Best odds: 23/5
Following the second international break of the season, Chelsea and Newcastle United are set to battle it out at Stamford Bridge on Saturday afternoon in the ninth round of the Premier League campaign.
Chelsea are one of the teams going through a transition period at the moment, with club legend Frank Lampard tasked with leading the team and creating a group which could possibly return the club to the heights they reached over the course of the last 15 years. On top of everything else, they’ve been hit with a two-window transfer ban, which arguably made the departure of Eden Hazard to Real Madrid this summer even harder to bear.
However, Lampard has established a fresh approach, letting go of some of the more experienced players in Gary Cahill and David Luiz, and benching the likes of Pedro Rodriguez and Marcos Alonso, to give young players a proper chance to break into the team. Fikayo Tomori, Mason Mount, Emerson and Tammy Abraham can be said to have taken that chance with both hands so far.
The Blues sit fifth at the moment, as one of the four teams to have nailed 14 points from the previous eight games.
Midfielder N’Golo Kante, one of those of more experience who have retained their places in the team, has been ruled out having come back from international duty with a groin injury. Defenders Antonio Rudiger and Andreas Christensen remain out, both with the same issue as Kante, so it seems Kurt Zouma is likely to play alongside Tomori in the heart of defence. On the other hand, midfielder Mateo Kovacic has recovered from injury, and he will be a likely candidate to replace Kante in the middle of the park.
Just as with Chelsea, the start of this season feels like a new beginning for the Magpies. They’ve lost the services of Rafa Benitez and replaced him with Steve Bruce. They haven’t kicked the campaign off quite in the way they would have wanted, sitting 16th at the moment with eight points from as many games, but the table seems very tight around them and boosted by the win over Manchester United in their last outing, they stand a fair chance of climbing up the ladder swiftly.
United were the second of the “big six” to fall at their feet after they beat Tottenham Hotspur in North London, and though they lost to league leaders Liverpool at Anfield, they will be glad to get four of those clashes out of the way on Saturday, regardless of the result. That doesn’t, however, mean that they won’t push hard for another surprise.
Bruce won’t be able to count on Matt Ritchie, with the wide man still suffering from an ankle problem, as well as Isaac Hayden, who will be serving the second of his three-match ban following a red card against Leicester City.
It’s not an easy game to predict by any means, though it will certainly be even harder for the players of both teams. Both teams will put up a fight and try to play to their advantages, and though Chelsea still have more established, higher rated players in their ranks, especially in midfield, they won’t exactly have a field day against the likes of the Longstaff brothers, Jonjo Shelvey and Miguel Almiron. The visitors might just scrape a point here.
Best odds: 23/5
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