On the list of annoying places to play, Newcastle United’s St James’ Park is right near the very top.
The storied team playing there may not be all that great these days — they’ve finished in the top of the half of the Premier League just once in the last thirteen seasons, getting relegated twice in the meantime — yet Chelsea have won just once in our last six visits (6 of 18 in the Roman Era). But that one win came the last time we were there, so perhaps it’s the turn of the tide on the Toon.
Our relatively strong away record will certainly be tested.
Date / Time: Saturday, January 18, 2020, 17.30 GMT; 12.30pm EST; 11pm IST
Venue: St James’ Park, Newcastle-upon-Tyne, England
Referee: Chris Kavanagh — we remain a perfect 6-for-6 in Kavanagh-refereed games, after December’s 2-1 win over Aston Villa
Forecast: Cold and getting colder
On TV: Sky Sports Main Event (UK); NBC, Universo (USA); Start Sports Select HD1 (India); Canal+ Sport 2, SuperSport 3 (NGA); elsewhere
Streaming: Sky Go (UK); NBC Sports Live, Universo Now (USA); Hotstar (India); DStv Now (NGA)
Newcastle United team news: Newcastle made headlines over the festive period with their absolutely ridiculous injury list, though that has become slightly less ridiculous in the past few days, with center back option Fabian Schär and the wonderfully wonderful Allan “St. Gucci” Saint-Maximin once again available for selection.
Others have been less fortunate, including ... deep breath ... Dwight Gayle, Javi Manquillo, Jack Colback, Yoshinori Muto, DeAndre Yedlin, Ki Sung-Yeung, Paul Dummett, and, surprise surprise, Andy Carroll.
That’s not to say that the midtable Magpies can’t run out a dangerous lineup. Miguel Almirón has discovered his scoring boots, Joelinton is a big unit, Matt Ritchie can cross the ball, and Jonjo Shelvey sometimes does unexpectedly decent things. But Steve Bruce has not enamored himself with the locals in replacing the heroic Rafa Benítez, and with just one win in the last six league games, and a replay needed in the FA Cup to advance past third division Rochdale, the mood isn’t exactly improving.
Given Chelsea’s generosity against struggling opposition however, not to mention the general annoyance factor of having to go north of the wall (are Game of Thrones references still valid?), it’s anyone’s guess what might happen in this one.
View from the enemy: Coming Home Newcastle
Chelsea team news: Christian Pulisic has been ruled out until February, while both N’Golo Kanté and Marcos Alonso have been dealing with recent injuries as well. But otherwise Chelsea have been staying fairly healthy after the big problems in that department earlier this season.
And with a sparser schedule as of late, results on the pitch have become a bit more consistent as well. Four unbeaten, including three wins has been the Blues maintain a strong hold on fourth place, still five points ahead of Manchester United in fifth.
With a couple tougher games coming up before the winter break, home to Arsenal and away to Leicester City, three points in this one will be imperative.
Previously: Marcos Alonso did a Marcos Alonso thing.