The big wheels of Chelsea keep on turning (Proud Mouri-nho keeps on burning?) and we're rolling, rolling, rolling our way through the Premier League. The numbers now read as such: 6 points ahead of second place, 6 points ahead of Manchester City; 21 unbeaten in all competitions (23* if you include the end of last season), 14** unbeaten in the Premier League (17 if you include the end of last season).
* one more would set a new Chelsea record; the Blues have now reached 23-matches unbeaten three times in history (2007, 2009, 2014)
** one more would set a new Chelsea record; the Blues have now reached 14 matches unbeaten to start a season twice in history (1925, 2014).
Next up is a trip back up to the North East -- trading Wear for Tyne -- just one week after our visit there produced a slightly disconcerting 0-0 draw. Worryingly, St. James' Park has not seen too many happy Chelsea moments either. We're currently on a two-match losing streak there (yes, losing, you read that right), and have won only once in our last four visits. This aligns with our historically bad record of winning just 20 of 78 games away against the Toon (~25%). Additionally, Jose Mourinho has never won a Premier League match on Tyneside, a factoid that I'm sure hasn't never been brought up nor will it be brought up at any point during the media coverage and match broadcast.
There certainly is something about Newcastle. Maybe it's all the obligatory shots of
jovial drunk, shirtless men (tattoos, bodypaint optional though encouraged) jiggling their vast accumulations of fat around on national TV. But records are meant to be broken, as they wisely say -- whoever they may be -- and this game certainly will provide more than its fair share of records (good and bad) for breaking.
Date / Time: Saturday, December 6, 2014, 12:45 GMT; 7:45am EST; 6:15pm IST
Venue: St. James' Park, Newcastle upon Tyne, England
Referee: Martin Atkinson - there are few referees, active or retired*, under whom we have as good of a record as under Atkinson. In the 30 Chelsea matches he's refereed in his career, we have only lost two (3-1 away to West Ham under Interim, and way back when in the 2006 Community Shield against Liverpool)! This will be Atkinson's second Chelsea match of the season; in October, he watched us beat Arsenal at the Bridge 2-0.
* Alan Wiley, when he retired in 2010, had 36 Chelsea games under his belt and we had won 26 of them while losing just twice
Forecast: Cold but bright
On TV: BT Sport 1 (UK); NBCSN, mun2 (USA); Star Sports 4 (India); elsewhere
Online: BT Sport (UK); NBC Sports Live Extra, Deportes Telemundo En Vivo Extra (USA); Star Sports (India)
Newcastle United Team News: Arsenal and Manchester United claim most of the headlines when it comes to number of injuries, but Newcastle have had more than their fair share of troubles on that front as well. They currently count nine (10) players out, though Fabricio Coloccini is expected to be fit enough to be available for selection. The nine others who won't be include Tim Krul, Ryan Taylor (injured, AGAIN, sadface), Rolando Aarons, Sammy Ameobi (doubtful), Gabriel Obertan, Davide Santon, Siem De Jong, and Jonas Gutierrez (who's recovering from cancer treatment!).
Alan Pardew's season got off to just about the worst possible start, but he and the team have recovered rather spectacularly, winning five straight at one point. The last two games have seen them slow back down a bit, gaining just one point and dropping down to 9th, level on points with Liverpool and Spurs.
View From The Enemy: Coming Home Newcastle
Chelsea Team News: Jose continues to claim zero injuries, though we know that Nathan Ake is out still with a hamstring and Ramires had been harboring a thigh muscle issue all this time as well. Hopefully that's resolved now, as he's most likely set to start instead of Nemanja Matic, who is suspended.
Matic had played every single minute of every single Premier League game so far this season and he will be sorely missed. How well we cope with his absence -- whether through a formation change to 4-3-3 or a one-for-one replacement -- will go a long way towards determining how much joy we get out of this game. What we do know is that it won't be easy, though it rarely is.
Previously: Did you know? Loic Remy was Newcastle's leading scorer last year.