Newcastle United Vs Chelsea
St. James’ Park
3:00 pm (GMT)
Newcastle United play hosts to visitors Chelsea in a Freezing February match with both teams looking to get back on track with their separate Premier League goals in mind. Last time these two met was back in late August at Stamford Bridge; Chelsea came up with a blistering 2-0 win. Ever since then, both teams have upgraded their roster and will face off in all out fierce competition. The Blues have to maintain their 3rd position for the remaining length of the season to guarantee a spot selection for the UEFA Champions League. The Magpies on the other hand are currently placed 15th in the table and are a target for relegation. Needless to say, both managers will look to snatch up those 3 magical points, potentially setting the tone for the coming weeks.
The January Transfer Window has officially closed. It’s now that point in the season for managers to start making good use of their spendings and profit from results. One of the few managers who have shown constant activity in the transfer market negotiations is Magpies boss, Alan Pardew. A surprising aspect to ponder over is that all his signings are French. A plus point however is that three of his new additions (Debuchy, Goufrann, Sissoko) have impressed fans with their brilliant display against Aston Villa (1-2 win) a couple of days back. Pardew said: “I don’t think we would have won that game if we hadn’t signed Sissoko. That is how important that signing was.” He added: “He did really well to get that deal over the line in time. I thought he was magnificent and will be a superb player for us. We were superb in the first half, as good as we have been all year, and he played a big part in that. I envisage him playing in a role where he can use his energy and power. I don’t want to compare him to anybody but he can play all three roles in that midfield.”
Speaking about Chelsea’s new member Demba Ba; he’s been absolutely instrumental in achieving team wins ever since he made the 7.5 million pounds move from Newcastle United. He’s excited to face his former club and hopes to get the nod ahead of Fernando Torres. “He’s quite confident that he can do well if he plays,” Sky Sports News quotes Benitez as saying. “He’s training well. He’s a professional. He knows that some fans will not be happy, but some fans will understand the situation and he’s ready to do his best for the team.” Before taking up the Blues jersey, Demba Ba scored 29 goals in 54 league matches for the Magpies, a standard which he should match while he’s at Chelsea.
The Magpies currently have reorganized and replaced players to complete a totally refined squad. Little changes other than Ba’s move have been made by Benitez. Turning to the technical aspect, defense has always been the negative factor for both teams. Fatigue has largely affected Alan Pardew’s newly signed French players as they’re settling down to English football. Newcastle should focus on tightening up the back four, which could close down big gaps and prove to be a large obstacle for Chelsea’s forward attack. Without Cech, Chelsea has fallen into a defensive pitfall. After making impressive displays up front, lower teams have been able to breach the defensive wall and turn the match around. 17th placed Reading tied the match in the closing minutes against Chelsea a few days back. Unless Benitez makes a couple of changes to his tactics, we can expect the unexpected.
The Magpies confirm that Sylvain Marveaux will return to the squad. Despite that, star defender Hatem Ben Arfa will continue to miss the action due to a hamstring injury. Cheick Tiote will also be on the no-go list as he is on international duty for Ivory Coast in the Africa Cup of Nations.
Chelsea are hoping to get the green signal for Petr Cech to return to his keeping responsibilities. He has missed out a couple of matches due to groin injury. A number of draws in recent encounters has prompted the anxiety levels of interim manager Rafa Benitez to get him back to starting XI as soon as possible. After being benched in a disappointing draw to Reading, Terry will get back on the pitch and increase their defensive power.
Newcastle United: Krul, Debuchy, S. Taylor, Coloccini, Santon, Perch, Cabaye, Gouffran, Sissoko, Gutierrez, Cisse
Chelsea: Cech, Ivanovic, Terry, Cahill, Cole, Mata, Ramires, Lampard, Oscar, Bertrand, Ba
Recent Form (All Competitions):
Newcastle United: LLLDLW
- Newcastle have won just one of their last 11 Premier League games against Chelsea (W1 D4 L6).
- Chelsea have won three and lost none of their last five Premier League trips to St James Park and have conceded just one goal across those five games.
- Newcastle have lost five of their last seven Premier League games on home soil (W2 L5).
- No player has scored more Premier League goals from outside the box since August 2011 than Yohan Cabaye (5).
- Newcastle have played eight different French players in the Premier League this season – more than any other side in the history of the competition.
- Chelsea have scored the first goal of the game on more occasions than any other Premier League side this season (16).
- Juan Mata has been involved in 18 goals (nine goals, nine assists) in 19 PL starts for Chelsea this season.
- Frank Lampard has scored nine goals in 11 starts for Chelsea in the Premier League this season.
- Newcastle have scored only once from a corner this season, fewer times than any other side.
- Rafa Benitez has taken two points fewer (22) from his 12 Premier League games this season than Roberto Di Matteo did from his (24).
Prediction: Newcastle United 1 – 3 Chelsea