Newcastle United travel to Stamford Bridge on Saturday to take on Chelsea for the second time this season. The Blues head into the game on the back of a fantastic 1-0 win away to Manchester City on Monday night. This result has given Blue’s fans confidence that their team will kick on in the coming months and really challenge Manchester City and Arsenal for the title. Newcastle go into the game having lost their last fixture to their Wearside rivals Sunderland 3-0. There is a lot of negativity on Tyneside at the moment with the departure of Yohan Cabaye and Newcastle’s failure to find a replacement. Joe Kinnear has departed the club this week and with no signings in January, Newcastle will have to cope with the players they have got.
Chelsea do not have any new injury problems going into Saturday’s game. Marco Van Ginkel is still out for the foreseeable future with an ACL knee injury. Fernando Torres should return after a knee injury that his kept him out since Chelsea’s win against Liverpool. Newcastle have a number of injury problems ahead of the fixture. Check Tiote is out with a knock and will miss the fixture. Gael Bigirimana (Ankle). Fabricio Coloccini (Knee), Ryan Taylor (Knee) and Papiss Cisse (Back) are all out of the game. Yoan Gouffran and Gabriel Obertan should both be fit enough to return to action after muscle and knee injuries respectively.
When the two teams met earlier in the season, Newcastle won 2-0 thanks from goals to Yoan Gouffran and Loic Remy. The Magpies also won the previous fixture between the team 3-2, making them unbeaten in their last two games against the Blues. In fact, Newcastle have won three of their last four games against Chelsea, and have only lost in two of their last seven league games against them. Chelsea’s last two defeats against Newcastle are the first time they have lost back to back games against them in the Premier League era. Jose has Mourinho has never won an away league game against Newcastle, but he has won all three of his home fixtures against them. Chelsea have only lost one game at home to Newcastle in the Premier League.
Eden Hazard has improved on his performances from last season to become Chelsea’s talisman. The Belgian has nine goals, already equalling his tally last season, and has provided five assists for his teammates. Hazard’s increased defensive work rate is what many have noticed under Mourinho. The winger has been willing to get back and help his team defensively, something that is important for the modern winger. Hazard has had the license to express himself in the final third, and has completed 92 of 150 dribbles compared to 62 of 128 in the whole of last season. With Chelsea’s strikers not scoring as many goals as expected, Hazard is Chelsea’s top scorer. Hazard has scored once in his two games against Newcastle, and he will hope to get on the score sheet again on Saturday.
Yoan Gouffran has had a good second season so for Newcastle this season. The forward has managed six goals as well as three assists from his eighteen starts this season. With Loic Remy suspended and Yohan Cabye gone to PSG, Gouffran is the Magpies highest scorer of their available players for the game. The goal scoring burden may therefore fall to him and although he is just returning from injury, Alan Pardew will want him to make a big contribution. Gouffran was able to get on the score sheet when Newcastle beat Chelsea earlier on in the season. If he is able to do so again, he will give his side a good chance of taking something away from Stamford Bridge. Gouffran still holds hopes of going to the World Cup for France, and a good performance against Chelsea could catch Didier Deschamps eye.
With only one win at Stamford Bridge in the Premier League and the mood at the club after last week’s derby defeat, it is hard to see Newcastle coming away with anything from Stamford Bridge. Chelsea will be full of confidence after their win against City, and they will believe that they can get all three points. Newcastle will struggle to create chances with Cabaye, so any chances that they get will need to be taken in order to get something in this game. I find it hard not to predict a Chelsea victory for this game. A 2-0 Chelsea win is my prediction for this fixture.