Revenge will be the main thing in the minds of almost all Chelsea fans when the Blues will host Newcastle United at the Stamford Bridge on Saturday. The previous game of this season between the two sides, at the St. James’ Park, ended with a final scoreline of 2-1 in the favor of the home team. The game marked a big twist in Chelsea’s title run and also their first loss of the season.
Let’s have a look at the Newcastle team in our Opposition Scouting Report:
THE TEAM AND THE RECENT FORM
Newcastle United FC, based in Newcastle upon Tyne or Newcastle, was founded in 1892 after the merger of Newcastle East End and Newcastle West End. The club was relegated from the Premier League at the end of the 2008-09 season, for the first time since joining it in 1993.
However, just after one season, they were again promoted back to the English top flight in the 2010-11 season and have not been relegated since. They have won 6 FA Cups and 4 League Championship titles throughout their history. NUFC is the twentieth richest club in the world in terms of annual revenue and have had the highest ranking of fifth in the world.
The Magpies are currently placed at 10th position in the league with 27 points from 20 games played, including 7 wins, 6 draws, and 7 losses. Since we last faced them, the team has played 5 matches, having lost 3 of them, and a win and a draw on one occasion each. A good news for the Blues is the poor away form of their opponents on Saturday. In their last 4 away games, Newcastle have suffered three defeats at the hands of Arsenal, Manchester United and West Ham, and settling for a draw against Burnley.
FORMATION AND STYLE OF PLAY
It could be a clash of two 4-2-3-1 systems when Newcastle and Chelsea will go head to head tomorrow, with both having enjoyed significant success with the formation. In 10 of their first 12 games this season, the Magpies lined up in the 4-2-3-1 formation. This change has brought positive results, with the team losing just 2 games out of 10. The new caretaker manager, John Carver, is expected to keep the same formation with which Alan Pardew brought a big change in the team’s style of play.
Newcastle’s back four have been known to play long ball football under Alan Pardew and being reliable to control the game from the back. Their central midfielders have increased the stability, providing commitment and energy with their good positioning and defensive abilities to the whole team. The back four and front four are thus allowed to take the ball forward, ensuring that a shield is ever-present to guard the defence. The two wide attacking midfielders often pull wide in an attempt to reach the touchline.
Newcastle United has been known to field an aggressive team with high-energy and high-tempo, which usually tries to play on the front foot. They try to get the ball into the final third quickly and effectively, and look to find openings from their favored right flank area.
STRENGTH – KEY PLAYERS
1. Tim Krul: A slight piece of good news for the team in between all the injury issues, is the return of their star goalkeeper after a long injury period. The team hasn’t kept any clean sheet since the time Krul last played for them, which was against QPR on 22 November. It would require a display of heroics from the GK if the Magpies are to get anything from Chelsea at their own ground.
2. Moussa Sissoko: Well, what can we say about this enthusiastic young man! The French international, who is playing ‘the best football of his career’ at the moment, clinched two important goals in a 3-2 win over Chelsea in February 2013 which marked his entry into English football. Against Manchester City in the Capital One Cup this season, he came off the bench to score the winning goal and seal a wonderful 2-0 win. He repeated the same trick when he led the team against QPR in November, showing predatory instinct inside the penalty area and securing a vital win with a late goal, in the absence of captain Fabricio Coloccini. The 25-year-old midfielder was also nominated for the PFA Fans’ Player of the Month award for November along with Sergio Aguero, Eden Hazard and Alexis Sanchez.
The problem of injuries has come to haunt Newcastle United in a more furious way this time around. Gabriel Obertan, De Jong, Sammy Ameobi, Ryan Taylor, Steven Taylor, Rolando Aarons and Mehdi Abeid will remain unavailable due to injuries. The biggest disappointment has to be Sammy Ameobi who kept the Blues at their toes, along with Papiss Cisse who is on international duty nowadays at African Cup of Nations, when the two sides met last time.
With so many players unavailable, their attack and midfield is likely to suffer a major blow. A second choice team can land them in trouble and put extra pressure on their defence.
HEAD TO HEAD
The fixture between these two sides has seen 149 games throughout history. Chelsea’s dominance hasn’t been too big with 61 wins, while Newcastle have 50. On 38 occasions, the game has ended in a draw. Last season, both the teams won their respective home games in the Premier League, Chelsea by 3-0 and Newcastle with a scoreline of 2-0. And the first game of the fixture this season, at St. James’ Park saw Newcastle registering a 2-1 win over Jose Mourinho’s Chelsea.
Things are different this time and very much in our favor, with many big names unavailable for Newcastle. Moreover, it will be our ground they will play at and are expected to return empty hand considering their recent away form. And for us, it is yet another shot at important 3 points because anything less than that, will surely see us go below the 1st position for the first time this season.
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Edited By: Vikram Vadiganeni