Chelsea v Newcastle Preview (Premier League) – 10th January 2015

Chelsea welcome Newcastle to Stamford Bridge on Saturday as they look to keep pace with Manchester City at the top of the table. With the joint leaders both in action at 3pm on Saturday, any slip from either side could see them fall down to second, which would be a first for Chelsea this season.

The Blues will also be on the lookout for revenge, given that it was Newcastle who ended their unbeaten record last month, which was one of the results that allowed City back into the title race. That Newcastle side was on form, but this one is very different. They’re currently without a permanent manager, after Alan Pardew departed to Crystal Palace, and they’re nowhere near the form they were in for the clash at St James’ Park.

With just one win in their last six games, Newcastle have been far from impressive of late. Caretaker manager John Carver has yet to do anything to impress, so it’s questionable what exactly he can achieve this weekend. They also have eight players currently out of the team through injury and suspension, so this isn’t a fighting fit Newcastle team either.

As for the hosts, they have no real injury worries coming in to this one, and their big guns were given the weekend off for the 3-0 win over Watford. Willian and Diego Costa were required later on, but the likes of Eden Hazard, Cesc Fabregas and Nemanja Matic all got a rest. After the leggy performances shown at White Hart Lane on New Year’s Day, a rest was certainly what a few of the players needed.

Strangely for the Blues, there are no players heading off to the African Cup of Nations this month, when usually the squad is hit with a number of departures. John Obi Mikel’s Nigeria and Mohammed Salah’s Egypt both failed to qualify, while Didier Drogba has retired from international football. With those three players staying, we don’t have the problems of some Premier League clubs, like Manchester City, who are losing Yaya Toure for a month.

Expect to see the strongest possible side here from Jose Mourinho, given that they had no midweek commitments before this one, and none next week either. With the players all rested up, he can now switch back to the first team after the tough Christmas period. Newcastle should be no match for that starting 11 at the Bridge.

Mourinho’s side simply need to get themselves back on track here. They may have had only a couple of defeats, but the way that Man City have clawed themselves back into the title race is bound to have hit them psychologically. A win here against Newcastle, and they can start to steady the ship, and keep their place at the top of the Premier League table.

LCN Verdict: Chelsea to win 2-0