STAR PREVIEW: Chelsea v Newcastle

The Maurizio Sarri era at Chelsea went off to a flying start with five straight wins and 14 goals, but as the season has gone on they’ve found things slightly more difficult and victory isn’t guaranteed against Newcastle tonight.

They had a productive December with five wins from seven games but what’s notable is that the goals which were flowing earlier have been harder to come by in recent weeks. The quality of Eden Hazard is continuing to earn them points whilst N’Golo Kante has been vital in a much more attacking role this season, scoring the opener against Manchester City and the only goal against Crystal Palace, but otherwise the going has been harder for the Blues going forward.

This spells trouble against Newcastle. Rafa Benitez’s side have are struggling – in much the same way they were last season – and without investment that’s likely to be the case in future. However, they have proven to be a rather stubborn obstacle for the top teams this season – and only two top half sides, Liverpool and West Ham, have beaten them by more than one goal.

At St James’ Park they have generally sat with 10 men behind the ball whilst Rondon had provided goals on the counter (with six, he has four more goals than any other Newcastle player) but they made Manchester City work hard for a 2-1 win earlier in the season at the Etihad and Liverpool’s 4-0 win at Anfield seems to be an exception rather than the rule.

There’s not much appeal in backing them to strike a blow on the Blues but wasteful finishing has cost Chelsea severely of late – they had 17 shots and 72% possession against Leicester but lost to a Jamie Vardy goal, and those stats were literally repeated against Southampton when they drew 0-0.

Chelsea v Newcastle United
Premier League
17:30 BT Sport 1 / BT Sport 4K UHD

HEAD TO HEAD RECORD
(Maximum 10 matches)
AUG 2018 PREMIER LEAGUE Newcastle 1-2 Chelsea
MAY 2018 PREMIER LEAGUE Newcastle 3-0 Chelsea
JAN 2018 FA CUP Chelsea 3-0 Newcastle
DEC 2017 PREMIER LEAGUE Chelsea 3-1 Newcastle
FEB 2016 PREMIER LEAGUE Chelsea 5-1 Newcastle
SEP 2015 PREMIER LEAGUE Newcastle 2-2 Chelsea
JAN 2015 PREMIER LEAGUE Chelsea 2-0 Newcastle
DEC 2014 PREMIER LEAGUE Newcastle 2-1 Chelsea
FEB 2014 PREMIER LEAGUE Chelsea 3-0 Newcastle
NOV 2013 PREMIER LEAGUE Newcastle 2-0 Chelsea

Chelsea have failed to score in three of their last five Premier League games at Stamford Bridge, as many as in their previous 22 in the competition, and they have scored only 11 goals in their last 10 games. Newcastle can make life very difficult for the hosts if they repeat their usual tactics and they are 11/10 with a two goal start, something that looks generous.

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