After their Carabao Cup semi-final first leg defeat to Spurs in mid-week, Chelsea's attention now turns to hosting Newcastle United in the Premier League.
Stamford Bridge, Fulham, England
Key Stat: Chelsea have lost just one of their last 20 home games in all competitions.
Expert Verdict: At home, Chelsea will expect nothing less than a win against Newcastle United - even if the Blues' record at St James' Park still leaves a lot to be desired. Chelsea are tough to beat at home, even if goals have been short in recent weeks - a home win would keep the pressure on the top three above them.
Alvaro Morata is rated 50-50 with a thigh/hamstring injury for the game against Newcastle, while Cesc Fabregas has a calf problem - though probably would not have featured in the midfield three anyway. Ruben Loftus-Cheek is unavailable with a back injury, but Pedro is back and could start ahead in the front three with Eden Hazard and Willian.
Eden Hazard - Scored four goals in three wins either side of Christmas – including the winning goal to beat Brighton, Bournemouth and Watford.
Pedro - Fit again and likely to return on the wing having made a bright start to the 2018/19 season – he has six goals and two assists this season.
NGolo Kante - The last player to score a winning goal for the Blues and the French World Cup winner is vital in midfield too.
After a run of three wins and a draw since Christmas, Chelsea lost to Tottenham Hotspur in the first leg of their Carabao Cup semi-final in mid-week, losing 1-0 at Wembley. It followed a 2-0 FA Cup win against Nottingham Forest, in which Alvaro Morata scored both goals, but they drew a blank in their most recent league game – a goalless draw with Southampton at Stamford Bridge.
Defenders:Cesar Azpilicueta, David Luiz, Antonio Rudiger, Marcos Alonso
Midfielders:N Golo Kante, Jorginho, Matteo Kovacic
Forwards:Pedro, Eden Hazard, Willian
Federico Fernandez will be assessed as he looks to recover from a hip injury in time to face Chelsea, while Mohamed Diame is suffering a similar injury and also faces a late fitness test. Ki Sung-Yeung and Yoshinoro Muto are away at the Asian Cup, and Jonjo Shelvey will miss out with a thigh injury.
Salomon Rondon – Scored his sixth goal of the season in the draw at Watford – Newcastle’s most recent league goal.
Ayoze Perez – Criticised for his lack of goals by some fans, but the Spaniard remains a favourite with Rafael Benitez.
Martin Dubravka – The Slovakian goalkeeper kept a clean sheet in the home fixture against Chelsea last season and, with both sides lacking goals in recent weeks, some big saves could swing this one.
Newcastle are without a win in their last five matches, drawing 0-0 with Fulham and 1-1 with Watford and Blackburn – the latter in last weekend’s FA Cup third round – with defeats to Liverpool (4-0) and Manchester United (2-0) interspersed with that. Salomon Rondon scored their only league goal in that run – in the draw at Watford – while Matt Ritchie’s late penalty salvaged a draw with Championship Blackburn last time out.
Defenders:DeAndre Yedlin, Fabian Schar, Jamal Lascelles, Federico Fernandez, Matt Ritchie
Midfielders:Ayoze Perez, Isaac Hayden, Mo Diame, Christian Atsu
Chelsea have beaten Newcastle United 72 times in previous matches between the two, with 39 draws and 53 Newcastle wins. More recently, Chelsea have won five of the last seven, with one draw. The exception was the 3-0 Newcastle win on the final day of last season – Ayoze Perez scoring twice after Dwight Gayle’s opener. Chelsea had previously won the reverse fixture 3-1 and triumphed 3-0 in the FA Cup too. This season, in the reverse fixture at St James’ Park, Eden Hazard’s penalty gave Chelsea a late lead, and after Joselu equalised, DeAndre Yedlin’s 87th-minute own goal sealed Chelsea’s first win in their last six trips to Newcastle in the league.
Here are the results of the last five matches between the two:
Aug 26, 2018: Newcastle United 1-2 Chelsea
May 13, 2018: Newcastle United 3-0 Chelsea
Jan 28, 2018: Chelsea 3-0 Newcastle United
Dec 02, 2017: Chelsea 3-1 Newcastle United
Feb 13, 2016: Chelsea 5-1 Newcastle United
Chelsea may have lacked goals of late, but Newcastle have lacked them all season – and have now won just one of their nine games since the start of December.
The Blues have a good record in this fixture at home too – it is away where they have struggled to beat Newcastle – and with Pedro, Willian and Eden Hazard all back and available in the front three they will hope to break their visitors down.
Hazard’s goals over the Christmas period proved crucial and will help to offset the absence of Alvaro Morata, should the Spaniard not recover from injury in time.
Newcastle, meanwhile, have Salomon Rondon up front but their defensive 5-4-1 system does not lend itself to high-scoring games.
All three goals were scored late in the reverse fixture, with Chelsea winning 2-1, and the Blues will hope to keep a clean sheet this time to avoid any late dramas.
Against a Newcastle team struggling to create chances and struggling to score goals that should be expected of Chelsea’s organised defence in front of Kepa Arrizabalaga.
The key will be putting it in at the other end, having fired blanks in three of their last six matches – but they still remain favourites to beat out-of-form Newcastle and should live up to that tag.
Chelsea are big odds-on favourites to continue their good home form against Newcastle – they are 1/4 with Ladbrokes and Betfair to win.
Newcastle lack goals, and a Chelsea win to nil improves that to 17/20 with Ladbrokes.
Chelsea too have struggled for goals and under 2.5 goals will return a generous 6/5 with Betfair, Bet365, Ladbrokes, Paddy Power and 888sport as a result.
Eden Hazard scored some crucial goals over the Christmas period and, with him in line to play in the ‘false nine’ position again, the Belgian is a best price of 17/20 with 888sport to score at any time.
While neither side has set the world alight in front of goal in recent matches, Newcastle have won just once in their last nine matches and a win at Stamford Bridge – where Chelsea still boast a good home record – would be a surprise.