Chelsea returns to action in the premier league after the weekend 3-0 win over Watford in the FA Cup. The last time Chelsea were in action in the league was the humiliating 5-3 loss to Tottenham Hotspur at White Heart Lane on new year day.
Chelsea will be presented with another stern test when they face Newcastle later today as it was the former Alan Pardew side that handed the Blues their first loss of the season in the reverse fixture of this game earlier in the season.
Manager Jose Mourinho will not be in the dugout due to FA charge against him for his criticism of match referees during the game against Southampton in the hectic festive season.
Assistant manager, Steve Holland will be in charge of this match. In this article, we take a look at the possible line-up Steve could go with against Newcastle in other to get the three maximum point and maintain the club’s no.1 standing on the league table.
In Goal: Thibaut Courtios conceded more than three goals in a single match for the first time in his Chelsea career during the 5-3 hammering at Spurs. He was left out on the bench against Watford last weekend in the FA cup as Petr Cech took his stead in-between the sticks and had a good game altogether keeping a clean sheet.
Courtios omission from the starting line up however, will not be connected to his performance against Spurs as he could not be faulted for any of the Spurs’ goals.
He will therefore, be expected to be in goal once again against Newcastle as the manager has made him the first choice goalkeeper in place of long term shot stopper Cech upon his return on loan from Atletico Madrid in the summer.
Defence: The quartet of Branislav Ivanovic, Gary Cahill, John Terry, and Ceasar Azpilicueta have made the back four their own and, except for the Tottenham match where they looked out of shape, the defence has simply been the best in the league all season.
John Terry and Branislav Ivanovic were rested against Watford after a long hectic festive period and should be back in the line-up to face the Magpies.
Youngster, Kurt Zouma as well as Filippe Luis could also be in contention for a position at the back, but Steve will more likely go with the tested and trusted partnership between Ivanovic, Cahill, Terry and Azpilicueta at the back.
Midfielders: Cesc Fabregas and Nemanja Matic have made the double pivot position their own earlier in the season. But this has changed lately especially with Oscar struggling for form upfront.
Cesc Fabregas has been pushed further up the pitch to join the attacking duo of Hazard and Willian with John Mikel Obi partnering Matic in central midfield.
This is likely to continue as Oscar has shown no sign of improvement in his form, a result which saw him withdrawn at the break against Watford.
Hazard, who has been Chelsea’s best player during the festive period was given a rest against Watford but should return in this game to join the attacking duo of Fabregas and Willian who was also impressive upon his introduction at the Watford game.
Mikel and Matic will play as the defensive midfielders against a stubborn New Castle who boasts the like of Moussa Sissoko, Jack Colback and Yoan Gouffran in midfield.
Attack: Diego Costa will likely return to the line-up after starting from the bench in the FA cup. He got the opener against Spurs and will likely be the man tasked to shoot down John Carver’s men. The Brazilian born Spanish international is the joint top scorer in the Epl alongside fellow South American Sergio Aguero. He will fancy his chances of toppling the Manchester City talisman as the highest goal scorer in the league.
Loic Remy look sharp against Watford even though he was played out wide and he got a goal for his effort. He will likely start from the bench and come in latter in the game to hunt his former side. Didier Drogba will look forward to action from the bench as well and come in as a substitute at some point in the game.
Ivanovic, Cahill, Terry, Azpilicueta.
Mikel, Matic, Fabregas, Willian, Hazard.
Sub: Cech, Luis, Zouma, Oscar, Ramires Remy, Drogba.