Newcastle United’s mission to ensure safety has already been achieved. Despite the shortage of funds being made available for reinforcements, Rafa Benitez has managed to steer the Magpies clear of relegation and into a possible top-half finish. Newcastle though, are on a four-game losing streak and would love to snap that in order to end the season on a positive note.
Chelsea, on the other hand, have somehow kept their hopes of a top-four finish alive, especially with the narrow 1-0 win over Liverpool. But, the 1-1 draw against Huddersfield was a body blow, with the Blues now two points behind Liverpool. The Blues though, still have a slimmer chance of eking into the top four, provided Liverpool lose their game against Brighton and Chelsea win on their trip to the Tyneside.
Since all 10 games will be played simultaneously, Chelsea and Liverpool fans would be keeping a keen eye on the score at the other place as well.
Chelsea’s last trip to St. James’ Park ended in a 2-2 draw and the Blues would be hoping to go one better in order to end the season on a high along with keeping their top four hopes alive. Ahead of their latest encounter, we take a closer look at the two sides.
Islam Slimani remains suspended and will not be available to Rafa Benitez for the match against Chelsea. Kenedy is ineligible to play against his parent club and will be another costly absence for Newcastle United. The other confirmed absentees are Christian Atsu, Jesus Gamez and Ciaran Clark, who are nursing their respective injuries.
The unavailability of Atsu and Kenedy would mean another chance for Jacob Murphy to impress the onlookers and stake his claim for a more prominent role for the season ahead.
Jonjo Shelvey will be pulling the strings as far as the creative part of the work is concerned while Ayoze Perez will look to excel again in his role as a Trequartista behind the striker – a position likely to be filled up by Dwight Gayle.
Rafa Benitez will be wary of the threat Chelsea might pose, especially having been the caretaker manager of the club for almost a full season.
Probable Lineup (4-4-1-1): Dubravka; Yedlin, Lascelles, Lejuene, Dummett; Ritchie, Diame, Shelvey, Murphy; Perez; Gayle
Thibaut Courtois is doubtful for the tie and is unlikely to be rested, especially with the FA Cup final coming soon, which means a start for Willy Caballero. Ethan Ampadu and David Luiz are also going to miss out, with the duo on the injury table.
Olivier Giroud and Eden Hazard were dropped by Antonio Conte for the 1-1 draw against Huddersfield. But, the attacking duo should return to the starting lineup, with Chelsea needing a win to keep their top four hopes alive.
In fact, we might just see a two-pronged attack comprising Alvaro Morata and Olivier Giroud with Eden Hazard playing in the hole behind the striking duo.
The gamble to overload midfield worked against Liverpool, but is unlikely to work against Newcastle United, a side who would be willing to sacrifice possession on Sunday.
Probable Lineup (3-4-1-2): Caballero; Azpilicueta, Cahill, Rudiger; Moses, Kante, Bakayoko, Alonso; Hazard; Morata, Giroud
1. Both Teams to Score – YES @ 1.75
2. Chelsea to win @ 1.66
3. Under 10.5 Match Corners @ 1.66
1. Ayoze Perez to score anytime @ 4.00
The final match of the Premier League campaign this season could just be Eden Hazard’s last league match for Chelsea and perhaps in the Premier League as well. The Belgian would like to end the campaign on a high and perhaps put on an audition for the suitors.
There are likely to be goals in this match, with Chelsea going all out, needing a win to have any hopes of a top four finish. Newcastle too, need a win to ensure a top half finish. Both the sides will go all out for the win and with Courtois not guarding the Chelsea goal, the home side will fancy their chances.
Expect an entertaining match at St. James’ Park, with the fixture likely to end in a scoring draw.