Steve Bruce’s side will be going up against a Blues team which is revitalised under club legend Frank Lampard, but victory over Manchester United last time out will have the visitors in confident mood.
Those high spirts may be dampened somewhat by what BBC pundit Pat Nevin had to say about his old club on Tuesday, though: “Every single player has been pressed to give their best every time by a coach who was exactly like that throughout his career with the Blues,” he wrote on Chelsea’s official website. “It may well be that this is Frank’s secret weapon, one that I can promise you not every coach has in his armoury.”
The point of what Nevin is saying is that every Chelsea player is working much harder, running much farther, and producing much better than they were under Maurizio Sarri last season. With that said, Bruce needs to make sure he’s got his players firing on Saturday.
The statistics endorse what Nevin is saying, as well, which is why Bruce must ensure that every Newcastle player operates with the same intensity as young Matty Longstaff did against United last time out.
As per WhoScored.com, Chelsea have attempted the second most dribbles per game on average this season – 21.7 – behind only league leaders Liverpool. Newcastle, on the other hand, try only 18.8 per outing.
In terms of possession statistics, too, the Blues are way ahead. They average 53.9% possession per game, with Newcastle only clocking in at 49.8%.
Clearly Lampard’s team like to push the pace and keep the ball, but also use it in a more direct way than they perhaps did under Sarri. The emphasis is on dribbles, direct running at the opposition, as much as it is on keeping possession with nice, tidy passes.
That approach is bringing the best out of players like Willian, Mason Mount and Callum Hudson-Odoi, and they’re who Newcastle will have to watch out for. Lampard’s secret weapon, indeed.