Newcastle head to Stamford Bridge to take on Chelsea in their final away trip of the season tomorrow lunchtime.
It was a match that was supposed to give Chelsea the chance to close on Manchester United in the race for the title, but thanks to the Red Devils getting the result they needed at Ewood Park earlier it leaves Chelsea very little to play for other than pride and the desire to give their home fans a good result to close their home season down with.
Newcastle are in much the same boat as Chelsea in terms of having little to play for. Safety is assured and the highest we can aim for now is a spot in the top ten, however unlikely it may look at this juncture.
To do that we’ll probably need to take something from Stamford Bridge, but given the fact that they have won their last six home games whilst we have won only one of the last eight away games it’s fair to say that getting any form of result looks unlikely, especially when you consider our injury list. More on that later though.
As for team news, as ever I’ll start with the home team. Carlo Ancelotti will be without Jose Bosingwa for the match tomorrow as he is ruled out with a knee injury. Other than that the Italian has no injury or suspension concerns ahead of the match. Fernando Torres will be recalled to the team with the main question being who will be left out to accommodate the Spaniard.
I’ll pass on trying to guess that, but I do know they lined up with the following team in their recent defeat to Manchester United:
Chelsea: Petr Cech, Branislav Ivanovic, John Terry, David Luiz, Ashley Cole, John Obi Mikel, Frank Lampard, Michael Essien, Solomon Kalou, Didier Drogba, Florent Malouda.
In stark contrast to Chelsea’s near-clear injury list, Newcastle could practically field an entire team from their walking wounded. The latest casualties are Kevin Nolan and Steve Harper who join Alan Smith, Leon Best, Danny Guthrie, Dan Gosling, James Perch, Mike Williamson and Hatem Ben Arfa on the treatment table. Chiek Tiote will not feature after being left out to stop him starting off next season with a ban after collecting 14 yellow cards already. One more and he would face a three match ban.
That leaves us down to bare bones and will mean that we are going to see some of the fringe players and youth players in action. If it was up to me I’d put Ryan Taylor on tea duty and pick a football team that looks a little like this:
Newcastle: Tim Krul, Danny Simpson, Steven Taylor, Fabricio Coloccini, Jose Enrique, Jonas Gutierrez, Joey Barton, Michael Richardson, Shane Ferguson, Shola Ameobi, Peter Lovenkrands.
I’m only picking Shola and Lovenkrands as I believe that is who will play regardless. The midfield is a different matter though and is open to interpretation so I’d quite like to see who you guys think should play.
Despite that 4-3 cup win at Stamford Bridge earlier on in the season it’s been 25 years since we last won there in the league. Andy Thomas scored two and Pedro got the other in a 3-1 win back in 1986.
The two sides have met 131 times in the league. Chelsea have won 52 of those games compared to Newcastle’s 44 victories.
If Chelsea score first they will probably win as they have failed to lose a match from a winning position all season. Add to that the fact that Newcastle have only scored three second-half goals since that 4-4 draw with Arsenal at the start of February and you can see we are going to face an uphill battle.
I’d love to see us sneak a point, or even a cheeky win, but I really can’t see it. I think we could get a humping in all honesty as injuries, tiredness and lack of concentration all take their toll on the away side. Still, the Toon Army will be there in numbers again so I expect nothing from the game other than a committed performance.
Howay the lads!
A lifelong Newcastle fan and current webmaster of this very 'blog who has the sole aim of creating a place by Newcastle United fans, for Newcastle United fans.