Chelsea vs Newcastle United
Stamford Bridge forms the backdrop for a blockbuster League Cup quarter-final tie between Chelsea and Newcastle United.
Chelsea thrived in times of emergency as Cole Palmer’s match-winning performance inspired Mauricio Pochettino’s troubled side to a 2-0 home win against Premier League basement boys Sheffield United at the weekend. Halting a two-game losing league run was barely enough to lift the ‘Blues’ to 10th in the standings, yet it could be a significant morale boost heading into this revenge-poised tie. Chelsea slumped to a dreadful 4-1 top-flight defeat at St James’ Park last month, making it three consecutive H2Hs without a win (D1, L2). On a more positive note, Pochettino’s lads have excelled in the League Cup this term, overcoming the likes of Brighton, Blackburn, and Wimbledon by a combined score of 5-1. Christopher Nkunku’s return from a long-term spell on the sidelines could help Chelsea build on their free-scoring home form, having netted 2+ goals in their last four competitive outings at the Bridge.
In the meantime, Newcastle United navigated another injury storm to humble 10-man Fulham 3-0 at home last weekend, putting a dismal three-game losing stretch to bed despite losing Joelinton and Fabian Schar to injuries in the first half. Manager Eddie Howe faces a selection nightmare ahead of this trip, with 10+ first-team stars ruled out. Injuries have derailed Newcastle’s season, but they must regroup quickly to defy an underwhelming run of four defeats on their last five competitive travels (D1). Replicating last season’s League Cup success, which ended in their first major final in 24 years, looks like a pipe dream, though there’s a silver lining. The ‘Magpies’ have proved their domestic credentials in the competition with convincing wins against Manchester City and Manchester United ‘to nil’ across the opening two rounds.