Three consecutive victories have brought an air of confidence around Chelsea once again, but it should not give a false sense of security ahead of a tricky fixture against Newcastle United. Chelsea travel to St James’s Park having had indifferent results – especially under Jose Mourinho – at this ground over the years. Mourinho may be one of the best managers in the world, but he has never managed to win at St James’s Park. Newcastle’s current form may give the best opportunity for the Portuguese to end this record.
Newcastle are one of the three teams yet to win a Premier League game this season. In fact, the club has managed just one victory in all competitions under Steve McClaren. They slipped to a new low after being beaten by Championship outfit Sheffield Wednesday in the Capital One Cup a few days ago. All struggling teams, however, seem to raise their game against Chelsea; there is also an extra motivation to beat the champions.
Chelsea will be without the suspended Diego Costa, who is serving the second of his three-game suspension. The Spaniard may not be prolific so far this season, but he has been hugely important in every other aspect.
Loic Remy, who scored in the midweek against Walsall, and Radamel Falcao are the contenders to replace him. After Falcao’s failure to score against Walsall even with numerous chances, it may not be surprising to see Remy get the nod. Terry returned to first team action in the Capital One Cup, but Mourinho may decide to go along with the inform partnership of Gary Cahill and Kurt Zouma.
A big positive will be the improvement of Eden Hazard. The Belgian winger is looking like his old self once again. He needed a heavy deflection to score against Arsenal, but he has been making the kind of run and dribbles that saw him terrorise opposition last season. The return of Oscar has been a major catalyst in the revival and the Brazilian could once again continue as the playmaker.
Newcastle have lost their last four matches without exception. Yet, this should not be an excuse for not giving 100%. A win can potentially see Chelsea back near the top four if other results go our way.