This weekend sees an interesting match up with two sides who have underperformed this season, coming head-to-head at Stamford Bridge. They are both in the bottom half, which will be a huge disappointment, especially for Chelsea, who are defending champions of the Premier League. All season, everybody has expected Chelsea to turn things around and start to climb the table, but that hasn’t happened, not even after the managerial change. Meanwhile Newcastle have tried to fix their problems in a different way, after spending the most money in the January transfer window.
Chelsea are in an incredibly low position of 13th and a bottom half finish looks to be a genuine possibility. Their fall has been unprecedented in Premier League history and big questions will be facing the club this summer. They need to make the right managerial appointment and the right signings to move the club forward. Roman Abramovich won’t accept another season without Champions League football, and the competitiveness of the upper echelons of the league make that a genuine possibility, unless the correct decisions are made over the summer. They will want to overhaul their squad, which has gone stale over the last few months.
Their opposition this weekend is Newcastle United, who are facing a second successive relegation battle, despite having aims of a top eight finish at the start of the campaign. They have been very unlucky, but they need to start converting performances into points, as there is a huge risk of them going down unless they start to take their chances in front of goal. Last weekend, they managed a tight 1-0 win over a poor West Brom side, and truthfully the club should have scored a lot more. The January signings look like they have galvanised the club, but the next few months are crucial and the club must maintain their Premier League status.
In the earlier meeting this season, the two sides drew 2-2, after Newcastle surrendered a two-goal lead. Their goals were scored by Ayoze Perez and Gini Wijnaldum. Meanwhile the Chelsea goals were scored by Ramires and Willian. In this fixture last season, Chelsea won 2-0, with goals from Oscar and Diego Costa.
Chelsea are unbeaten in nine league games under Guus Hiddink, but they have only won three of those.
Last weekend’s clean sheet was the club’s first since the start of December. They need to start keeping more clean sheets in order to give their attack a platform to fire the team to safety.
Diego Costa has been a real positive for Chelsea over recent weeks and looks to be returning to the kind of form that he showed at the beginning of his Blues’ career. He has scored six league goals since Guus Hiddink took over at Stamford Bridge and is proving that he is still one of the league’s top forwards. His competitive side can lead him astray at times, but Hiddink has been a positive influence and the next Chelsea manager should have a fit and firing Diego Costa at the beginning of next season. He is certainly a player who should be part of the club’s long term future as he is set to peak in the coming years and should be a central figure in trying to get Chelsea back to the top of the table. Newcastle have a lot of defensive injuries, and that means that the in form Costa will be a worry for them. If Costa plays as well as we know he can, he could bully Newcastle and increase the relegation fears on Tyneside.
Andros Townsend was one of the big name signings to arrive at Newcastle over the last month and he was superb on his home debut against West Brom. Townsend was direct and tried to beat his man, which is something Newcastle have lacked on the wings this season. He displayed an impressive crossing ability and was unlucky not to open his Newcastle account as he saw his right footed strike hit the post. Townsend is a much maligned figure in English football as many think he has been lucky to be included in recent England squads. His career at Spurs finished on a sour note as he was playing with the U21 squad, but his professionalism and his desire to stay match fit is now a huge positive for Newcastle. Branislav Ivanovic has been poor this season and he won’t be looking forward to trying to deal with Townsend’s pace this weekend.
Loic Remy could return to the squad this weekend and could feature against his former club. Kurt Zouma will be missing for the remainder of the campaign, which means Gary Cahill will start this weekend.
Daryl Janmaat, Jack Colback and Siem de Jong could all be back in the matchday squad this weekend. Paul Dummett is a doubt, which means Rolando Aarons could continue at left back. Vurnon Anita, Kevin Mbabu and Chancel Mbemba are still a few weeks away from returning to the side.
It will be an interesting game, as neither side has looked capable of easily winning matches this season. Newcastle have been a very poor side away from home and need to change their fortunes on the road, as they don’t want to be relying too much on their home form. Chelsea may have one eye on their Champions League tie with PSG, as that is their one chance of saving their season and ensuring they don’t miss out on a year of Champions League football. It will be tough, but Chelsea have nothing to lose, therefore they may play a weaker side against Newcastle. I think it will be a home win, but it won’t be convincing.
Chelsea 2-1 Newcastle