Newcastle will go into their weekend game with Chelsea without their two first-choice centre-backs. Mike Williamson has joined Fabricio Coloccini on the sidelines after he was found guilty of violent conduct by an Independent Regulatory Committee. The pair will now be suspended for the Magpies’ next three games against Chelsea, West Brom and Liverpool. It is the second time in a matter of weeks that Chris Hughton has lost a player due to retrospective video evidence. Joey Barton will serve the final match of his ban over the weekend after he admitted a similar violent conduct charge after the Blackburn game.
The suspensions mean that Sol Campbell and Steven Taylor will almost certainly come in for their first league starts of the season. Opponents Chelsea remain at the top of the table despite a poor run of form through November. While they are blessed with attacking talent going forward, in defence and in midfield they have struggled of late. Newcastle themselves are struggling for form although they have tended to raise their game for the high profile matches. They are boosted by the return of Cheik Tiote in midfield with Alan Smith the most likely player to make way.
Chris Hughton remains without a permanent assistant manager despite losing Colin Calderwood over a month ago. Newcastle currently employs the smallest backroom team in the Premier League with Hughton only able to call on the advice of Steve Stone and goalkeeping coach Paul Barron. For an inexperienced manager at the top level it is something of a worry. Hughton is believed to be keen to bring in someone from outside the club but the boardroom are unwilling to subsidise another new member of staff. Speaking at a press conference Hughton said: “It’s
Captain Kevin Nolan will be hoping for a happier outcome against Chelsea after a disappointing return to his former club last weekend. Nolan conceded an early penalty against Bolton and also passed up a good scoring opportunity. Nolan will take a crucial three points no matter how they come, even if his side does not play at their best. “When we’re at home, people want to see us go 4-4-2 and attack teams, and give it our all,” he told the Newcastle Chronicle. “If we get beat 4-0, we’re all right, because we’ve had a good go. It just doesn’t work in the Premier League – Man United, Arsenal, and Chelsea don’t do it. I’m not saying we’ve got their quality, but we’ve got to make sure we get points.” At home most of Newcastle’s success has come when they have gone all out for the three points such as their heavy wins over Aston Villa and Sunderland. Their more patient approaches at home have often led to them chasing the game or failing to break down their opponents.