Newcastle vs Chelsea: Win the midfield clashes, win the game

The west London side are in good form, but will find their opposition midfield as tough opponents in their clash at St James’ Park on Saturday.

helsea have had an excellent run of form recently, with important wins both domestically and on the continent.

Jose Mourinho’s star-studded menagerie head to Tyneside on Saturday to face a Newcastle side that has been infuriatingly inconsistent of late.

Despite up-and-down results, one area of the pitch that the hosts are ever improving is in midfield. Alan Pardew has lined his side up in a bespoke 4-3-3 formation recently, with Yohan Cabaye, Moussa Sissoko and Cheick Tiote a three-man group in the boiler room.

This trio are certainly capable of hurting opposition, with an enviable blend of physicality, technique and energy. In recent clashes the trident have been broken up, with Mapou Yanga-Mbiwa’s red card against Liverpool and the switch to 4-4-2 against Sunderland robbing Newcastle of the full use of the three central midfielders.

Against Chelsea, who will play 4-2-3-1, Newcastle should look to continue with three in the heart of their side to outnumber their opponents in the centre of the park. With the likely pairing of Ramires and Frank Lampard, the hosts could win the ascendancy if Tiote, Cabaye and Sissoko can get the upper hand.

The likelihood is that the most defensive of the three, Tiote, will have to be disciplined in dropping to protect his back four. With Oscar in the number ten role, the African battler will need to help out his defence and close the Brazilian’s space.

Passing maestro Cabaye will look to get on the ball as often as possible, and his shooting from range has been a key feature of Newcastle’s last couple of games. The France international has the ability to create for others and get forward to score himself, and Mourinho will urge his midfield to keep a close eye on the former Lille playmaker.

With the Blues’ emphasis on Cabaye, countryman Sissoko could well benefit. The athletic midfielder has been unlucky to be the man replaced in both of Newcastle’s last two games, and given a full run here with the other two alongside him, could well be a key man for the hosts.

Going the other way, Lampard and Ramires both have attacking tendencies and will look to overload Newcastle’s defence by getting into the final third. Tiote will put his foot in at every available moment, and the French partnership need to do likewise.

Chelsea will go into the game as favourites, but will find a determined Newcastle side a tough opponent. The midfield battle will be one to watch, with the side that gets the upper hand potentially taking all three points.

image: © stephendgardner

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