Newcastle take on Chelsea tomorrow afternoon fresh from victory at Aston Villa and buoyed by a positive transfer window.
The question now is whether United can build on their midweek success by toppling a team who, thanks to having no issues with transfer windows, are one of the top sides in the Premier League.
It’s going to be a tough game but we usually manage to raise our game when the top sides come to St James’ Park, and with fresh hope and renewed impetus brought about by events of the past week or so I wouldn’t be counting on the three points if I was a fan of the West London club either.
Of course we have the extra motivation of facing our former striker and still our top scorer as Demba Ba makes a swift return to the club he spent 18 months at before moving to Chelsea at the start of last month. Personally I’m over that. He’s gone and it’s become clear that was part of the plan all along. He’s got what he wanted but also served us well in the process.
Sylvain Marveaux’s foot injury is not as bad as first feared and the Frenchman resumed training yesterday. Ryan Taylor and Dan Gosling are also in training although neither are anywhere near match fit. Hatem Ben Arfa and Haris Vuckic are both still sidelined through injury. Cheik Tiote is away with Ivory Coast at the African Cup of Nations.
Eden Hazard is suspended for this one following the ball boy incident at Swansea. John Obi Mikel and Victor Moses are away at the ACoN, Petr Cech and David Luiz are both doubtful as is Juan Mata who picked up an ankle injury in midweek against Reading.
Chelsea beat us at Stamford Bridge earlier on in the season, and they won on their last visit to St James’ Park. I was at that game and although they won 3-0 they had an awful lot of help from the referee who failed to send off David Luiz in the third minute of the game.
At home we have had the upper hand over Chelsea through the years. Of 73 games contested between the two at St James’ Park, Newcastle have won 35, Chelsea have won 25 times with the other 18 ending in a draw.
Overall, home and away and in all competitions, our record isn’t great against Chelsea. There have been 152 meetings between the two clubs with Chelsea winning 64 times, Newcastle 49 times with 39 draws making up the numbers.
Stats and facts:
Newcastle now hold the record for the amount of French players fielded by a side in any one season. The previous record was seven but we’ve now fielded eight Franch players, and that could be nine if Massadio Haidara makes an appearance before the end of the season.
It’s been 27 months since United last came from behind to win a game. The last time we managed to do just that was October 2010 at West Ham.
Chelsea have not lost in their last five visits to Tyneside and have only conceded one goal in those games to boot.
Tim Krul is likely to make his 100th appearance for Newcastle, and Mike Williamson will follow him if he makes an appearance.
Chelsea have picked up more points away from home than what they have at Stamford bridge this season.
Rafael Benitez has two fewer points than Roberto Di Matteo managed in the same amount of games at the start of his tenure.
The win against Aston Villa was much needed but it hasn’t soled all of our problems. We’re still too close to the relegation spots for comfort and the only way to claw our way away from it is by winning football matches. To get to 40 points we need to grab 1.1 points per game but getting three each time is obviously the quickest.
The point being that a draw tomorrow would not be the end of the world but we should be looking to give Chelsea a game and grab three points. Don’t get me wrong, Chelsea are full of attacking threat but they also have a defence that can be got at and if we can do that and our new signings continue to impress then why not talk about winning the game?
Allez la lads!
Date: Saturday, 2nd February, 2013
Venue: St James’ Park
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