Newcastle United did well to hold on to a point on their trip to Cardiff City Stadium last weekend, as they played with 10 men for more than 20 minutes of the game. They lost their first game to Spurs this season but Rafa Benitez will be pleased with the performance of his side in the last game and will hope that they can bounce back this weekend.
However, it will be a tough task, as they welcome Maurizio Sarri’s Chelsea, who are yet to drop a point this season.
Rafa named an unchanged side for the game last week and is not expected to make too many changes to his starting lineup for this crunch game. Here is the predicted lineup they might field for this tie:
Newcastle United – Team News
In early team news, Newcastle United are still without Florian Lejeune who is out with a long-term injury. DeAndre Yedlin missed the last game but should be fit for this weekend while Javi Manquillo who picked up a niggle in the last game, might miss out. Rafa cannot use Kenedy in this game as the versatile youngster is ineligible to play against his parent club. He is also without Isaac Hayden, who is suspended after the red card he picked up against Cardiff.
Expected Newcastle lineup (4-4-2)
Martin Dubravka has made three saves this season but has a passing accuracy of just 50%. He will have to be at his best if he is to deny Chelsea for most of the game. Ciaran Clark and Jamaal Lascelles have been superb at the back, 25 aerial duels already this season. They will not be easy to beat for the likes of Alvaro Morata this weekend.
Yedlin should be back in his right-back role while Paul Dummett has done enough to justify his place at left-back for the Magpies.
With three blocks, five tackles and two interceptions this season, Mohamed Diame has been Newcastle’s best midfielder and should start alongside Jonjo Shelvey, who should quickly improve on his passing accuracy, that lingers around the 70% mark.
With an assist and two key passes to his name, Matt Ritchie has been effective on the right side of the midfield and should start there this weekend. Jacob Murphy has seen just 20 minutes of action this season but the absence of Kenedy might see the 23-year old get his chance on the left side of the midfield.
Ayoze Perez has been Newcastle’s best passer so far this season, with an accuracy of 88%. He also has a key pass and two dribbles to his name and is expected to retain his place as a support striker.
Rafa has stuck with Joselu to lead the line and the Spaniard has registered two key passes and a goal this season. Joselu has also won 11 aerial duels and could be the danger man for Chelsea this weekend.
Here is how they might line up:
Stat Credit: Whoscored.com