Venue: Stamford Bridge
Date: Saturday, 25 August
Kick-off: 17.30 BST
Last time we played Newcastle we were probably not all that focused on the game to be honest. It was just before our FA Cup final last season, we had the Champions League on our minds as well and let’s face it, that was the basket Roberto Di Matteo had got his eggs in. Fair play to them though, they were having a decent spell and took full advantage with a couple of cracking goals from Papiss Cisse.
This time, it’s the visitors who’ve had Europe to think about ahead of today’s game, with a Europa League play-off less than 48 hours ago although from what I gather, they probably left most of today’s first team out of that game anyway.
Of course, our first team have already played a couple of Premier League games this week as well, kicking our season off with a win against Wigan Sunday and coming back from a 2-1 deficit to beat Reading 4-2 Wednesday night. So we might not exactly be as fresh as daisies ourselves although before Newcastle get too excited by that, I’d have to say I doubt very much the likes of Hazard and Oscar will have any less energy about them than they’ve shown us so far this week.
We might have been pretty inspiring in attack against Reading midweek, but given we went behind far too cheaply to start with, ahead of this evening’s kick-off, Roberto Di Matteo says “It’s all great and everyone wants to see a lot of flair play, but to win games you need a good balance to it. We’ll have to try and be solid. That’s how you win more games. We’ll look at that.”
Having taken 3 points off us towards the end of last season, Alan Pardew meanwhile, seems pretty confident to be facing us today saying “Chelsea are the European champions. They won the Champions League and they have improved since then – Hazard looks a great buy. We know him well, so we know what to expect from him. There are no surprises in that team, but I think in some ways, we can match them and give a good showing there. Certainly with this team, I think we are a little bit stronger than last year.”
For Chelsea, new signing Marko Marin (hamstring) remains out and John Terry (neck) is doubtful so David Luiz could come back in after his midweek rest.
For Newcastle, Cheick Tiote (calf) and Shola Ameobi (hamstring) remain doubts and there’s late fitness tests for Fabricio Coloccini (thigh) and Demba Ba (shin).
CHELSEA (from): Cech, Ferreira, Ivanovic, Cahill, Luiz, Cole, Bertrand, Mikel, Meireles, Malouda, Lampard, Ramires, Mata, Hazard, Oscar, Piazon, Torres, Sturridge, Turnbull.
NEWCASTLE (from): Krul, Elliot, Harper, Santon, R. Taylor, Tavernier, Coloccini, Perch, Williamson, S. Taylor, Simpson, Cabaye, Gutierrez, Obertan, Marveaux, Gosling, Anita, Bigirimana, Amalfitano, Cisse, Ba, Campbell.
Chelsea 0-2 Newcastle (2nd May 2012)
Newcastle hadn’t managed a win at Stamford Bridge since 1986 but as we know, that particular record has gone now, which means they’re unbeaten in their last 4 league and cup games away to us. Their win against us in May has been our only defeat at the Bridge this calendar year though, so I guess that’s some consolation. Mind you, whilst there’s no doubt whatsoever the likes of Hazard, Mata, Oscar and Sturridge had us sitting up in our seats from an attacking front midweek, we weren’t as tight defensively as we should have been and a side like Newcastle are more than capable of exploiting that. So whilst there’ll undoubtedly be goals in this one, I’ve got a feeling we could end up conceding at least as many as we score.