Newcastle v Chelsea: Match Preview (26 August 2018)
A mouthwatering tie, and deservedly stands scheduled for a Super Sunday in the English Premier League. Well, Newcastle United have always been one of the small bad patches in the Chelsea Football Club's modern day football history.
Right from Papis Cisse's crazy strike which defied the laws of physics against Chelsea to the unbeatable run of Chelsea broken by Newcastle 4 years ago, at the same place, St. James Park. Certainly, Chelsea doesn't have good memories of this tie.
But Chelsea has been off to a blistering start, scoring 6 goals in their last 2 games, 3 of them coming away from home, and 3 of them at home but against the Unai Emery led Arsenal.
This is going to be the keepers' night to at least decide this game to some extent, where if Newcastle puts those crosses in well, which they usually do, we could see the Chelsea defence struggle, and the keeper has had to step in.
And with a midfield, boasting the likes of Pedro, Hazard, Willian, Kante, the Newcastle keeper, if goes numb even for a minute, that is going to make them pay. Kepa is too early to judge, but he will be tested in the Sunday evening fixture, and Dubravka is going to have a really busy night and he might be really praying not to have a bad one.
Newcastle hasn't been very loose in their defensive positions this season, and it shows, having conceded just 2 goals against a Tottenham side, which boasts of more than 3 lead margins against mid-table clubs like Newcastle, and a goalless draw against Cardiff away from home, which always is a tough fixture.
Coming to Chelsea, if anyone has seen the last 15 minutes before the end of the first half of Chelsea v Arsenal, it perfectly describes what the Chelsea defence is right now.
In shambles. Been lucky to not have conceded 5 against Arsenal, the Chelsea defence is really shaky at the moment, and the only bright light coming out of it shines on Rudiger, who is at the moment, the best in form defender at Chelsea. By a slight margin, Newcastle does have an upper hand over Chelsea at the defence.
There is some hot news that Eden Hazard might be starting his first game for Chelsea this season, having come off the bench and provided two assists in two games (in the wake of the Real Madrid big interest).
If Chelsea were to field a side with Hazard and Willian on the wings, Jorginho and Kante in the Center, and Pedro just playing in an Attacking Mid position, that might comfortably seal them the game, because this might be in the top 2 midfield set-ups in the Premier League.
For Newcastle, Jonjo Shelvy and Matt Ritchie can make a difference because they have been really dominating in Newcastle's pre-season and the first 2 games. But they come up in a midfield battle against Jorginho and Kante.
Jorginho has been not been the best ball winner ever, but N'Golo Kante can actually be difficult to contain even if he is solely against 2 players. So, Chelsea wins the midfield battle against Newcastle, by miles.
This is a straightforward battle between Alvaro Morata and Joselu. There are actually 2 things very common between these two players - both of them have played for Real Madrid as strikers and both of them are extremely good in the air. But there is a big difference in the approach.
Alvaro Morata is definitely putting the ball in the net but only if the delivery is good enough by the supplier, which in most cases, for him, is Azpilicueta. But Joselu is an aerial poacher. Extremely good in the air, and also in bringing the ball down and striking it, I think for a Chelsea Defence which I mentioned seems to be in shambles right now, it will be a difficult evening going up with a striker as good as Joselu.
Yes, not in the same books as Aguero, Salah, Lukaku, but this guy has potential. Plus one for Newcastle here.
Even if Newcastle has the home support, come on its St. James Park, and my analysis clearly indicating Newcastle being on inferior terms better than Chelsea in few positions, Chelsea can pull through this, but this wouldn't be a 5 goal thriller, like Chelsea's last game was.
I think both teams are going to take a conservative approach. But Chelsea are going to push for a win, just because Maurizio Sarri plays to win, and not for draws. The Chelsea midfield can unleash their individual talents and that will be enough to see Newcastle off despite the few Chelsea overall drawbacks, highlighted in red by Arsenal last week.
Newcastle can pull off a blinder, only and only if, they try and penetrate on Chelsea's defensive weakness and the aerial threat that they possess. I will go for 40% chances of this being a 0-0 draw and 60% chances of a 0-1 Chelsea away win.
Best Lineups (Opinion)
Newcastle (4-2-3-1): Dubravka - Dummet, Clark, Lascelles (c), Yedlin - Shelvy, Diame - Atsu, Perez, Ritchie - Joselu - (Rafael Benitez) - Players to Watch: Joselu & Jonjo Shelvy
Chelsea (4-5-1): Kepa - Azpilicueta (c), Rudiger, Christensen, Marcos Alonso - Hazard, Jorginho, Pedro, Kante, Willian - Morata - (Maurizio Sarri) - Players to Watch: Eden Hazard & Pedro
Other Basic Facts
Stadium: St. James Park
Team Forms: Newcastle (L,D) & Chelsea (W,W)
Team Positions in League: Newcastle (15th) & Chelsea (4th)
Date & Time: 26th August 2018, 15:00 Local Time (20:30 IST)