After all of their hard work to get back into the top four race, Chelsea blew their Champions League hopes with a woeful display against Huddersfield. The Terriers secured their Premier League survival with a draw at Stamford Bridge on Wednesday night, and that’s left the Blues with a difficult final weekend of the campaign on Sunday, as they need to win at St James’ Park and hope for a Brighton victory at Anfield in order to finish in the top four. That would be a big twist for the Reds, who have an unbeaten record at Anfield this term.
All Antonio Conte’s side can do this weekend is win in their trip to the North East, which will at least restore some momentum ahead of the FA Cup final. The draw with the Terriers summed up the issues which have plagued the Blues all season, with poor defensive errors, toothless attacking play and a lack of alternative approaches. That’s what has cost them so far this season, but will they get the chance to turn things around on the final day?
Team News: Conte to Restore First Team for Finale
The Blues went into their midweek clash without Olivier Giroud or Eden Hazard, which looks like a major mistake following the result. We expect Conte to fix that mistake this weekend, with his strongest team set to take the field on Sunday. However, they will be down in one area, as Thibaut Courtois is a doubt for this weekend. Meanwhile, David Luiz is ruled out of the final weekend game, he’ll likely be focusing on next season’s league campaign, given Conte’s likely exit during the summer.
Newcastle head here without former Chelsea man Christian Atsu, while Blues loanee Kenedy is missing against his parent club. The Brazilian has enjoyed an impressive spell in the North East, which has now come to an end. Another loanee who is set to depart is Leicester’s Islam Slimani, who is set to start for the Toon after coming back from suspension. Aside from that, the only other worry the hosts have is Ciaran Clark, who remains a doubt for this one.
Newcastle managed to start an inspired run of form in order to move to safety, but getting away from the drop zone has only made them complacent. They’ve now lost four straight matches ahead of the final game, with their place in the top flight secured. They’re still doing well just to stay in the division, given their Championship quality squad and lack of investment. Benitez turned them into a brilliant defensive unit to launch an unbeaten run, but they’ve been unable to sustain that form.
Losses to Tottenham, Watford, West Brom and Everton have all showed how the Magpies are struggling in the final stages, with their players casting an eye towards their summer break. The hosts have won as many matches as they’ve lost at home this term, while they’ve seen their fair share of low scoring matches at St James’, with 67% of their home outings finishing with less than three goals being scored, and with a tough finish to the season they’re going to likely approach this one with an eye on frustrating their opponents after their awful run of form.
Newcastle v Chelsea Head to Head
A string of home wins have given Chelsea an impressive record against the Magpies, and the Blues have claimed two victories over them already this season, after meeting them in the FA Cup. These two last met at this ground back in 2015, when Chelsea drew 2-2 with Newcastle during their troubled title defence. The manner of the Blues’s victories already this term has shown the gulf between these two, with the Pensioners hitting three goals in each of those wins.
- Chelsea 3-0 Newcastle, Jan 2018
- Chelsea 3-1 Newcastle, Dec 2017
- Chelsea 5-1 Newcastle, Feb 2016
- Newcastle 2-2 Chelsea, Sep 2015
- Chelsea 2-0 Newcastle, Jan 2015
- Chelsea to win – 4/6 with Ladbrokes
- Chelsea to win and Under 2.5 – 29/10 with Coral
Chelsea may not have much chance of finishing in the top four, but they’re still being backed to win their final league match of the season. The Blues can be backed at 4/6 with Ladbrokes to win at St James’ Park, while the home side are priced at 9/2 with Bet365 to claim three points in front of their own support. The draw is priced up at 14/5 with Coral, making Conte’s side the clear pick from the bookies. However, will they follow up on the favourites tag and finish the season by seeing off the out of form Magpies?
While the Blues’ weakened side slipped up in midweek, that ended a five game winning run. Boss Conte tinkered with a winning formula, which left his side struggling to retain their rhythm for their final home match of the campaign. He is set to use his strongest XI for this one, even if it is too late for them to leap into the top four. We still expect them to finish the season with three points, and at 4/6 with Ladbrokes, the Blues seem like good value for a victory this weekend.
Newcastle aren’t in great form here, and we can’t see them putting up a huge fight on Sunday. They’ve got nothing left to play for after securing their safety, and the club already seem to have turned their focus towards the summer transfer window, and the future of Benitez. We expect them to be shaded out by a Chelsea side who need to finish with a victory, and given that the Magpies have lost 1-0 in three of their last four games, we think you can get great value on an away win, with under 2.5 goals to be scored in the match.