Chelsea will be hoping to end a run of four consecutive draws at Stamford Bridge when they take on relegation threatened Newcastle on Saturday. After getting last gasp equalisers in their last two home matches, the Blues need to up their game ahead of the Magpies’ visit. While they have little to chase in the league for the rest of the season, they simply have to start winning games.
With the return of Champions League action getting very close, there’s a risk that the Blues head in to their last 16 clash with PSG undercooked. They look like a team who are just getting through games without really pushing themselves, and that’s not something fans want to see. It’s not easy to just go from a side slowly manoeuvring through their schedule to one capable of taking on Europe’s best in a few short days.
While we can’t expect that much from the Blues after the season they’ve been having, it’s not too much to be expecting better. Guus Hiddink was brought in to initially steady the ship, but the club would have been hoping he could kick the team on and see them push up the table.
That has yet to materialise, with the team still 13th, only a place above where Jose Mourinho left them. There have been positive signs in the games we’ve seen lately, but not enough points. The displays haven’t been complete, and they need to get better if the team is to do anything in the cups this season.
You would imagine that a clash with Newcastle is the perfect opportunity for the team to start putting things right, given that the Geordies have lost their last five away games. Since August, they’ve won two and lost the rest of their matches on the road, and it’s hard to say that they played well in either victory. The team have a great chance to get back to winning ways here, and not taking it would be a huge blow ahead of the midweek trip to Paris.
The Blues will be missing Kurt Zouma for this game and every other game this season. The young defender is expected to miss the next six months after suffering a horrible injury against Manchester United. That’s not just cost him the place in the Chelsea team that he earned this season, but also a place in the European Championships.
Gary Cahill should step in for Zouma, while there should be little change elsewhere in Hiddink’s team. He’s so far resisted the urge to introduce Eden Hazard from the start, instead sticking with two holding midfielders. Given the state of the defence, which is now missing Zouma’s pace, the defensive approach will likely continue.
Given that this Newcastle side have conceded 44 goals in the league, you’d like to see Chelsea push to score a few here. While we’d take a win, a comfortable victory would surely boost morale ahead of the game against PSG.
LCN Verdict: Chelsea to win 2-0