Chelsea v Newcastle: Predicted XI, Team News | Premier League 2018-19
Chelsea welcome a struggling Newcastle side on 12 January as they look to get back to winning ways and more importantly, end a barren run in front of goal. The Blues are three points clear of 5th placed Arsenal, but a top 4 finish is far from secure just yet, especially if their inconsistent run is taken into account.
However, considering recent woes at St. James' Park and recent record against the Toons, Maurizio Sarri and co. will head into the game with a clear advantage. In their last six visits to Stamford Bridge, Newcastle have shipped 18 goals while scoring only two.
While Chelsea have the second best defensive record at home, having conceded just eight goals, Rafa Benitez's side have failed to find the back of the net in three of their last four games.
Overall at home, Chelsea have lost just once in 23 home games against the Magpies. Their talisman, Eden Hazard, has scored six and assisted once in five PL appearances at the Bridge against Newcastle.
Despite this, Chelsea will have to convert their chances and not wait for the full-time whistle. Here's your team news and predicted XI.
Maurizio Sarri acknowledged recent struggles as well, saying:
"We need to solve this problem because also in the last match we played I think very well with continuity and a very good offensive and defensive phase, with a great performance from the physical point of view the best of the season. But we didn't score so now we have this problem. We only have to work and try and solve it as soon as possible, I think."
He announced that Ruben Loftus-Cheek's back problem will keep him out of the game, while Alvaro Morata has trained with the squad and could be included in the matchday squad. However, with Hazard set to lead the line and Giroud to remain on the bench, it seems like we will not see Morata against Newcastle.
Federico Fernandez, Mohamed Diame and Jonjo Shelvey are all major doubts.
Regardless, Benitez is expected to chart out a five-man defence, followed by Isaac Hayden and Mohamed Diame in midfield. Salomon Rondon, who has scored each of his team's last three away goals, will spearhead the attack.
Chelsea (4-3-3): Arrizabalaga; Azpilicueta, Luiz, Rudiger, Alonso; Kovacic, Jorginho, Kante, Pedro, Hazard, Willian
Newcastle United (5-2-3): Dubravka; Dummett, Lascelles, Schar, Lejeune, Yedlin; Diame, Hayden; Ritchie, Rondon, Atsu