Chelsea (H): Pre-match thoughts, team news & predicted line-ups

Four defeats on the spin means we’re coming into this one in danger of losing our place in the top 10, but whatever happen,  happens as far I am concerned – it’s mission accomplished.

After a long, hard season, I for one am so relieved to find us coming into this game knowing we’ll be a Premier League side next season.

It’ll be a tough old day for West Brom, Stoke and (almost certainly) Swansea fans, so we should be celebrating Benitez and the boy’s efforts and achievement no matter what the result. Not forgetting the fact this is a big chance to show Benitez just how much we love him.

I couldn’t bare the thought of it, but this may just be the last time we see him at St James’ Park if talks with Mike Ashley crash and burn. Let’s remind Rafa just how much we love him.

Now to the game itself. It’s a tough one to call really. Chelsea’s hopes of finishing in the top 4 have all but ended after their midweek draw with Huddersfield, but they’ll be going all out for three points, with their only hope being if they win and Liverpool lose at home to Brighton. It’s unlikely, but they know only a win will do – so I expect them to go for it.



On the flip side, the reality is that the damage has already been done and they may be a little deflated. It’s almost certain to be Conte’s last game and, for the vast majority of Chelsea’s squad, it’s the last game they’ll be playing before the World Cup.

Let’s hope they’re sulking and protecting themselves ahead of next month’s World Cup.

For us, there were signs that we’ve finally woke up at Wembley on Wednesday night, but another defeat meant our place in the top 10 is under serious threat.

The likes of Palace (West Brom H) and Bournemouth (Burnley A) have winnable games and could overtake us if we lost and they got a result.  Watford (41) and Brighton (40) face tough trips to Man Utd and Liverpool, so they look unlikely to overtake us, but West Ham could yet overtake us if we lost and they beat Allardyce’s Everton.

As I said at the start of the piece, I won’t be too deflated even if we do lose and finish quite a few places further down the league, but our league finish could help or hinder Benitez’s budget, with every position being worth £2m.

The difference between 10th and 15th (where we *could* end up finishing if ALL results went against us) is £10m – and that’s a sizeable amount. It would pay to sign Dubravka permanently and contribute towards an overhaul of our U-23’s or some much needed training ground improvements.

Preferred XI

Here’s the team I’d like to see, followed by the side I expect Rafa to go with:

As I said last week, Gayle just looks so unlikely to score at the moment and, despite his efforts, is letting us down in front of goal. Perez, however, has come alive in the six yard box over the past few weeks so I’d be incline to play him as a bit of a false number 9, putting Merino in behind him to give him a chance to shine and show us what he’s capable of. We’ll also miss Kenedy’s quality on the ball so he could be a welcome return to the side.

I don’t see him getting in ahead of Diame and Shelvey (and think it’s best he doesn’t either given how well they played at Wembley), but I’d love to see him back in the side – especially given all the talk surrounding his future over the past few months.

Predicted NUFC XI – (4-2-3-1) – Dubravka– Yedlin, Lascelles, Lejeune, Dummett – Diame, Shelvey – Ritchie, Perez, Murphy –  Gayle.

The Opposition

Aside from the obvious (Eden Hazard), here’s a few players I’ll have my eye on:

Marcus Alonso – A left wing-back but you’d honestly think he was a left sided forward the amount of times he gets into good areas in and around the box. Deadly from free-kicks too. One Ritchie and Yedlin will have to keep a close eye on.

Olivier Giroud – A very clever target man who’s not only a big threat from crosses into the box but also very good with his feet. Brilliant with his back to goal and dangerous in the air.

Willian – Top class player. Electric pace, skill and superb quality on the ball. Promises to give Dummett a tough test if he starts.

Predicted Chelsea XI – (3-4-2-1) – Courtois – Azpilicueta, Cahill, Rudiger – Moses, Kante, Fabregas, Alonso – Willian, Hazard – Giroud.

For an inside look into tonight’s opponents, take a look at the latest edition of the ‘Opposition Opinion’. Another good insight into this weekend’s opponents.

 

Form

Newcastle – 10th (41 pts) – Last 5 in the league – Won: 1 / Drawn: 0 / Lost: 4

Chelsea – 5th (70 pts) – Last 5 in the league – Won: 4 / Drawn: 1 / Lost: 0

 

Team news

Kenedy ineligible against his parent club, Atsu and Clark ruled out through injury and Slimani suspended (and back in Leicester).

Thibaut Courtois is available after recovering from a minor back injury, so should come in for ex-NUFC target WIlly Caballero.

Match Prediction

I see this being quite an open game. I expect Chelsea to come at us in search of the win they need to keep their Champions League hopes alive, but Benitez will no doubt have us set up to hit them on the counter if they over commit.

One worry is we’ll be without Kenedy – and I can’t say I have much faith in his expected replacement Jacob Murphy.

That being said, I’m not sure what Chelsea team we’ll see turn up to this one, but am quite certain they’ll have an attacking set up and hope it may leave them vulnerable at the back.

With this in mind, I’ll go for a scoring draw – a result which may or may not be enough to keep us in the top 10.

Prediction: Newcastle 2-2 Chelsea

Howay the lads!

(Fancy writing for us? Send any articles/ideas over to us at [email protected] & we’ll get back to you!)

About Olly Hawkins

Born in Gateshead, Olly was a Junior Magpie from birth. As a season ticket holder and avid Newcastle United fan - he eats, sleeps and breathes all things NUFC.

74 thoughts on “Chelsea (H): Pre-match thoughts, team news & predicted line-ups

  1. Another loss I suspect, we’ll miss Kenedy tomorrow too. Lets hope we can end the season with a win but can’t see it .

      (Quote)

  2. What about the FA Cup? Is it so undervalued now that a faint chance of 4th in the PL is their preferred target? I would hope that some of their players and with a Manager on the way out have one eye on a trophy.

    Whenever I have seen Chelsea this season they have only played well when Hazard and/or Willian play well. Not surprising since they are their best players. You would hope they would want to save themselves for the World Cup.

    This may be a bit convoluted but Willian is 30 in August so this is his last chance. Hazard is 27 and therefore will be 31 at the next WC so this is his best chance, especially with the Belgian “golden generation”. But we know about golden generations 🙂

    I would take a draw. 1-1, so at least we can savour the last day. I am not too fussed about the “10th placed trophy”. It is likely we will be 10-12 so the difference in prize money will not be life changing either.

      (Quote)

  3. Back to the FA Cup. Remember who they are playing. Wouldn’t you think that some of the players that downed tools for Mourinho would want to stick it to him and therefore maybe ease off today?

    The idea of moaning Mourinho being trophyless should be an incentive, even for Conte in his last game

      (Quote)

  4. I’ve not seen any NUFC stories this Sunday. Surprisingly.

    Anyway, last game of the season. Been a good season – much better than anticipated. Time for a good drink!!!!

      (Quote)

  5. I still don’t see what Kenedy has done at NUFC to warrant more than 20 million and a move to a CL club. I think he has done well and is one of the better players in a mid-table team – us. I don’t see him being more than a bit part player at Chelsea with a new Manager and an overhaul of their team.

    At Munich, Ribery and Robben are out of contract but remember the level they were at when Bayern bought them. Ribery was probably the best French player at the WC or Euros, I can’t remember which. Robben was at Real Madrid.

    I think this is just journalist hype and we will probably be able to get him if Rafa stays.

      (Quote)

  6. If Chelsea will sell us Loftus Cheek as well then we might be onto something.

    That one didn’t make sense to me. I can understand a loan for experience but why the full season? Why not have the option to take him back in January?

      (Quote)

  7. Not sure what to make of today’s game.If we play as well as we did at Spurs I don’t mind the result. Seeing the team play well is enough for me.

      (Quote)

  8. All a bit of a damp squib for Sky today really isn’t it. League tied up weeks ago in truth and not even a proper relegation day as it’s obvious Swans are gone unless they score a hatfull of goals and Saints lose.
    Could it be that greed and hype generated by Sky and the PL have killed the golden goose ? Now we have a select couple of mega wealthy teams with one in particular able to buy up all the top talent any contest is effectively dead in the water, the rest scrapping for a top 4 finish.
    The days of the top league being truly competitive are gone and it’s the sadder for it, truth is the championship seems much more exciting nowadays .
    Who really gives a shit about todays final results, maybe Pool and Chelsea for that last top 4 place but that’s about it really. Sky must be fuming over the lack of real interest with everything kind of petering out.
    Money and fear of missing out by PL clubs has ruined our game .

      (Quote)

  9. Luke Edwards‏Verified account @LukeEdwardsTele · 12h12 hours ago

     More

    Luke Edwards Retweeted Nick Harris

    So #nufc have seventh highest Premier League television income. Surely not that hard to keep Rafa then is it??

      (Quote)

  10. Eric Sykes:
    What about the FA Cup? Is it so undervalued now that a faint chance of 4th in the PL is their preferred target? I would hope that some of their players and with a Manager on the way out have one eye on a trophy.

    Whenever I have seen Chelsea this season they have only played well when Hazard and/or Willian play well. Not surprising since they are their best players. You would hope they would want to save themselves for the World Cup.

    This may be a bit convoluted but Willian is 30 in August so this is his last chance. Hazard is 27 and therefore will be 31 at the next WC so this is his best chance, especially with the Belgian “golden generation”. But we know about golden generations

    I would take a draw. 1-1, so at least we can savour the last day. I am not too fussed about the “10th placed trophy”. It is likely we will be 10-12 so the difference in prize money will not be life changing either.

    They should make the Top 2 qualify for the CL and the winners of the Cups qualify too. That would add the magic back to the Cups and maybe end the monopoly of the Big 6 in the league.

      (Quote)

  11. Shamrock: They should make the Top 2 qualify for the CL and the winners of the Cups qualify too. That would add the magic back to the Cups and maybe end the monopoly of the Big 6 in the league.

    Agree Sham, it’s all too bloody comfy now. We have mid table teams too scared of fully committing to the cup in case it impacts PL status, even being in Europa comp is seen as a distraction to pl status now, especially given it’s not as rewarding as CL competition.

      (Quote)

  12. Kimtoon: I don’t think it is as sorted for Champions. Man City have had a magical season but that doesn’t always translate to next year. I can give you a few very recent examples – Leicester and Chelsea twice.

    Chelsea and Arsenal will have new Managers and 200 million transfer budgets. That will make them competitive again along with Spurs who have another year before this team is broken up in my opinion. I don’t give a crap about how many Michelin starred restaurants or NFL games are at White Hart Lane, that stadium will be a yoke around the neck of that club for years.

    Then you have Liverpool who will have money because Coutinho basically paid for Keita and Van Djik. And of course Jose’s bleating will get him another 200 million plus sales.

    I just don’t see the same total domination we had this year.

      (Quote)

  13. Yes Spurs have a Michelin chef at the new White Hart lane. I don’t understand it but I will leave that for now. It just got me thinking about standing in the Gallowgate in the late ’70s and all they had was that little shack at the top corner selling Bovril. I am not even sure if they sold pies.

      (Quote)

  14. Kimtoon: are the games on live over there? NBC have 10 affiliated channels and are showing all 10 simultaneously. They are probably pissed off at the lack of drama. Hell, there aren’t really any glamour games. The ones they have on the main channels are us/Chelsea and Liverpool.

    I still think this is an anomaly with everything sorted already and that it will be different next year with there being no runaway champion and the relegation fight coming down to the last day.

      (Quote)

  15. On the other hand I am already willing to make a prediction for next year. City will retain the title but it will be much closer. The relegated teams will be Cardiff, Huddersfield and whoever wins the playoff.

    See Kimtoon, I told you it wouldn’t be as predictable 🙂 🙂 🙂

      (Quote)

  16. Eric, yep Toon game is on SP so is Pool game and Swans too I think.

    City will win at a canter again, but I see Liverpool coming on as they have amazing front men and I think they will address defensive issues pre season.
    I can also see another relegation issue like this year too as too many teams set up not to concede , us included.
    Fatman needs to address this early or it’s another season of mostly stress, just glad we were safe 2 weeks ago.

      (Quote)

  17. Eric, I think spurs could be handcuffed in regards strengthening that team next season, they will be in the position Arsenal were where that stadium needs paying for. Where will they find the cash to get the calibre of upgrade in player they need? Might even have to cash in on a player or two to rebuild maybe.
    Don’t think Manure or Chelsea and Arsenal can compete with City anymore .

      (Quote)

  18. jesus I hate SP, banging on about how poor Chelsea are, could it not be that we are just better today, quicker to loose balls and more about it .

      (Quote)

  19. more of the same second half please, on balance of first half need to take at least a point from this game but deserve the 3 at the moment.

      (Quote)

  20. Well I got my timing all wrong today. I was convinced that all games were 4pm in uk today and therefore 5pm here in Rome. Took a leisurely walk back to the hotel to find the first half was over… oh dear, brain on holiday too… good to hear we are 1-0 up though. Only got radio… no TV game here ☹️

      (Quote)

  21. Conte was interviewed and he just mumbled answers for like 20 seconds. He’s checked out but they have a cup final FFS. No shots for Chelsea so far (don’t jinx it 🙂 ).

      (Quote)

  22. Eric Sykes:
    DT: you have Roma Juve tonight.

    Might see if it’s on telly, I don’t think it would be a good idea to go to the match… the wife may not be too happy.

      (Quote)

  23. Dubai Toon: Might see if it’s on telly, I don’t think it would be a good idea to go to the match… the wife may not be too happy.

    If you go out though it will be on at every bar and maybe a restaurant or 2.

      (Quote)

  24. Dubai Toon:
    Well I got my timing all wrong today. I was convinced that all games were 4pm in uk today and therefore 5pm here in Rome. Took a leisurely walk back to the hotel to find the first half was over… oh dear, brain on holiday too… good to hear we are 1-0 up though. Only got radio… no TV game here

    you missed a cracking first half from us mate, great play .

      (Quote)

  25. Might be Shelvey’s by the sound of it…! 😊 not that I care… they could give it to Kane as long as it counts for us. 😁😁

      (Quote)

  26. KIMTOON:
    DT, you are missing a cracker mate, feel for you

    If we were back home in Dubai we would have it on Bein Sports… grrr… 😳😁

      (Quote)

  27. Dubai Toon:
    Might be Shelvey’s by the sound of it…! not that I care… they could give it to Kane as long as it counts for us.

    i thought it was mate but on replay it just touches perez

      (Quote)

  28. Dubai Toon:
    Why didn’t they play like this for the last 4 games?

    Had 17 shots against West Brom and played well against Spurs with no luck. Results do9n’t reflect the performances.

    Spurs 4 Leicester 3.

      (Quote)

  29. So with us safe finishing top half how come Mandy and pcp or the other ‘ interested’ parties have not come back in for the club ?

      (Quote)

  30. Well who for MOTM, could be Shelvey, Diame, Perez, any of the back four, even young Murphy did well today. Got to be Shelvey just for me though.

      (Quote)

  31. Lee Ryder‏Verified account @lee_ryder

    Follow Follow @lee_ryder

     More

    Rafa Benitez’s name being chanted at Anfield and St James’ Park now. #nufc

    cool

      (Quote)

  32. Well that should show Kennedy that this club can match his ambition at this stage of his career. Great result.

      (Quote)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Question   Razz  Sad   Evil  Exclaim  Smile  Redface  Biggrin  Surprised  Eek   Confused   Cool  LOL   Mad   Twisted  Rolleyes   Wink  Idea  Arrow  Neutral  Cry   Mr. Green