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Newcastle have won two of their last three games to hand themselves a little bit of security in the table, most impressively holding out with 10 men for over 40 minutes to land a 3-2 success over Southampton last time out.
Still, it leaves them just W2-D3-L9 in all competitions since mid-December over 90 minutes, losing in extra-time in one of those stalemates, as they’ve failed to score in six of their past seven on the road.
Chelsea have a busy schedule coming up with clashes against Atletico Madrid and Man Utd later this month, but Thomas Tuchel was afforded the opportunity to rotate midweek as his side travelled to Barnsley in the FA Cup.
A 1-0 triumph may not have set the pulses racing, but his charges were once again efficient, landing a fourth win in five outings under new management as they’ve conceded just the solitary strike.
Even that was self-inflicted, caused by a lapse in communication by Antonio Rudiger and Edouard Mendy, as they’re proving tough to break down in their new-look formation with three at the back.
Chelsea To Win To Nil
At least one team has failed to score in all three head-to-heads since the start of last term as each finished 1-0 or 2-0. The Blues won two of them and have in fact won four of five encounters going back another season.
Across all competitions, all eight encounters at Stamford Bridge since 2012/13 have seen the hosts come out on top, so it’s difficult to envisage anything else here.
Although we fully expect Chelsea to take the points, we wouldn’t be so cavalier about their chances of running away with proceedings.
Only one of their five outings under Tuchel has seen them win by more than a single goal, while seven of Newcastle’s past 10 league defeats have finished either 2-0 or 2-1.
Newcastle should be more tired following their exertions with nine men, and the result came at a cost with Callum Wilson tearing his hamstring as he’s set for a six-to-eight-week spell on the sidelines, while Jeff Hendrick is suspended for this clash.
Defenders Javier Manquillo and Fabian Schar are set for similar spells out, though there’s better news at the back with Ciaran Clark available, while Jamaal Lascelles and Federico Fernandez are in with a chance of featuring here.
Steve Bruce will have been pleased to see Joe Willock score on his debut, as well as Miguel Almiron striking twice against the Saints. Those two and Allan Saint-Maximin are going to have to shoulder the attacking threat with key man Wilson sidelined, as the former Bournemouth is by far and away their top scorer this term with 10 league goals, while he’s also chipped in with five assists.