When Thomas Tuchel took over Chelsea last month, we were sat in mid-table and while we were only 5-6 points behind fourth place, we were staring up at almost half the league — which was a concern not just because we had failed to beat a single team above us in the table up to that point.
Now, after four games and three wins, including a win against Spurs who at the time were in fact ahead of us, Tuchel’s Chelsea have a chance to move into fourth place with a win over Newcastle United on Monday night. We would do so at Liverpool’s expense, which would put a rather amusing spin on Tuchel’s quotes from a couple weeks ago when asked about his compatriot and coaching rival Jürgen Klopp.
“It’s hard to be as successful but we will try hard. Jurgen is one of the very best coaches, one of the most fascinating personalities as a coach.
“I’m not sure I should set my goal for myself, because he is Jurgen and he has found his place to be, like he did with Dortmund. People love him, fans love him, his team loves him and he has the results for it.
“We start right now, to close the gap and to take away a bit of his points and his reputation, with all respect and friendship, of course.”
-Thomas Tuchel; source: Mirror
Of course, we have to actually win first.
Date / Time: Monday, February 15, 2021, 20.00 GMT; 3pm EST; 1:30am IST (next day)
Venue: Stamford Bridge, SW6
Referee: Peter Bankes (on pitch); Chris Kavanagh (VAR)
Forecast: Cool, breezy, dry
On TV: Sky Sports Main Event (UK); NBCSN, Universo (USA); Star Sports Select HD1 (India); SuperSport Premier League, Canal+ Sport 3 (NGA); elsewhere
Streaming: Sky Go (UK); NBC Sports Live, Universo Now (USA); Hotstar (India); DStv Now (NGA)
Chelsea team news: Tuchel’s good run has coincided with a relatively easier stretch of fixtures, a stretch that will soon come to an end, with the likes of Atlético Madrid (twice), Manchester United, and Everton coming up in the next month. Getting as many wins and points in under our belt will be absolutely imperative for both our top-four hopes and general good vibes that we’ve been seeing over the past few weeks.
Chelsea have yet to concede a goal to an opposition player since Tuchel took over, but we will once again be without Thiago Silva, while Andreas Christensen probably shouldn’t be playing even as we continue to pretend that his concussion was just a bit of a “headache”. It’s all just pain, innit? Meanwhile, the Kai Havertz mystery continues, but Timo Werner should be back after his leg contusion.
Newcastle United team news: After an absolutely horrendous run of results through December and January, eleven without a win including nine defeats in all competitions, Newcastle have won two of three, including a 2-0 win over Everton at Goodison. Last weekend, they beat Southampton, though Saints are currently in the midst of their own crisis, having now lost six in a row in the league, including that 9-0 embarrassment against Manchester United.
But wins are wins and those six points have ensured that the Magpies remain well clear of the drop zone — 10 points ahead of Fulham at the start of Sunday — even if they’re actually just one spot above the bottom three.
Before scoring three in one game against Southampton, Newcastle had managed just six in ten across all competitions. Big summer signing Callum Wilson is into double digits for the season, but only two of those have come since the turn of the year — and he won’t be adding to that tally against Chelsea thanks to a hamstring injury he suffered last weekend. Defenders Javi Manquillo and Fabian Schär also confirmed out with injuries pick up in the same game, while Jamaal Lascelles and Federico Fernández are facing late fitness tests. Midfielder Jeff Hendrick is out through suspension.
The stars of the show agains Southampton were Miggy Almirón, who now has three goals in his last four games, and January arrival Joe Willock, who joined on loan from Arsenal. Steve Bruce will be hoping for a repeat performance from them, and of course the ever-exciting Allan Saint-Maximin. He’s not had the best of seasons, thanks in part to a two-month injury, but had two assists against Southampton.
View from the enemy: Coming Home Newcastle
Previously: Chelsea have beaten Newcastle the last eight times in a row at the Bridge (seven league, one cup), and we won at St James’ earlier this season as well.