This weekend see’s Newcastle United travel to Stamford Bridge looking to consolidate their position clear of the relegation zone. Chelsea have been unbreakable since Guus Hiddink came in though, so this will be no easy task.
The Blues are fortunate to have a very clean bill of health, with only 3 players currently injured. However, the loss of Kurt Zouma for 6 months with an ACL knee injury is a big loss. Ramadel Falcao has done his groin in (he rarely plays these days so he must have done this some other….’ahem’….way…) whilst ex-Toon striker Loic Remy is likely to recover from a calf injury in time to challenge for a place in the match-day squad.
Unsurprisingly, Newcastle United is top of the treatment table league. Tim Krul (ACL knee) and Curtis Good (hip) remain out for the season but we can expect returns to the match day squad for Siem De Jong (eye) and Jack Colback (hamstring) whilst Daryl Janmaat has shaken off a thigh injury. This game comes too soon for Kevin Mbabu (thigh) and Vurnon Anita (hamstring), who are scheduled to return at the end of the month. Gabby Obertan (hamstring) and Massaido Haidara (knee) are out for at least a month still, whilst there is no news on Paul Dummett (hamstring) or Chancel Mbemba (ankle).
Shamrock’s Stats & Facts:
1) Chelsea are unbeaten in the league since Guus Hiddink took over from Jose Mourinho.
2) Newcastle have failed to score or take a single point in their last 3 visits to Stamford Bridge.
3) Chelsea have failed beat the Toon in the last 11 games between the sides when Newcastle have scored.
4) Guus Hiddink has only lost 1 of his 21 Premier League matches.
5) The Blues are on the longest current unbeaten run in the league, with 9.
6) Newcastle have taken more points off Chelsea (13) than any other team in the last 5 seasons.
7) The Magpies have only won twice on the road this season, losing the last 4 away games.
8) Chelsea have drawn their last 4 home games – against Watford, West Brom, Everton and Manchester United.
9) The most goals ever scored in this fixture was in the 1958/1959 season – Chelsea winning 6-5.
10) The Magpies have scored less goals on the road than any other team this season.
Officiating this one is 50-year-old Roger East, who represents the Wiltshire County FA. Despite his age, he only took to being the man in the middle from the 2006/2007 season – being a linesman before that, including at the 2004 FA Cup Final. East was only promoted to the Premier League Select Group from the 2013/2014 season. He is a relatively steady referee with no history of contentious decisions of note. He has taken charge of 4 Newcastle games this season, including our 2 losses to Watford, our draw with Stoke and our last away victory at Tottenham Hotspur.
Whilst Wijnaldum’s goals and our 2 recent league wins have been a big lift for us in our relegation battle, it has all been at home. If Newcastle is serious about staying up, then the players need to start performing away from home. We are the worst team in the league on the road and that is really not good enough. Whilst Chelsea are unbeaten in 10, they just cannot buy win at home at the moment. If our boys apply themselves with the kind of passion and fight they showed against West Brom, then I’d be quietly confident of coming away from Stamford Bridge with a point – that’s unless McClaren gets his tactics and selection completely wrong again like he did against Everton during our last away trip….
One big thing we have going for us is that our side seems to step up for the games broadcast on national television. This fixture is on Sky Sports – so fingers crossed!!
Chelsea V Newcastle United
Saturday 13th February 2016
Kick Off: 17:30 Live on Sky Sports 1.