Newcastle host Chelsea this weekend looking for their fourth win of the season, which would take them into the top half of the table and possibly temporarily onto the same number of points as Manchester United.
Newcastle’s problem this season has been conceding goals because only Crystal Palace and Sunderland, the bottom two clubs in the Premier League, have conceded more this season.
Chelsea will be full of confidence coming off the back of a comprehensive win at Arsenal in the League Cup.
Chelsea will go top of the table if they manage to get three points from this game and their confidence will be increased because only Southampton and Tottenham have conceded fewer goals.
It should be a fascinating match between two very different sides. Here are the key battles to keep an eye on.
Mike Williamson v Fernando Torres
Torres is likely to lead the Chelsea attack and Newcastle boss Alan Pardew will more than likely order Mike Williamson to keep tabs on the Spaniard.
Williamson is a very big and imposing defender who can intimidate smaller strikers but Torres showed with his scrap against Jan Vertonghen at Tottenham that he’s not afraid to get stuck into that sort of battle.
Cheick Tiote v Oscar
If Oscar starts in behind the main striker, then he will be one of the biggest threats to the Newcastle defence.
The best tactic they can use is to try and stop him before he gets anywhere near the Newcastle penalty area. Tiote is one of the scrappy, holding sort of midfielders who will have to be switched on and focused on the movement of the Brazilian.
Yohan Cabaye v Frank Lampard
This will be a battle between the two key inspirational figures in either midfield.
Cabaye is not as forward thinking as Lampard, which means the pair could frequently be squared up against each other throughout the game. Newcastle’s Frenchman has to keep an eye on the runs Lampard makes from deep positions, as he likes nothing better than to pop up inside the penalty area.
Hatem Ben Arfa v John Obi Mikel
It would be harsh on Mikel if he doesn’t start this game considering how well he played against Arsenal earlier this week.
He’ll be the player who protects the defence, looking for the runs from attacking midfield players and trying to stop influential Newcastle stars from getting on the ball.
He’ll have a tough time because Ben Arfa can play anywhere across the Newcastle midfield and attack.
Loic Remy v Gary Cahill
It’s unlikely that John Terry will want to take care of Remy because of his pace and movement.
Cahill is well suited to deal with both of those elements to the way Remy plays. He can drop off into a deeper position and also play a higher defensive line, matching Remy if he wants to play on the shoulder of the defence.
Which way do you see this game going?
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