Despite the fact that they are ranked third in the Premier League standings, Chelsea have had a disastrous five match streak managing to win only one of their last five encounters. Benitez has failed to bring confidence to his team and disappointed the fans who were not that happy when they saw a pure Blue manager replaced with an ex-Liverpool coach. The next match against Newcastle could prove crucial to the Spanish coach’s future as he is already struggling to see out his contract.
Newcastle is only 4 points away from the red zone and they are currently 15th in Premier League standings. They seek a home win especially considering Chelsea’s poor form that sees them trailing 13 points behind Manchester United. The Blues’ last match against Reading was poorly handled ending in a draw after Chelsea had a 2-0 lead thus giving the Magpies a huge morale boost.
Newcastle transferred five new players, all of French nationality in the attempt to create a strong bond between team members. They managed an important win against Aston Villa on Tuesday and have high hopes for their home match when they are most likely going to face their former striker Demba Ba, who has already scored for Chelsea and is probably going to replace Torres as a starting forward.
Looking back, Chelsea has the upper hand when it comes to results. Their last encounter led to a 2-0 win from the Blues with goals scored by Eden Hazard and Torres. As far as scoring goes, Newcastle have really lost a lot of fire power after allowing Demba Ba to leave St James’ Park, while their other important scorer, Papiss Cisse has had a bad season managing to find the back of the net only five times in 22 matches.
Benitez said that he has no favorite for the striker position and that both Torres and Demba Ba are going to be granted equal chances to play. He even suggested he will try out a rotating system that will provide enough scoring opportunities for the two.
Frank Lampard, who has scored just as much as Mata this season, is in great shape regardless of all the rumors that had him transferred overseas. With the transfer window now closed he may finally find some peace and concentrate even more on helping his team.
Eden Hazard is the big absentee for this match. He is currently on a three match suspension after the ball-boy incident. He will probably be replaced by Ryan Bertrand, who has shown extraordinaire form as of late.
Newcastle is also missing one key player, with Ben Arfa out with a hamstring injury. Hopefully for the Magpies Gouffran, Sissoko and Yanga-Mbiwa will live up to expectations and prove that Alan Pardew can further improve Newcastle’s form, despite having lost his best asset.
Chelsea is considered the favorite not because of the current form, but because of their excellent record against Newcastle when it comes to away fixtures. They haven’t lost a match played on St James’ Park since 2006 and chances are they won’t do so this time either, with Newcastle still a long way from turning into a well-oiled football machine.