Newcastle United will look to heap the pressure on Andre Villas Boas as his Chelsea side visit the newly named Sports Direct Arena on Saturday lunch time, kick off 12.45pm.
The Magpies have suffered just one defeat all season and that was away to league leaders Man City, a run of form which sees them in the lofty position of 4th. They can consolidate their position with three points over a struggling Chelsea side who were knocked out of the Carling Cup midweek and have lost three out of their five league games.
Just a few miles away from Newcastle during the week, Sunderland parted company with manager Steve Bruce, how the situation differs at St. James Park. Alan Pardew has assembled a squad who work together, fight together and play some good football. This was emphasised by their 1-1 draw at Old Trafford last weekend and his players will sense a big victory which as mentioned would keep them inside the top four.
Much of their success has been built on solid foundations and having conceded just 12 goals all campaign, Tim Krul their young ‘keeper has been at the heart of that. Another impressive display last week at the Theatre of Dreams shows what a bright future he has. Cheick Tiote has been linked with a move to Chelsea in recent months and now Man United but the Ivorian midfielder continues to be side-lined with injury so Danny Guthrie is expected to fill in. Jonas Gutierrez will also be missing as he serves a one game suspension for his sending off last weekend.
Chelsea don’t have too many injury headaches either but the continued absence of Michael Essien proves to be costly as the Blues lack fight and creativity in that central region. Josh McEachran hasn’t travelled after going off injured during Tuesday’s defeat to Liverpool.
It’s Newcastle’s best start to a season in 14 years and they have made St. James Park a fortress once again and no side will go there this season and pick up an easy three points. Chelsea are the first “big” side to travel to the North East to take on the Magpies and it will be a test not only of Chelsea but of Newcastle’s realistic European ambitions.
Only Robin van Persie (31) and Wayne Rooney (19) have netted more league goals in 2011 than Demba Ba (16).
Newcastle are favourites with Betfair to pick up the three points and my money would have to be on the home side. I reckon a 2-1 win for Alan Pardew’s men.
All the odds on Betfair here