After yet another painful international break, Premier League football football finally returns this weekend – and it’s another ‘big six’ side for Steve Bruce to tackle.
The break came at the wrong time in many respects, with us on a much needed high after that magical win over Man Utd, seeing Matty Longstaff enjoy a dream debut and the team put in a much more dedicated and disciplined performance in all areas of the pitch.
Here we face an exciting but naive Chelsea side who I expect to have roller coaster season.
They’re good going forward, with young talents Tammy Abraham and Mason Mount in inspired form under new boss Frank Lampard, but with key man N’Golo Kante out and just 1 clean sheet in 12 for them this season, there’s absolutely no reason why we can’t get a result here.
I don’t see Bruce changing things from the side that beat Man Utd 1-0 a fortnight ago.
Hayden remains suspended, Ritchie isn’t ready to return just yet and Matty Longstaff looks set to get another opportunity in midfield alongside his brother.
The only area of slight concern may be DeAndre Yedlin at right-back. He did a great job on his return against the Red Devils, but he only arrived back at Benton yesterday – something Newcastle aren’t happy with following his midweek game out in Canada.
Dummett will be hoping for a recall, not that I expect him to return following Ciaran Clark’s solid showing helped us earn a rare clean sheet last time out.
Joelinton struggled at times against Man Utd and Bruce now has options to play with following Dwight Gayle and Andy Carroll’s return to full fitness, so that could also be an area to watch.
That said, I believe the Brazilian will come good. If anything, he needs more support and a run of games to get used to the division – not to be dropped – while both Saint-Maximin and Almiron could be key to our hopes on the counter attack and a real thorn in Chelsea’s side if used right.
Preferred NUFC XI – (3-4-2-1) – Dubravka – Schar, Lascelles, Dummett – Yedlin, M.Longstaff, S.Longstaff, Willems – Almiron, Saint-Maximin – Joelinton.
Here’s a few ‘ones to watch’ in Frank Lampard’s Chelsea side:
Tammy Abraham – The man who almost joined NUFC on loan two years ago has been in outstanding form this season, racking up 9 goals in all competitions already. He comes alive in the box, has impressive movement and mobility for his height and doesn’t tend to miss many when presented with a chance.
Mason Mount – The goalscoring midfielder who was on loan at Derby under Lampard last season has just earned his first call up to the England senior side, so will be full of confidence coming into this one. He has 4 Premier League goals to his name already and has impressive composure and timing in the final third.
Callum Hudson-Odoi – The 18-year-old winger is another exciting talent who Lampard could hand a first home start of the season to here. He’s got pace to burn, has impressive footwork and is VERY direct.
Predicted Chelsea XI (4-1-2-3) – Kepa – Azpilicueta, Zouma, Tomori, Alonso – Jorginho – Barkley, Mount – Willians, Abraham, Hudson-Odoi.
Matt Ritchie (ankle) and Florian Lejeune (knee) are both ‘close’ but will miss out once again, while Isaac Hayden is suspended.
Dwight Gayle and Andy Carroll both look set to make the bench after coming through training unscathed over the international break.
For Chelsea, key man N’Golo Kante has been ruled out by Frank Lampard, while Mateo Kovacic, Andreas Christensen and Antonio Rudiger also look set miss out.
The first 20 minutes will be key in this one for me.
Give this Chelsea side full of exciting young talents an early lead and they could be difficult to stop with their tails up, but stay tight at the back, compete for every ball and hit them on the break when we get the chance and we could be in business.
I think Chelsea will edge it on the basis that they have more goals in their team, but I back us to score and make a game of it.
Prediction: Chelsea 2-1 Newcastle
Howay the lads!