Stamford Bridge: Having put together a run of four victories in the space of 11 days, the international break came at the wrong time for Chelsea as they bid to keep pace with the form clubs in the top flight as they take Newcastle United on Saturday. The Blues kick off before all the sides, whose home game against seventh-placed Burnley has the same start time.
Meanwhile Manchester City travel to south London for the Saturday evening match against Crystal Palace, currently sixth, Manchester United entertain leaders Liverpool on Sunday and Arsenal’s trip to Sheffield United does not come until Monday.
No side has suffered more defeats at the Bridge in the Premier League era than Newcastle’s 17 (matched by Tottenham). Chelsea have won the last six top-tier home meetings with them, scoring 17 goals and conceding three, and five of the past six home or away in all competitions.
However, Frank Lampard may have been content to take a step back in order to assess the development of a team which, for all of its potential, remains in transition.
Despite finally keeping a clean sheet this season, there remains clear signs that Chelsea must improve at the back if they to kick on to the next level, although Lampard will have far less concerns about his attack.
Nevertheless, Newcastle have been longing for players to come out of the youth setup to make an impact with the seniors, and Bruce may feel that building a partnership between Matty and his brother Sean will go some way to winning over the fans.
With Newcastle only a point above the relegation zone, however, Bruce must find a balance between selecting a team with his head and his heart, with there being no room for sentiment in the battle to keep the team above the bottom three.
- N'Golo Kante, Mateo Kovacic and Reece James picked up knocks during the international break while Christian Pulisic was ill. Things should only get better, with stellar young forward Callum Hudson-Odoi now being fully reintegrated into the squad. He returned from the serious knee injury he suffered in April and he scored twice for the England U21s this week. He’s in line for a start on Saturday when the Blues host Newcastle United. Also, central defender Antonio Rudiger is set to feature for the first time since September 14. Newcastle's Isaac Hayden is suspended. Matt Ritchie remains out injured but Florian Lejeune could be available for the first time since suffering a serious knee injury in April.
- Chelsea have won 73 matches, while Newcastle have won 53 matches against Chelsea. 39 matches were rendered result-less. Chelsea have won the past seven matches at Stamford Bridge against Newcastle in all competitions, scoring 20 while conceding just three goals. Chelsea and Newcastle both recorded impressive Premier League victories before the.
Did you know?
Newcastle have taken more points off Chelsea (13) than any other team in the last 5 seasons