Verdict: Both teams to score
Best Odds: 7/10
In what looks set to be a heavyweight showdown on Saturday afternoon, Newcastle will welcome Chelsea to St. James’ Park.
Starting with the hosts, while Newcastle might have come flying out of the traps when opening up the 2023/24 campaign, it is fair to say that Eddie Howe’s side are in the midst of a recent struggle. Heading into November’s international break with a major missed opportunity as they eventually fell to a shock 2-0 loss at the hands of relegation scrappers Bournemouth, the Magpies do have the feel of a squad seeking a recent boost. Now knowing that they face a real uphill battle in their bid to punch a Champions League knockout stage ticket this season, Newcastle have won just a pair of their previous six appearances across all competitions – a run that stems back to a 4-0 romp against Newcastle on October 21st. However, while Howe might have an injury crisis on his hands in the north east, the ex-Bournemouth boss will be excited to make a return to home soil here. Including a hugely controversial 1-0 win against Arsenal on November 4th, Newcastle have won six of their previous seven showdowns at St. James’ Park.
Dealing with what is an injury crisis at St. James’ Park, Howe will once again be without a host of first-team stars here. The Magpies have already confirmed that they will be unable to call upon the likes of Sven Botman, Dan Burn, Harvey Barnes, Miguel Almiron and Sean Longstaff. However, midfield star Bruno Guimaraes will make his return after serving a suspension earlier in the month.
Despite withdrawing from England’s squad last week due to a ‘personal matter’, influential skipper Kieran Trippier will feature at St. James’ Park. Howe’s side also remain hopeful that striking star Alexander Isak will be able to spearhead their charge on Saturday afternoon.
As for the visitors, snatching what was a remarkable last-gasp equaliser at home against Manchester City prior to November’s international break as they eventually played out a stunning 4-4 draw, Chelsea are simply hoping to find some welcomed stability in west London. However, while Mauricio Pochettino might have opened his tenure at Stamford Bridge in the midst of a real struggle, it does appear that the former Premier League champions have turned a welcomed corner. Shocking many on November 6th as they secured a 4-1 romp away at bitter local rivals Tottenham, the ex-Spurs boss has seen his squad lose just one of their previous eight appearances across all competitions. Bagging eight goals in their back-to-back Premier League showdowns prior to the fortnight interval, Chelsea will also be excited by an eye-catching record against Saturday’s hosts. Grabbing a 1-1 draw when they last travelled to St. James’ Park back on May 28th, Pochettino’s side have collected 13 points from their previous six top-flight showdowns against the Magpies.
While summer recruit Christopher Nkunku might be inching closer to making a first Premier League start, the French international is not expected to feature on Saturday afternoon. Withdrawing from England’s squad last week, Chelsea are sweating over the fitness of 20-year-old defender Levi Colwill here.
Likewise, the Blues will travel to St. James’ Park this weekend without the likes of Ben Chilwell, Wesley Fofana and Romeo Lavia. However, bagging four goals in back-to-back appearances prior to November’s international break, Nicolas Jackson will certainly spearhead Chelsea’s charge in the north east.
Key Factors to Consider
- When Newcastle and Chelsea last met back on May 28th, Saturday’s opponents played out a 1-1 draw at St. James’ Park.
- The Blues have collected 13 points from their previous six Premier League showdowns against Newcastle.
- However, the Magpies have won six of their previous seven home fixtures across all competitions.
- Chelsea have bagged eight goals in their last two Premier League appearances.
- Likewise, the former Premier League champions have won their previous three away fixtures by an aggregate score of 10-2.
Heading into November’s international break enjoying quite the free-scoring flurry, Chelsea could be smelling the chance to spring an upset here. Winning their last three showdowns away from Stamford Bridge by an aggregate score of 10-2, the Blues will be looking to cash in on a Newcastle squad who are enduring a major injury nightmare. With the Magpies expected to be without up to 14 first-team stars this weekend, we could be set for an action-packed affair from St. James Park. With the two sides playing out a 1-1 stalemate when they last met back on May 28th, chances could come at both ends of the pitch.
Verdict: Both teams to score
Best Odds: 7/10
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