When your Champions League hopes hang by the thinnest of threads and you’re Chelsea Football Club, one of the last places you want to go when you absolutely need to win a match is raucous St. James’ Park. The Magpies are entirely too well supported and that place is a hoodoo to the things that we do.
In our last six trips, we’ve lost thrice, drawn twice and — gulp — won only once, a 3-0 beating back in 2011 with goals from Didier Drogba, Salomon Kalou and Daniel Sturridge. It doesn’t really seem to matter where they are in the table; against us, they’re Champions League material, and their players (where you at, Papiss Cissé?) turn into supermen.
So it might not do to take heart from the fact that they’re free of relegation fears, have nothing to play for and are basically on holiday — all factors that explain why they’ve lost four in a row. But don’t expect them to roll over for us. It just never seems to work that way.
We’re coming off a soul-crushing draw with a
blue-and-white bus pragmatic Huddersfield Town, placing our European future in the hands of Brighton, who must win at Anfield. No doubt Eden Hazard will start this Sunday, and if I were a betting man I’d say that Gary Cahill and Olivier Giroud would as well. As well as a star of the Liverpool win, Tiémoué Bakayoko.
It’s last call in the Premier League, ladies and gentlemen. Drink it up, since the bar doesn’t open again until August!
Date / Time: Sunday, May 13th, 2018, 15:00 BST; 10:00am EDT; 7:30 pm IST (next day).
Venue: St. James’ Park, Newcastle upon Tyne, England.
Referee: Martin Atkinson — last seen huffing and puffing through our FA Cup semi-final win over Southampton at Wembley. Can be card-happy. For a bit of fun, here’s the phantom goal Atkinson awarded Juan Mata in the 2012 FA Cup Final against Tottenham, which we won 5-1.
Forecast: Benign. 13°C (55°F), and winds at 10 km/h (6 mph). The chance of rain is 20%.
On TV: Sky Sports Premier League (UK); NBCSN (USA); none (India); elsewhere.
Streaming online: Sky Go (UK); NBC Sports Live (USA); Hotstar (India)
Newcastle team news: Former Blue Christian Atsu and former Mattress-Maker Jesús Gámez are out. Former Leicester City club record signing Islam Slimani is suspended for violent conduct. Thankfully, future Bayern Munich superstar Kenedy can’t play against his parent club.
Chelsea team news: Two late scratches in the last two matches, so who knows? But as of Friday’s presser, all fit and ready save for David Luiz and Ethan Ampadu.
Last time: We could dwell on our last visit to Tyneside, a 2-2 draw in that dreadful 2015-16 season. But that’s not nearly as much fun as our last Premier League match against them, a 3-1 win in December. So let’s enjoy that instead. Eden scored twice, Morata once and, until Manchester United kicked off, we were in second place. Plus, you get the plummy tones of Jon Champion. Ah, the good old days (of five months ago)...