Chelsea have not won at St. James’ Park since 2011. It makes no sense at all.
On paper, Chelsea have been the favorites every single time. But our record on Tyneside is zero wins, five losses and one draw in the last six seasons. In May, the best Antonio Conte’s demoralized, disinterested bunch could scrape together was a dismal 3-0 loss. They’d go on to win the FA Cup just a week later, against Manchester United.
So there’s little point in looking at the Magpies’ one goal scored, two conceded and single lonely point so far this season and taking any encouragement from it. Normal rules do not apply to bogey teams. Mike Ashley may be cheapskating Rafa Benitez out the door but they still have the whammy on us.
Chelsea did end a seriously poor streak against Arsenal last time out; can we do the same this weekend? Will Chelsea play like the 75 good minutes or the 15 bad minutes from last Saturday?
Fasten your seat belts!
Date / Time: Sunday, August 26th, 2018, 16:00 BST; 11am EDT; 8:30pm IST
Venue: St. James’ Park, Newcastle upon Tyne
Referee: Paul Tierney — one of the newer names at the top end of the refereeing pile; he’s yet to referee a Chelsea match.
Forecast: Cloudy with a 48% chance of rain. It’s cooled off, too. Forecast is for 15°C (59°F), winds 13 km/h (8 mph).
On TV: Sky Sports Main Event (UK); NBCSN, Telemundo (USA); Star Sports Select HD1 (India); elsewhere
Streaming online: SKY GO Extra (UK); NBC Sports Live, Telemundo Deportes En Vivo (USA); Hotstar (India); audio commentary now available in the official Chelsea app as well, The 5th Stand
Chelsea team news: Cesc Fabregas is carrying a mysterious “near knee” injury, recovery time unknown. No other injuries reported so far. The real question is whether Eden Hazard and Mateo Kovačić, who shredded Arsenal in their allotted 30 minutes, will be fit enough to start. Sarri has hinted they might get about an hour each. That would bench Ross Barkley and leave Ruben Loftus-Cheek giving serious consideration to a loan move (which he already is). Callum Hudson-Odoi, Tammy Abraham and Ethan Ampadu played with the development squad on Friday and thus did not travel with the first-team team to Newcastle.
Newcastle team news: Kenedy will sit this one out, of course, as a Chelsea loanee. After his forgettable effort last week, that might be for the best (he was fortunate to escape a three-match ban for kicking out). Either former Chelsea loanee Christian Atsu or once-vanquisher of Chelsea in an FA Youth Cup final Jacob Murphy will probably replace him. Florian Lejeune is out with a long-term knee injury sustained in the pre-season. Right back is a question mark. DeAndre Yedlin is back to full fitness, but last week Javier Manquillo started until limping off in the 45th minute, to be replaced by Isaac Hayden. Hayden is suspended after getting straight red for a piece of unpleasantness against Cardiff’s Josh Murphy last week — incidentally, Josh and Jacob, brothers, were both part of the 2012-13 Norwich City U18 side who remain the only team not named Chelsea to win the FA Youth Cup in the last 7 seasons.
Last time: Not a single player in the current first-team squad was with Chelsea the last we came back from Newcastle with all three points. That was so long ago, no highlights seem to exist on YouTube, even. So here is last year’s win over the Magpies in the FA Cup.