Chelsea vs Newcastle Preview: Rafa returns to Stamford Bridge looking to upset Conte's men

The Blues will be looking to make it six wins in seven matches in the Premier League as the Toon Army struggle away from home.

Chelsea vs Newcastle Preview: Rafa returns to Stamford Bridge looking to upset Conte's men
Chelsea host Newcastle United at Stamford Bridge on Saturday lunchtime (Photo Credit: Getty Images/Athena Pictures)

Chelsea entertain Newcastle United on Saturday afternoon in the lunch-time kick-off at Stamford Bridge as they look to maintain pressure on the teams at the top of the Premier League.

Antonio Conte’s side are on a run of form that would be worthy of retaining their crown, if it was not for the poor start to the campaign, having won five of their last six games in the league, dropping points only against Liverpool.

The Blues will be looking for a better performance than they had shown in mid-week against Swansea, where an Antonio Rüdiger goal was enough to see them over the line though they were far from their best.

Rafa Benitez, who makes his return to Stamford Bridge after a short spell with the London outfit which included a Europa League triumph, will have no doubts in his opponents abilities and will certainly be relishing the tie, hopeful that his Magpies can come away from the fixture with a point.

Newcastle have not won in the league since October, losing four on the bounce before their mid-week draw at West Bromwich Albion.

Team news

Chelsea will again be without David Luiz who continues to deal with a knee injury that ruled him out of their match with the Swans, although he has missed a number of games for the Blues amid a rift with Conte.

His absence could mean Andreas Christensen retains his spot in the heart of the defence, with the Denmark international continuing to impress when given the opportunity and showing why the club sees a lot in him.

Charley Musonda, like Luiz, is also unavailable with a knee injury. However, there could be returns for Michy Batshuayi and Kenedy. The pair have both returned to training, although the clash with the Toon could be considered too early for them.

Conte has been charged by the Football Association following his sending off during the match on Wednesday, however, he will not be facing a touchline ban after arguing with fourth official Lee Mason.

Newcastle will continue to have Paul Dummett on the sidelines as he looks to recover from a long-term hamstring problem, whilst skipper Jamaal Lascelles also remains out.

The Magpies captain suffered a foot injury and is closing in on a return to fitness but will be out for the clash at Stamford Bridge, with former Blue Christian Atsu also set to miss out.

The Ghana international was brought to England by the West London club but found himself sent out on multiple different loan spells before signing for the Toon Army on a permanent deal this summer, although he is unable to feature with a groin problem.

Background

Chelsea will have history on their side when Newcastle come to visit on Saturday, having only ever lost once to the North East side at Stamford Bridge during the Premier League era.

The Blues seem to enjoy playing against the St. James’ Park outfit when in London, as they have beaten them 15 times in 22 matches, almost more than any other side they have played.

Newcastle have struggled to get points when playing away from home, having only won once and drawn a further four in an 18-game period.