Can Chelsea end their struggles at St James’ Park to continue a perfect start to the new campaign? While Maurizio Sarri kicked off the season warning of a possible slow start, six points and six goals is hard to argue with. Last weekend’s 3-2 win over Arsenal wasn’t without problems, but it’s certainly an encouraging sign as the Blues look to adapt to their new boss. Will their strong start continue during this weekend’s visit to the North East?
The Blues meet former boss Rafa Benitez this weekend, a man who they unceremoniously disposed of after his interim spell at the Bridge. His current job has been a struggle, with the purse strings remaining tight at St James’ Park. Mike Ashley isn’t giving him much support, and the home faithful don’t have much to shout about after a slow start. Is this the perfect time for the Blues to visit, or are they being lined up as a big scalp for a home side in dire need of a win?
Team News: Kovacic Set for First Team Shot
Chelsea come in to this clash with little in terms of injury worries. Cesc Fabregas remains out for the Blues, but we struggle to see where he would fit in under Sarri. So far, the new boss has used Jorginho as a holding player, pushing N’Golo Kante into a box to box role. The third man in the three needs to offer energy and goals, which has seen Ross Barkley take up a starting role.
However, Matteo Kovacic has a chance to impress this weekend, following his cameo against Arsenal. The on-loan Croatian should be fit enough to make the starting 11. That’s a boost, given that his link up play with Jorginho and Eden Hazard was really promising last weekend. That’s something we’re hoping to see much more of.
Newcastle are missing Florian Lejeune in defence, while Isaac Hayden picked up a red card last weekend. The Magpies also have Kenedy ruled out, but that might be a blessing for them. The on loan Chelsea man had a horror show in their visit to Cardiff, failing to complete a pass before half time. He spurned chances, luckily dodged a red card and missed a penalty at the end of the game. Following that, he may not have even featured this weekend anyway.
The Magpies are chasing a first win of the season, after claiming just a point from their first two matches. Tottenham opened the season with a victory at St James’, but will the Blues continue that with a win here? The hosts aren’t looking all that impressive, and they certainly have issues to address after the weekend. A 0-0 draw at a poor Cardiff side was a bad result, especially after their late penalty miss. Benitez should have led his side to a victory in that visit, but they come into this weekend’s big game chasing a victory.
While a point from two games isn’t the worst start, it comes on the back of problems in the North East. Once again, Ashley is the target of Newcastle fans’ ire. The failure to adequately back Benitez in the transfer market has left them looking weak, but given their 10th place finish in the Premier League last season, they have little need to worry about a relegation battle. Their overall form should be a slight concern, with five defeats from seven matches ahead of this clash. Can they end that torrid run on Sunday?
Newcastle v Chelsea Head to Head
Chelsea may have won two of three meetings with the Magpies last season, but they were beaten in their previous visit here. The Blues lost 3-0 to Newcastle in May, a game they approached still in with a chance of making the Champions League. Following that defeat, the Blues come here looking for a first win at Newcastle since 2011, when Salomon Kalou and Daniel Sturridge were on the scoresheet in a rare victory at St James’ Park.
- Newcastle 3-0 Chelsea, May 2018
- Chelsea 3-0 Newcastle, Jan 2018
- Chelsea 3-1 Newcastle, Dec 2017
- Chelsea 5-1 Newcastle, Feb 2016
- Newcastle 2-2 Chelsea, Sep 2015
- Over 2.5 Goals – 10/11 with BetVictor
- Pedro to score – 9/4 with bet365
Chelsea may have struggled in their recent trips to Newcastle, but they’ve been priced up as heavy favourites for this clash. The Blues are 4/6 with Ladbrokes, while the draw can be found at 14/5 with Coral. The hosts sit out at 22/5 with Coral, massive outsiders despite their great record in this fixture in recent years. Will Sarri succeed where his compatriot failed at the tail end of last season?
While we still aren’t sure what to expect from the Blues game by game, they’re certainly great to watch. They ran rings around Huddersfield, and with Hazard coming back into the side they’ve looked even better. The 3-2 win over Arsenal last weekend was a gripping advert for the Premier League, with the Blues showing a hollow defence behind their attacking glitz. Going forward the arrival and introduction of Kovacic is set to improve them even more, as is retaining Hazard. That means we’re at least expecting goals from the Blues.
Newcastle haven’t made major defensive additions, so that’s an area where they look vulnerable. However, they’ve now hit 12 goals in five home matches against Chelsea, so we can see the Magpies getting on the scoresheet at least once here. On top of that, the Blues have seen over 2.5 goals in eight of their last 10 trips in the Premier League, so we’re backing a high scoring game. Over 2.5 goals is our main tip at 10/11 with BetVictor, while we’re also backing a goal from Pedro, who is 9/4 with bet365 despite scoring in both games so far.