The game against the reigning Premier League champions is hardly a perfect opportunity to record the first win of the season, but it is not as if Newcastle really have a choice after four defeats on the bounce. Chelsea, on the other hand, are slowly returning to their best, although Diego Costa is bound to be sorely missed at St James’ Park.
Newcastle United fans had grown frustrated with club owner Mike Ashley for the constant lack of ambition, but they had plenty of reason for optimism this summer. The Magpies did well to lure former England boss Steve McClaren to St James’ Park, while signing a host of quality players in Georginio Wijnaldum, Chancel Mbemba, Florian Thauvin and Aleksandar Mitrovic. Nevertheless, Newcastle experienced all sorts of problems in the opening exchanges, winning only the League Cup game against Northampton Town before crashing out of the competition after the home loss to Shiffield Wednesday. But, it is team’s dismal Premier League form that is the main cause for concern, and the lack of a proven goalscorer clearly remains the biggest problem. I, for one, cannot quite comprehend why Newcastle opted against signing proven Premiership striker Charlie Adam and splashed out on the controversial Aleksandar Mitrovic, who has so far only managed to earn a three-match suspension. With the likes of Cisse, Tiote and Taylor all sidelined and confidence low after four straight defeats, the Chelsea game clearly comes at a bad time for the hosts.
After winning the Premiership title in style last season, the Blues were again seen by many as the main candidates for the trophy, but they in turn had one of the worst starts to a league campaign in recent years. There were many reasons for the dismal start, but it would appear as though most first team regulars struggled for form in the opening exchanges, with the likes of Eden Hazard, Branislav Ivanovic and John Terry getting the most stick for their performances. The disappointing run was never going to last given the quality of players at Jose Mourinho’s disposal, and Chelsea quickly returned to the right track, recording three impressive victories in a row. And while the Blues were always going to have an easy job against Maccabi Tel Aviv and Walsall, it is the 2-0 triumph over local rivals Arsenal that will have done wonders for the players’ confidence. Chelsea players will now see the Newcastle game as an excellent opportunity to continue climbing the Premier League standings and everything suggests they will pile more misery on Steven McClaren’s side. The visitors will be without the suspended Diego Costa, but Willian, Pedro and Oscar are all fit to play.
Newcastle are not only out of confidence after a four-match losing run, but they also largely struggle up front and head into the game without three important players. Meanwhile, Chelsea have turned things around with three wins on the trot and we are backing them to make it four in a row.
Verdict: Away win
Best Odds: 5/8
Bookmaker: William Hill
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