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

I’m sure I speak for most in saying I’m currently devoid of any real hope or excitement as a Newcastle fan right now – and I’m not expecting that feeling to change ahead of what could be a very long afternoon at Chelsea.

As Rafa said in his presser, it’s time to forget about ‘takeovers’ and the transfer window (with us appearing to be no closer to any new signing or new owners 10 days into January), however matters on the pitch are just as worrying right now.

Our threadbare squad is now being seriously tested, with the absence of Shelvey (injury), Diame (injury) and Ki (international duty) meaning we have just ONE senior midfielder fit for tomorrow’s game – and that’s an out of sorts Isaac Hayden who wants out!

Not only that, we don’t have a natural left-back fit either, with Paul Dummett also ruled out. We know we lack quality, but the fact Benitez is now forced to put square pegs in round holes just sums up Ashley’s neglect at NUFC.

Chelsea have failed to score in their last two league games at home – losing 0-1 to Leicester and drawing 0-0 with Southampton more recently – but they’ve also conceded just ONE goal in their last 8 home games; a stat that hardly fills me with confidence given how toothless we’ve been in attack of late.

That said, their confidence levels are fragile at present so you just never know – but it’ll have to be a Benitez masterclass if we’re to get anything.

Preferred XI

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

With Shelvey out, Ki away at the Asian Cup and Diame a ‘major doubt’, we have just ONE senior central midfielder available – and that’s Isaac Hayden; a player who doesn’t even want to be here.

If Diame does miss out then Longstaff will almost certainly start – unless Rafa think the ball playing Fabian Schar could play in a holding midfield role.

With Dummett out I expect Ritchie to come in as a left-wing back (although he was murdered the last time he played in this role at Chelsea), while Atsu and Perez look likely to play either side of Rondon given Kenedy is ineligible.

Predicted NUFC XI – (5-2-2-1) – Dubravka– Yedlin, Schar, Lascelles, Fernandez, Ritchie – Longstaff, Hayden – Perez, Atsu – Rondon.

The Opposition

Aside from the obvious Eden Hazard, here’s a few ‘ones to watch’ in the Chelsea squad:

Ngolo Kante – He’s been given real license to get forward under Sarri, playing in a more advanced role and often finding himself in the box and joining attacks. I watched their League Cup defeat to Spurs a few days ago and he could’ve been mistaken as their striker as times!

Marcus Alonso – The tall Spaniard bombs forward from ‘left-back’ and will be one of Chelsea’s biggest goal threats. Yedlin will have his hands full with Hazard, but marking him so closely could leave space for Alonso to sneak in. Whoever is playing down the right of our midfield will need to help out.

David Luiz – He’s now a regular in Sarri’s side and a player capable of doing something sensational one minute and stupid just moments later. A talented footballer but someone who always has an error in him. Rondon could cause him problems.

Callum Hudson-Odoi – The 18-year old winger looks an incredible talent; so much so that Bayern Munich are bidding £35m to sign him. He may not start, but whoever is filling in at left-back is in for a tough night if he does. He’s direct, incredibly quick and has bundles of confidence and quality for a player of his age.

Predicted Chelsea XI – (4-1-2-3) – Kepa – Azpilicueta, Luiz, Rudiger, Alonso – Jorginho – Kante, Barkley – Willian, Morata, Hazard.

Team news

Shelvey and Dummett have been ruled out, with Diame rated a ‘major doubt’ – meaning Longstaff could be forced to play in midfield.

Kenedy is ineligible to play against his parent club and both Ki and Muto are away at the Asian Cup.

Morata is a doubt for Chelsea, while Loftus-Cheek – a player Benitez has tried to sign in the past – has been ruled out.

Match Prediction

It’s hard to see how we go about getting anything from this one. Chelsea may have scored just ONE goal in their last three home league games (and also blanked vs Spurs in midweek), but they’ve conceded just ONCE in their last 8 games at Stamford Bridge.

If we keep Hazard quiet and force a rare defensive lapse at the other end then we may be able to get a point, but I’m really struggling here given our injury issues.

We’re often much better on the road and a tough nut to crack away from St James’, but I still see Chelsea having too much for us here.

Prediction: Chelsea 2-0 Newcastle

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

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

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

  1. Well so far so good… cannot complain too much over the score line. We came back strongly and great goal by Clark. Perez is really a s.hit player…


  2. That’s why it’s so hard to beat the better teams. We need a million chances to score one goal and they can produce that.


  3. Nobody can say we’ve parked the bus tonight. We’ve had a go and missed chances but that’s because of the lack of quality. I really believe if Rafa was given just £40m we’d be comfortably mid table.


  4. Stuart79:
    Nobody can say we’ve parked the bus tonight. We’ve had a go and missed chances but that’s because of the lack of quality. I really believe if Rafa was given just £40m we’d be comfortably mid table.

    Stu – agreed mate. I do think the 3 at the back gives a better balance to what Rafa wants to do – but he needs better players to turn decent performances into wins.

    I think Longstaff has looked decents enough today. Certainly hasn’t hidden and doesn’t look out his depth imo.


  5. Longstaff did well. The team were s.hit. In the bottom 3 and that’s where we will stay for the next 3-4 games… we may scrape a draw against Cardiff as we are even more s.hit at home … 😡😡😡 this is just so f.ucking depressing as there doesn’t seem any end to this total crapness…


  6. Thought Lejeune was excellent and covered so much ground. Longstaff’s passing was very good and he is certainly worth persevering with. Now who do we pick for Tuesday ‘s replay?


  7. What a let down with that final corner?!??!!!
    Lascelles, Lejeune, Clark, Rondon all big powerful lads and Longstaff & Hayden look 6ft plus … get it in the box man!!


  8. Lejeune was excellent for his today, but the best CB on the field today was Rudiger. His play against Rondon was outstanding. Snuffed him out every time, coz Rondon is a horrible forward to defend against.


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