Chelsea v Newcastle preview: Gary Cahill set to return
By Patrick Surlis
Last Updated: 13/02/16 4:37pm
Gary Cahill is expected to replace Kurt Zouma when Chelsea face Newcastle at Stamford Bridge on Saturday Night Football.
Zouma suffered a serious knee injury in last Sunday's draw with Manchester United and will miss the rest of the season, with Cahill set to start for the first time in the league since Boxing Day.
The Blues are on their longest unbeaten run of the campaign, but six of the nine games have ended in draws and Newcastle have often proved tricky opponents.
The Magpies have taken more points off Chelsea than any other team over the last five seasons (13), and Steve McClaren's side were 2-0 up in the reverse fixture in September before two late goals pegged them back.
Cahill is set to partner John Terry in defence, but it's in attack where Chelsea could be short. Diego Costa broke his nose in a training session but Guus Hiddink confirmed he is still in contention to start.
Loic Remy (calf) has been out in recent weeks along with Radamel Falcao (thigh), while Alexandre Pato is short of match fitness and unlikely to be included.
Jack Colback (hamstring) and Emmanuel Riviere (knee) are in contention for Newcastle after both returned to training this week.
After Chelsea, they have 18 days between matches, and McClaren hopes the break will allow "three or four players" to return from his lengthy injury list.
In the last 11 meetings between Chelsea and Newcastle, the Blues have failed to win if they didn't keep a clean sheet (D3 L4).
Papiss Cisse has scored four goals in five top-flight appearances against Chelsea.
Diego Costa has scored six goals in his last seven league appearances, after netting just three in his previous 14.
Hiddink has still only lost one of his 21 matches as a Premier League manager (W13 D7 L1) and is unbeaten in his last 16.
Chelsea haven't won any of the four league games that Zouma hasn't started this season (W0 D2 L2) and have conceded 10 goals in these matches.
McClaren has collected just one win and seven points in 11 league games as a manager against Chelsea (W1 D4 L6) - this was a 3-0 home win for Middlesbrough in February 2006.
Newcastle played really last week against West Brom and could have won by four or five. But, in the end, it was only 1-0 and West Brom had a chance to equalise late on, so it's worrying they didn't put the game to bed. Chelsea are a different side now the players want to have a go, they have really picked up under Hiddink.
I've got to take Newcastle's dismal showing at Everton last week into consideration though, so I'm backing Chelsea here. Newcastle's away form has a greater influence than their impressive home performances.
PAUL PREDICTS: 3-0 (Sky Bet odds 9/1)
This fixture has gone the way of the home side recently. In their last seven meetings there have been one draw, three wins for Newcastle (all at St James' Park) and three wins for Chelsea (all at Stamford Bridge). All three of the Blues' wins have been to nil and a fourth is available at 13/8.
Sky Sports pundit Jamie Redknapp is tipping Chelsea to win 2-1 with Eden Hazard scoring the opener at odds of 30/1.