Scouting report: Newcastle United

We welcome Newcastle to Stamford Bridge on Sunday, as we take on the Magpies in an FA Cup fourth round clash. Ahead of the tie, we've ran our eye over Rafa Benitez's side...
 

MANAGER

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

Jamaal Lascelles. The former Nottingham Forest defender is a key element of Newcastle's backline, playing at the heart of the defence and establishing himself as a solid and consistent performer. Was handed the captaincy by manager Rafa Benitez and was a regular in the side that won promotion to the Premier League last season, following their Championship title win. The 24 year-old, who has also took in a loan spell with Stevenage as a youngster, is a danger in both boxes because of his aerial ability, so he will have to be monitored at set-pieces. 

Recent form

The Magpies overcame a potential scare to dispose of League Two high-flyers Luton Town in the previous round, to set up this clash with us at Stamford Bridge. A burst of three goals in nine minutes secured the win for Rafa Benitez's side that day, with a brace from Ayoze Perez and a further strike from Jonjo Shelvey enough to see Newcastle through. We have already played the Magpies at Stamford Bridge this season, with Eden Hazard (2) and Alvaro Morata securing us the points in a 3-1 win. Benitez's men come into this game having lost to leaders Manchester City last time out, but did take four points from their previous two games before that thanks to an away win at Stoke and a home draw against Swansea. 

One to watch

Matt Ritchie. The midfielder is a 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 he is one that 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.