Chelsea’s final game before the World Cup sees them travel to top-four rivals Newcastle in dire need of a win. Despite a promising start under Graham Potter, things have stalled of late and it is Eddie Howe’s side who are helping set the pace in the race to finish in the Champions League places.
Such has been their contrasting form, Newcastle arguably head into the shootout as favourites. Having not lost since August, the club are flying at the moment and St James’ Park will be electric all evening. As Arsenal found out towards the end of last season, it’s a difficult place to play when everyone is singing from the same hymn sheet.
For Potter, it’s vitally important to end the first half of the season on a positive note. While clearly things are going to take time, it’s hard to imagine the former Brighton boss getting as much patience as he did on the south coast. Follow Newcastle vs Chelsea live below, with expert analysis from Nizaar Kinsella on Tyneside.
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HT: Newcastle 0-0 Chelsea
A cagey affair so far.
Newcastle want penalty
45:00 – Trippier’s cross hits Chalobah on the hand, though would be harsh to give it.
Chelsea squander a good chance
45:00 – Kovacic chooses the wrong option when breaking, allowing Newcastle to recover. Should be doing far better there.
Nizaar Kinsella at St James’ Park
Potter has clearly set out his team to be really solid but it has come at the expense of any creativity and flair.
Chelsea look solid away at Newcastle but have given the hosts large spells of possession. The game plan might work but it is not pretty.
Newcastle finishing the half stronger
40:00 – Corner after corner for Newcastle here.
32:00 – That wave of Newcastle attacks has slowed of late, with the visitors moving up the pitch.
Hard to get away from the idea everyone has their eyes on the World Cup, however.
27:00 – The Italian brings down Guimaraes on the centre circle.
Half chance for Broja
26:00 – Mount’s quick forward pass gets Broja in position to turn and shoot just outside the box. Not enough power to trouble to Pope.
Newcastle cranking up the pressure
25:00 – Chelsea going well to close the spaces but the last few minutes have seen the Blues having to put in a number of blocks from shots inside the box.
Broja yet to have a sniff
23:00 – Not really something you can blame him for given Chelsea don’t look all that fluid going forward but one of Potter’s big calls isn’t going to plan yet.