t be able to call on Jamaal Lascelles to captain the side as he is still out injured, and so last game’s goal scorer, Ciaran Clark, will be looking to build on his assured display in Lascelles’ absence in order to mitigate Chelsea’s attacking threat.Embed from Getty Images
Sides have struggled to breakdown Chelsea in recent weeks, and so Newcastle will need to hope Ritchie is on his game as the creative force, looking for the winger to add to his five assists this season – a joint-fourth best record for the league. However, finding an ideal outlet to lead the line for the Magpies has proven difficult, and so they will need to decide on whether to attack Chelsea with pace through Dwight Gayle, or operate with a target man in the form of either Mitrovic or Joselu.
Prediction: Chelsea 2 Newcastle United 0
Written by Theo Atherton-Green.