Chelsea vs Newcastle United Preview: Magpies look to turn top six woes around with an injury-riddled squad
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Chelsea vs Newcastle United Preview: Magpies look to turn top six woes around with an injury-riddled squad

Rafa Benitez will be looking to pick up some unexpected points in the capital on Saturday as he looks to move his side away from the bottom three.

Aaron Hindhaugh

Heading into this game both sides would love three points to help them achieve their goals.

Chelsea sit fourth in the league, just three points ahead of Arsenal in fifth so they cannot afford to drop any more points after a 0-0 draw with Southampton last time out.

However, Rafa Benitez is in desperate need of points to move his side away from the drop zone as they sit a mere three points above Southampton in 18th.

A game of limited chances

Especially away from home Newcastle United are a tough team to break down as they sit deep and do not allow players to run in-behind their defence often.

Benitez will be hoping his team can be solid without the ball and then clinical from set pieces and on counter attacks to try and get a positive result.

Just like in the reverse fixture there was little action in either team's penalty area until the last 10 minutes.

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Eden Hazard scored a penalty before Joselu equalised minutes later with a great header and then DeAndre Yedlin scored a cruel last-minute own goal.

A game with not much going on will suit Newcastle but is likely to frustrate Chelsea and their fans which may enable the Magpies to catch them off guard late in the game.

Injuries piling up for Benitez

Fixture congestion has begun to take its toll on a threadbare Newcastle squad with key players missing for the trip to Stamford Bridge.

Benitez is struggling for an option in midfield with Jonjo Shelvey, Mo Diame and Ki Sung-Yeung all not available for the game on Saturday so it seems likely local boy Sean Longstaff will start his first Premier League game.

Important defender, Paul Dummett is also not available for the game, however, Federico Fernandez, Ciaran Clark and Florian Lejeune are all fit to play.

For Chelsea, Maurizio Sarri confirms that Ruben Loftus-Cheek is not available for selection although Alvaro Morata has been back in training this week.

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Apart from Andreas Christien who is a long term injury, Sarri has a full squad to chose from.

Key clashes

With Morata only back in training this week it seems likely that Sarri will stick with Hazard in a number nine role.

This means that Hazard will be up against three centre-backs if Benitez decides to play five defenders which he usually does against the top six.

The Belgian is likely to find it difficult to get space in behind or space to run at the defence with Newcastle sitting so deep and happy for Chelsea to have the ball all game.

As well as Hazard facing a tough task against defenders, Salomon Rondon will have to try his best to hold the ball up and relieve some pressure off the Newcastle defence.

Rondon will not give the Chelsea defence an easy game by backing into them and being physical all game which is the way Benitez wants his number nine to play.

Both managers cautious

Benitez has called for unity amongst the fans and players to show what the club is capable of when they work together.

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The Spaniard told The Chronicle: "It's a big city and it's a massive club."

"Some people say you have to do this and do that, but the reality is that when we work together and we are united, we are stronger."

Sarri was complimentary of his opponents speaking to Chelsea's official website: "Our opponents are better away from their home than when they are at home."

"We will need to be patient and improve in the attacking box."