A quick turn around following Tuesday’s 2-2 draw at West Brom sees the blog’s new feature for 2017/18, ‘The Opposition Opposition Opinion’, return for the second time this week, with us bringing you some thoughts from London ahead of tomorrow’s tough trip to Chelsea.
Here we’re looking to bring you a view from the other side before tomorrow’s game, interviewing an opposing fan to gain their opinions on NUFC, some insights into their own club and their thoughts on of our upcoming match.
This week we’ve been speaking to Chelsea fan Raj, who has had the following to say ahead of our trip to Stamford Bridge for tomorrow’s lunch time kick off:
Q1) What have you made of your season so far? We’re keen to know what sort of shape you’re coming into tomorrow’s game in?
“The season so far has been quite a rocky one to start with, but we have steadied the ship in recent months and are now looking like the team that won the league last year.
“We have become more balanced and Hazard coming back after a proper summer off is really starting to show now.
“We have won last 4 out of 5 league games with the other being a draw at Liverpool.
“I would say we’re very much in good form ahead of this one and always look a real threat at home.”
Q2) What do you make of our start to the season & Newcastle’s current side? Who do you see as our threats & is there any weak links in our team that you feel you can exploit?
“Newcastle, after all the issues throughout the summer, have done lot better then I originally thought.
“I have to give a lot of that credit to Rafa. He has always been a good tactical coach.
“The only stand out player to me in that team that could possibly do some damage IF Alonso isn’t turned on and is bombing it forward is Matt Ritchie.
“After watching the game at Watford I was licking my lips at the prospect of playing Newcastle this weekend.
“I have never seen a Rafa team defend so terribly. There was no shape. No leadership. No communication. Basic diagonal balls and Watford were in on goal every single time.
“I could say the same for the West Brom draw too!
“The areas which Chelsea naturally play down are both wings. Alonso and Zappacosta are going to work wonders because that’s where the issue is for Newcastle.”
Q3) Likewise, who do you feel are the strengths & weaknesses in your Chelsea side – any players for us to watch out for on Saturday for any particular reason?
“Our current weakness is just finding the correct midfield balance.“Bakayoko is still finding his feet and forging a partnership with Kante. It can be seen when they play that they are not yet on the same wavelength.“We have recently experimented with Willian in there so it is something we are currently working on, but I’m hoping we play Kante, Drinkwater and Fabragas.“Our strengths for me has to be the Morata and Hazard connection up top. The way Morata is holding up play to bring the rest of team forward is amazing to watch.“Player to watch has to be Hazard. Especially if Newcastle players give him a few early kicks of the ball.”
Q4) How do you see the match panning out? Score Prediction?
“If we score early, I can see the doubts and fears coming over the Newcastle players.
“Newcastle have to play this game in 15 minute periods. You can’t afford to concede in the first 30mins.
“I believe Conte will try killing this game early with the Champions League game against Atletico on Tuesday in the back of his mind.
“I’m going with 3-0 to Chelsea.”
Q5) How do you see both sides faring over the season? Predictions for rough league position?
“This is very hard to predict at such an early stage in the season.
“I believe Chelsea will finish in the top 2.
“Our Christmas run isn’t that bad, so come January we will really see the league positions clicking into place.
“For Newcastle, a lot depends on Ashley selling the club or not.
“I’m hoping you stay up and I believe Rafa can accomplish that. I would say about between12th to 15th.”
Q6) Rafa Benitez – as an ex-Chelsea manager, what are your thoughts on him?
“Rafa has never been a Chelsea favourite due to his Liverpool links. With that taken aside, he is a very good tactical coach.
“His player motivational abilities are questionable, but tactically he has always been one of the best.”
“He came and won the Europa league for us, which was the best he could have achieved, and then left.
“I do hope he does well with you because he is a good coach and a calibre of club like Newcastleshould have someone like him at the helm.”
Some interesting insights to take into tomorrow’s tough encounter with Antonio Conte’s side here.
It seems the game will be a major test of our full-backs and ability to defend in the wide areas – something we’ve done woefully in recent weeks, with so many of the 9 goals we’ve conceded in our last three games coming from out the wings.
Intriguing to know Chelsea have a Champions League game earlier next week, with Raj seeming to think they’ll come flying out the traps in a bid to get this one wrapped up early. We’ll have to be on our game to contain Chelsea’s star studded attack given how easily we’ve conceded five goals to Watford and West Brom over the past 7 days!
As ever, a big thanks to Raj for taking the time to speak to us this week, giving us a nice little insight into tomorrow’s opponents to whet our appetite for what promises to be a real stern test at Stamford Bridge for Benitez and the boys.
We’ll be back next week with the thoughts of a Leicester fan ahead of next Saturday’s tea time kick off against the Foxes at St. James’.
Hoping for a much improved defensive display at Chelsea tomorrow. We’ll need it!