Scouting report: Newcastle

Ahead of our clash with Newcastle at Stamford Bridge, we've ran our eye over the opposition to get a feel of what we will be up against on Saturday...


Rafa Benitez. The Spaniard is a well known to us here at Stamford Bridge, after spending a short spell as our interim manager following the departure of Roberto Di Matteo, and led us to Europa League success in 2013. Benitez boasts an impressive CV having managed Valencia, Liverpool, Inter Milan, Napoli and Real Madrid as well as us, collecting a handful of trophies including the Champions League, La Liga and the FA Cup. After leaving Madrid, Benitez moved to St James’ Park and led the Magpies to the Championship title last season, an immediate return to the Premier League following relegation the campaign previous. 

Key player

Jonjo Shelvey. The 25 year-old, who has six England caps to his name, has real ability and when he’s on song, Newcastle perform well. The midfielder has suffered from inconsistency this season but is certainly a player to watch carefully, as he likes to make things happen from midfield in a deep-lying playmaker role. Joined Newcastle from Swansea in 2016 and helped the Magpies to the Championship title last term, the second major honour of his career after lifting the League Cup with Liverpool in 2012.

Recent form

The Toon Army head into this game looking for a first victory in five games, with their last win back in October when they defeated Crystal Palace. A run of straight defeats to Burnley, Bournemouth, Manchester United and Watford was ended last time out, when the Magpies came from two goals down to draw with West Bromwich Albion at the Hawthorns, with Ciaran Clark and an own goal from Jonny Evans ensuring the points were shared. 

One to watch

Matt Ritchie. The midfielder is a real consistent performer for the Magpies and can be utilised in a number of positions. The Scotland international has the ability to unlock opposition defences with a key pass and has five assists to his name so far this season. Has twice won the Championship title, first with Bournemouth and then last season with Newcastle. Is likely to feature on either the right or left flank for Rafa Benitez’s side but likes to ‘float’ from his position and find pockets of space, so needs to be watched carefully.

Worn both badges

Celestine Babayaro. The Nigerian left-back remains a popular figure at Stamford Bridge, after an impressive eight year stint with us in west London. He made well over 100 appearances for us and was part of the side that lifted the UEFA Cup Winners’ Cup and Super Cup in 1998 and the FA Cup two years later. Moved to Newcastle in 2005 and remained in the north east for three seasons before moving to LA Galaxy and ending his career in the MLS.