Coming off an impressive victory over Manchester City at the Etihad last Monday, Chelsea are conceivably ‘on top of the world.’ They beat the club that many believed to be the Premier League‘s best, not by parking the bus, but by driving said bus over, around and through City’s starting eleven.
Now an almost fully fit Chelsea is hosting a maligned Newcastle United side at Stamford Bridge. The Magpies beat Chelsea 2-0 at St. James Park earlier this season, causing Jose Mourinho to claim that he made “eleven mistakes” when choosing his squad. This time around, the first-choice back line has become clear as has the attacking midfield three of Eden Hazard, Oscar and Willian; only the defensive midfield is still an area of regular tinkering.
As for Newcastle, their midfield talisman, Yohan Cabaye, has moved on to Paris Saint-Germain forcing Vernon Anita into a more defensive role. Their inability to properly replace Cabaye in January was blindingly evident in their 3-0 thrashing at the hands of rivals, Sunderland. They will also be without leading goal-scorer Loic Remy, who continues to serve his red card ban, as well as Cheick Tiote, Yohan Gouffran and Papiss Cisse, all with fitness concerns.
According to Chelsea’s official website:
“56 percent of Newcastle’s Barclays Premier League goals this term have come from Yohan Cabaye, now with PSG, and Loic Remy, who is suspended this weekend.”
Recently, the Tyneside club have been on a poor run of form and the victims of a goal drought.
5 – Newcastle United have failed to score in five of their last six Premier League games, losing four & winning just one in this run. Blanks — OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) February 7, 2014
On the other hand:
“Chelsea have the tightest defense in the Premier League, conceding only 20 goals in 24 games including 10 clean sheets.”
Newcastle are in no way out of it. They have a better record on the road than they do at home and will look to avenge their derby loss with a statement win. Chelsea, a team known to play down to lesser competition — 3-2 at Stoke City — need to treat this match the same as they did at City. Jose Mourinho’s 88-game home win streak is on the line, and Newcastle would love to spoil the Blues’ party.