Newcastle will be facing a tough Chelsea team on Saturday Feb. 2 when they host them in an English Premier League battle at St. James’ Park. Chelsea sits in third place in the league table with 46 points from 13 wins, seven draws and four losses. They’ve scored 49 goals and allowed 24 with Frank Lampard and Juan Mata leading the way with nine goals each. Newcastle is having a terrible season and are in 15th place with 24 points from six wins, six draws and 12 defeats. They’ve scored 30 goals and let in 42.
Oddly enough, their leading scorer is Demba Ba with 13 goals, and of course Ba was sold to Chelsea during the January transfer window. This leaves striker Papiss Cisse as the number one attacker now with seven goals in all competitions. So the big story here for some fans will be Ba facing his old teammates, but in reality this match is all about Newcastle trying to stay above the relegation zone as they’re just four points above it heading into the weekend.
Bet365.com has the latest odds of a Newcastle win at 11/4 with a Chelsea victory at 21/20 and a draw at 11/5
Newcastle earned a huge three points during the week when they held on for a 2-1 away win over Aston Villa. Chelsea, with Rafael Benitez in charge, blew another two points with a 2-2 draw at Reading. Chelsea were leading the game 2-0 in the 86th minute. They also need the points if they want to make sure they reach next season’s European Champions League.
Newcastle boss Alan Pardew bought several players in the transfer window, most of them French, such as striker Yoan Gouffran and midfielder Moussa Sissoko. The both played well in the first half at Villa, but faded during the second 45 minutes as did most of their teammates. Another new buy, midfielder Sylvain Marveaux sat out the game at Villa with a foot injury, but is expected back. However, Newcastle will be without midfielder Hatem Ben Arfa due to injury while midfielder Cheick Tiote is playing in the African Nations Cup with Ivory Coast.
Chelsea has been playing inconsistently since Benitez took over as interim manager from Roberto Di Matteo and it’s hard to imagine that owner Roman Abramovich will keep him on after this season. Benitez should have goalkeeper Peter Cech back between the posts after missing the last couple of matches due to a calf injury. Ross Turnbull took over for him in goal while he was out.
It will be interesting to see how the Newcastle faithful react to Ba during the game. If he’s booed it could motivate him even more. This is a tough contest to predict because Newcastle has added several players and Chelsea definitely aren’t in top form. This has the potential to be a highly charged and entertaining match that should see Newcastle come out of it with at least one point.