Newcastle United: Dubravka, Krafth, Fernandez, Lascelles, Clark, Willems, Almiron, Hayden, Shelvey, Saint-Maximin, Joelinton.
Subs: Schar, Ritchie, Lejeune, Darlow, Atsu, Sean Longstaff, Matthew Longstaff.
Chelsea: Arrizabalaga, James, Christensen, Rudiger, Azpilicueta, Kante, Jorginho, Mount, Hudson-Odoi, Abraham, Willian.
Subs: Barkley, Pedro, Caballero, Zouma, Kovacic, Batshuayi, Emerson Palmieri.
Referee: Chris Kavanagh (Lancashire).
It’s hard to get a handle on these two teams. Newcastle started the Premier League season with five losses in their first nine. They then won six from 11, magically transforming themselves into a comfortable mid-table team. And now another slide: one point from the last 12 on offer. Thirteenth place in the table is about right, but they’ll have to start winning a few more games soon, or they’ll be back in the basement lickety split.
Chelsea aren’t exactly the most predictable either. Just two wins from their first eight fixtures in all competitions this season, followed by seven victories on the spin. In the last month or so they’ve been turned over by the likes of West Ham, Everton, Bournemouth and Southampton; during the same period they’ve also enjoyed big wins at Arsenal and Tottenham. Another curate’s egg of a side.
But Chelsea are in fourth spot despite it all, and will be favourites to prevail this evening. Not least because they’ve won six of the last seven matches between these two clubs, the exception being a final-day 3-0 breeze for Newcastle at the end of the 2017-18 season, when Antonio Conte’s head was elsewhere. Frank Lampard’s men have also had the week off to prepare, while Steve Bruce’s side were forced to replay their third-round FA Cup tie with Rochdale. The Toon will hope the mental boost of a 4-1 win will offset any physical consequences.
Kick off is at 5.30pm GMT. Saturday night prime-time entertainment is ON!