Chelsea vs Newcastle preview: Blues aiming to make amends for midweek cup exit

Chelsea vs Newcastle preview: Blues aiming to make amends for midweek cup exit

The Blues were defeated by Arsenal in the League Cup on Wednesday and face Newcastle, who have had their own troubles, hoping to rekindle their pre-Christmas form

Samuel Smith

Chelsea can make amends for their midweek League Cup woes when they face Newcastle United in the Fourth Round of the FA Cup tomorrow.

The Blues were beaten by Arsenal in their semi-final second leg tie on Wednesday and Antonio Conte will seek a response from his players when they host the Magpies.

Newcastle are hoping for a release from their Premier League woes, having won just once in five games. Rafael Benitez’s side began the season in good form after promotion from the Championship at the first time of asking, but now sit just a point above the relegation zone with hierarchy troubles threatening to affect on-field performances.

Chelsea beat Norwich City on penalties in a controversial Third Round replay to get to this stage, while Newcastle eased past League Two Luton Town.

Rafa returns

Benitez takes his Newcastle side to the club where he had a mixed spell at the beginning of the decade. The Spaniard replaced Roberto di Matteo in November 2012 on a deal until the end of the 2012-13 season, but was an unpopular appointment following a spat with Jose Mourinho just less than a decade earlier when the pair were in charge of Liverpool and Chelsea respectively.

The former Real Madrid and Napoli boss went on to lift the Europa League at the end of the season and eased some of the tensions between himself and the fans but was not kept on at Stamford Bridge, instead replaced by Mourinho.

Head to head

An Eden Hazard-inspired performance in December eased Chelsea to a 3-1 victory against Newcastle in December. The Belgian netted either side of an Alvaro Morata header after Dwight Gayle had opened the scoring for the visitors.

The two clubs have met 161 times across all competitions since 1907, with Chelsea coming out on top on 70 occasions to Newcastle’s 52.

Chelsea won the latest FA Cup meeting between the pair thanks to a solitary goal from John Terry.

Team news

Thibaut Courtois (ankle), Alvaro Morata (back) and Willian are absent for the hosts. Willy Caballero is expected to retain his place in goal having started the previous two games. Cesc Fabregas could also return from injury to play some part.

Newcastle’s new loan signing Kenedy is ineligible to make his debut against his parent club, while Jesus Gamez is the Magpies’ only absentee through injury.