December 1, 2017

Chelsea v. Newcastle Preview  (Sky Sports)

Eden Hazard and Ayoze PerezChelsea are again without defender David Luiz for Saturday's Premier League clash with Newcastle, live on Sky Sports.

Antonio Conte's men have won five of their last six league games to keep their hopes of retaining their Premier League title alive. Conte will be in the dugout on Saturday lunchtime as he avoided a touchline ban, despite being reprimanded by the FA after being sent to the stands in the midweek win over Swansea.

"I think it's right to accept and to pay the fine," Conte said. "I want to respect this decision and also to pay this fine."

The 1-0 victory on Wednesday was very much a workmanlike performance from Chelsea, who continue to struggle at home. Conte's side have dropped eight points already at home this season in the Premier League; winning 13 of a possible 21 at Stamford Bridge - in their title-winning 2016-17 campaign, they dropped just six points [winning 51/57].

After a positive start to the season, Newcastle have struggled of late, but will take heart from coming from 2-0 down at West Brom on Tuesday to snatch a point, ending a run of four defeats in a row.

Team news

Luiz has a knee injury, while forward Charly Musonda also has a knee problem, so neither are available as Blues head coach Conte prepares to rotate his options once more.

Striker Michy Batshuayi and the left-sided Kenedy have returned to training, but may not yet be in the squad.

Newcastle boss Rafael Benitez has no fresh injury problems. Defenders Paul Dummett (hamstring), Jamaal Lascelles (foot) and winger Christian Atsu (groin) are closing in on returns, but will not feature this weekend.

Benitez made five changes for Tuesday night's 2-2 fightback draw at West Brom with Karl Darlow, Chancel Mbemba, Isaac Hayden, Mikel Merino and Ayoze Perez replacing Rob Elliot, Javier Manquillo, Jonjo Shelvey, Mohamed Diame and Dwight Gayle, but was coy when asked if he would shuffle his pack once again.

Opta stats

Chelsea have won 15 of their 22 Premier League games against Newcastle at Stamford Bridge (W15 D6 L1), including each of the last four.

Only against Tottenham Hotspur (16) have Chelsea won on more occasions at home in the Premier League than they have versus Newcastle United (15 - alongside Everton).

Newcastle United have won just one of their last 18 away Premier League games (W1 D4 L13).

Antonio Conte's side have scored a league-high eight headed goals in the Premier League so far this season - the same number as they managed last season (8) and two more than in 2015-16 (6) in the Premier League.

Merson's prediction

I can only see this going one way. Newcastle did great to come back against West Brom - but Chelsea aren't West Brom. Chelsea did OK against Swansea, who stayed in the game, but you need to finish games off - if Wayne Routledge had passed to Wilfried Bony at the back post late on, it's a different game.

Eden Hazard was rested for that one, he'll be back here. Chelsea aren't the same team without him.

PAUL PREDICTS: 3-0 (9/1 with Sky Bet)

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