Chelsea welcome Newcastle United to the Stamford Bridge, looking for a win that will ease their frustrations this season after a poor start.
The Blues sit 13th on the Premier League table 17 points behind League leaders Leicester City. Chelsea remain unbeaten in the 10 games of Guus Hiddink’s reign as interim boss, they have won just four times and have drawn four successive home games in the league.
Speaking ahead of Saturday’s clash, Hiddink said: The status of being unbeaten sounds good but realistically we would have wished to have more victories, especially at home.
“And we have an opportunity to do so against Newcastle. They improved their squad with substance, some good signings, and they are more competitive now. When you don’t keep winning at home, people have less fear.”
Hiddink hopes Diego Costa will be available despite suffering a broken nose on Thursday, and has described his Chelsea players as a “team of Zorros” after the news that Costa will wear a protective face mask against Newcastle United.
“They are putting a mask on Diego […] I think he will be available, but we must see how he reacts in the light session. I hope, I am not sure, but I think he might be available,” Hiddink said.
Costa joins Nemanja Matic, Cezar Azpilicueta and Gary Cahill who have featured in several games wearing the face masks this season after picking up facial injuries. New signing Alexandre Pato may miss the clash because he is not yet ready for selection.
Newcastle United, who are now out of the relegation danger, will be missing the services of Massadio Haidara and Paul Dummett, but will be welcoming Jack Colback, who returns to fitness after a hamstring injury. Emmanuel Riviere and Jamaal Lascelles are also available for selection.
Newcastle have a good record against Chelsea in recent seasons, having recorded four wins in their last eight meetings.
And manager Steve McClaren believes his men can boost their great record against the Blues by taking the crucial three points home. McClaren said: “We need to start picking up points away from home.”
“Chelsea are hard to beat, very dangerous opponents, but we focus on ourselves. We need to be on the front foot. We have to go to Chelsea with no fear and have a go. We owe it to the away fans.”
The last meeting in September almost saw McClaren’s men claim another win over the west London club, but a late comeback from the Blues saw both clubs settle on 2-2 draw.
Newcastle’s recent form show that they have lose 3 times and have had 2 wins and a single draw in their last 6 Premier League games. Chelsea have recorded 4 draws and only 2 wins in their last 6 Premier League games.
Chelsea (4-2-3-1): Courtois; Ivanovic, Cahill, Terry, Azpilicueta; Mikel, Fabregas, Willian, Oscar, Hazard; Costa
Newcastle (4-1-4-1): Elliot; Janmaat, Taylor, Coloccini, Aarons; Shelvey, Colback, Sissoko, Wijnaldum, Townsend; Mitrovic