Chelsea are straight back in to Premier League action this weekend, as they host Newcastle at Stamford Bridge. The Blues won 1-0 against Swansea at home on Wednesday night, and they’ll be out to add another three points to the board when the Magpies make the long trip down south. It’s a gruelling one for the away support, heading for London for a lunchtime kick-off, which seems like the usual way for the Premier League to kick off their busy December schedule. Can the champions start their run to the festive period with another victory this weekend?
There’s a bit of an edge to this game for the home support, given that maligned manager Rafa Benitez returns to the club after taking over as Newcastle boss. He guided them through a tough Championship campaign last season, while the Spaniard won the Europa League while at Stamford Bridge in 2013. He wasn’t a popular figure with the Blues’ support before or after his short spell as interim manager, and we expect the home crowd to make that clear when Benitez takes his place within the opposition dugout this weekend.
Team News: Conte Likely to Recall Hazard after Midweek Changes
With three Premier League games in the space of a week, Antonio Conte made changes ahead of the clash with Swansea. The Blues moved back to a 3-4-3 system, with Eden Hazard dropping down to the bench for the clash. Willian and Pedro both impressed late on at Anfield, and they supported Alvaro Morata. We expect the Belgian to return just behind the frontman this weekend, while Cesar Azpilicueta should make a start after being handed a rare break. The midfield duo of N’Golo Kante and Cesc Fabregas should stay, as they seem by far the strongest pairing on recent form.
Newcastle don’t have a great squad at their disposal, which is partly why the fans are so desperate to get a takeover sorted with the January transfer window looming. They come in to this trip with three players absent through injury, which is a blow to a side who have only had 17 players make more than one start in the league this term. Benitez has a core group that he heavily relies on, so don’t expect any big changes from their usual side for this clash.
Newcastle made a solid start to life in the Premier League, but things haven’t been quite so easy for them of late. While they were briefly sat up around the European spots, Rafa Benitez is working with a squad of largely Championship players. There just isn’t the quality to keep them in the top half, but that doesn’t excuse their recent poor form. The Toon have taken just a single point from their last five games, and that came away to a West Brom side who are in trouble themselves.
Newcastle had previously lost their last four league matches before that draw at the Hawthorns in midweek. A 3-0 loss to Watford at home is probably the low point of the season for the Magpies, with their usually solid defence falling apart. They’ve been far too open over the course of the last week, which should worry their manager ahead of a daunting trip. They’ve managed just one clean sheet in their previous 10 matches, and we expect Newcastle to struggle at the back when they head to the Bridge.
Chelsea v Newcastle Head to Head
Chelsea were resounding victors in the last meeting between these sides, which came as Guus Hiddink was repairing things at Stamford Bridge. The Blues were 5-1 winners on home soil, having drawn 2-2 with Newcastle at St James’ Park under Jose Mourinho. The Blues have won their last four at home to Newcastle, with the Magpies’ last win here coming just two weeks before the Champions League final win in Munich.
- Chelsea 5-1 Newcastle, Feb 2016
- Newcastle 2-2 Chelsea, Sep 2015
- Chelsea 2-0 Newcastle, Jan 2015
- Newcastle 2-1 Chelsea, Dec 2014
- Chelsea 3-0 Newcastle, Feb 2014
- Chelsea to win to nil – 10/11 with BetVictor
- Chelsea to win 2-0 – 5/1 with Bet365
Chelsea come into this game as heavy favourites, priced at 1/4 with Ladbrokes to take all three points. Meanwhile, Newcastle can be backed at 14/1 with Coral to end their poor form with a victory over the champions. A point would probably be a boost for the Magpies, and they’re priced at 11/2 with Betfred to return to St James’ Park with a point from Saturday’s early game. Obviously we aren’t going throwing money on the Blues at such a short price, but they should come out of this one with the points and a comfortable win.
One area where Newcastle are really struggling is up front. They’ve looked short of a forward since claiming promotion back to the top flight, but the resources just haven’t been there for the club to add a proven striker. The visitors come in to this game having averaged 0.86 goals per game on their travels this term, while the Blues have conceded just 11 times in their 14 matches this season. Chelsea have managed to keep a clean sheet in four of their last five league matches, and we’re backing them to secure another win to nil here, which can be backed at 10/11 with BetVictor.
The Blues haven’t been scoring too many goals of late, and they come into Saturday’s clash having scored a single goal in four of their last five league matches. Hazard should be able to create a few opportunities against this Newcastle defence, but we don’t see the Blues suddenly racking up a big win given that 71% of their home matches this term have seen under 2.5 goals. That has us backing a 2-0 victory for the hosts at 5/1 with Bet365.