1st February 2013
Heavy January spending instantly paid off for Newcastle as they boosted their survival hopes with a 2-1 victory over Aston Villa, with Magpies now hoping to see off Chelsea as well. The Blues are in problems after failing to win any of their last three matches, but a win at St James Park would certainly be a perfect tonic for the recent disappointments.
Even if Newcastle are subject of a lot of banter due to the number of French players in the squad, the reality is that the Ligue 1 stars have been a huge hit at St James Park. Yohan Cabaye and Hatem Ben Arfa have already earned star status, while Sylvain Marveaux is quickly becoming a key member of Alan Pardew’s squad. It was, therefore, not surprising that the Magpies opted to splash their cash on Debuchy, Yanga-Mbiwa, Gouffran, Sissoko and Haidara in the January transfer window, hoping the new signings would help the team quickly escape the danger zone. The French contingent played a key part in Newcastle’s victory at Villa Park that ended a six-match winless run in all competitions, but with games coming thick and fast, there won’t be enough time to savour the all-important win over relegation rivals. Next up is Chelsea at St James Park, and with the Blues recording a 3-0 win in the same fixture last season, this will be a perfect opportunity to get revenge. Alan Pardew will have Sylvain Marveaux back from a foot problem, but Cheick Tiote and Hatem Ben Arfa remain unavailable.
These past few weeks have been very difficult for Chelsea seeing that the Blues suffered numerous slip ups in all three domestic competitions. After crashing out of the Capitol One Cup, Rafa Benitez’s side could only muster a 2-2 draw in their FA Cup clash with Brentford, before squandering a two-goal lead against Reading to extend their winless run to three games. Late comeback from the Royals was a heavy blow for already shaken Chelsea side, so they will need to show a lot of character in order to win at St James Park. It appears that home defeat to QPR in their first fixture in the New Year was a sign of things to come as the Blues went on to win just three of their next eight matches in all competitions, thus even putting their top 4 place in danger. Chelsea now face a difficult trip to St James Park, especially as Eden Hazard misses out through suspension and Petr Cech is a major injury doubt. John Terry is expected to return, but David Luiz is out with an ankle problem.
A morale-boosting victory was just what Newcastle needed to turn things around, and having signed few more quality players, the Magpies look a good bet to start climbing the Premier League standings. Chelsea are clearly all over the place at the moment, and with players very low on confidence, the Blues look set for yet another disappointment.
Verdict: Double chance on Newcastle
Best Odds: 8/9