A little over a month ago, we went into the last international break of the year feeling pretty good about ourselves. An absolutely hilarious 4-1 win at Spurs was followed by possibly the best match of this Premier League season, our 4-4 draw against Manchester City at Stamford Bridge. For the first time in the last 18 months, it finally looked like we might be onto something.
We’ve yet to recover that momentum unfortunately.
Results since the international break, starting with our trip to St James’ Park against this very same Newcastle side, have ranged from the truly tragic to the somewhat inspiring, but weighed greatly towards the former. The weekend’s perfunctory 2-0 win over the worst team in the league, Sheffield United, was the first performance in a long time that wasn’t dramatic in some fashion, good or bad.
So it’s another chance to start building something here, with the added boost of reaching the semifinals of this Cup competition. Let’s go!
Date / Time: Tuesday, December 19, 2023, 20.00 GMT; 3pm EST; 1:30am IST (next day)
Venue: Stamford Bridge, SW6
Referee: Jarred Gillett (on pitch; still no VAR at this stage)
Forecast: cool and breezy but the rain should be done by then
On TV: Sky Sports Main Event (UK); none (USA); none? (India); SuperSport Premier League (NGA); elsewhere
Streaming: Sky Go (UK); ESPN+ (USA); FanCode (India); DStv Now (NGA)
Chelsea team news: Christopher Nkunku looks set to finally make his debut, with Mauricio Pochettino targeting about 20 minutes of action for the 26-year-old’s first bit of competitive action since joining in the summer. Nkunku did make the bench on Saturday, but only got to warm up and thus spared the eager tackling of the home side.
Unfortunately, that’s about the extent of good news with regards to injuries. Robert Sánchez is out for a month with his knee and Marc Cucurella is out for three months following ankle surgery. They join the rest of the double-digit treatment room crew including Reece James, Ben Chilwell, Wesley Fofana, Carney Chukwuemeka, Trevoh Chalobah, Lesley Ugochukwu, and Roméo Lavia still as well. Noni Madueke is supposedly back in full training, but his involvement has been minimal regardless.
Newcastle United team news: Newcastle have had more than their fair share of injuries as well, and their situation hasn’t really improved either — though Kieran Trippier should be back after sitting this weekend (primarily through a one-match suspension for yellow card accumulation but also an injury), and Alexander Isak, who scored in our meeting last month, faces a late fitness test.
Sven Botman returned to action from the bench over the weekend, but Joelinton and Fabian Schär got injured in that 3-0 win over Fulham while Nick Pope, Matt Targett, and Harvey Barnes fell by the wayside earlier this month. Anthony Gordon has been dealing with a knock as well, but has yet to miss any time. Jacob Murphy, Elliott Anderson, Joe Willock, and Javier Manquillo complete the lengthy injury list, while Sandro Tonali is in month two of his ten-month global suspension from football.
Newcastle got dumped out of Europe last week, losing at home to Christian Pulisic’s AC Milan to finish bottom of their Champions League group, while they preceded that with back-to-back three-goal defeats in the league, to Everton and Spurs. But as we saw in November, if we don’t show up, Newcastle will walk over us easily, regardless of their personnel or form. And unlike in the league, Lewis Hall will be eligible to play against us.
View from the enemy: Coming Home Newcastle
Previously: It’s three without a win against this lot after last month’s 4-1 defeat, but we have not lost to them at the Bridge in any competition since 2012 (yes, the Papiss Cissé brace-game, featuring THAT goal). This goal will never cease to amaze me, even if we were on the receiving end of it.