PRE-MATCH BRIEFING: CHELSEA VS NEWCASTLE UNITED, INJURY UPDATES

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Our furthest flung opponents in the Premier League visit Stamford Bridge on Saturday. Club historian Rick Glanvill and club statistician Paul Dutton trail our meeting with the Toon…

TALKING POINTS

Victory against Newcastle on Saturday – the only match to be staged at the Bridge in more than a month – could lift Chelsea as high as second in the Premier League table, and for more than just a few hours should other results go our way.

The Blues kick off before all the sides in the top six except Leicester, whose home game against seventh-placed Burnley has the same start time. Meanwhile Manchester City travel to south London for the Saturday evening match against Crystal Palace, currently sixth, Manchester United entertain leaders Liverpool on Sunday and Arsenal’s trip to Sheffield United does not come until Monday.

No side has suffered more defeats at the Bridge in the Premier League era than Newcastle’s 17 (matched by Tottenham). Chelsea have won the last six top-tier home meetings with them – scoring 17 goals and conceding three – and five of the past six home or away in all competitions.

A second league clean sheet would be handy – the Blues have not managed a shut-out in any of the past six top-flight meetings with the Magpies.

PRE-MATCH BRIEFING: CHELSEA VS NEWCASTLE UNITED, INJURY UPDATES

Away goals bonanza

The current sequence of four wins on the spin, secured with the 4-1 win at Southampton, is a first in Frank Lampard’s nascent coaching career. A fifth straight success in all competitions would be the club’s best run for almost a year.

That Saints result came on top of a 3-2 at Carrow Road and 5-2 at Molineux. The last time Chelsea scored three or more goals in three consecutive top-flight away matches in the same season was October/November 2004, when four goals ever knocked past West Bromwich Albion, Fulham and Charlton. No wonder there was such a tangible bond between the players and travelling support after the final whistle at St Mary’s – fans love what they are seeing right now.
CELEBRATING WITH SUPPORTERS AT SOUTHAMPTON

The early flurry also made Lampard’s side only the third to score three or more first-half goals in successive games on the road in the Premier League era (the others were Manchester United in 1993/94 and Tottenham Hotspur last season).

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Opening scorer Tammy Abraham has now hit nine goals in 11 games across all competitions, his best start in senior football since the same tally in a prolific loan spell at Bristol City in 2016/17.

Premier League top scorers

Tammy Abraham 8
Sergio Aguero 8
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang 7
Teemu Pukki 6
Raheem Sterling 6

Eden Hazard’s departure understandably prompted questions of how the deficit in goals and assists he contributed would be made up. Including Abraham’s strikes (one more than the Belgian had at this stage last season), Chelsea have managed more attempts on goal (94) in the league than anyone except Manchester City.

With Mason Mount regularly finding the net, N’Golo Kante doubling his previous best return this early in a Chelsea season, and Christian Pulisic and Callum Hudson-Odoi weighing in with assists, there is a fresh feel to the Blues’ goal threat this season.

The current sequence of four wins on the spin, secured with the 4-1 win at Southampton, is a first in Frank Lampard’s nascent coaching career. A fifth straight success in all competitions would be the club’s best run for almost a year.

That Saints result came on top of a 3-2 at Carrow Road and 5-2 at Molineux. The last time Chelsea scored three or more goals in three consecutive top-flight away matches in the same season was October/November 2004, when four goals ever knocked past West Bromwich Albion, Fulham and Charlton. No wonder there was such a tangible bond between the players and travelling support after the final whistle at St Mary’s – fans love what they are seeing right now.

The early flurry also made Lampard’s side only the third to score three or more first-half goals in successive games on the road in the Premier League era (the others were Manchester United in 1993/94 and Tottenham Hotspur last season).

Opening scorer Tammy Abraham has now hit nine goals in 11 games across all competitions, his best start in senior football since the same tally in a prolific loan spell at Bristol City in 2016/17.

Premier League top scorers

Tammy Abraham 8
Sergio Aguero 8
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang 7
Teemu Pukki 6
Raheem Sterling 6

Eden Hazard’s departure understandably prompted questions of how the deficit in goals and assists he contributed would be made up. Including Abraham’s strikes (one more than the Belgian had at this stage last season), Chelsea have managed more attempts on goal (94) in the league than anyone except Manchester City.

With Mason Mount regularly finding the net, N’Golo Kante doubling his previous best return this early in a Chelsea season, and Christian Pulisic and Callum Hudson-Odoi weighing in with assists, there is a fresh feel to the Blues’ goal threat this season.

International injuries

The respective coaches of Denmark, England U21s, France and Croatia saw Andreas Christensen, Reece James, N’Golo Kante and Mateo Kovacic injured during the international break. At least none look to have long-term problems.

Since 2005 the global football body FIFA have implemented a Club Protection Programme which compensates clubs for players injured for 28 days or more while on international duty. It comes in the form of a subsidy of the footballer’s salary, and FIFA reported this year that 200 such claims had been made between 2015 and 2018.

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Meanwhile, others such as Emerson may be available again. He was showing fine form until his injury during the Liverpool match in September.

On the discipline front the increasingly effective Jorginho will have to tread carefully over the next nine Premier League matches. He has accrued four yellow cards to date and a fifth before game number 20 in the top-flight would mean an immediate one-match suspension.

Impect Media, who analyse Premier League club performances to determine which players ‘bypass’ or out-play an opponent the most with their passing or dribbling, have Jorginho as their highest-rated central midfielder, and the Blues as their top-ranked team in that respect.

Carabao Cup and Champions League catch-up

Carabao Cup round four opponents Manchester United maybe without David De Gea when we play them after their first-choice goalkeeper was injured playing for Spain on Tuesday.

It is bottom versus top in Holland this weekend as Ajax, our next Champions League hosts, travel to winless RKC Waalwijk. The Amsterdam club are unbeaten so far in the Eredivisie, with Dusan Tadic and Quincy Promes their top marksmen.
 

London Toon

Until recently the Geordies found London a barren hunting ground, but they have tasted victory on their past two trips to the capital, including Tottenham’s only home league defeat so far this season.

That was one of their two wins this season – both by one goal to nil against one of last season’s top-six clubs. The other was Manchester United a fortnight ago, when 19-year-old Matty Longstaff scored on his impressive Premier League debut.

Success for Steve Bruce against his former club came in the 23rd attempt as a coach and lifted the Magpies out of the relegation zone. Their problem has been a lack of goals: only Watford, with four, have scored fewer this season than the North-Easterners’ five.

Bruce may not need reminding that he has lost in almost three-quarters of his encounters with the Blues, and that as a player Frank Lampard scored seven goals against the teams he has coached. His current club’s only victory in 25 visits to the Bridge came under Alan Pardew in May 2012.

Coming up

Next weekend’s league hosts Burnley are at Leicester on Saturday. The Clarets have taken eight points from the last possible 12, their best run since the 2-2 draw at Stamford Bridge in April.

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It is Conti Cup time again for Emma Hayes’s side, who rose to second in the WSL with last weekend’s thrilling victory against previously unbeaten Arsenal. Sunday’s hosts, Crystal Palace, are currently level on points with Chelsea in Group D.

Undefeated Chelsea, third in the U18 Premier League, are back in action from midday on Saturday, taking on bottom club Norwich. Eighteen-year-old Albania striker Armando Broja has scored six times in five games so far.

Fixture novelties

Yesterday’s fixtures announcement showed eight Chelsea games in December and January will be moved for TV coverage, and also revealed how Amazon Prime Video will approach the streaming rights packages they have bought.

Most striking is that in a break from tradition, nine Boxing Day fixtures will be broadcast across four time slots: 12.30pm, 3pm (when Chelsea host Southampton), 5.30pm and 8pm. Wolves versus Manchester City has been moved to 27 December.

A deal the US company struck with BT Sport means pubs will be able to show all the matches, which will go down better in some Christmas households than others.

Elsewhere among the TV changes there are two unusual start times for the Blues. The home match against Aston Villa on Wednesday 4 December, also on Amazon Prime, now has a 7.30pm kick-off – a rarity last seen for Boxing Day 2018 at Watford – while Arsenal’s 21 January visit to the Bridge has switched to the suddenly fashionable 8.15pm slot.


Fulham Broadway station closed

It is always worth checking travel information on matchdays, and especially so this weekend as the usual District Line service will not be serving the closest station to Stamford Bridge, Fulham Broadway.

The nearest open stations will be West Brompton (London Overground, Clapham Junction to Stratford via Willesden Junction), and Earl’s Court or South Kensington (Piccadilly Line). Buses 14, 211 and 414 also stop outside the Bridge or nearby.

Chelsea family in mourning

Tuesday marks the 23rd anniversary of the tragic death of former Chelsea director and vice-chair Matthew Harding while returning by helicopter from a League Cup game at Bolton. There were further reminders of life’s fragility last week as two key members of Chelsea supporters’ groups passed away.

Joe Anastasi (Chelsea Supporters’ Club Malta) and Trizia Fiorellino (Chelsea Supporters’ Group) will be sadly missed by friends, families and everyone who knew them at the club.


Premier League fixtures

Saturday
Everton v West Ham 12.30pm (BT Sport)
Aston Villa v Brighton 3pm
Bournemouth v Norwich 3pm
Chelsea v Newcastle 3pm
Leicester v Burnley 3pm
Tottenham v Watford 3pm
Wolves v Southampton 3pm
Crystal Palace v Manchester City 5.30pm (Sky Sports)

Sunday
Manchester United v Liverpool 4.30pm (Sky Sports)

Monday
Sheffield United v Arsenal 8pm (Sky Sports)

SOURCE: CHELSEAFC.COM


 

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