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

As one controversial owner falls, it feels like another is on the rise at Newcastle United, making it rather ironic that we are the first club to face Chelsea at Stamford Bridge since Roman Abramovich’s demise.

It could be a funny old atmosphere at this one, however distractions off the pitch could mean this is the perfect time to play the Blues; especially when they will have one eye on next week’s Champions League second leg at Lille.

As for ourselves, the Mags kept marching on at Southampton on Thursday, coming from behind to beat a Saints side who’d only lost ONE game at St Mary’s all season.

We spent large parts of the game without the ball and on the back foot – as we did against Brighton last weekend – yet spirit, character, organisation and quality in the final third won the day once again.

This will be an even tougher test, with Chelsea winning their last two league games by an aggregate score of 7-1 over the past week. It also looks like the first time in a few months that Howe will be forced to rotate, so another big team effort from all involved will be needed.

Saying that, our boss – the Premier League’s Manager of the Month for February – has won THREE of his five games at Stamford Bridge, so there’s plenty of reason to believe the lads cane come away with another surprise result!

Team news

Howe will make a late decision on Allan Saint-Maximin (ilness), Joelinton (groin) and Fabian Schar (groin), with it remaining to be seen if Bruno Guimaraes and Emil Krafth are OK after they hobbled off on Thursday (although Eddie is hoping it was just cramp).

Elsewhere, Kieran Trippier (foot), Callum Wilson (calf) and Federico Fernanadez (side strain) have been ruled out once again.

As for Chelsea, wing-backs Dan James and Ben Chilwell are out, however centre-back Antonio Rudiger is expected to return after he was given a rest in their 3-1 win at Norwich on Thursday night.

Predicted line ups

(4-3-3): Dubravka – Manquillo, Lascelles, Burn, Targett – S Longstaff, Guimaraes, Joelinton – Almiron, Fraser – Wood.

Martin Dubravka – Was back to his best at St Mary’s making a superb late save to deny Salisu. We might need more of the same to get a result in this one!

Javier Manquillo – Krafth went off with suspected cramp on Thursday and many believe Manquillo is actually the better option in Trippeir’s absence, so the Spaniard seems nailed on to start this one.

Jamaal Lascelles – Ideally, Howe will not want to make too many changes to his back four, but Schar is managing a groin issue and went down a few times in midweek. I can see the skipper coming in for this one.

Dan Burn – The big man has been a revelation so far, playing out of his skin following a return to his boyhood club. Undroppable at present, being a leader and calming presence; on and off the ball.

Matt Targett – Another superb January signing who is so hard to get past and positionally solid. Dummett will want game time to prove he’s worth a new deal, but Targett hasn’t put a foot wrong and looks ready to keep playing.

Sean Longstaff – If Howe wants to convince him to sign a new deal, he’ll need to give him game time and Sunday could be an ideal day for fresh legs. Alos, Shelvey probably needs a rest after being one of just two players to feature in every minute of our nine-game unbeaten run.

Bruno Guimaraes – I think he’ll retain his place if his withdrawal on Thursday was only down to cramp, not an injury. Some think he won’t start two games in four days after a period on the bench, but I’d argue he needs more starts to get up to speed. He only just over an hour at St Mary’s, too.

 Joelinton – It all depends if his ongoing groin injury has settled down, but the fact he’s travelled with the squad suggests to me he might be OK. His physicality and engine was missed on Thursday and could be key against a strong Chelsea side.

Miguel Almiron – If Saint-Maximin is feeling better he could start, but the combination of illness and him “not being 100% fit” according to Howe makes me think he’ll be on the bench, at best. So, a rare start for the Paraguayan could be in order after Murphy put in another huge shift a few days ago.

Ryan Fraser – Looked knackered when he came off on Thursday but did get a bit of a rest after being replaced late on, unlike Murphy. He’s been a key man lately and has been part of a few big wins at Chelsea during Howe’s time at Bournemouth.

Chris Wood – Will be desperate to build on his first goal for the club and does so much good work for the team. This means he too could be tired, however we have very few alternatives and will hope he can go on a run now.

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Predicted Chelsea XI (3-4-3): Mendy – Chalobah, Silva, Rudiger – Azpilicueta, Kovacic, Kante, Alonso – Mount, Havertz – Lukaku.

Match prediction

I think there’ll be a lot of tired bodies in our squad and plenty changes made as a result.

We could look fresh and have several fringe men featuring who are eager to take their chance, however this feels like a tough ask against the current European Champions who will be keen to respond to all the off-field issues surrounding the club this week.

As a result, I think this may be the day our unbeaten run finally comes to an end, but nothing would surprise me with this group of lads – especially when Howe has a superb record at Stamford Bridge and will be desperate to keep the momentum going!

Prediction: Chelsea 2-0 Newcastle

HOWAY THE LADS!

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!

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

  1. Daylight robbery perpetrated by a dodgy Ref and VAR. The decisions werent even that difficult. Both clear and obvious errors.

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  2. Wow, that Leeds win puts Everton in deep trouble. Super-Frank has to be feeling the pressure now. And they had a defender sent off and he will miss our game. They have a crapm defense anyway and couldnt afford to lose anybody.

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  3. We were robbed robbed again and finally robbed I hope Newcastle protest. If Lampard can protest so can we.

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  4. Our game could define Everton’s season. Watford now level and Leeds 4 points clear. They have the hardest run-in. NUFC is a must win for them.

    Seems that the letter we wrote to the PL about VAR had no effect whatsoever. That Ref and VAR official should be suspended. The head of Refs has the ability to do that. I saw Keith Hacket on a podcast say that he would have suspended a Ref earlier in the season for glaring errors. He used to be head of Refs.

    There is clear bias. I was banging on yesterday about the quality of Refs again. Perhaps I tempted fate. I was more on about age and fitness, but there is also clear incompetence and bias.

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  5. It would be so sweet to get a VAR decision to beat the Scouse Mackems. And a Jordan Pickford error. We are due some karma and we are definitely due a penalty. We have only had one all season.

    That one today was a joke. And remember the one on St Max. And when the City ‘keeper took out Fraser?

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  6. We rode our luck a bit against Brighton and Southampton so there was bound to be a letdown at some point. The lads can still hold their heads high and it shouldnt come down to the Ref and VAR.

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  7. We can take solace that we have come such a long way since that 3 nil defeat to Chelsea at SJP when Graeme (I am not a Manager) Jones was in charge.

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