MX23RW : Tuesday, July 27 17:35:33| >> :60:1127:1127:
Feb 13, 2016 at 5.30pm UK at Stamford Bridge
Attendance: 41,622
NewcastleNewcastle United
Costa (5'), Pedro (9', 59'), Willian (17'), Traore (83')
FT(HT: 3-0)
Townsend (90')

Preview: Chelsea vs. Newcastle United

Sports Mole previews Saturday's late Premier League kickoff as Chelsea welcome Newcastle United to Stamford Bridge.

Guus Hiddink will look to extend his unbeaten second stint at Chelsea to 11 matches when his side host Newcastle United at Stamford Bridge on Saturday.

Just six points separate the two sides in the table, with Chelsea sitting 13th and Newcastle now out of the relegation zone and one point clear of danger.


Diego Costa celebrates his late equaliser during the Premier League game between Chelsea and Manchester United on February 7, 2016© Getty Images

Over his two stints as interim Chelsea manager, Hiddink has still been beaten only once in all competitions having begun his second spell at Stamford Bridge with a 10-game unbeaten run.

However, while he has at least stopped the club from losing matches - their last defeat came in Jose Mourinho's final match in charge against Leicester City on December 14 - wins have been relatively hard to come by in that time too.

The Blues have won four and drawn six of their 10 games under the Dutchman, which has kept them lying in the bottom half of the table, now 17 points adrift of the Champions League places and only seven clear of the bottom three.

They have won just twice in their eight Premier League outings, and bigger tests are on the horizon in Europe, with Ligue 1's runaway leaders Paris Saint-Germain once again awaiting Chelsea in the Champions League on Tuesday.

In truth, it may be a good thing that the first leg of that last-16 tie comes away from home, with Hiddink still awaiting his first Premier League victory at Stamford Bridge this season, while his side have not conceded a single league goal on the road under his tenure.

It took a stoppage-time equaliser to keep what is the current longest unbeaten run in the Premier League going last Sunday, with Diego Costa slotting home in the 91st minute to rescue a 1-1 draw for his side at home to Manchester United.

It was Costa's sixth goal in his last seven Premier League appearances having managed just three in his previous 14 before that, and his revival has perhaps been the biggest highlight of Hiddink's reign so far.

The match was notable for a couple of other reasons too. John Terry made his first Stamford Bridge appearance since announcing that he would be leaving at the end of the season, and after the match insisted that there was "no communication" between himself and the club - although circumstances may have changed following the injury Kurt Zouma picked up in the same game.

The young centre-back suffered a wince-inducing ACL injury that is expected to keep him sidelined for the next six months, ruling him out for the rest of the season and this summer's European Championship in his home country.

Chelsea have failed to win on the four occasions that Zouma has not started a Premier League game this season, drawing two, losing two and conceding 10 goals in the process.

They will go into the game as favourites this weekend, though, and victory would see them move within striking distance of the top half of the table, where they have not been since August.

Recent form: WDDWDD
Recent form (all competitions): DDWWDD


Aleksandar Mitrovic shows off a white vest after scoring during the Premier League game between Newcastle United and West Bromwich Albion on February 6, 2016© Getty Images

You would have got long odds at the start of the season for Newcastle having the chance to close the gap to Chelsea to three points in the 26th game of the campaign.

Unfortunately for the Magpies, in this season of unpredictability their plight was perhaps one of the easier things to call back in the summer.

Steve McClaren's men are embroiled in another relegation battle, although things are looking a lot more positive this week than they were just seven days ago.

At that point, Newcastle were in the relegation zone and had suffered back-to-back defeats, but a 1-0 victory over a disappointing West Bromwich Albion side saw them return to winning ways and climb out of the bottom three last weekend.

The gap is still only an uneasy one point to Norwich City, but Newcastle are a side who seem to be on an upward trend, buoyed by their January arrivals, while Norwich can't seem to buy a point at the moment.

The Magpies also boast a very impressive record against Chelsea in recent years, taking 13 points off the Blues in the last five seasons - more than any other team.

However, they are also in dreadful form away from home, losing each of their last five games on the road in all competitions and scoring just one goal in that time.

Indeed, in the last 12 months Newcastle have won just two of their 20 away games in all competitions, losing 16 of those and scoring a meagre eight goals in the process.

A league-low six of those goals have come this season, where only rock-bottom Aston Villa have a worse away record.

Recent form: LDWLLW
Recent form (all competitions): LDWLLW

Team News

Eden Hazard goes down injured during the game between Crystal Palace and Chelsea on January 3, 2016© Getty Images

As already mentioned, Zouma will not feature again until next season following his ligament injury against Man Utd, so Gary Cahill will come in for the Frenchman.

Elsewhere, Radamel Falcao and Alexandre Pato remain out, with the latter still working his way up to match fitness, but Loic Remy could be in line for a place on the bench following a calf strain.

Eden Hazard has started the last two matches on the bench and will be hopeful of a return this weekend, which could see Cesc Fabregas drop further back and Nemanja Matic miss out.

Newcastle, meanwhile, have the longest injury list in the league, with as many as 14 players currently sidelined, forcing McClaren to take some risks with his selection against West Brom.

Fortunately for the Magpies there were no major setbacks against the Baggies, with the only new concern being over Daryl Janmaat, who is expected to shake off a dead leg in time to feature.

Jack Colback could make his return from a hamstring strain, while Siem de Jong is also rated 50-50 and could be named in the squad.

Chelsea possible starting lineup:
Courtois; Ivanovic, Cahill, Terry, Azpilicueta; Mikel, Fabregas, Willian, Oscar, Hazard; Costa

Newcastle possible starting lineup:
Elliot; Janmaat, Taylor, Coloccini, Aarons; Shelvey, Colback, Sissoko, Wijnaldum, Townsend; Mitrovic

Head To Head

Newcastle have been something of a bogey team for Chelsea in recent seasons, winning four of their last eight meetings, including a Papiss Cisse-inspired 2-0 triumph at Stamford Bridge in May 2012.

Chelsea have not won any of the last 12 meetings in all competitions if they failed to keep a clean sheet, although they have stopped Newcastle from scoring on their last three visits to Stamford Bridge.

The reverse fixture in September almost saw Newcastle claim yet another win over the Blues, but a late comeback from Mourinho's men saw Chelsea score twice in the final 11 minutes to rescue a 2-2 draw.

The Dugout Podcast

Hit play below to listen to Sports Mole's new podcast 'The Dugout' for our take on the week's biggest football talking points:

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We say: Chelsea 2-1 Newcastle

Newcastle are playing with a little more belief at the moment, but their away record is too poor to ignore. Chelsea themselves haven't been great at home under Hiddink, but with Costa in form and the potential return of Hazard to the starting XI, they should have enough about them to pick up a win.

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Alexandre Pato in action for Sao Paolo in May 2015
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United StatesUnited States98825
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Great BritainGreat Britain45413
Today's Olympic highlights header

Wednesday's key events

· Team GB have dominated the men's coxless fours in recent Olympics, winning on each of the last five occasions, but this year they face some stiff competition. They are one of four rowing medal contenders for Great Britain today (2.10am)

· Katie Ledecky and Ariarne Titmus face off again in the women's 200m freestyle final, with the latter having already come out on top in the 400m event (2.41am)
· Team GB's Abbie Wood is among the medal contenders in the women's 200m individual medley final, while teammate Alicia Wilson will also take part. USA's Kate Douglass was the fastest qualifier, while world and Olympic record holder Katinka Hosszu is also involved (3.45am)
· Katie Ledecky could make it two golds in one morning as she goes into the 1500m freestyle final as heavy favourite, having broken the Olympic record in qualifying (3.54am)
· Team GB were by far the fastest qualifiers for the men's 4x200m freestyle relay final and will therefore be favourites for another gold in the pool (4.26am)

· Team GB take on New Zealand in the first men's semi-final, having been beaten by reigning champions Fiji but then come from behind to overcome USA on day two (3am)
· The sevens gold medal match takes place at Tokyo Stadium, with the winner of Great Britain vs. New Zealand taking on either Argentina or Fiji (10am)

· Joe Fraser and James Hall compete for Team GB in the men's all-around final (3.15am-6.10am)

· Anna Shackley will take part in the women's road time trial (from 3.30am)
· Geraint Thomas and Tao Geoghegan Hart have medal ambitions for Great Britain in the men's road time trial, although both will need to recover from the crash they suffered on Saturday (6am)

· Jack Laugher bids to retain his men's 3m synchro diving title alongside new partner Daniel Goodfellow (7am)

· Charlotte Dujardin will look to add to her already legendary status with a third successive Olympic individual dressage title (9.30am-1.25pm)

> Today's schedule in full
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