Date: Saturday 25th August, 2012.
Referee: Phil Dowd.
UK TV: ESPN / HD.
Roberto Di Matteo’s Chelsea await the Magpies this Saturday, as Newcastle United return to Premier League action in the capital for another live ESPN scheduled encounter.
Alan Pardew will look to build on last weeks 2-1 home victory versus Tottenham Hotspur at a ground in which we are now undefeated for four games. This stretches back to the 2008 / 2009 season where we left with a point after a 0-0 draw.
You can’t help but reminisce about last seasons fixture, where a certain Papiss Cissé opened the scoring with a sublime flick and volley in the first half to put United 1-0 up. Unfortunately for that particular strike, it was completely overshadowed by what he managed to do late into injury time, when he smashed a right-foot volley at an insane angle past Petr Cech, securing Newcastle the three points in a 2-0 victory. If you haven’t witnessed that goal, then I seriously suggest you scroll straight to the bottom of this page right now and watch it before reading any further.
It’s hard to gauge our form of at present with only one league match under our belts. Of course, the Magpies started with a very hard fought win, but didn’t perform particularly well in the first-half, and in all honesty, could and probably should have been behind at the break. Many of the issues we faced in that half could be put down to fitness of certain individuals, but it is mainly due to tactical decisions, which were rectified in the second half, and resulted in picking up the maximum points. Anyway, more about tactics and formations later.
Chelsea began the season with a decent 2-0 victory over Wigan at the JJB Stadium, with recent summer signing Eden Hazard stealing the spotlight. The Belgium international set up their first goal, won a penalty in the first half, and in general looked very impressive. On Wednesday night Chelsea beat Reading 4-2 at Stamford Bridge, with Hazard once again playing a pivotal role in the result. Chelsea were certainly not to their best, finding themselves 2-1 down at half-time, but ultimately picked up the three points which sent them to the top of the Premier League after two games.
Chelsea Vs Newcastle United History
In more recent seasons, Newcastle have had a good record at the Bridge, starting with that 0-0 draw mentioned above. In the following encounter during the 2010 / 2011 season, the Magpies triumphed 4-3 in a League Cup game thanks to goals from Nile Ranger, Ryan Taylor and a double from Shola Ameobi. In our league fixture that season, we came away with a 2-2 draw thanks to Steven Taylor‘s injury time header, and last season, Papiss Cissé stole the show in the 2-0 victory mentioned above. We have now managed to find the net in stoppage time in our last three visits to Stamford Bridge. It might be worth checking the odds for something similar to happen this Saturday.
On a negative note, from the year of 2001 to 2007, Newcastle made the trip to London 8 times in all competitions, lost all of them, scored 1, and conceded 20. In the last twenty years it hasn’t really been a happy hunting ground for the Toon Army, with a record of played 22, won 2, drew 7, and lost 13 in all competitions. Still, that’s not as bad as our record at Anfield…
Newcastle should welcome back skipper Fabricio Coloccini to the starting eleven. Shola Ameobi, and Cheick Tioté’s availability at the time of writing is unknown.
Chelsea Squad: (From) Petr Čech (G), Henrique Hilário (G), Ross Turnbull (G), Gary Cahill (D), David Luiz (D), Branislav Ivanović (D), Ashley Cole (D), Ryan Bertrand (D), Paulo Ferreira (D), César Azpilicueta (D), Frank Lampard (M), Eden Hazard (M), Ramires (M), Michael Essien (M), Raul Meireles (M), John Obi Mikel (M), Oscar (M), Florent Malouda (M), Oriol Romeu (M), Yossi Benayoun (M), Fernando Torres (F), Daniel Sturridge (F).
Doubtful: David Luiz (D, Knee),
Knacked: John Terry (D, Pain in the neck), Marko Marin (M, hamstring).
Newcastle United Squad: (From) Tim Krul (G), Steve Harper (G), Rob Elliot (G), Fabricio Coloccini (D, C), Steven Taylor (D), Mike Williamson (D), Danny Simpson (D), Davide Santon (D), Ryan Taylor (D), James Tavernier (D), James Perch (D, M), Vurnon Anita (M, D), Jonás Gutiérrez (M), Yohan Cabaye (M), Gael Bigirimana (M), Romain Amalfitano (M), Gabriel Obertan (M), Sylvain Marveaux (M), Dan Gosling (M), Hatem Ben Arfa (M, F), Sammy Ameobi (M, F), Shola Ameobi (F), Demba Ba (F), Papiss Cissé (F).
Doubtful: Shola Ameobi (F, hamstring), Demba Ba (F, shin), Fabricio Coloccini (D, C, thigh), Cheick Tioté (M, calf).
Knacked: NonePardew’s Likely Line Up
I believe Pardew will incorporate a 4-3-3 / 4-5-1 on Saturday. The personnel may alter in regards to Cheick Tioté starting if he isn’t passed fit, and I can only assume Vurnon Anita will replace Tioté should he be unavailable. Chelsea will likely set up exactly the same, employing the extra midfielder, with Fernando Torres leading the line, supported by Hazard and Mata.
Newcastle struggled last week employing a 4-4-2 versus Spurs 4-2-3-1, and had to alter the shape after half-time to combat it. Jonas moved more centrally in the midfield, and Demba Ba slotted to the left-hand side, much like we saw at the back end of last season. We always struggle to retain the ball in a 4-4-2, especially against teams who use that extra midfield player. It was the same story last season, where Newcastle looked more fluid, and used the ball better, while stemming away from a flat midfield four. If we do set up with a 4-4-2, I honestly believe we will not get a grip on the match, and Chelsea will dictate most of the play.
It’s easy to target Chelsea’s front three of Hazard, Mata and Torres as the danger, and to a degree sometimes you can’t just stop them from producing something special. But, what we can do is nullify their service, and the best way of doing so will be to stop it coming from Frank Lampard and Jon Obi Mikel. Newcastle will have to look to Cheick Tioté (if fit) beside Jonas to squeeze the midfield, and Yohan Cabaye to help out. Cabaye will also try and find space in the midfield to supply our own front three danger men – Demba Ba, Papiss Cissé and Hatem Ben Arfa.
Chelsea are still not the greatest defensive unit when their game plan is focused on attacking, as they are vulnerable to a counter due to a slight lack of pace across their back four like we saw against Reading on Wednesday night. Expect them to be very attack orientated for the first half an hour or so. This is the perfect time for Newcastle to try and soak up the pressure, and hit them on the counter attack. Ben Arfa is the key figure in achieving this, and both he and Ashley Cole will know they’ve been in a tough match by the end of the ninety minutes.
A difficult first away game for the Magpies, but equally, a difficult home tie for Chelsea. The key to this match is setting up correctly from the first minute, and my fear is getting totally overrun in the midfield if we set up like we did first half versus Tottenham. Chelsea will take their chances if presented, and Newcastle will have to be careful around their penalty area, especially if Hazard is in full effect as he seems to have picked up a knack for winning penalties early into his Chelsea career. On the same note, Newcastle have players who know exactly where the back of the net is, so expect the Chelsea support to have their hearts in their mouths if a certain Papiss Cissé fancies a go from 25 yards. After all, he’s done it before hasn’t he…
Howay The Lads
Papiss Cissé’s Chelsea wonder goal, 2 May, 2012.