Newcastle United vs Chelsea preview: Hosts seeking first Premier League win of 2020
NEWCASTLE UPON TYNE, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 21: Steve Bruce, Manager of Newcastle United looks on prior to the Premier League match between Newcastle United and Crystal Palace at St. James Park on December 21, 2019 in Newcastle upon Tyne, United Kingdom. (Photo by Mark Runnacles/Getty Images)

Three points for Newcastle United would certainly consolidate their recent work after drawing away at Wolves and comfortably beating Rochdale in their FA Cup replay. 

That followed two poor home defeats and an underwhelming draw at the League One club, so it's been a mixed bag of late.

Chelsea have been rather unpredictable in Frank Lampard's debut season as boss, but have seen off both Arsenal and Tottenham Hotspur away from home in the last month, so should be treated with extreme caution. 

Despite no new additions for either club, Chelsea supporters were given a boost of the same magnitude that a signing would bring, when it was announced Reece James had agreed a new contract in the week.  

The local boy has made the right-back position his own and has offered a new dimension of a new-look Chelsea side this season. 

Injury boost for Magpies

Th shortage of options Newcastle have had to choose from recently has been no secret, with Steve Bruce describing it as the worst injury crisis he has been involved with.

Things didn't improve with Paul Dummett and Dwight Gayle suffering serious hamstring injuries at Wolves last week, adding to the medical room waiting line.

But in the win over Rochdale, Jonjo Shelvey, Joelinton and Jamaal Lascelles all played a part, with winger Allan Saint-Maximin also due to make his comeback from a hamstring injury that's kept him out for over a month. 

Bruce will still be without a fit right-wing-back, though, meaning Isaac Hayden will be expected to continue to fill in there.

In the blue corner, it's still unknown whether N'Golo Kante will regain his place in midfield after a minor hamstring knock kept him out of their win over Burnley last week. 

Familiar pattern 

Just like at Stamford Bridge back in October, it will be no shock to see United get men behind the ball and make it difficult for Chelsea to break them down.

Marcus Alonso scored the only goal of the game that day in a narrow battle between the two teams.

Lampard was faced with a similar situation last week against Burnley, but introducing a more attacking-minded player in Ross Barkley for the injured Kante allowed his side to find the higher gears, winning it comfortably 3-0.

It could well be a different prospect at St James' Park this time around, but the Blues' will be confident of building upon their good work so far in January.

They have shown frailties with home defeats to AFC Bournemouth and Southampton and it has been these frustrating occurrences that have kept them from the title chasing pack, but they are sitting healthily in fourth.  

Despite the two sides being seeming worlds apart in their competitive aspirations, meetings between the two sides of late have proved cagey and tense, with tomorrow perhaps a repeat.

A win for the Magpies would provide a sigh of relief after anxiously looking over their shoulder of late, whilst three points for the Londoners would help to consolidate their top four stance. 

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