Chelsea vs Newcastle

Chelsea vs Newcastle Preview: Can depleted Magpies’ shock the Blues?

Newcastle United fans are used to managing expectations, but their manager, Rafael Benitez certainly isn’t. Not to this level, anyway. It should never be underestimated how surprising it is to see a Champions League-winning manager, somebody who has worked with some of the best players and clubs in the world, battling on even though he knows avoiding relegation is probably the best he can achieve this season.

Sitting just two points above the drop zone with injuries piling up, Newcastle travel to Chelsea on Saturday evening. Benitez can only look on in envy at the squad his opposite number, Maurizio Sarri, has at his disposal, but he continues to get on with his job.

The Spaniard has a self-imposed embargo on his head when it comes to discussing transfers, so most fans are being left in the dark. The inference, though, is that nothing is close to happening, and judging by the previous actions of Newcastle owner Mike Ashley, that does seem about right.

The Magpies are particularly short on central midfielders for the game at Stamford Bridge; given that most games at the top level hinge on the battle in the centre of the park, that is particularly bad news. Read More

Liverpool vs Newcastle

Liverpool vs Newcastle Preview: Can Rafa spoil the Reds’ festivities?

On November 3rd, when Newcastle United hosted Watford, the situation for Rafael Benitez’s men could hardly have been more precarious. Had they lost at St James’ Park that day, it would have been the first time the Magpies had ever failed to win in their first eleven Premier League games. Victory kick-started their season, and they haven’t looked back since.

Fast forward to Boxing Day, and Newcastle head to Premier League leaders Liverpool in a very favourable position. Avoiding relegation is still the primary target, but 14 points from their last eight games have eased their fears. Benitez is incredibly popular with both sets of fans after six successful years at Anfield, but he will be focussed completely on getting a result and nothing else. Key to the visitors’ chances, in more ways than one, is striker Salomon Rondon. Read More