The games are coming thick and fast for the Blues as they play their third game in the space of a week against Newcastle on Saturday lunchtime. It’s the next match in a favourable run of fixtures for Antonio Conte’s men as they try and breach that chasm with Manchester City. Newcastle are in a poor run of form but came back from 2-0 down away at West Brom in midweek and could be on the up so Chelsea will have to continue their impressive form in order to gain all three points.

Team News

David Luiz is a major doubt because of a knee injury so Andreas Christensen is expected to continue in defence.
Victor Moses could make his first start since picking up a hamstring injury in September, having come on for the last 15 minutes against Swansea on Wednesday night. MIchy Batshuayi is also a doubt with the ankle injury he picked up while on international duty last month. Eden Hazard and Cesar Azpilicueta are expected to return to the starting line-up after being rested in midweek. The visitors are without Jamaal Lascelles and Paul Dummett in defence while former Chelsea player Christian Atsu will also miss out through injury.

Key Battles

If Chelsea are going to get their second consecutive clean sheet, they’ll have to keep the opposition striker quiet. Andreas Christensen will be tasked with marshalling either Joselu, Dwight Gayle or Aleksandr Mitrovic while N’Golo Kante will have to stop Jonjo Shelvey’s dangerous balls into the Newcastle forwards. DeAndre Yedlin will have to up his game if he’s going to deal with the threat of both Eden Hazard and Marcos Alonso. The two left-sided players often double-up and outnumber the opposition right back and Yedlin will certainly be lacking in confidence after last weekend’s performance against Watford. Having said that, Alonso will need to be aware of the threat posed by Matt Ritchie on Newcastle’s right-hand side. Ritchie likes to cut inside and that could prove difficult to stop for Alonso who isn’t comfortable coming inside to defend on his right foot – like we saw with Mohamed Salah last week.

Chelsea’s record against Newcastle

Last time the Magpies won at Stamford Bridge, Papiss Cisse scored a stunning brace and Newcastle ended up finishing above Chelsea in the table. Eden Hazard scored his only Chelsea hat-trick in this fixture back in 2013, scoring all three goals in a 3-0 victory over Alan Pardew’s side. The last time these two teams met, the Blues ran out 5-1 winners and plunged Steve McClaren into deep trouble. Pedro bagged a brace in that game and will be looking to add to those two goals if he starts on Saturday.

Chelsea are unbeaten since that shocking display in Rome and have kept 4 clean sheets in their last 5 games in all competitions. Meanwhile, Rafa Benitez’s side will be looking to put a bad run of form behind them on the Spaniard’s return to a club where he took temporary charge in the 2012/13 season.

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