Chelsea vs. Newcastle
Venue: Stamford Bridge
Kick off: 6:30PM
Chelsea play host to Newcastle United in the Premier League looking to extend their unbeaten record in the Premier League to four matches.
Chelsea have recorded 13 points from their last six outings in the Premier League, but that has not stopped reports suggesting that there could be mass changes at Stamford Bridge before the end of January.
The future of Callum Hudson-Odoi is dominating the headlines, but there is every suggestion that there could be as many as four incomings and even more departures as the Blues look to improve their squad.
Such upheaval at the midway point of a campaign is usually considered in a negative light but too many of Chelsea’s squad – a well-populated one at that – have under-performed and the club have concerns that they may miss out on Champions League qualification for a second successive season.
Chelsea have performed strongly in defence with only 16 goals being conceded in 21 outings in the Premier League, but their performance in the final third remains a concern and it will be regarded as a surprise if a new forward does not arrive in the coming weeks.
Alvaro Morata and Olivier Giroud have just six goals between them, and Eden Hazard being used down the middle is leaving the Blues struggling to fill the void left by the Belgian on the flank.
Hazard cut a frustrated figure as Chelsea lost out to Tottenham Hotspur in the EFL Cup semi-finals in midweek, and the lack of a threat in the air may force the hand of the club’s hierarchy.
Chelsea hold a three-point lead over fifth-placed Arsenal in the standings but with the teams meeting at the Emirates Stadium next weekend, it has only increased the pressure on the West Londoners rediscovering their clinical touch at Stamford Bridge.
Maurizio Sarri has witnessed his side fail to score against either Leicester City or Southampton, and a third successive home game without success would be regarded as a huge blow to the club’s ambitions to finish in the top four.
On the other hand, Newcastle United manager Rafael Benitez has previously claimed that remaining in the Premier League this season will be regarded as “a miracle”, and the Spaniard may feel justified with his side registering just six points from their last eight games.
Three successive victories at the start of November has kept the Magpies out of trouble, but Benitez will be aware that the teams below Newcastle are improving at a time when the North-East outfit continue to struggle.
Newcastle only avoided defeat to Blackburn Rovers in the FA Cup due to a disputed penalty, although the stalemate against the Championship side will not paper over the cracks which have been present at the club for a lengthy period.
Benitez is desperate to add fresh faces to his first-team squad, and the Spaniard will undoubtedly target a new player for the final third with Newcastle netting just four goals in the league since December 1.
Salomon Rondon has done the job asked of him in attack with five goals and two assists coming from 15 outings, but none of his teammates have added more than two strikes in the top flight.
Newcastle have a tough run of fixtures over the next three weeks with Manchester City and Tottenham Hotspur to follow next weekend’s huge showdown with Cardiff City, but Benitez will want new arrivals in before the trip to Wembley Stadium on February 2.
Chelsea possible XI: Arrizabalaga, Azpilicueta, Rudiger, Luiz, Alonso, Kante, Jorginho, Kovacic, Willian, Hazard, Pedro.
Newcastle possible XI: Dubravka, Lascelles, Schar, Lejeune, Yedlin, Diame, Hayden, Dummett, Ritchie, Rondon, Kenedy.