Venue: St James’ Park
Date: Saturday, 4 April
Kick-off: 1500 BST
So, Alan Shearer takes charge of the first of eight games in which he has the task of saving Newcastle from relegation. Not an enviable task but he isn’t the only manager today who’s temporarily come in with a specific aim. After all, Guus Hiddink was brought in to rescue as much from our season as he could as well right?
I’ve no doubt the Geordies will be in fine voice, with expectations as high as every time they’ve had a new ‘saviour’ come in although personally, I hope the honeymoon doesn’t get off to a blissful start.
On the squad front, Newcastle have Carroll (ankle), Xisco (toe), Ameobi (ankle), Barton (metatarsal), Viduka (Achilles) and Gonzalez (Achilles) all injured. Taylor (ankle), Damien Duff (hamstring) and Danny Guthrie (hamstring) could all start on the bench and Sebastien Bassong, who returned to training this week could make the starting line-up.
For Chelsea, Joe Cole (knee) and Ferreira (knee) are joined on the absentee list by Jose Bosingwa who suffered a hamstring injury on international duty and Didier Drogba (ankle) is likely to miss out following a training-ground accident.
Michael Owen – Not getting a chance internationally and with a point to prove, will be looking to get in and around the Chelsea defence.
Frank Lampard – Seems to be happy to accommodate Stevie Me internationally, playing a deeper role, but will be looking to get back to his attacking play today.
Only 2 points from the last 15 and 1 win in 12 Premier League games. Newcastle have managed just one win from 16 against top-half clubs and have kept just one clean sheet in 13 league games. From 18 points available at St James’ Park, Newcastle have picked up just 3, they haven’t won in six at home and have lost the last 2. Mind you, they’ve never lost 3 on the trot at home in the Premier League yet. And with them no worse off points-wise than they were this time last season, the omen’s look ok for Shearer’s first game. Newcastle go into this game 18th in the table.
Chelsea sit 3 points behind Liverpool and 4 points behind United having lost our last game in the league against Spurs. We haven’t had back-to-back defeats for three years, so hopefully we won’t be changing that today. We’ve won 3 times as many games as Newcastle this season and boast the strongest defence in the league along with the best away form. In terms of points though, we’re 4 points adrift of this time last season, with our current points tally the worst for 6 years at this stage.
HEAD TO HEAD
Newcastle haven’t beaten us in five games in the league, failing to score in 11 from 17 in the league and cups. Having said that, if they manage a brace today, it’ll record 100 against us for the Magpies.
Home and away
League (inc PL): Newcastle 44 wins, Chelsea 51 wins, Draws 34
Prem: Newcastle 7 wins, Chelsea 15 wins, Draws 9
At Newcastle only
League (inc PL): Newcastle 34 wins, Chelsea 14 wins, Draws 16
Prem: Newcastle 7 wins, Chelsea 4 wins, Draws 4
Newcastle 0-2 Chelsea
Chelsea scorers: Ballack 61, Malouda 82
5 May 2008 – Ref: Steve Bennett
THIS SEASON’S REVERSE
Chelsea 0-0 Newcastle United
22 November 2008 – Ref: Phil Dowd
Not convinced we’ll get much from this game to be honest. We know the title’s out of reach after fucking up against Spurs and the Geordies, even in the state they’re in, could benefit from ‘new manager syndrome’ today. I’ve got a sneaky suspicion the most we’ll get from this would be a draw.
Rob Styles (Hampshire)
NEWCASTLE (from): Harper, Beye, Coloccini, Bassong, Enrique, Lovenkrands, Butt, Nolan, Gutierrez, Martins, Owen, Forster, S Taylor, Edgar, Cacapa, Duff, R Taylor, Guthrie, Geremi, Smith.
CHELSEA (from): A Cole, Terry, Alex, Belletti, Malouda, Anelka, Kalou, Lampard, Essien, Ballack, Cech, Hilario, Ivanovic, Mancienne, Deco, Mikel, Di Santo, Quaresma, Stoch.