Chelsea (A) Pre-match thoughts, team news, possible line-ups & score prediction

A change in fortunes for Newcastle United in two of our past three matches by winning away to Everton to end a five-match losing streak, before we held on with nine men to beat Southampton 3-2 a week later.

Yes, there was the disappointing 1-2 loss at home to Crystal Palace in between, but the two victories in recent weeks have given us a 10-point gap above the relegation places. That could change if Fulham pick up a result at Everton on Sunday night, but another big win for Burnley and decent point for Brighton (which sent us down to 17th!) mean little if those in the bottom three keeping failing to win.

Next up for us, a tough-looking trip to Chelsea on Monday night.

Thomas Tuchel has taken 10 points from his first four games in charge following Frank Lampard’s dismissal last month. They haven’t been scoring too many under the German, but that they have only allowed one goal during this run – and that was a freak own goal at Sheffield United last time out!

A recent switch to a 4-3-1-2 formation has worked a treat and the same approach must be adopted moving forward, with us creating many more chances, looking more comfortable and confident in possession and seeing the likes of Miguel Almiron thrive in his favoured No 10 role.

That said, there were a number of casualties in beating Southampton last weekend. Jeff Hendrick won’t be a big miss if his suspension sees Isaac Hayden move into midfield, but the loss of our star striker in Callum Wilson, best right-back Javier Manquillo and ball playing centre-back Fabian Schar for two months has left us taking two steps forward and one step back after the full-time whistle last weekend.

Wilson is a huge loss, having scored a whopping 40% of our 25 league goals so far this season – the biggest percentage from any player in the division!

Anything from a trip to Stamford Bridge is usually a bonus and this Monday night will be no different, especially without our talisman up top.

Team news

Jeff Hendrick – Suspended after that stupid second booking against Southampton.

Fabian Schar – Out with a serious knee injury.

Callum Wilson – Out with a hamstring injury.

Javier Manquillo – Out with an ankle ligament injury.

Ciaran Clark – Declared fit to return after missing out last weekend due to his wife going into labour.

Jamaal Lascelles – Missed the last game with a hamstring injury but could be back to face Chelsea.

Federico Fernandez – Could be back for the first time since the Sheffield United defeat after he too returned to training.

Predicted lineup

(4-3-1-2): Darlow – Krafth, Lascelles, Clark, Lewis – Willock, Hayden, Shelvey – Almiron – Joelinton, Saint-Maximin.

  • Krafth in for Manquillo – With the Spaniard ruled out for a few months and the Swede putting in a solid shift after coming on against Southampton, this is a pretty straightforward swap for Steve Bruce.
  • Clark in for Schar – A change that looks nailed on, with the Irishman only missing the Saints win due to his wife giving birth. A timely return now Schar is crocked.
  • Lascelles in for Hendrick – The skipper’s return means Hayden could move back into that defensive midfield role, seeing him take Hendrick’s place following his stupid red card against the Saints.
  • Joelinton in for Wilson – Not an inspiring change, but one that seems most likely given Gayle hasn’t started all season. The Brazilian will be in Bruce’s good books after putting in a shift to help us get over the line last weekend, not to mention the fact he *might* benefit from a more fluid formation that shouldn’t leave him nearly as isolated.

Personally, I’d go with Dubravka over Darlow and play Fraser and ASM up top with Almiron drifting between a No 10 and false No 9, however I can see Bruce sticking with Darlow (for now) and giving Joelinton perhaps one last chance to prove himself, with Gayle coming on from the bench to build his match fitness.

Match prediction

Chelsea are looking well organised in their first few weeks under the new manager, but they were very ordinary in a fortunate midweek cup win over Barnsley, with their only shot on target being a late winner!

I think we can cause them problems and give them a scare if we don’t let Wilson’s absence impact our confidence on the ball, ability to press and commit bodies forward. The question is, will the man replacing our reliable No 13 be able to step up?

I back us to score and make a game of it, but fear for Krafth at the other end and reckon they’ll outscore us in the end.

More important fixtures are on the horizon so avoiding any further casualties would be nice.

Prediction: Chelsea 3-1 Newcastle

40 thoughts on “Chelsea (A) Pre-match thoughts, team news, possible line-ups & score prediction

  1. I think this is pretty much locked in as the team. I said it a couple of days ago on the last thread.

    Bruce does throw a googley now and again which might be Gayle. I doubt it though.


  2. I think we will get beat. But if you are going to play Jonjo then you cannot sit back. We have to give it a go. He has someone to do his running now in Willock and his tackling in Hayden. He can concentrate on passing BUT NOT AS A FCN QUARTERBACK!!!!! Further up the pitch.

    Is this a free hit? Yes!!! We always lose at Chelsea, so why not go for it…

    I think there has only ever been 1 team relegated on goal difference. So why not go for it.


  3. Where does this leave the Longstaffs?

    I think both are Shelvey replacements so if Bruce chooses Jonjo, as I think he will, then they are subs at best. Out in the cold. I think Sean is done at NUFC. Matty might have a chance, MIGHT.

    Sean Longstaff has his fancy super-agent which is above his prowess as a player and will not sit well with the fatman in negotiations. I really think he is done now.


  4. On 41 mins…

    Scott Parker has this Fulham team totally outplaying Everton but they may not have the difference makers to survive. They are doing the high press, but everybody does the high press now!!! The margins are so thin in the PL that I think Fulham will not make up 10 points. If they lose today, they are done.

    But Fulham are playing better than us, with worse players. It is the final finish they lack.


  5. I have to say I’m still not convinced we’re staying up. Teams around us are winning and Fulham beating Everton!


  6. We will likely get a good rogering tomorrow and then they have a game in hand and as it stands we’d only be 7 points clear


  7. Fulham’s next 3 games

    Burnley A
    Sheffield United H
    Crystal Palace A

    our next 3 games

    Chelsea A
    Man United A
    Wolves H


  8. Yes, Stewie mate, Parker has Fulham playing pretty well. I watched a couple of their other games and they are very organised.

    I was hoping a Scott Parker team would be like the Scott Parker that played for us where he ran rings in the centre circle and laid off a pass to somebody, anybody, literally anybody. Like a more modern day Butch Wilkins.

    It seems like he has more of a clue about managing and coaching than he did about playing for us.


  9. And now Everton letting us down
    Hate monday night football, you see teams around you pick up points and it just adds more pressure.


  10. There are dangerous words from Luke Edwards in Olly’s article on Donkey-Linton. We know that Edwards pals up to Bruce so him saying the Brazilian Donkey is getting his last chance to impress means he will not only be played, but he will start. This means that he will keep out Gayle which would have been our best chance to pick up any points from the next few games. On merit, it should have been Dwight starting and Joe off the bench and not the other way around.

    He has shown absolutely nothing in his time at NUFC. Well, actually he has shown he cannot trap a ball and is good at falling over and scuffing shots.

    Do we really need more evidence? Olly states he has played in 66 games and most of them were starts. We dont even need stats, we have the evidence of our own eyes.

    Playing the Brazilian Donkey will only hurt our fight against relegation.

    Go ahead though Joe, prove me wrong.

    The only shaft of sunlight is that we would probably lose away to Chelsea and Man U anyway – we always do. So if this is his last chance saloon, then go ahead Bruce (punk), make my day. As Clint Eastwood would say.


  11. There are some positives for today.

    Darlow is a good shot stopper, and we might need that.

    Clark is back.

    Lewis looked much better in the last game.

    Shelvey looked OK as well and Jonjo can go on good runs of form for like 3 or 4 games.

    Willock seemed to fit in well.

    Miggy is on a great run of form and St Max looks like he is fit again.

    And Tuchel is still getting to know his players. In a lot of the games I watched under Lampard Chelsea seemed underwhelming. To reverse that old saying they seemed LESS THAN the sum of their parts. They have very good (and fast) players though, but hopefully we can outfight them and we have players of our own who are talented.

    Chelsea 2 NUFC 1


  12. Joe has only two qualities. He’s big and he’s clumsy. That’s the way he was against Saints when Olly was impressed by him.
    We’ll never sell him.


  13. Didnt the Donkey in Shrek come through in the end? It has been a long time since I watched it but I think the giant dragon fell in love with him. This could be the answer for our Donkey-Linton. He falls in love with a dragon and leaves.

    If Donkey-Joe scores tonight I will send Steve Bruce a belated Valentine’s Day card.


  14. It was Valentine’s Day yesterday and I cannot believe I didnt see this. A Donkey-Joe and a Dragon fall in love in an animated movie about about an ogre that looks like Wayne Rooney and they leave together to spare us NUFC fans from Bruce picking him.

    It is as clear as the nose on Phil Thomson’s face now.


  15. To be fair to myself, everybody else thought Bruce would play play Donkey-Joe as well. I got the rest of the team right though 🙂


  16. So Gayle starts. Let’s see what he can do.. I think we will lose though. Fulham winning was a disaster for us I think…


  17. Shelvey is statuesque. Darlows goal kicks give the ball straight to the opposition Front three feeding off scraps.


  18. Rather worrying is that Fulham play Burnley and Sheffield United before we play another game. I think it’s likely we will be very much closer to the bottom three in the next few weeks.


  19. Well we are deep in the **** now. A bunch of headless chickens chasing shadows. Enjoying the show Ashley??


  20. Stuart79:
    Rather worrying is that Fulham play Burnley and Sheffield United before we play another game. I think it’s likely we will be very much closer to the bottom three in the next few weeks.

    And we play Fulham last game of the season .


  21. We never ever looked like scoring tonight in truth and it was like pre Wilson, lots of passing sideways and back again in the first half especially and Shelvey corners and free kicks doing my head in.


  22. To be honest I really am not too bothered whether we stay up or not anymore. The owner and the club just don’t deserve to be in the PL. I gave Bruce credit for the win against Everton but we have reverted right back to type and there’s no way we can expect to get 37/38 points.


  23. Are we relying on Fulham not picking up points? They’ve played consistently better than us all season and have now started getting some results.

    We are 9/4 to get relegated. I think that’s the most value in all of sport.


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