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Preview: Chelsea vs. Newcastle United - prediction, team news, lineups

Sports Mole provides team news, predicted lineups and a full preview of Saturday's Premier League encounter between Chelsea and Newcastle United.

Chelsea play host to Newcastle United in the Premier League looking to extend their unbeaten record in the Premier League to four matches.

Newcastle United head into the weekend sitting just two points above of the relegation zone after failing to win any of their last four outings in the top flight.


Chelsea

Chelsea boss Maurizio Sarri expresses his frustration at being downed by Wolves on December 5, 2018© Reuters

Chelsea have recorded 13 points from their last six outings in the Premier League, but that has not stopped reports suggesting that there could be mass changes at Stamford Bridge before the end of January.

The future of Callum Hudson-Odoi is dominating the headlines, but there is every suggestion that there could be as many as four incomings and even more departures as the Blues look to improve their squad.

Such upheaval at the midway point of a campaign is usually considered in a negative light but too many of Chelsea's squad - a well-populated one at that - have under-performed, and the club have concerns that they may miss out on Champions League qualification for a second successive season.

Chelsea have performed strongly in defence with only 16 goals being conceded in 21 outings in the Premier League, but their performance in the final third remains a concern and it will be regarded as a surprise if a new forward does not arrive in the coming weeks.

Alvaro Morata and Olivier Giroud have just six goals between them, and Eden Hazard being used down the middle is leaving the Blues struggling to fill the void left by the Belgian on the flank.

Hazard cut a frustrated figure as Chelsea lost out to Tottenham Hotspur in the EFL Cup semi-finals in midweek, and the lack of a threat in the air may force the hand of the club's hierarchy.

Chelsea hold a three-point lead over fifth-placed Arsenal in the standings but with the teams meeting at the Emirates Stadium next weekend, it has only increased the pressure on the West Londoners rediscovering their clinical touch at Stamford Bridge.

Sarri has witnessed his side fail to score against either Leicester City or Southampton, and a third successive home game without success would be regarded as a huge blow to the club's ambitions to finish in the top four.

Recent form: WWLWWD
Recent form (all competitions): LWWDWL


Newcastle United

Rafael Benitez gestures during the Premier League game between Newcastle United and West Ham United on December 1, 2018© Reuters

Manager Rafael Benitez has previously claimed that remaining in the Premier League this season will be regarded as 'a miracle', and the Spaniard may feel his words justified with his side registering just six points from their last eight games.

Three successive victories at the start of November has kept the Magpies out of trouble, but Benitez will be aware that the teams below Newcastle are improving at a time when the North-East outfit continue to struggle.

Newcastle only avoided defeat to Blackburn Rovers in the FA Cup due to a disputed penalty, although the stalemate against the Championship side will not paper over the cracks which have been present at the club for a lengthy period.

Benitez is desperate to add fresh faces to his first-team squad, and the Spaniard will undoubtedly target a new player for the final third, with Newcastle netting just four goals in the league since December 1.

Salomon Rondon has done the job asked of him in attack with five goals and two assists coming from 15 outings, but none of his teammates has added more than two strikes in the top flight.

Newcastle have a tough run of fixtures over the next three weeks with Manchester City and Tottenham Hotspur to follow next weekend's huge showdown with Cardiff City, but Benitez will want new arrivals in before the trip to Wembley Stadium on February 2.

Whether Benitez is granted his wish remains to be seen with the club continuing to be linked with a takeover, but owner Mike Ashley will also be aware that it is in his best interests to do everything that he can to preserve Newcastle's top-flight status.

Any positive return from Saturday's game will be considered to be a bonus given Newcastle's dismal record in the capital, but Benitez will take confidence from the fact that his side have only lost one of their last six away fixtures in the Premier League.

Recent form: LWDLDL
Recent form (all competitions): WDLDLD


Team News

Callum Hudson-Odoi in action for Chelsea on December 26, 2018© Reuters

Hudson-Odoi has started Chelsea's last two fixtures, but Sarri could opt to include both Willian and Pedro after their return from injury.

Eden Hazard may once again be given the nod over Morata and Giroud down the middle, while Mateo Kovacic is expected to replace Ross Barkley in midfield.

Sarri is likely to revert to his tried-and-trusted backline, with Kepa Arrizabalaga and David Luiz returning to the side after missing the EFL Cup tie with Spurs.

Benitez has a number of injuries to key players, with the likes of Federico Fernandez, Mohamed Diame and Jonjo Shelvey all doubts for the trip to England's capital.

That could leave Benitez to go with a back three with Florian Lejeune been given his first league start of the season, and Isaac Hayden continuing in central midfield despite being linked with a transfer away from the club.

Kenedy may be given a start against his former club, although that could lead to another former Blues player Christian Atsu dropping down to the bench.

Chelsea possible starting lineup:
Arrizabalaga; Azpilicueta, Rudiger, Luiz, Alonso; Kante, Jorginho, Kovacic; Willian, Hazard, Pedro

Newcastle United possible starting lineup:
Dubravka; Lascelles, Schar, Lejeune; Yedlin, Diame, Hayden, Dummett; Ritchie, Rondon, Kenedy


Head To Head

Saturday's encounter will represent the 165th competitive meeting between the two clubs, with Chelsea registering 72 wins in comparison to 53 victories for Newcastle.

Both sides have performed impressively in this fixture when playing at home, although Chelsea did prevail at St James' Park earlier in the season.

Chelsea have won their last six games against Newcastle at Stamford Bridge, a run stretching back to 2012.


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We say: Chelsea 2-1 Newcastle United

Chelsea are making a habit out of dropping points in front of their own supporters, and we feel that Newcastle will make things difficult for the home side this weekend. However, we are backing the Blues to edge out the Magpies by the odd goal in three.


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Who will win Saturday's Premier League clash between Chelsea and Newcastle United?

Chelsea
Draw
Newcastle United
Chelsea
84.4%
Draw
4.4%
Newcastle United
11.1%
Chelsea's Eden Hazard celebrates scoring against Watford in the Premier League on December 26, 2018.
Read Next:
How Chelsea could line up against Newcastle
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Tables
TeamPWDLFAGDPTS
1Liverpool35277179205988
2Manchester CityMan City34282487226586
3Tottenham HotspurSpurs342211164352967
4Chelsea35207859382167
5Arsenal34206868432566
6Manchester UnitedMan Utd34197863481564
7Everton35147145044649
8Watford34147134949049
9Leicester CityLeicester35146154847148
10Wolverhampton WanderersWolves34139124142-148
11West Ham UnitedWest Ham35127164454-1043
12Crystal Palace35126174348-542
13Newcastle UnitedNewcastle35118163544-941
14Bournemouth35125184962-1341
15Burnley35117174462-1840
16Southampton3499164057-1736
17Brighton & Hove AlbionBrighton3497183253-2134
18Cardiff CityCardiff3594223065-3531
RFulham3565243376-4323
RHuddersfield TownHuddersfield3535272069-4914

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