Good afternoon! Thank you very much for joining Sports Mole
for today's Premier League clash between Chelsea and Newcastle United
at Stamford Bridge!
Chelsea have really begun to find their feet under Frank Lampard in recent weeks and go into today's match looking for a fifth straight win across all competitions, although Newcastle may just fancy their chances having toppled Tottenham and Manchester United already this season. Those are the Magpies' only two league wins under Steve Bruce, though, and Everton's win in today's early kickoff leaves Newcastle just one place and one point above the relegation zone now.
Kickoff is just five minutes away, so let's have a look at the team news before we get started!
CHELSEA STARTING XI:
Kepa; Azpilicueta, Tomori, Zouma, Alonso; Barkley, Jorginho, Mount; Willian, Abraham, Hudson-Odoi
SUBS: Caballero, James, Guehi, Kovacic, Pulisic, Giroud, Batshuayi
NEWCASTLE STARTING XI:
Dubravka; Yedlin, Schar, Lascelles, Clark, Willems; Almiron, S Longstaff, M Longstaff, Saint-Maximin; Joelinton
SUBS: Darlow, Krafth, Dummett, Shelvey, Atsu, Carroll, Gayle
KICKOFF: Here we go! Newcastle get us underway at Stamford Bridge!
Chelsea are immediately on the front foot here and pushing for an early breakthrough, making a couple of early forays into the opposition box already. No tests for Dubravka yet, but it has been a positive start for the hosts.
Better from Newcastle now as they begin to gain a foothold in the game, seeing some of the ball inside the Chelsea half. They will need Joelinton to make it stick up front if they are to avoid a relentless wave of blue shirts attacking their defence.
Both sides still probing for a way through in these opening exchanges. Chelsea, as expected, are seeing more of the ball, but Newcastle are still seeing a decent amount themselves and it is by no means one-way traffic right now.
SHOT! Saint-Maximin has the first shot of the afternoon as he tries his luck with a side-footed half-volley from 25 yards, but it flies high and wide of the target.
UPDATE: Things go from bad to worse for Tottenham! They have conceded the first goal of the 3pm kickoffs, and it comes at home to winless Watford!
A surging run from Saint-Maximin down the middle as he races away from Mount before finding Joelinton, whose touch inside allows the defender to make a good challenge.
Newcastle come forward again here with Joelinton and Saint-Maximin involved once more, eventually finding Almiron. The January arrival is still looking for his first Premier League goal but tries his luck from range, only to see his effort blocked.
Almost a calamity for Newcastle as Abraham puts the pressure on Dubravka and almost gets to the ball before the keeper, who just about does enough to avert the danger.
CHANCE! The first big chance of the contest falls to Chelsea, and Willian really should do better here! Hudson-Odoi advances down the left flank and lifts the ball in for Willian, who is unmarked but gets his header all wrong and nods it wide of the target.
This has been an encouraging start to the game for Newcastle, but they need to avoid those lapses which lead to chances like that one for Willian. The Brazilian should have done better and suddenly, after a bright opening 20 minutes or so, Newcastle find themselves lucky to still be level.
CHANCE! Another chance for Chelsea, and this time it is thwarted by a fine save from Dubravka! Jorginho sprays the ball out to Hudson-Odoi, who in turn drops it inside to Mount. The youngster spins on the ball inside the box and gets a shot away on the turn, but Dubravka is there to make the save.
UPDATE: Brighton have taken the lead against Aston Villa at Villa Park, with Adam Webster getting the goal.
YELLOW CARD! Alonso is the first name in the book tonight for a rash challenge on Yedlin, putting in a heavy tackle which wasn't really needed. VAR will have a look at a possible red, but a yellow will suffice.
SHOT! Half a chance for Newcastle as Chelsea fail to clear their lines, allowing the visitors to work the ball out left for Saint-Maximin. He stands a cross up to the back post where Joelinton is, but the striker is stretching and cannot get enough contact on his header to test the keeper.
SHOT! Chelsea respond with a sight of goal themselves, with Willian cutting inside from the right flank and trying to catch Dubravka out at the near post, only to drag his shot wide.
UPDATE: There could be a couple of shocks on the cards today! Spurs are losing at home to Watford, and now Leicester have fallen behind at home to Burnley courtesy of Chris Wood's goal.
Half an hour gone in this match and Newcastle are giving as good as they get so far. Chelsea have had the best chances, but Newcastle are very much in this game.
Danger for the visitors here as Chelsea win a free kick in an almost ideal shooting position...
...but Lascelles jumps in the wall to block Willian's effort.
Chelsea are struggling to make the breakthrough against a stubborn Newcastle defence here, but Hudson-Odoi has looked the most likely. The young winger has produced some delightful flicks and tricks, and usually in the right areas too.
Again Hudson-Odoi brings out the tricks, although this time he gets a bit lucky as he originally leaves the ball behind before going on to skip past Yedlin. His cross is blocked behind for the first corner of the game.
will be pretty happy with Newcastle's performance so far today, and it is certainly a major improvement from others we have seen this season. There is something about facing the big teams that brings out the best in this side.
The biggest cheer of the day comes as the ball hits Andre Marriner in the head, sending the referee tumbling to the ground! Marriner takes it in good spirits, giving a bow to the supporters and laughing it off amongst the players.
SAVE! Back to the action and Chelsea win a corner which is floated on to the head of Alonso, although he cannot generate any power on his looping header and it is easy for Dubravka to claim.
CHELSEA SUB: The hosts are forced into an early change here as Barkley limps off to be replaced by Kovacic.
YELLOW CARD! Clark goes into the book late in this first half for a sliding challenge, and he can have no complaints with that one really.
There will be two minutes of added time at the end of this first half.
YELLOW CARD! Tomori also gets a late yellow card in this first half for a lunging challenge on Almiron, mistiming it and bringing the Newcastle man down when he was threatening to break clear.
HALF TIME: CHELSEA 0-0 NEWCASTLE
The first half comes to an end at Stamford Bridge and we are still goalless between Chelsea and Newcastle United - a scoreline which is probably a fair reflection of what we have seen so far.
It has not been a thriller by any stretch of the imagination and, while Chelsea have been marginally the better team, there has not been a great deal in it and Newcastle look very capable of getting something out of this game.
The two best chances have both fallen the way of Chelsea, and both players probably should have done better with them too.
The first fell to Willian, who peeled off his marker to meet Hudson-Odoi's cross, only to completely miscue his header and put it well wide of the target. The dangerous Hudson-Odoi was the creator again for the second chance shortly afterwards, this time teeing up Mount, whose shot on the turn was saved by Dubravka.
Newcastle have not had a shot on target so far, but they have shown glimpses of attacking threat and, more importantly, have been very stubborn at the back.
Their only two notable efforts saw Saint-Maximin and Joelinton miss the target with half-chances at best, but it has been more of a containment job so far and they have done that very well for the opening 45 minutes.
KICKOFF: Chelsea get us back underway at Stamford Bridge!
If Newcastle can provide a repeat performance of that first half in the next 45 minutes then they will be well on course for a really good point today. Chelsea have not been particularly below-par today, it is more that Newcastle have stopped them getting through with some stubborn defending.
UPDATE: There have been a couple of VAR-disallowed goals around the rest of the 3pm Premier League games, but others have counted with Leicester equalising against Burnley through Vardy and Villa levelling things up against Brighton, who are down to 10 men.
It may take a moment of individual magic from a Chelsea player to open up this Newcastle defence, and Hudson-Odoi is the only one who has really shown any signs of that so far. Chelsea could do with just getting the ball to him as much as possible.
As if on cue, Hudson-Odoi darts inside past three players before being thwarted by a fine challenge on the edge of the box. The resulting corner is met by Zouma, but he can only nod the ball into a dangerous area where Dubravka is waiting to collect.
The pressure is just beginning to grow on this Newcastle defence now, with a couple of corners in quick succession. Hudson-Odoi swings it in this time and Newcastle don't deal with it entirely cleanly, but eventually do enough to deal with the danger.
OFF THE BAR! Yet another corner almost yields the opening goal as Abraham rises like a salmon in the middle, meeting the latest delivery with a brilliant header which crashes off the crossbar!
Tomori has scored one wonder goal already this season and tries his luck with another here, attempting a bicycle kick which is never really troubling the keeper.
UPDATE: It really is not turning into a great day for the home teams today! Wolves have now fallen behind against Southampton at Molineux, with Danny Ings continuing his fine scoring form for the visitors.
Newcastle have reached the hour mark now, but in truth Chelsea have looked a lot more dangerous in this second half than they did the first. It has pretty much been one-way traffic since the interval, and the visitors need to do something to reverse that pattern.
Chelsea have had 74% of the ball since half time and Newcastle just have not been able to get out in that time. It is attack after attack for the hosts.
Hudson-Odoi collects the ball on the left flank and swings his cross into the box, and it goes all the way through before flying just wide of the far post.
CHELSEA SUB: Another change for Chelsea here as Mount leaves to be replaced by Christian Pulisic.
CHANCE! Another chance arrives from a corner, and again it is Abraham who climbs highest in the middle. This time he cannot get over the ball, though, and his header flies a couple of yards over the bar.
CHANCE! HUGE chance for Chelsea to break the deadlock! It is a superb move from the hosts as Willian drives forward before finding Hudson-Odoi, who cuts inside and tries his luck from the edge of the box. The effort is blocked but rebounds into the path of Pulisic, who suddenly finds himself with only the keeper to beat. Dubravka is alert, though, quickly closing the space and making himself big to thwart the sub!
NEWCASTLE SUB: An interesting change for the visitors here as Almiron is replaced by Andy Carroll, who joins fellow targetman Joelinton on the pitch.
Less than 20 minutes for Newcastle to hold out now, but it may be a long 20 minutes for them! It has been one-way traffic this entire second half.
SAVE! Another save from Dubravka as he stays big at his front post to keep out Willian's effort.
GOAL! CHELSEA 1-0 NEWCASTLE (MARCOS ALONSO)
Chelsea finally get the breakthrough, and it is the former Sunderland man who has got it!
The ball is played into the area and Hudson-Odoi collects it with his back to goal before laying it into the path of Alonso, whose first-time strike arrows into the bottom corner. Dubravka got a hand to it and may feel as though he should have saved it, but it was hit with plenty of power by Alonso.
That goal had been coming, it must be said. Chelsea haven't quite been at their best today, but they have been the only side in it in this second half and that relentless pressure eventually tells.
SAVE! Carroll gives the ball away to Hudson-Odoi with a poor 30-yard pass back into his own half, and the Chelsea youngster does not need a second invitation to run at the defence. He gets a shot away, but it is tame and easy for Dubravka.
Chelsea are not taking their foot off the pedal after that opening goal. They know that they are in control of this one and that a second goal would kill it off completely.
Oh my word, what a block this is from Yedlin!
Chelsea look certain to double their advantage when Kovacic plays the ball into the path of Pulisic, who is two-on-one with the keeper and duly slips the pass to Abraham for what looks like a simple tap-in. Abraham certainly thinks so and tries to just sweep it home, but Yedlin comes flying in out of nowhere to somehow divert the shot over the top.
You will not see a better goal-saving block all season!
Yedlin has kept Newcastle in this match with that stunning piece of defending, and with Carroll, Joelinton and Saint-Maximin on the pitch all Newcastle may need is one set piece to make it really count.
NEWCASTLE SUB: Just as I say that, Joelinton comes off! He is replaced by former Chelsea man Christian Atsu.
NEWCASTLE SUB: A third and final change for Newcastle as Dwight Gayle replaces Saint-Maximin.
A stoppage in time is needed here as Tomori goes down with a head injury, inflicted by his own goalkeeper when he came to claim a high ball into the box.
CHANCE! Half a chance for Newcastle to steal a point as Atsu floats the ball to the back post. Clark gets his head to it, but he is always back tracking and he cannot steer the effort on target.
There will be three minutes of added time at the end of this match.
CHELSEA SUB: A late change for Chelsea and it is a Premier League debut for Reece James, who replaces Hudson-Odoi.
FULL TIME: CHELSEA 1-0 NEWCASTLE
The full-time whistle blows at Stamford Bridge as Chelsea edge to a hardfought win over Newcastle United at Stamford Bridge - a result which takes them into the top four.
It was not always pretty, but it was a deserved win in the end for Chelsea, despite Newcastle's stubborn defensive display. It was one-way traffic in the second half, and the breakthrough finally arrived courtesy of Marcos Alonso 17 minutes from time.
Right, that is all we have time for this afternoon!
Thank you very much for joining Sports Mole for today's Premier League clash as Chelsea battle to victory over Newcastle to make it five wins in a row across all competitions - Lampard's best run yet in management. I will leave you with our match report, and be sure to stick around for reaction too.
From me, though, it is goodbye for now!