Date: Weds, 2nd May, 2012.
Referee: Mark Halsey (Lancashire).
Well, it couldn’t be much closer now in the race for Europe’s premier international club competition, with Newcastle United currently being the meat in a London sandwich.
In the words of Brian Moore, “It’s all up for grabs now!” with Chelsea a mere point behind us, and only goal difference seperating the Magpies and the fighting cocks of Tottenham Hotspur. In other words, this game is without doubt the most crucial so far after our capitulation to an excellent Wigan side on Saturday. Unless of course, Chelsea go and win this years Champions League final, in which case Chelsea would definitely be the fourth team to go through, making everything else academic. One thing that is for sure is that we should at least find ourselves in the Europa League at least.
Stats, previous matches etc…
In our previous meeting (at St James’ Park last December) Chelsea ran out as 3-0 winners, with Didier Drogba, Salomon Kalou and Daniel Sturridge doing the honours for the Pensioners.
Despite their below par form (for them) earlier in the season, which has left them in the unusual position of being behind us in the table in the run up to this game (and hopefully, after it too!), it must be said that some of Chelsea’s recent results have looked a little scary. Of course, they knocked the current holders of the Champion’s League, Barcelona, out of that competition, hammering Tottenham 5-1 in the FA Cup semi-final, and also Queen’s Park Rangers 6-1 in the Premiership, with only a 0-0 bore draw against Arsenal and a 1-1 draw against Fulham to give us comfort. Perhaps the scariest thing of all is that even Fernando Torres scored a hat-trick in their last game, the 6-1 trouncing of QPR!
But anyway, as we approach the 150th game between Chelsea and Newcastle United in all competitions (it will be our 134th league game) lets take a look at the last six, starting with Chelsea’s and United’s last six Premiership games.
|Chelsea and Newcastle – Last six Premiership games|
So, we’ve done better, but if you’re only good as you last game, a 6-1 victory certainly trumps a 4-0 defeat! Here’s hoping we return to the perfect form we were enjoying before that. Next comes their home form vs our away form.
|Chelsea home form v Newcastle away form in the Premiership|
So, a victory to Chelsea there then. Overall though, both teams have come out of a bit of dip to eventually sparkle with a good run, our previous Wigan outing notwithstanding. Finally, just for the hell of it, lets look at our last six games at Stamford Bridge, though of course, the earlier games are too far back to be of great relevance.
|Chelsea home form v Newcastle away form in the Premiership|
OOOOOH! It’s painful in black and white, but moneybags Chelsea being moneybags Chelsea with their recent glittering success, and with our recent carryings on, including relegation, it’s hardly surprising. As I wrote though, the older results are hardly relevant now and it’s just for the hell of it. We’re back in the Premiership now, and we meet as rivals for a top four spot, and long may that sort of thing continue!
Team news and squads
Bargain Bolton buy, Gary Cahill, and David Luiz are both definitely knacked with their hamstrings, but the considerable talents of Branislav Ivanovic will be available once more on his return from a suspension.
Squad: Petr Čech (G), Ross Turnbull (G), Branislav Ivanović (D), José Bosingwa (D), John Terry (D), Ashley Cole (D), Ryan Bertrand (D), Mikel John Obi (M), Michael Essien (M), Raul Meireles (M), Frank Lampard (M), Ramires (M), Juan Mata (M), Florent Malouda (M), Salomon Kalou (M,F), Didier Drogba (F), Fernando Torres (F), Daniel Sturridge (F).
Injured: Gary Cahill (hamstring), David Luiz (hamstring).
For the Magpies, the good news is that Danny Guthrie, Gabriel Obertan and Sylvain Marveaux will al be available after recent injury woes. However, Danny Simpson will be doubtful after picking up a knock against Wigan and will face a late fitness test. Alan Pardew also confirmed in an interview that Yohan Cabaye picked up a knock too, but he should be fine for the game. After a fairly long spell on the sidelines, Sammy Ameobi (kncked knee) has been back in training, but won’t be quite ready yet. Finally Steven Taylor (ruptured achilles), Peter Lovenkrands (thigh) and Haris Vučkić (knacked knee) will remain out.
Squad: Tim Krul, Rob Elliot (G), Steve Harper (G), Fabrico Coloccini (D,C), Mike Williamson (D), James Tavernier (D), Davide Santon (D,M), Ryan Taylor (D,M), Shane Ferguson (D,M), James Perch (D,M), Cheick Tiote (M), Yohan Cabaye (M), Danny Guthrie (M), Hatem Ben Arfa (M,F), Jonas Gutierrez (M), Gabriel Obertan (M), Sylvain Marveaux (M), Mehdi Abeid (M), Dan Gosling (M), Demba Ba (F), Papiss Cisse (F), Shola Ameobi (F), Leon Best (F).
Doubtful: Danny Simpson (knock),
What the managers have been saying
Referring to our previous pasting at Wigan, our Silver Supremo tried to put things back into perspective before this game, saying:
“You have to put it into perspective of the season we’ve had. With three games to go – regardless of what fixtures they are – to be a point above Chelsea and level with Spurs is outstanding. We are absolutely delighted really and we will go to Chelsea and give it our best shot.”
Meanwhile, Chelsea’s Roberto Di Matteo acknowledged how close the content was for a place in the top four, with Arsenal, Tottenham, Newcastle and Chelsea all locked in combat. he said:
“All [four teams] have equal chances of finishing fourth, with the same amount of games left to play. We know how important the game is tomorrow for our club. The players that are going to be playing will be fully committed.”
Which just about wraps things up for this preview, except to say that we will be posting our usual “match banter” post about an hour before kick off. We shall also be posting match highlights soon after the game has finished, along with a full match report, and possibly a video of the whole match if/when one becomes available. Which only leaves it for me to say,
Howay the lads!