Chelsea have been the main story in the football world this week, as Roman Abramovich has faced sanctions due to the conflict in Eastern Europe. They welcome Newcastle United to Stamford Bridge this weekend. It will be one of the final matches with a full Stamford Bridge for a while, as tickets have already been sold for the fixture. It should be a great match to watch for the neutral as the visitors are in great form. Relegation know feels like a distant worry for Eddie Howe, as they have climbed up the table.
For the Blues, there is relatively little left to play for in the Premier League. They will be travelling to Lille during the week and Thomas Tuchel could have one eye on that fixture. Although Chelsea do have a two-goal lead in the Champions League, they won’t want to take any chances in that game and there could be a decision to rest key players for the trip to France. The focus from the media will be on the off field matters, but the team will be fully focused on the matches ahead. It will be interesting to see what the mood of the stadium is like on Sunday.
It has been an incredible turnaround from Newcastle United this season. At Christmas, it looked like it would be incredibly difficult to stay up, even if signings were made in January. They had only won one match and were anchored in the relegation zone. However, it has been quite some recovery in 2022. Newcastle have yet to taste defeat in the Premier League this calendar year and they will go to Stamford Bridge with every intention of winning the game. The confidence will be sky high at St James’ Park and they will be a dangerous opponent for Chelsea.
Although Chelsea are unbeaten in their last nine home Premier League matches, they have only won four of their last ten at Stamford Bridge.
In 2022, only Liverpool have won more Premier League points than Newcastle United.
It has been an excellent start to the calendar year for Kai Havertz. The German was seen as an exciting signing in 2022 and he is now beginning to establish himself in the starting eleven for Chelsea. He has managed to secure the starting berth as the centre forward, with Romelu Lukaku restricted to cameo appearances. During the last two matches, he has scored three goals and grabbed one assist, showing the confidence that is coursing through his game at the moment. It remains to be seen if he is rested for the Champions League, but if he does start, he is Chelsea’s biggest goal threat. Newcastle have been improved in recent weeks, but they remain a bottom half side. Havertz will see this as an opportunity to continue his great form.
The Brazilian was considered the biggest signing made by Newcastle during the transfer window. It has taken him some time to break into the team. However, he made his first start on Thursday and it was clear that he was a cut above the majority of players on the pitch. Guimaraes has the potential to star in the Champions League and it was a coup for Newcastle to sign him. Against Southampton, he scored the winning goal with an audacious back heeled volley after a Dan Burn knockdown. He wasn’t signed for his goal-scoring abilities though and he was dictating play until he was taken off with cramp. It was a performance that will have whetted the appetite for Newcastle supporters to see more of him. This is a chance to show his quality against the current European champions.
Reece James remains on the sidelines, but it is hoped he will be back sooner rather than later. Christian Pulisic and Cesar Azpilicueta are both doubts with illness. There will be rotation for this game, as Tuchel will see Lille as the bigger priority.
Joelinton could be back after sitting out of the Southampton game with a groin issue. Allan Saint-Maximin is a doubt with a bout of illness. Fabian Schar is another doubt for the weekend. Howe may choose to rotate his team, with another fixture against Everton during the week.
This could be one of the most exciting matches of the weekend, as Newcastle are in great form and Chelsea may have one eye on the Lille game. Chelsea are still an excellent team and it will be the biggest challenge Newcastle have faced in 2022. If the visitors manage to get a result on Sunday, it will make another statement. A lot depends on the team selections. The home side are rightly favourites, but they have drawn five of their last nine at home. Another could be coming this weekend.
Chelsea 1-1 Newcastle United