Chelsea are hoping to continue their good form and make it four consecutive wins against a floundering Newcastle on Saturday evening.
The Blues have beaten Maccabi Tel Aviv, Arsenal and Walsall in their last three games and seem to have turned a disappointing start around. Their hosts however have struggled under new boss Steve McLaren, losing their last three league games, which was then further compounded by their midweek loss to Championship side Sheffield Wednesday in the Capital One Cup.
The main team news is of course we will be without Diego Costa, as he sits out the second game of his ban. By Mourinho’s admission, Radamel Falcao had a good game against Walsall may be pushing to start in Costa’s place. Then again, Loic Remy scored his first goal of the season and might be preferred.
Ruben Loftus-Cheek, Ramires and Kenedy all impressed midweek and may be pushing for a start, while Cesar Azpilicueta and Kurt Zouma could expect to be recalled. If picked, Gary Cahill will make his 100th league start and Eden Hazard his 150th start in all competitions.
The hosts also made several changes for the midweek game and will likely field a side closer to full-strength in their bid for a first league win. That means recalls for Fabricio Coloccini and Ayoze Perez, while Massadio Haidara will need a late fitness test. If he does not pass, that will create issues for Newcastle and may result in Rolando Aarons or Vurnon Anita being played out of position – good news for the likes of Eden Hazard.
Our record against Newcastle is fairly chequered. We have beaten them 67 times since our first meeting, but have also lost 52 times. It has ended all square 38 times, but not for the last eight meetings, which have seen each side win four times each. This fixture last season saw Didier Drogba score but it was not enough to stop Newcastle winning 2-1, thanks to a Papiss Cisse brace.
So while our form against Newcastle is not all that great over the past few years, the difference in form between the two sides should see Chelsea make a belated charge for the summit of the league while keeping a struggle Newcastle towards the root of the table.