The Blues have the chance to move into the Premier League top four if they overcome the Magpies at Stamford Bridge tonight, following Liverpool’s recent poor results.
Barely three weeks ago, Chelsea seat at the 9th position on the Premier League log, since Thomas Tuchel was named Frank Lampard’s replacement, the Blues have now moved up to fifth in the Premier League table.
This evening they have the chance to move into the top four. It’s been that kind of season.
The German coach has made an instant impact at Stamford Bridge, overseeing three wins and a draw from his four top-flight matches at the helm.
But the real reason Chelsea have closed the gap to the Champions League positions so rapidly is the form of those above them when Tuchel took charge. Liverpool have lost their last three. Spurs have claimed just one win in five. Everton, Aston Villa, and West Ham have also dropped points.
Newcastle will likely be without Callum Wilson who has scored 40% of the Magpies’ Premier League goals. So expect Steve Bruce’s side to sit back and attempt to frustrate Chelsea.
The Blues will need to be patient and will need their creative players to come to the party in the final third. Fortunately, Tuchel doesn’t lack for attacking talent.
In goal for Chelsea tonight will be Edouard Mendy. The Senegal international did not feature in the FA Cup win over Barnsley and wasn’t even included in the squad for the trip to Oakwell. Well rested, he should resume goalkeeping duties from Kepa Arrizabalaga.
Club captain Cesar Azpilicueta, an unused substitute on Thursday night, is expected to return to the right side of Chelsea’s back three with Andreas Christensen and Antonio Rudiger in the defence.
On the opposite flank is likely to be Marcos Alonso despite the fact the Spaniard was hooked after just 45 minutes in the win over Barnsley.
Jorginho and Mateo Kovacic should be the midfield two having impressed in Tuchel’s opening games in charge. It will be important the duo play quick, forward passes to help break down Newcastle’s defence. They will also have to do their bit to prevent Bruce’s side counter attacking.
Mason Mount is almost certain to return to the side having not featured against Barnsley. As is Timo Werner, who has recovered from a dead leg sustained in the win over Sheffield United.
Who is deployed at the point of the Chelsea attack is arguably Tuchel’s biggest dilemma. Olivier Giroud was given the opportunity against Sheffield United but didn’t impress. However, if Newcastle sit deep, the Frenchman’s intricate build-up play could prove influential.
However, having scored the Blues’ winner at Barnsley, Tammy Abraham should be given another opportunity in the Premier League to prove himself to Tuchel.
And let’s not forget, the academy graduate did strike when the two sides met at St James’ Park earlier in the campaign.
Predicted formation for Chelsea vs Newcastle (3-4-1-2):
Mendy; Azpilicueta, Christensen, Rudiger; James, Jorginho, Kovacic Alonso; Mount; Werner, Abraham.