Newcastle v Chelsea – Match preview and team news

Newcastle will look to build on their morale-boosting victory over Aston Villa against a Chelsea side that though currently in third place, look desperately short of confidence and unity under interim manager Rafa Benitez.

Alan Pardew could stick with the same starting XI that brought home the three points from Villa Park, meaning home debuts for Moussa Sissoko, who impressed greatly on the night, and forward Yoan Gouffran. Elsewhere, Sylvain Marveux has shaken off a foot injury to take part but Hatem Ben Arfa (hamstring) and Ryan Taylor (knee) remain sidelined, while Cheikh Tiote is still at the Africa Cup of Nations with the Ivory Coast.

Visitors Chelsea need a victory in order to relieve the pressure on their under-fire manager after their 2-2 draw at League 1 outfit Brentford in the FA Cup last week was followed by the concession of a two goal lead with only minutes remaining at Reading on Wednesday night, leaving Benitez reportedly told that securing Champions League football is the club’s main priority this season over FA Cup and Europa League success.

The Blues have doubts over influential Spanish midfielder Juan Mata, who suffered an ankle problem at Reading, while Petr Cech and David Luiz may also miss out with calf injuries. Eden Hazard completes the final match of his suspension while Demba Ba could be in line for a start on his return to St James’ Park.

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