The early kick-off sees Chelsea travel to face Newcastle United. In this fixture last season, the visitors dominated possession for long periods, but failed to make it count. Steve Bruce’s men managed to get a late winner through Isaac Hayden and it was a result that eased their relegation fears before the lockdown. They will be hoping that they can spring another surprise this weekend. During the international break, there is a growing feeling that the away side could be potential challengers for the title in this strange season. Their defensive concerns seem to be a thing of the past, but they need to win matches like this one if they are to be seen as a serious contender.
The mood around Newcastle is strange at the moment, as it often is. Supporters are unhappy at the tactics and style of play under Steve Bruce, while the mainstream media continue to praise the work that he is doing under difficult circumstances. They were considered candidates for the drop at the beginning of the season, but they have started well with 11 points from eight matches. It is a good return and following this fixture, they have a favourable run. The takeover continues to rumble on in the background, as Mike Ashley targets an escape route. The target will be survival again and a victory this weekend would put them in an extremely good position.
Chelsea have had a good start to the campaign with 15 points and they sit in 5th position. A victory this weekend should see the side move into the top four, as Leicester and Liverpool face each other. This season will be crucial for Frank Lampard’s long term future, as he needs to prove that he can successfully integrate new signings to the team. There is still room for the team to develop, but the signs are encouraging for supporters. They now need to find consistency.
Newcastle have only lost one of their last seven meetings with Chelsea at St James’ Park.
Chelsea have scored 20 Premier League goals. This is the most of any team in the division.
The Frenchman should be fully refreshed following the international break and that will only be a positive for Newcastle, especially if Callum Wilson misses out. Saint-Maximin is the key player for the home side in attack, as he is capable of producing a moment of magic to turn a game. In this fixture last season, it was his incredible cross into the box that assisted the winner for Hayden. Despite tiring towards the end of match, he managed to produce something for his team and he will be the player that worries Chelsea most. The visitors are an improving defensive side, but they do still struggle against direct attacking players. Their system often leads to a lot of space in their defensive third and there are few better at running with the ball than Newcastle’s number ten. If Steve Bruce’s side manage to dig in defensively, there could be an opportunity for the 23-year-old to win them the match.
The summer transfer window saw an array of attacking talent arrive at Stamford Bridge. The arrival of Hakim Ziyech flew somewhat under the radar. This may be due to his signing being the first one, but he has burst onto the scene following his injury. It is expected that Christian Pulisic and Kai Havertz will miss the match on Saturday, which will increase the importance of Ziyech. In the Premier League, he has already managed to contribute a goal and three assists, with a man of the match performance before the international break. He has continued his good form with Morocco, scoring three times in two international matches. Lampard will be hoping that the 27-year-old can provide consistency to the attack, due to his quality and experience. Newcastle will sit deep and look to absorb pressure, which could play to the former Ajax man’s strengths, as he has the quality to probe and create clear-cut chances. Further to this, he is incredibly dangerous from long range and the home side do allow opposition to shoot from outside the area without much pressure.
Callum Wilson and Ryan Fraser are both doubts for the home side. Jonjo Shelvey, Matt Ritchie, Dwight Gayle and Martin Dubravka are all stepping up their recoveries, but are unlikely to return this month. Miguel Almiron may not be able to start due to his involvement with Paraguay during the international break.
Kai Havertz is a doubt for the visitors, while Christian Pulisic will be certain to miss the trip to St James’ Park. Thiago Silva is unlikely to travel due to his involvement with Brazil during the international break. This could provide an opportunity to Andreas Christensen at centre-back.
It will be interesting to see the line-ups on Saturday morning. Newcastle will be hoping that Callum Wilson will be passed fit, but they should remember that they managed to win this fixture last season before their current top scorer arrived at the club. They need to show more defensively than they did in their previous meeting against Southampton. If they concede as many shots, they will lose this match, as Chelsea have the attacking quality to take advantage. This is a fixture than the visitors have struggled in during recent seasons. The home side should see this as a game they can get something from. That said, without fans in the ground, it should be easier for Chelsea to triumph.
Newcastle United 1-2 Chelsea