Newcastle United vs Chelsea
Venue: St James Park
Referee: Martin Atkinson
Despite a recent resurgence, a midweek draw against Huddersfield Town has left Chelsea on the brink of the Europa League next campaign.
The dropped points mean that the Blue’s will have to hope Liverpool lose to Brighton, to have any chance of returning to the Champions League. Even if the unlikely occurs, only three points at St James Park will do.
In contrast, Newcastle have suffered a slump in form since amassing the sacred 40 point mark. Their first half against Watford displayed an appalling lack of professionalism and Ayoze Perez himself admitted that Newcastle looked as if they “were on holiday”. A greatly improved second 45 minutes followed, however that will not be enough against a side of Chelsea’s calibre. Benitez’s focus will be ending the season on a high, but Antonio Conte’s men will do everything they can to secure a seat amongst Europe’s elite.
This indifferent campaign will be quickly forgotten by Blue’s supporters, their Premier League displays have been characterised by inconsistency and a failure to reproduce the heights of last season. All this has led to intense speculation about Conte’s future and regardless of which European competition they line up in next term, few would be surprised to see the Italian leave Stanford Bridge.
For the hosts, both Jesus Gamez and Christian Atsu remain injured and will not feature. Slimani, on loan from Leicester, will also play no part in the game due to suspension.
Conte’s decision to drop Hazard and Giroud for the game against Huddersfield Town backfired spectacularly, so expect to see a full strength line up this Sunday. Courtois has just returned from injury and will likely be rested due to a lack of match fitness. Whereas David Luiz and Drinkwater remain side-lined.
Newcastle: Dubravka; Yedlin, Lascelles, Lejeune, Dummet; Diame, Shelvey; Ritchie, Perez, Gayle; Joselu.
Chelsea: Caballero; Moses, Azpilicueta, Cahill, Rudiger, Alonso; Fabregas, Bakayoko; Hazard, Giroud.
Newcastle 1 – 2 Chelsea
Written by Harvey Sayer.