The grass is always greener on the other side.
Newcastle United and manager Rafa Benitez are set for a difficult away game tomorrow, travelling to Stamford Bridge to face Premier League title-holders Chelsea. A mid-week draw at West Brom was an encouraging sign, but more will be needed from the Magpies in this fixture.
Injuries are a concern for Newcastle, and they will need their players at their best. On the other side, the Blues boast immense talent and enter in good form.
Ahead of the match, we had a chance to chat with FanSided’s Chelsea site, Pride of London, to gain their perspective on what to expect.
Roy Emanuel: “Where should Chelsea’s confidence level be for Saturday’s fixture versus Newcastle?”
George Perry: “Chelsea come into this game fresh off of showing that they can win a Premier League match without Eden Hazard or Cesar Azpilicueta. Take that confidence and add to it the near-certainty that a well-rested Hazard and Azpilicueta will be in the line-up against Newcastle.
Willian is coming back on form, Danny Drinkwater is fully part of the midfield rotation and Victor Moses is available for a run-out at the end. Their following match is a bit of a dead rubber in the Champions League – and it’s at home – so they can play a bit more freely against Newcastle.”
RE: “Who are three Chelsea players that Rafa Benitez should focus on?”
GP: “Eden Hazard is always the player that the opposition has to worry about. Benitez is well-versed in what Hazard brings to the game, but that does not mean he will be able to stop it. At the other end of the pitch, Andreas Christensen is quietly becoming the next great Chelsea centre-back.
Benitez should not bother trying to pull him out of position or provoke him, but rather try to exploit the space between Chelsea’s central defenders. And obviously, N’Golo Kante. Sorry, there’s just nothing you can do about that guy .”
RE: “Any concerns at Stamford Bridge with Antonio Conte’s ejection against Swansea on Wednesday? Or just a part of his personality?”
GP: “Conte overreacted. Neil Swarbrick over-overreacted. If only we could say that was the worst piece of officiating we’d seen this season. But no, not even close to it. ”
RE: “Newcastle have found some success against the Blues in the past. Any worry amongst the fans for an upset on Saturday?”
GP: “The worry of an upset goes with Rafael Benitez more than Newcastle. He is one of those managers that sometimes just finds the way to get under the Blues.
After Chelsea’s loss to Crystal Palace, there is always a worry, but no, not much.”
RE: “Your prediction for Chelsea vs. Newcastle?”
GP: “2-0 Chelsea. Newcastle will make the home side work for it more than Swansea did, and the Blues will respond in-kind. Unless the temperature on the pitch heats up over some hard tackles or fouls, it will probably be another workman-like game for the Londoners. ”