Chelsea went into the break with some excellent momentum and some very good vibes, but few things are as effective at sapping away any such momentum as a two-week international break. Mauricio Pochettino’s hoping that we will pick up right where we left off, and continue on our, now seemingly fairly steady, upwards trajectory.
It’s another big test, Newcastle away, but in that most classic of young-but-good-team hallmarks, we’ve tended to play up (or down) to the level of our competition. We have yet to lose to the current top four (one win, three draws), but other than silly Spurs, we’ve yet to beat anyone outside the current bottom six.
We’ve proven we can hang with the best. But that’s only just the start.
Date / Time: Saturday, November 25, 2023, 15.00 GMT; 10am EST; 8:30pm IST
Venue: St James’ Park, Newcastle upon Tyne
Referee: Simon Hooper (on pitch): John Brooks (VAR)
Forecast: Cold but maybe a bit of sunshine
On TV: none (UK); none (USA); Star Sports Select HD1 (India); SuperSport Premier League, Canal+ Sport 3 (NGA); elsewhere
Streaming: none (UK); Peacock (USA); Hotstar (India); DStv Now (NGA)
Newcastle United team news: Newcastle got off to a terrible start, losing three of their first four Premier League games, but then went seven unbeaten (five wins) before experiencing a bit of a disaster against Bournemouth before the break, losing 2-0 to a Dom Solanke double. They currently sit seventh, but six points off the top-four.
Injuries have piled up a bit for Eddie Howe recently as well, though Fabian Schär, Miguel Almirón, and Kieran Trippier are all expected to be back, while Sean Longstaff and Alexander Isak face late fitness tests. Still, the likes of Dan Burn, Callum Wilson, Jacob Murphy, Harvey Barnes, Sven Botman, and Elliot Anderson are all out, and some for quite a while longer. And of course Sandro Tonali has been banned for ten months for betting offences: he has nine months left to go on that.
An interesting team news wrinkle is that Lewis Hall is ineligible as he’s technically still just on loan at the Magpies. Their purchase-clause on his contract won’t come into effect until the end of the season.
View from the enemy: Coming Home Newcastle
Chelsea team news: The game will come too soon for Christopher Nkunku, but Levi Colwill is set to return after missing his first game of the season. Malo Gusto withdrew from international duty as well, but has been training normally this week. Wesley Fofana, Roméo Lavia, Ben Chilwell, Carney Chukwuemeka, and Trevoh Chalobah are all out long-term — but making progress, as evidenced by Fofana’s return to light conditioning out on the training ground.
One other person missing in action, or at least from the dugout, for Chelsea will be Pochettino himself, after getting his third yellow card of the season at the end of the 4-4 draw with Manchester City — for yelling at referee Anthony Taylor. Poch has also given himself an extra bit of punishment as well, just as he did in the case of Nicolas Jackson.
“[Jackson] had to run [for his punishment]. And I am going to pay for a dinner because I got suspended and I cannot run, so I prefer to pay.”
-Mauricio Pochettino; source: Evening Standard
Previously: Contrary to general expectations, St James’ Park hasn’t been the unhappiest of hunting grounds for us in recent years, though we did lose this fixture 1-0 last season. We did play Newcastle in preseason this year as well, drawing 1-1 in Atlanta, GA under the friendly guise of the “Premier League Summer Series”.