Newcastle United will host Chelsea at the weekend, with the home team looking to end a run of four matches without a win. This won’t be easy against an improving Blues team, who are starting to find the consistency that they have been previously lacking. They have been better away from home since the appointment of Frank Lampard and they will be confident of taking the three points at St James’ Park.
The Magpies are well placed to stay up in the division under Steve Bruce, despite some early concerns about the appointment. That said, they won’t be complacent, as they know how quickly the table can change at the bottom. The recent improvement of Watford and Southampton will have raised concern. Despite two successive home defeats in the Premier League, their form at St James’ Park has mostly been good. They will be confident that they can get something on Saturday.
Chelsea are in a fairly secure position in the top four, with Champions League qualification looking likely. That would represent a huge achievement for Lampard, with many believing he would struggle to lead them into the top four due to the transfer ban. They are also in the FA Cup and Champions League, with an opportunity to challenge for a trophy. They have yet to strengthen in the transfer window, but there have been links to one or two players. However, they need to be cautious not to upset the balance in the squad, with a number of young players thriving in the first team. Another strong performance at the weekend could see the plans to strengthen put on hold until the summer.
Miguel Almiron has now scored in three successive matches for Newcastle across all competitions.
Tammy Abraham has now scored 13 Premier League goals for Chelsea. This is the highest total managed in a single season by an Englishman since Frank Lampard, who managed the feat on three occasions.
There was a lot of hope that one goal would send Miguel Almiron into a run of good form and that has been the case. Since his first goal for Newcastle, he has scored another three times and he looks to have his confidence back in front of goal. At the time of his signing, it was hoped that he would add cutting edge to the Newcastle attack, as he had been a class above in the MLS. There were doubts starting to surface, but his recent goals against Rochdale and Wolves have shown his quality in the final third. The Magpies will look to play on the counter attack against Chelsea, therefore the pace and final ball of Almiron will be vital. He is the one player that looks capable of causing problems for Premier League defences on a regular basis. The visitors have been susceptible to leaving spaces in their own half for opposition teams to take advantage of. Lampard will be worried about the form of the Paraguayan, who could once again be on the score sheet.
The recent injury to Christian Pulisic has created an opening for Callum Hudson-Odoi. It was hoped that he would be the star of the next generation at Stamford Bridge, following his performances last season. Although he wasn’t given a run in the team, he always looked threatening as a substitute and there were calls for Maurizio Sarri to give him an extended run in the team. Injury prevented him from making an immediate impact under Lampard, but his progress since returning has been slow. He now has an opportunity to secure a regular starting position in the team and his performance against Burnley was encouraging. The England international scored his first Premier League goal for the club, which maintained his impressive record at Stamford Bridge in terms of goal contributions. However, he needs to prove himself on the road and this could be a great opportunity to do that. Newcastle will give him time and space on the ball, with the aim of keeping men behind the ball. Hudson-Odoi has the ability to beat one or two men, which could be key to creating big chances for his side on Saturday.
Jamaal Lascelles will be fit to return to the starting eleven in the Premier League. Allan Saint-Maximin is closing in on a return and could start on the bench. Fabian Schar, Yoshinori Muto and Ki Sung-Yueng are all doubts for the home side. Paul Dummett and Dwight Gayle miss out.
It is hoped that Christian Pulisic will return before the end of the month, but this weekend will come too soon. Marcos Alonso could return, while N’Golo Kante is a doubt.
This will be a big test for Chelsea, who have struggled to break down teams that sit deep. They only managed to win the first fixture between the clubs by a 1-0 score line. They are usually better away from home and Lampard will be confident that recent performances can be maintained to pick up the three points here. Newcastle usually increase their performance levels against the better teams, with Manchester United and Manchester City both failing to win at St James’ Park this season.
Newcastle United 1-2 Chelsea