Missing Newcastle names should see Chelsea clear
Jose Mourinho puts his unbeaten home Premier League record as Chelsea manager on the line once again against Newcastle United.
If a club as successful as the Stamford Bridge outfit over the last decade can have a bogey team, then the Magpies are leading contenders for that title.
Newcastle have recently had the better of their battles with the Blues, so odds of 11/1 on an away win are very tempting.
What counts against the Toon Army celebrating another upset at the Bridge, however, are some notable absentees.
In what may have been his last act as director of football, former Newcastle boss Joe Kinnear sanctioned the sale of Yohan Cabaye to join PSG for around £20m.
Magpies top-scorer Loic Remy misses the Chelsea clash through suspension, meaning January window loan signing Luuk de Jong could be in line to make his full debut.
Dutchman de Jong is 3/1 to break his Newcastle duck at anytime – a prospect boosted by the news that Papiss Cisse is unlikely to be fit to figure.
Remy and fellow Frenchman Yoan Gouffran scored the goals that won the reverse fixture on Tyneside.
Alan Pardew may not be able to field Gouffran because he has missed the last two matches through injury. Midfield destroyer Cheick Tiote is also out for the Toon as he has a hamstring problem.
Mourinho’s men are thus 1/4 odds-on favourites to maintain his feat of having never lost in the league on home soil. It’s 9/2 for a draw.
The Blues boss may hand a bow to Egyptian winger Mohamed Salah here after he chose the Londoners over Liverpool. Salah is 7/4 to cap a debut by scoring at anytime.
Fernando Torres remains on the sidelines with a knee injury, so Samuel Eto’o should carry on leading the Chelsea line. Alternatively, Senegal striker Demba Ba could face his former club.
Newcastle are 10/1 to keep a clean sheet here despite shutting the Blues out in two of their last three match-ups.
With eight in their last ten in all competitions, there’s little value in backing the Blues to stop the Magpies scoring at an odds-on 6/10.
Punters should back a 2-0 Chelsea win as they tend to score that many against the Toon – they have in four of the last eight league meetings.