Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Prediction: Chelsea vs Newcastle

Dan Steeden in FA Cup, Free Soccer Predictions 25 Jan 2018

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Verdict: Chelsea Win and Under 2.5 Goals

Best Odds: 12/5

Bookmakers: William Hill

Antonio Conte’s Chelsea welcome struggling Newcastle to Stamford Bridge for an all-Premier League fourth round FA Cup tie. The Blues have been in inconsistent form for much of this season, and head into this clash off the back of a 2-1 defeat to Arsenal in their League Cup semi-final second leg. The Magpies meanwhile have been struggling for goals this season, and suffered a 3-1 loss to Manchester City in their last outing. Both sides will thus be using this game as a chance to get their form back on track, so it promises to be an intriguing matchup.

Chelsea

The reigning Premier League champions currently sit third in the table after 24 games, but their impressive league position gives a poor representation of their real form this season. Chelsea have been incredibly inconsistent, with defeats to Burnley and Crystal Palace essentially cancelling out their wins against Tottenham and Manchester United.

A look at the Blues’ last seven games in particular paints a rather dire picture for manager Antonio Conte. Chelsea have won just twice in that span, one of which came via a penalty shootout against Norwich City. With injuries piling up, and Conte becoming disgruntled about the transfer activity of the club, these are troubling times.

Three 0-0 draws also occupy that seven game stretch, and Conte’s side are the lowest scorers of the teams in the top six. While 45 goals in 24 games is by no means worrying, their inability to kill games off has been an issue this season. A second consecutive title seems unlikely now, given that Manchester City have a 15 point lead over Chelsea, so a Champions League spot is a necessity.

Team News

Thibaut Courtois missed the game against Arsenal due to an ankle injury, and he will likely face a late fitness test. Elsewhere Cesc Fabregas looks set to miss out due to a hamstring issue, while Alvaro Morata is a doubt due to a back injury.

The main concern for Antonio Conte is the severity of Willian’s hamstring issue, which the winger picked up in the clash with Arsenal. He too will likely face a late fitness test, but his absence could severely deplete an already struggling Blues attack.

Newcastle

The Magpies currently sit 15th in the Premier League table, one point above the drop zone, and are yet another example of a club that is walking the fine line between safety and relegation. Considering the ownership debacle that is on going, which seems to be preventing manager Rafa Benitez from making any real signings in this January transfer window, Newcastle really aren’t doing too badly. That could all change by the end of the season however, especially given how close it all is in the bottom half of the table, and fans are right to be worried.

Newcastle have been struggling at both ends of the pitch in this campaign, which makes adding a couple of players to solve the issues quite a challenge. Only five sides have scored fewer than the Magpies’ 22 goals this season, and their average of less than one per game is something that needs sorting quickly if they are going to ensure survival. Defensively they represent the third most proficient side in the bottom half, but they have still shipped 34 goals already this season, which will also be a concern for Benitez.

Team News

Chancel Mbemba’s knee injury could keep him out of this game, while Florian Lejeune and Jesus Gamez are side-lined due to foot and ankle issues respectively. Aleksandar Mitrovic is the other absentee, with the striker’s back injury still ruling him out.

Key Factors to Consider

  • Chelsea have scored just seven times in their last six games in all competitions.
  • The Blues have also only conceded three times in that same span of games.
  • Newcastle have scored just 22 times in 24 league games this season.
  • The Magpies have also leaked a total of 34 goals in the league so far.
  • Chelsea have won just one of their last four cup games.

Conclusion

Chelsea represent the lowest scoring side inside the top six of the Premier League table, while Newcastle are averaging less than a goal per game in the league this season. With the Blues’ attacking struggles potentially being compounded by Willian’s latest injury, it is difficult to see this being a high-scoring affair. Antonio Conte’s side should still have enough to ease past the Magpies however, so a narrow Chelsea victory looks to be a safe bet here.

Verdict: Chelsea Win and Under 2.5 Goals

Best Odds: 12/5

Bookmakers: William Hill

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Dan Steeden


Dan is a recent graduate of the University of Birmingham and an often frustrated Wigan Athletic fan. When not despairing at events unfolding at the DW Stadium he can be found fangirling over Antoine Griezmann or staying up into the early hours of the morning to cheer on the Seattle Seahawks.

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