BBC Sport pundit Mark Lawrenson is expecting a tough day for Newcastle United at Stamford Bridge on Saturday, predicting a 2-0 win for Chelsea.
Both teams enter the game on the back of difficult results, with the Magpies struggling to a 1-1 draw with Blackburn Rovers last time out and Chelsea beaten by Tottenham Hotspur in mid week.
Lawrenson believes the Blues will bounce back: “Newcastle manager Rafael Benitez got a great welcome at Anfield when he went back with the Magpies over Christmas, but I don’t think he will get the same sort of reception on Saturday at another of his former clubs,” he wrote on the BBC Sport website.
“Sadly for Benitez, I can see him being on the wrong end of a similar result – although I do not see Chelsea hammering Newcastle the way that Liverpool did. It looks like the Blues are going to get a new striker in January, we just don’t know who it will be yet.
“They need one because they have been a bit short of goals recently, but in the meantime I still think they will be too strong for the Magpies.”
Chelsea will be the favourites on Saturday and for obvious reasons. However, it’s not outside of the realm of possibility for Newcastle to nick a draw or a narrow victory here. The Blues are not the imperious outfit they appeared to be at the start of the season and, while the Magpies are slightly devoid of inspiration themselves, the visitors might be able to frustrate Maurizio Sarri’s side if everything goes well. The problem in stopping Chelsea is not the striker, obviously, but the players around him. The likes of Eden Hazard, Pedro, Willian and possibly Callum Hudson-Odoi are enough to cause any team problems, and that’s where Newcastle will likely struggle. If they can somehow keep those players in check, though, then there’s no reason why the Magpies can’t come away from Stamford Bridge with something. Easier said than done, of course, but Newcastle have competed well with the big boys on the most part this season. Let’s wait and see what happens.