Chelsea face a stern test this Saturday, as they travel to a Premier League ground where Jose Mourinho is yet to record a win. Despite his illustrious record against nearly every other team in the league, Mourinho’s Chelsea have never beaten Newcastle United at St. James’ Park in 4 attempts, losing 2 and drawing 2 of those games.
The Blues though, are the only unbeaten team left in the division, and sit pretty at the top of the table with a 6-point lead over second-placed Manchester City. On Wednesday night, even without primary striker Diego Costa, they coasted to a 3-0 win over Tottenham Hotspur.
Chelsea have also kept 4 consecutive clean sheets in all competitions, and in their last away game, against Newcastle’s fierce rivals Sunderland, they managed a shut-out for the first time on their travels this season.
Newcastle have been on an impressive run themselves lately. After a dismal start to the season, they won 5 games in a row to briefly enter the top 4. They are winless now in their last two though, having being held in midweek by Burnley after a defeat by West Ham last weekend.
In this fixture last season, Loic Remy was the main man for Alan Pardew’s men, scoring in a 2-0 win for Newcastle. This time around though, he will don the blue of Chelsea, and hope to have the same impact.
Remy’s goal in midweek against Tottenham though, will not earn him a start in this one, as Diego Costa returns after serving a one-match suspension. But, there are a couple of concerns for Mourinho.
Nemanja Matic is banned after picking up his fifth yellow card of the season against Spurs, while Ramires is also mostly out with a thigh injury. This means that it will be John Obi Mikel partnering Cesc Fabregas in the midfield pivot.
Centre-back Gary Cahill is also a major doubt after being taken off at half-time in the game against Tottenham following a clash of heads with Jan Vertonghen. Even though Mourinho said after the game that the Englishman had not suffered a concussion, it remains to be seen whether he can make it on Saturday.
The rest of the side is expected to be the same as the last 4 games.
The following is the possible Chelsea starting XI against Newcastle United:
Newcastle have beaten Chelsea in this fixture in the last two seasons, and have proved on both occasions that they have the ability to run the Blues’ ragged in midfield. With Matic and Ramires out for this one, Moussa Sissoko will be looking to dominate the centre of the park.
Mourinho’s men though, are extremely high on confidence and have proven in the last two games that they can manage to get the right result even when the tide seems to be blowing against them. They will be pushed all the way, but they have the quality to just scrape through in the end.
Newcastle United 1-2 Chelsea