Guus Hiddink continues his search for a first home Premier League victory since returning to Chelsea when the Londoners come up against relegation battlers Newcastle United in Saturday’s late kick-off.
The Dutchman has overseen four draws at Stamford Bridge so far, the latest of which coming thanks to a stoppage time equaliser from Diego Costa which denied Manchester United victory last weekend. It was a game where the balance of power shifted from side to side, with United dominating the territory in the first half hour and forcing numerous corner kicks before the Blues finally came into it and began looking very dangerous going forward.
After falling behind just before the three-quarter mark, the pressure gradually built and was finally rewarded with Costa’s late finish to preserve the unbeaten run. Despite this recent sequence, however, there have been too many draws of late for Hiddink’s liking and he will be aware that they are severely halting their progress up the league and rendering any chance of a late run towards the top four extremely slim, but progress is being made and there will surely be more evidence of that here.
Newcastle come into this having experienced the immense psychological boost of moving out of drop zone by virtue of their victory over West Bromwich Albion, a game which they deserved to win by more but for once were not punished for passing up a number of fine scoring chances. As it was, Aleksandar Mitrovic’s goal was enough and he should be buoyed by that goal having suffered something of a lean period over the last couple of months.
So far, the expensive January signings made by the Magpies have not led to an improvement in their away form, so Head Coach Steve McClaren will be hoping his team can be slightly more competitive here in a game where they can certainly come close to matching Chelsea in terms of attacking invention. There must also be a desire to steer clear of danger, as too often this season the club has taken a step forward before taking two steps back.
Kurt Zouma will miss the rest of Chelsea’s season after suffering a serious knee injury against Man Utd, while they hope Diego Costa will be able to play despite a broken nose.
The visitors are boosted by the return of Jack Colback from injury and Jamaal Lascelles from suspension, but are still without defenders Paul Dummett and Massadio Haidara.
Played for both – Celestine Babayaro: Signed from Anderlecht in 1997, the left-back went on to spend eight years with Chelsea and help them move towards the most successful period in their history, winning the FA Cup in 2000 and representing them in some memorable Champions League runs. After 132 league games and five goals he was off to Newcastle, where he spent two and-a-half years before leaving in late 2007.