Newcastle face Chelsea in a huge game at St James’ Park as Eddie Howe looks to continue the push for Champions League football once again.
Newcastle might consider themselves favourites based on how the season has turned out so far this season, but an injury crisis combined with Chelsea resurgence in form, it might not be the case.
The international break came at a good time for Newcastle with the brutal injury crisis taking hold of the squad and a slight dip in their usual form, with two back-to-back defeats in all competitions.
Chelsea will be no pushovers, which is an incredible statement considering their investment into the squad over the last 18 months but the power balance has been disrupted with the likes of Newcastle and Villa dropping into the top-four conversation.
Despite the injury crisis, Newcastle will be a difficult side to break down. Nick Pope has kept 19 clean sheets in 49 Premier League starts and home form will play a huge factor in garnering a result.
Howe’s side have won their last four Premier League outings at St James’ Park without conceding a goal, an incredible run which will make Mauricio Pochettino nervous.
Howe has had to deal with a raft of injury problems, though the international break has helped slievate some of the pressure on his squad. Alexander Isak in line to make a return, while Fabian Schär and Miguel Almirón could also make an appearance. Bruno Guimarães will also be available after serving a one-match suspension against Bournemouth after picking up five yellow cards in the season.
They are welcome returns to a small squad, but they are still lacking several key players. Howe’s Harvey Barnes, Sven Botman, Elliot Anderson and Callum Wilson are not expected back until December, and the start of 2024 looks a more realistic return time for Dan Burn and Jacob Murphy.
It’s an incredible situation for Newcastle and Howe, but they are a side who can defy the impossible and will need to do the same again to stem the current Chelsea side.