Venue: Stamford Bridge
Kick-off: 19:45 GMT on May 02, 2012
The scramble for third and fourth places in the Premier League seems never ending, with the likes of Arsenal, Chelsea, Tottenham Hotspur and Newcastle United, all in contention. All four teams are so close to each other on the points table that the race is certain to go down to the wire. What better way to spice up things than to have two of those four teams clash against each other? That’s right folks!!!! Sixth-placed Chelsea host Newcastle United, who are in fifth-place and just one point ahead of the home team. Even the best mathematicians would have a tough time trying to assess the impact the outcome of the mid-week clash is likely to have, on the points table.
Chelsea have achieved a remarkable turn-around after Roberto di Matteo took over as their manager. They have successfully dispatched Spanish heavy-weights Barcelona in the Champions league semis and their last league defeat was over a month ago, away to Manchester City. While a draw against the Magpies on Wednesday would definitely boost the Champions League hopes of Chelsea’s fellow London rivals, Arsenal and Spurs, the Blues could still achieve automatic Champions League qualification for the next season if they beat Bayern Munich in the Champions League final on May 19, 2012.
Newcastle United, under Alan Pardew, have been in spectacular form this season and look more capable than ever of recapturing their past glory. They have lost only one of their last six league games and are ready to give Chelsea a run for their money. The visitors would be looking to make amends for the 0-3 home defeat they suffered against Chelsea in their previous encounter on December 03, 2011. A victory would propel them past fourth-placed Spurs to just a point behind Gunners, who are currently in third place.
A mouth-watering mid-week clash is on the cards and one can confidently say that the outcome of this clash would decide the Champions League future of four English clubs.
Chelsea’s centre-backs, David Luiz and Gary Cahill, are ruled out due to hamstring injuries. However, the Blues’ defensive worries would be lessened by Branislov Ivanovic, who returns to the squad, after completing a three-match suspension. With Ivanovic and Terry in central defence, Bosingwa is likely to move back to his usual right-back position. Torres is slowly regaining his lost touch and his hat-trick goal performance against QPR in the previous game is sure to earn him a first-team call. Di Matteo is likely to stick with the same mid-field that routed QPR 6-1 on Sunday.
Chelsea’s probable line-up (4-2-3-1): Cech, Bosingwa, Ivanovic, Terry, Cole, Essien, Lampard, Sturridge, Mata, Kalou , Torres.
Steven Taylor remains sidelined with an Achilles injury while Danny Guthrie is ruled out due to a calf problem. Former Manchester United player, Gabriel Obertan has not yet recovered from his ankle injury and is unlikely to feature in this game. The Magpies’ key man is the Senegalese striker Papiss Cisse, who has scored 11 goals in his last 11 outings. Ben Arfa is another crucial player whose pace and guile can cause quite a lot of problems to Chelsea’s back-four. Pardew would be concerned about his team’s defence which leaked four goals against Wigan last weekend and would expect the defenders- Santon, Coloccini, Williamson and Simpson- to put up a better show.
Newcastle United’s probable line-up (4-4-2): Krul, santon, Coloccini, Williamson, Gutierrez, Tiote, Cabaye, Demba Ba, Ben Arfa, Cissse.
Author’s prediction: Chelsea 2 Newcastle United 2
About the Author (Author Profile)
Gokul is a software professional from Chennai, India. An avid sports fan, he is a keen follower of Cricket, Football, Hockey, Tennis and Formula One. He styles his articles as razor-edge analyses of all the hot and happening events in the field of sports.