Newcastle United are the visitors to Stamford Bridge on Sunday as the Blues turn their attention to the FA Cup fourth round. Antonio Conte has a rather depleted squad to call from so expect a few lesser-known faces to be seen in and around the Chelsea squad while Newcastle are looking to progress in a competition they’ve won 6 times.
Alvaro Morata (back) and Thibaut Courtois (ankle) are still unavailable through injury while Willian will also miss out after coming off with a hamstring injury in midweek.
Cesc Fabregas returned to training on Friday and could make an appearance. Ross Barkley could also make his first start for the club after coming on as a sub in the defeat at Arsenal.
Newcastle are without Jesus Gamez and Florian Lejeune through injury and cannot field Kenedy against his parent club.
Probable Chelsea XI: Caballero; Ampadu, Luiz, Azpilicueta; Zappacosta, Drinkwater, Bakayoko, Pedro; Barkley, Hazard, Batshuayi.
Probable Newcastle XI: Elliot; Yedlin, Lascelles, Clark, Dummett; Hayden, Shelvey, Diame; Ritchie, Murphy, Joselu.
Isaac Hayden will drop into a back five for Newcastle when out of possession which means Chelsea’s attacking midfielders have that extra space to operate in. It’s up to the likes of Mo Diame and Jonjo Shelvey to stop Ross Barkley getting too much time on the ball.
Chelsea have already experienced the pace of Josh Murphy of Norwich in this cup run. This time they come up against his brother, Jacob, who has just as much speed as his twin but, like we saw at the Etihad last week, a final product as well.
Michy Batshuayi will need to prove his worth to Antonio Conte with the Italian in the market for another striker so he’s going to have to be at his best against Jamal Lascelles and Ciaran Clark in order to impress his boss.
Chelsea’s record vs Newcastle
The Magpies haven’t won at Stamford Bridge since 2012 when a stunning Papiss Cisse double downed the soon-to-be Champions of Europe. Since then, the Blues have a 100% record against Sunday’s visitors (scoring 15 goals in 5 games).
Eden Hazard got the only hat-trick of his Chelsea career at home to Newcastle in a 3-0 win back in 2013 and he also got a brace last time Newcastle visiting last month.
These two have met 11 times in the FA Cup over the years with the Blues coming out on top in 5 of those. The last tie was in 2006 when John Terry’s goal was enough to move into the semi-finals.
With Manchester City running away with the league and Chelsea having to get past Barcelona in the Champions League, the FA Cup is the most realistic chance of silverware this season and it could well save Antonio Conte’s job in the process.