Chelsea will be looking to extended the League’s longest current unbeaten run when they host a homesick Newcastle United in Saturday’s evening kickoff.
The Toon have lost their last four and conceded in their last six away from home and scored just six goals all season when not at St. James Park, which when combined with the fact that Chelsea are unbeaten in their last nine, means Chelsea are rightfully strong favourites for their encounter.
That said, Newcastle are something of a bogey side – in fact no side have taken more points off us in the past five season than the men from the North East. The reverse fixture ended in a 2-2 draw, where we came back from 2-0 to salvage a point. Ayoze Perez and Newcastle’s top scorer Gino Wijnaldum put them ahead, before the now-departed Ramires and Willian put on a late show to give us a share of the spoils.
On the injury front, we will be without Kurt Zouma who suffered an anterior cruciate ligament injury in our last game against Manchester United. Falcao (groin) and Loic Remy (calf) are also both doubtful to be involved, meaning Alexandre Pato will likely be deputy to Diego Costa should his match fitness be up to scratch. Newcastle have no injury concerns and probably name the same starting eleven that beat fellow strugglers West Bromwich Albion last time out.
Only Aston Villa have travelled worse than Newcastle this season, and only Bournemouth have dropped more points from winning positions this season. With only three wins from their last 62 visits to the Bridge, Newcastle surely must be hoping that Norwich don’t beat West Ham and thus fall into the relegation zone. On the other hand, a Chelsea win coupled with results going our way means we will enter the top half of the table for the first time since 23rd August.
After our tumultuous season under Mourinho, Hiddink has done exactly what was expected of him and steadied the ship – nine unbeaten games proves this. However, if we are to make a late march up the table, we must start converting draws – of which we have 4 on the spin at home – into wins and surely Newcastle in their current form provide us with the perfect opportunity to score all three points.