Newcastle v Chelsea – Premier League match preview

Chelsea travel to St James' Park
This weekend the Mighty Magpies are at home taking on Russian Oligarch backed Chelsea as the battle for 4th place hots up.

Our boys should not go into this game fearing an ageing Chelsea side that once brushed aside all that stood in their way. Granted they still have astounding quality amongst their ranks, but Newcastle are a compact, well drilled unit these days with pace and flair to match. We are not ahead of them in this years league standings by fluke. Put simply, this is a game we can win.

This game will begin with a sombre mood following the untimely death of Toon Legend Gary Speed and we can expect emotional scenes and a fitting tribute prior to kick off, hopefully followed by an excellent driven Toon performance in Speedo’s honour. He played his part in three home league wins against the Blues, scoring in a 3-1 win on 2nd May 1998. Speed’s passing has hit the footballing community hard and the man will be missed and I’m sure the fans will give him a great ovation as they pay their respects. Rest In Peace.

Newcastle United:

Sylvain Marveaux (groin) is out until after the New Year. Mike Williamson is claiming to be on course to make a first-team return for the Christmas fixture list, however I have my doubts over whether he will be fit enough and whether he’ll get a look in during such a crucial period of games before we face Liverppol away and Manchester United at home in the New Year.

Leon Best (groin) should be included in the squad whilst there remains a bit of confusion surrounding Cheik Tiote’s knee injury, which has now turned into a groin injury and he misses out. Hopefully it just a minor setback and he will be available for Norwich as he sits out against the team strongly tipped to have an agreement in place to sign our midfield battler in January for somewhere in the region of £22m. Following Jonas Gutierrez’ dismissal for two yellow cards at Old Trafford, he will be serving an automatic one game ban. Steve Harper is back from his loan spell with Brighton and fights Rob Elliot for a place on the bench.

Squad From: Tim Krul, Steve Harper, Rob Elliot, Ryan Taylor, Shane Ferguson, Davide Santon, James Perch, Fabricio Coloccini, Steven Taylor, Danny Simpson, Sammy Ameobi, Danny Guthrie, Alan Smith, Yohan Cabaye, Hatem Ben Arfa, Dan Gosling, Gabriel Obertan, Haris Vukic, Shola Ameobi, Peter Lovenkrands, Leon Best, Demba Ba.


Backup goalkeeper Hilario is touch and go as he battles to overcome the effects of man flu. Michael Essien (ACL) will not feature for the rest of 2011. Captain John Terry will play after ensuring his booking against Wolves resulted in a ban for the midweek Cup game against Liverpool as opposed to us. Josh McEachran picked up an ankle injury in the midweek loss to Liverpool and is doubtful.

Squad From: Petr Cech, Hilario, Ross Turnbull, Ashley Cole, Jose Bosingwa, John Terry, Alex, David Luiz, Branislav Ivanovic, Juan Mata, Florent Malouda, Frank Lampard, Ramirez, John Obi Mikel, Raul Meireles, Oriol Romeu, Josh McEachran, Fernando Torres, Dider Drogba, Nicolas Anelka, Romelu Lukaku, Daniel Sturridge, Solomon Kalou.

Shamrock’s top 10 really interesting facts and stats:

1 – The Toon have hosted Chelsea in the league 66 times, winning 34 and drawing 17 times.

2 – More recently, home ties have been fairly even. With Newcastle and Chelsea each winning 3 from the last 10 league fixtures.

3 – Chelsea’s increasing age is seeing them get a bit slow and dirty. They are this season’s most booked side with 32 yellow cards and three straight reds. John Terry and Ashley Cole each have five bookings already, only one behind the league’s unfairest player – Blackburn’s Steven Nzonzi. Newcastle have a total of 26 cards.

4 – Chelsea are very good at keeping the ball, with more successful passes (5960) than anybody. We only have 3413. Not only that, but Chelsea have had more shots on target (82) than us (54) and more goals with 28 to our 19.

5 – That said, we have only conceded 12 to their 17. As a result of defensive sturdiness, we have lost only one league match this season as opposed to Chelsea’s four resulting in 26 points for us against Chelsea’s 25 – both having played 13 times.

6 – The Magpies have won each of the seven league games they have scored first in this season.

7 – Chelsea Captain John Terry is expected to make his 500th start for the club he has represented since he was a trainee.

8 – Shola Ameobi is still searching for his 50th league goal, whilst Demba Ba will be hoping to make it 17 goals in 25 Premier League appearances. If Ryan Taylor finds the back of the Chelsea net, it will be his 10th in our colours.

9 – Newcastle first hosted Chelsea in a league match on September 14th 1907 at St James’ Park in the Football League Division 1. The result was 1-0 to the the Magpies in front of a crowd of 35,000. Our line up was Lawrence, McCracken, McCombie, Gardner, Speedie, McWilliam, Veitch, Howie, Appleyard, Gosnell and Orr – the latter providing the match winner.

10 – Ronald Orr was born in Scotland in 1880. He played for Newcastle for seven years, winning two league titles (1905 and 1907) as well as representing us in the FA Cup Final of 1906 – a game we would lose. He eventually moved on to play for Liverpool in a transfer worth a staggering £350! He was one of our all time greats, scoring 70 goals in 180 appearances.

Team selection and tactical thoughts:

Before we discuss tactics, I want to look a little more closely at the Blues midfield and lack of defensive bite.

So Cheik Tiote is being linked with a January move to Chelsea and some sources are even going as far as claiming a £22m deal has been done on the quiet. This speculation has come about partly because the press love to stir it up about Newcastle United, but also partly because Chelsea are lacking genuine bite in midfield and Tiote would fit the bill perfectly. Looking at the Blues squad, their defensive frailties instantly spring to mind.

In the absence of their box-to-box goliath Michael Essien, Raul Meireles is the closest thing Chelsea have to a defensive midfielder. He can handle the role effectively enough, but is more of an attack minded general midfielder whose versatility means he does not mind trying his hand out on the right. He is a fine passer of the ball and an excellent finisher, who can do a bit of everything but I would not class him as the most committed or accomplished of defensive players. If you put him in the defensive ‘hole’, he will stray off more often than Tiger Woods and Jude Law put together.

Mikel John Obi meanwhile has quite frankly been destroyed by the West London club. A few years back he played in the World Youth Cup and made huge waves across the globe with his fast feet and attacking flare. Manchester United scrambled for his signature and thought they had it until Chelsea and their dodgy Russian mobsters did a bit of underhand dealing to pull off a ‘coup’ and avoid Court action by paying United off. Unfortunately for Chelski, they never really knew how to develop young attacking talent and instead tried to make him a defensive midfielder. They failed miserably and he now represents some kind of half boy, half Mourinho-esque Rottweiler that in fact is as scary looking and effective at keeping guard as that lost looking puppy from the Andrex ads.

Florent Malouda and JuanMata are attacking wingers, Frank Lampard will not hold himself in his own half for long and Ramires is pretty much the same. What we can learn from this, is that Chelsea know they cannot afford to sit back and let the attacks happen. They will look to play in our half and keep the pressure on.

In order to do this, Chelsea will likely play with a high defensive line. Cole on the left, Ivanovic or Bosingwa on the right and Terry in the middle alongside David Luiz. Luiz is exceptional on the ball, but when put under pressure he is prone to the odd crazy rash tackle. Putting pressure on him is where we will find the breakthough in the middle. Why they don’t play Luiz in the holding midfielder role I don’t know…

They will probably set out with some form of a 4-3-3, utilising a holding midfielder (Meireles or Mikel) with Lampard and Ramires in the centre. Mata will be an advanced wide left winger, given licence to link up with the forwards (Torres or Drogba) whilst Sturridge will likely start as a wide right forward come winger. This allows them fluidity up front, making it difficult for our defenders to track them, especially when you consider Lampard and Ramirez will not hesitate to take advantage of any stray balls around the edge of the box.

Naturally, this means Torres can sit on the shoulder of our central defenders whilst Lampard/Mata/Sturridge cause havoc behind him and he can turn on the pace in an instant to get himself through for a one on one situation – the Blues are slowly realising this is how he plays best and at £50m, they need to start getting the best out of him.

We will need a midfield anchor to help combat this, but as we normally do this anyway I won’t dwell on it. We are comfortable with that. Where Chelsea let themselves down is their reluctance to be disciplined as a team defensively. John Terry does an exceptional job organising those around and in front of him, but they don’t make it easy for him and their manager has to take responsibility for this. He knowingly sacrifices defensive stability in the pursuit of attacking prowess, allowing his full backs to get forward often and their ‘anchor’ to swap with either Lampard or Ramires during passing passages of play. This means that for a good third of their time in possession they have a midfielder in the holding role that cannot tackle and their full backs so advanced that a quick counter and change of pace from Obertan or Ben Arfa and they are left for dead.

I’m not suggesting we should be sitting back and looking to counter as a game plan for a moment. Our boys have enough about them to approach this game in the same manner as any other game. Yes Chelsea are dangerous moving forward, but we are good defensively and Sammy Ameobi (who I expect to play on the left as a straight swap for the banned Gutierrez), Ben Arfa and Obertan are all looking sharper and more dangerous with every game they play. With the likes of Yohan Cabaye sitting back spraying the ball around alongside a rejuvenated Danny Guthrie I can see our own attacking midfielders causing real problems sneaking in behind committed and advanced Chelsea full backs and using Ba’s harassing and physical approach to unsettle Terry and his central partner, much in the same way Shane Long did when they played West Brom.

Essentially it’s a case of defending in numbers when Chelsea get on the ball in our half, but always ensuring the likes of Obertan or Ben Arfa are available in an advanced position to use as an outlet for a quick counter. However when we are on the ball we should be looking to relentlessly attack and I am certain we will find a way through.

This is set for an entertaining game with plenty of heart in mouth moments, which I believe comes down to desire. Our boys have looked hungrier than Chelsea all season on all fronts and there is no reason they cannot claim all three points for this one.


Taking the reigns for this one is Wirral based Mike Dean. He has been taking charge of games for almost 30 years and has been a Select Group Referee since 2000. He has also been a Fourth Official in a FA Cup Final and was added to the FIFA list in 2003. Dean has also directly taken charge of the FA Cup Final as well as the Championship Playoff Final and more recently – the Carling Cup Final. He has been involved in European football, domestically and Internationally. This bloke is vastly experienced. His biggest fan is most definitely not Alex Ferguson after Man Utd lost at home to Chelsea in April last year, or the Cardiff fan who split his head open during a coin throwing incident in 2009.

He has been in charge at St James’ Park 14 times. We have won nine and drawn three of those including a 5-0 win over West Ham in January this year, so his appointment is certainly not a bad omen for us! As far as I can tell, this is the first time he has ever officiated a game between Chelsea and ourselves.

Final Thoughts:

This is a game our current side can win. Chelsea are not as impressive or consistent as they used to be and questions are being asked about their young manager Andre Villas-Boas despite him barely having gotten his suitcase unpacked!

Chelsea played on Tuesday in a Carling Cup loss to Liverpool, heaping more pressure on their boss and no doubt hitting morale a little bit harder. However, it was largely a Reserves team they put out with only Torres, Lampard, Bosingwa and David Luiz likely to play a full match twice inside a week. As a result, Chelsea cannot claim to have tired legs going into this fixture. This should come down to whoever wants it more and I believe our group of players are hungrier, with much more to prove. Add the pure emotion, desire and fight our lads should display in memory of the late great and consummate professional, Gary Speed and I believe we can pull this off. 3-2 to the Toon.

Venue: St. James’ Park
Kick Off: 12:45 Saturday 3rd December 2011
Referee: Mike Dean

About Shamrock

Like everyone here, support Newcastle United. Not the easiest side to feel good about at times, but it's our side!

47 thoughts on “Newcastle v Chelsea – Premier League match preview

  1. Once again, great preview Shamrock 🙂

    No doubt Chelsea can be got at, especially if they play a high line again. But it’s been pointed out numerous times so I wonder if they’ll adapt their game?

    On the flipside of that, if they do it reduces numbers going forwards so it might chill their attacking beans a bit 😕


  2. On a different note perhaps its good tiote is injured maybe it will cool interest in him? Who knows. We have bought injured players. Hope he is fit soon.
    I just hope its not part of a plan to sell him so he has to be fit to join his new club!


  3. i think we will batter chelsea, thats the truth. i also think that Tiote will be sold against his wishes in January to either chelski or manure. They are both gagging for a mid fleld enforcer, fergie is 100% on the look out.
    3-1 the toon


  4. tooneye……… why do you think Yiote is out injured? Just because it is said so? To me its just as plausable that his move away is already a done deal and we wont see him on the pitch again in black and white.


  5. Craig – I do think he might be sold, but against his wishes? Really? I still don’t buy that…

    Why is Alan Smith still here if players can be forced out against their wishes?


  6. @ craig chisholm

    I seriously hope that is not the case. Just when I was feeling that all was good at the Toon. It wont be unexpected, but very dissapointing. How are we to compete each year with a squad that changes every season, selling and then buying hoping that the new players fit in straight away to get results.


  7. Good write up, got us down to win 3-1 😯 in the predictor league so I guess I’ll have to stick with that. It should be noted that I’m doing crap in the league lately though I did have us down for a draw v Manure 😉


  8. Good job Shamrock your a dab hand at this blogging game.
    I think we’ll take all 3pts from Chelski, but it will be a tough game.

    Toonsy I seen the rant Wanky ticket had about MA / DL having plants posting on his blog lol what a ****ing idiot.
    I also seen him have a go at jimbob for not having the time to write a blog 😯 saying he would have to do it himsel, what does he expect he was the one that got all the donation money and paid his bills with it 😆 .


  9. I will say this. AP wont be trusted ever again if he says tiote is injured and going to be out for a while without any major complications, ie not requiring surgery, then is sold fit in January.

    I would rather hear the truth asap instead of lies and deceit from the manager.
    At least we would know and not have to keep guessing. This is one thing that is still rotten at NUFC.


  10. Pardew “He is not going to be involved (against Chelsea) even though I said last week he would be.
    We must make sure he is right because he is a very important player to us and the results and performances we have had without him have been top-class.
    There is no complication. It is just a little nagging injury which we just cannot get over the line.
    We do not feel there is a need for an operation or to go back to square one.
    It is just time. It is taking a little bit longer than we had hoped.”…… 😕 hopefully he’ll play soon.


  11. Tooneye I think some are suffering from paranoia, some say it was the samething that happened to judas, but judas was still injuried for over a month after his move to the bindippers.
    If the club was trying to protect Tiote to sell him, well the Tiote would have to be going along with it ? And if thats the case he can **** off anyway.
    I think its more the case that he could be 99% fit, and the club are in no rush to bring him back because Guthrie is doing fine after waiting solong for his chance to show what he can do in the CM role. 😉


  12. Chelsea will take the day.
    4-4-2 formation==== Cech/Hillario, Ivanovich, Terry,Luiz, Cole. Mata,Meireles,Lampard,Ramirez. Drogba/Sturridge or Torres/Anelka
    Sub. Mikel, Malouda, Kalou, Mc. Jose, Lukaku, Romeu and Bosingwa.
    Best wishes to Chelsea this weekend and on Tuesday…


  13. Best wishes to Chelsea 😯

    Not on Saturday anyway, and I’m not overly fussed about them on Tuesday either tbh.

    Rich – Press conference was yesterday mate.


  14. Toonsy, i think it is inaccurate to use tiote and smith in the same way tbh mate.
    Smith is an old donkey that no top club would ever consider, to leave would be to get a massive pay cut. We tried to offload the bloke loads of times in last 12 months but smudge is just saying to himself ‘ sod that, i have 12 months tyo go and get 70k a week for nothing, i will run it down then leave on a free and go to lower quality club for my last few years with nice sign on fee and 15k a week’. The point being he cant get any better.
    If a big offer comes in for tiote we will accept it as AP has already just last week pre-primed us for that situation in january. If a top club comes in for Tiote they will be given permissionto talk to him and he will be offered more money for sure. He will not have asked for the move and would have been happy left alone, however, now he knows his club dont value him other than in monatary form and he will feel inclined to take the offer up.

    I say tiote but it could be anyone, colo is now into dangerous water for contracts also. Out of all our top guys i would rather it were tiote.

    Do you agree on the difference between the tiote and smudge issue toonsy?


  15. Haha – I see wanky is still trying to give Hughton credit for all the good things that have happened at the club this season. 😆

    He’s actually starting to remind me of Barton.


  16. The two players we have to watch are Mata and that Ramires. We need to keep an eye on them at all times as they are thr only players that can attack with pace imo. Dangerous players.


  17. Craig – I really don’t know how you feel you are entitled to comment on anything NUFC after you wished relegation on us at the start of the season.

    I’ve come across some ****ty toon fans in my life – but you are the lowest of the low.


  18. Craig – Yes I see the difference. Basically you’re saying that Tiote will be forced to accept a pay rise. But if that is the case, is Tiote really being sold against his will, which was your original point?


  19. some posters on here are paranoid, Tiote is obviously injured and its taking longer than first thought for him to get fit, Guthrie is doing a good job so whats the rush.
    Last thing we want is to bring him back to early and then he gets a further injury
    More interesting is how we cope without Jonas, he covers a lot of ground and has really helped Raylor out (and Enrique before)


  20. toon chicken… i dont even think you are a toon fan tbh. i think you just drift from blog to blog trying to wind people up for some strange reason.
    i defo did say that i would be happy to see us back in the ccc of that i can not deny and i would not either. My judgement on that was based on i was not happy with a 600K investment in players total in the window and the ones coming in were unknown to me with dubious backgrounds. it looked and was accurate to say that we were geting rid of higher earners and replacing them with lower ones. The fact that ashley could not have planned for such a stunning season from our new team is irrelevant to what i think he was happy to go with. i think he wanted to have a team that would just keep us in the premiership. We have done amazing but at that time, before a ball was kicked i was not happy with our transfer dealings, i was proper pissed off with them. I would rather have had us in ccc and winning then have us in a relegation dog fight this season which would have put us back in the ccc at the end and for one reason only i would have been happy with ccc…… i think you have to speculate to accumulate and ashley did not do that so why should he reap benefits.
    As its now looking, we are doing great and AP and carr have done some sterling work behind the scenes on a zero budget allowance.
    As for me not being a true fan, i think its the opposite and perhaps you are not…. i support nufc and not the premiership. Yes its nice to see us playing great teams but i loved our season in the ccc, really i did. it was roots football and i dont care what anyone says, it was a great season to be a nufc fan. Now though, we have the best of both so i am very happy with the team. That is despite ashley’s clear lack of ambition and investment. Now we can all be happy though, ashley gets to make money and we are playing great and doing well. Its worked out right.


  21. yes i agree toonsy, he cant be forced to go as his contract will let him stay. A move could be engineered though. If you loved your job and didnt want to move, then one day your boss comes to you and says ‘ toonsy, you have been head hunted by the top company in the UK in your field, they want to talk to you and we have said yes as we dont think we will miss your services”. You then talk to that company and they offer you a stunning deal. You would defo have a decision to take woudlnt you. Do you stay with the club you love knowing they dont want you and have made it clear to you or do you go to the club that desires your services greatly and is willing to pay big bang?


  22. anyay, who cares, we have a big game tmrw toonsy and i think we will win it too. i cant believe that i will be suprised if we loose it. times are a changing.


  23. I’m with Big Dave on this – I think it’s just being careful because we can. Guthrie is arguably the better player for this fixture anyway, so why rush a valuable player with a knee injury when you’ve got the Christmas glut of matches coming up and can win without him?


  24. Craig – for a start I only post on this blog so you’re full of **** from the outset.

    Secondly – I agree the Championship season was a lot of fun, but the relegation that got us there was heartbreaking.

    How any fan could wish that on their own team is beyond me. You’re either thick or a mackem, or both.


  25. Before anyone wades in telling me to wind my neck in these are Craig “best fan in the world” Gizzhole’s actual words…

    craig chisholm
    September 1, 2011 at 12:05
    “I will get stick for sure for saying i want to be relegated but i stand by it.”


  26. On the Tiote thing, I think the thinking at this club is simple – if a bit cold and naive in football terms: if they get an offer for a player that is significantly more than they think they would have to pay for a similar or better replacement, they’re open to it. But the player has to want to take it too.


  27. Whumpie your a wise man 😀 .
    I can understand some bloggers paranoia, as with Jabba you never know.
    Craig I too tought the CCC was a brill season and one of the most enjoyable for yrs, but I would want to be back there again 😕


  28. Dave – I actually thought last season was better – mixing it with the big boys – holding our own and actually dishing out a few spankings (oh er missus) in the process (5under1and).

    This season has been better still, so far. Never in a million years would I want to go back to the Championship.

    Thanks for the mammaries and all that tho, yeah.


  29. tc… i am neither that you mention so do yourself a favor and back off from talking to me. keep your comments on the footy and off insults


  30. Richie oops it meant to read ‘ I wouldn’t want to be back there again’ I blame my phone 😉
    T C I agree last yr was better and more exciting, but that was after the CCC yr me old bean 😉


  31. I’m just hoping STD sticks with David Luiz at centreback – that guy is a LIABILITY.

    “You’re just a poor man’s Coloccini! Poor Man’s Coloccini!” 😆


  32. Toonsy @ 1. I don’t think AVB will change the way he goes about it, he’s very stubborn which could be a bad thing but focusing on this one game, it’s a good thing for us 😆


  33. Very thorough write up Shamrock! However your attention to detail has me much more worried than I was before. Chelsea have some seriously good players and the thought of Mata, Sturridge or Torres getting one on one with Raylor without Jonas around has brought up new worries. Can’t even begin to predict this one especially with the emotions running so high tomorrow.


  34. Georgio – I’m a tad worried about that too. That said, it will finally out to bed the argument about how much Jonas does for him… If he has a good game, people need to lay off him. If he has a bad however….

    The ball is in his court.

    Getting back to Chelseas’s high line – If they change their formation and style of play with short notice I think they will look even worse, which will benefit us!

    Re: Tiote – It’s all paranoia. He’s injured, end of. We all know Pardew will not play anybody unless fully fit and in fairness to Guthrie (who is more than holding his own), there is no need to rush Tiote back.

    A few months back we did a vote on Guthrie being kept or being allowed to leave. I think it was about 60% in favor of keeping him – I reckon that percentage would be a lot higher now!

    BTW – Cheers for the positive feedback as always guys 🙂


  35. @5 – Ice, can you tell us what the atmosphere in the stadium was like when we won those two championships? Must have been spectacular? 😆 😉


  36. Going for 2-1 to us tomorrow. Must admit Raylor without Guti could give lots of heart in mouth moments. Great write up Shamrock.


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