PMB: Chelsea v Newcastle - matchday

The final part of the Pre-Match Briefing gets you ready for today's game..

• The Blues today will be determined to avoid a third-successive home blank in the league, but goals may not come straight away. The Londoners most prolific period at home has been in the last quarter hour, when seven of the club’s 19 goals have been scored. Newcastle, meanwhile, have only scored once in the final hour in all their away games this season.

• The reverse fixture, the second Chelsea road trip of the season, conjured three goals in 15 minutes after a Newcastle approach likened by their former manager Graeme Souness to a team playing away in Europe. Eden Hazard’s penalty opener in our 2-1 win was his seventh in 11 games against the Magpies – the Belgian’s joint second-favourite team to target after Bournemouth (seven in seven). Similarly, Olivier Giroud has netted eight top-flight goals against today’s visitors, more than against any other club.

Read: Hazard - Toon Tormentor


• Salomon Rondon has scored two of the Geordies’ four winning goals this season, and all of their last three away strikes. During our St James’ Park encounter back in August, his replacement during the game, Joselu, headed an equaliser albeit Olivier Giroud was flat out after an elbow. The perpetrator, DeAndre Yedlin, promptly put the ball past his own goalie for the Blues’ last-gasp winner.

• Rafael Benitez changed from his usual back four to a five-man defence in recent meetings with Liverpool, Watford and Man United. The Magpies were beaten to nil by both north-west outfits.

• When set up like that Newcastle play the ball longer and to the wings, firing in the fifth highest number of crosses in the top flight this season – 132 from wing-back Matt Ritchie alone.

Maurizio Sarri's pre-match quotes

‘In the last match we played very well, with continuity and with a very good offensive and defensive phase, and with a great performance from a physical point of view - the best of the season - but we didn’t score. We have to work and try to solve it as soon as possible.

‘If the match is the same [as the home games against Leicester and Southampton] we have to be patient and improve, not in the offensive phase, but in the box and attacking the box from lateral balls, and improve attacking spaces from uncovered balls. We need to improve in the last 20, 25 metres.’

Newcastle boss Rafael Benitez’s pre-match quotes

‘The reality is that we have to compete in a division when we cannot compete against Bournemouth, who are spending money. Forget about the top six, we have to compete against the others and we have to be realistic.

‘That doesn't mean you are negative. Realistic, because you have the experience.’

Squad news

Ruben Loftus-Cheek

Alvaro Morata



Karl Darlow

Mohamed Diame
Paul Dummett
Jonjo Shelvey



Matchday weather outlook

Cloudy, mild with the possibility of rain in west London this evening.

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