Newcastle United host Chelsea at St James’ Park in a blockbuster clash in the race for the top-four.
Victory would see Newcastle head into the mid-season break sat third in the table, whilst Chelsea can go fifth until Sunday afternoon with a win.
Callum Wilson is set to return for Newcastle after he missed their midweek Carabao Cup win over Crystal Palace, due to illness.
Ryan Fraser (calf) is a doubt but Emil Krafth (knee), Paul Dummett, Matt Ritchie (both calf) and Alexander Isak (muscle) remain absent.
Chelsea could again be without midfielder, Jorginho after he missed their midweek Carabao Cup exit at Manchester City with a foot injury.
Kepa Arrizabalaga (foot), Ben Chilwell, Carney Chukwuemeka (both hamstring), Reece James, Wesley Fofana (both knee) and N’Golo Kante (hamstring) remain absent.
- Newcastle have won just one of their last eight meetings against Chelsea (W1, L7).
- Chelsea have lost just one of their last four visits to St James’ Park (W3, L1), which came in a 1-0 defeat in January 2020.
- Newcastle have conceded eight goals in their last four meetings against Chelsea without reply.
- Out of the current top-four teams coming into this matchweek, no club has scored scored more goals from outside of the box than Newcastle (8).
- Just one of Kai Havertz’s three league goals for Chelsea this season have been scored away from Stamford Bridge.
Having avoided defeat in their last 10 matches in all competitions, Newcastle have definitely made themselves a team not to be underestimated, albeit with excellent depth which certainly was demonstrated by their midweek performance against Palace despite frustrating end product.
Nick Pope in particular proved key in goal with excellent saves – especially in the penalty shootout – but with Wilson and Fabian Schar amongst those set to return to the starting line-up, I am expecting a return to their more typical aggressive attacking style in this tricky fixture.
As for Chelsea, they might have the better record in this fixture but with just two wins in their last seven games and a heavy injury list, they just haven’t really found that attacking spark which served Graham Potter well at Brighton despite this squad having Raheem Sterling and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang.
Potter though will be concerned about how sloppy his team were at Man City in midweek even after utilising his key players as substitutes, meaning that they now need to pull out a strong performance just to get any result here.
The first goal therefore will be crucial because St James’ Park has been a daunting place for teams to visit with just two defeats for the Magpies in 2022 on Tyneside, so if Newcastle can get on the front foot, I can see them winning this because they look the more sharper than Chelsea at present.
Prediction: Newcastle 2-1 Chelsea
Result: Newcastle 1-0 Chelsea