Big Match Breakdown: Newcastle United v Chelsea
Blues victory could mean a top-four berth
The battle for a Premier League top-four spot is going down to the wire. Chelsea need to hope Liverpool slip up against Brighton & Hove Albion, and guarantee they take maximum points at Newcastle United.
But there’s pride on the line for the Magpies. They’re currently in 10th place, but there are still five clubs who could potentially leapfrog them on the final day.
Add in the fact Newcastle boss Rafa Benitez lifted the Europa League as Chelsea boss, and there’s plenty of interesting subplots here.
The Coral News Team have all the need-to-know info ahead of kick-off, with another Big Match Breakdown…
Historically, Chelsea have had the upper hand with 71 victories to the Tynesiders’ 52.
The West London outfit have won four and drawn one of the last five meetings. However, all of those victories came at Stamford Bridge.
Their record at St James’ Park is far less enviable. In fact, the Blues haven’t won in this part of the North-East since December 2011.
With a potential Champions League spot on the line, Chelsea are unlikely to rest men ahead of next weekend’s FA Cup final.
However, Antonio Rudiger is one booking away from a suspension and is unlikely to be risked. Andreas Christensen is the likely replacement for the German. Up front, the in-form Olivier Giroud is likely to partner Eden Hazard.
The hosts’ best opportunities in this game could well come on the counter-attack, so they’re likely to go with pace. That could see all of Mikel Merino and Jacob Murphy feature in midfield. However, Chelsea loanee Kenedy is unavailable.
The main concern for Benitez’s side will likely be the presence of Hazard. The Belgian has caused them endless headaches in prior meetings, scoring six and chalking up three assists in nine previous outings against Newcastle.
For Chelsea, they’re up against a side with the best defensive record outside the top seven. The Magpies’ back four are well-organised, while Benitez has a tough and talented midfield at his disposal.
Having struggled to break down Huddersfield Town last time out, Chelsea will need all their guile to make space and chances in this game.
In the match betting, Newcastle are 5/1 for victory. Meanwhile, it’s 3/1 for the draw and a 4/7 shot for Chelsea to win.
The Blues have won three away games on the trot, but managed just one clean sheet in the process. It’s 12/5 for a Chelsea win and Both Teams to Score, while a simple BTTS is 20/23.
Hazard will be looking to keep up his strong record in this fixture. The Belgian is 13/10 to Score Anytime, while it’s 6/1 he bags Two or More Goals.
Meanwhile, in-form Magpies hitman Ayoze Perez is 10/3 to find the net.
Antonio Conte’s visitors have won 2-1 three times since the start of March (twice in 90 minutes), and they’re 7/1 for another 2-1 victory at St James’ Park.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing