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It’s a place where we’ve won just twice in the last ten years. So while on paper this should be another (relatively) easy game against a winless team flirting with relegation and under interim management, it’s likely to be anything but.
Fortunately, we have gotten a bit of a fitness boost ahead of this, with Andreas Christensen, César Azpilicueta, N’Golo Kanté, and even Christian Pulisic returning to training today. While Pulisic is unlikely to be in match shape after a nearly two-month absence, the other three should be ready to rotate in if deemed necessary.
Romelu Lukaku, Timo Werner, and evidently Ruben Loftus-Cheek as well remain out — Loftus-Cheek’s hip injury preventing him from re-joining training as yet.
In folklore, this is the time of year when the dead mingle with the living and witches ply their dark trade. On paper Chelsea’s visit to Newcastle is the league leaders versus a team in football’s equivalent of the twilight zone – the bottom three – but the recent takeover of Toon means there is more home-side impetus in this pre-Hallowe’en event than previously expected.
A fourth league win in a row would secure pole position for a third week running, matching our start to the 2018/19 campaign. Unusually, no match involving the top three has been selected for broadcast this weekend, so all have the same 3pm Saturday start.
The Londoners have won five of the past six Premier League meetings between these two sides, including 2-0 home and away victories last season, but St James’ Park does love to see Cockney wings clipped.
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In December 2014, for instance, the Magpies ended Chelsea’s 265-day unbeaten run in the league despite being reduced to 10 men. Last season’s victory was one of only five for the Blues in the past 17 Tyneside trips.
That said, the champions of Europe arrive with the second-best away record in the top flight and a record of one defeat in 13, so Thomas Tuchel is well placed to ward off the spectre of defeat this weekend.
The Bavarian has coached the Blues to our fourth-best opening to a Premier League campaign behind 2004/05 (27 points), 2014/15 (23) and 2010/11 (also 22, but a better goal difference).