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Chelsea v Newcastle United – A battle at the Bridge…and it will be a battle

Newcastle United fought back from two goals down at the Hawthorns in midweek, but they will face an even tougher test at Chelsea on Saturday. 

West Bromwich Albion v Newcastle United - Premier League
DeAndre Yedlin needs a big performance at Chelsea after an awful week.
Photo by Michael Steele/Getty Images

Antonio Conte will again be without David Luiz, who has a knee complaint. The Brazilian had been dropped in crucial fixtures beforehand, and will have a fight on his hands to regain his place. Andreas Christensen has really impressed, and will likely continue in the three-man defence. Wednesday night’s goalscorer, Antonio Rudiger, is also likely to play.

Cesar Azpilicueta was named on the bench in midweek, but will be reintroduced to the starting eleven for the visit of Newcastle.

Marcos Alonso will play in the left-wing back role as always, but on the other side, there could well be a return to the starting line-up for Victor Moses, who made his return to action against Swansea.

The likes of Tiemoue Bakayoko and Danny Drinkwater will be hoping for a start, but with competition so fierce at Chelsea, Cesc Fabregas will also be wanting to play after doing well against Swansea. N’Golo Kante will definitely play in the middle of the park.

Liverpool v Chelsea - Premier League
Tiemoue Bakayoko has endured a rather indifferent start to his Chelsea career.
Photo by Shaun Botterill/Getty Images

There is bad news for Newcastle fans, with Eden Hazard having been rested on Wednesday, the Belgian is fresh to come back into the side on Saturday. As always, he will be a real danger. On the opposite flank, Charly Musonda remains out, so Willian or Pedro may start, although the aforementioned Fabregas can also play there.

The Blues’ top-scorer, Alvaro Morata, will lead the line. Michy Batshuayi is out again though, so Chelsea do not have any other centre-forward in reserve.

Rafa Benitez will know just how tough it will be heading back to his old club.

He will have to do so without his captain Jamaal Lascelles, who could return next weekend against Leicester. Florian Lejeune has done little to impress in his place thus far, but will start alongside Ciaran Clark, who scored in the 2-2 draw at West Brom.

DeAndre Yedlin has had a very difficult week, but it would be a surprise to see Benitez take him out of the XI. Jesus Gamez would be an alternative option at right-back.

Paul Dummett is not yet ready to return at left-back, so either Javier Manquillo or Chancel Mbemba will deputise.

Jonjo Shelvey was forced to sit on the bench for the majority of the West Brom game, but looked really good when he entered the fray. He, Isaac Hayden and Mikel Merino are all fighting it out for the two places in midfield.

West Bromwich Albion v Newcastle United - Premier League
Mikel Merino started against West Brom and will be hoping to start at Stamford Bridge too.
Photo by Michael Steele/Getty Images

Christian Atsu will not be fit in time to face his former club, so Jacob Murphy, who looked lively once again last time out, will start. Matt Ritchie got his fifth assist of the season, when he set up Clark’s goal. He will play on the opposite flank.

The hot debate as always, will be as to whether to or not Aleksandar Mitrovic gets his first league start of the campaign. Joselu did very little once again in midweek, but the big Serbian added some important attacking impetus when he replaced him. Dwight Gayle is also an option, although he did not come off the bench against the Baggies.

Likely line ups

Chelsea: Courtois, Azpilicueta, Rudiger, Christensen, Moses, Kante, Bakayoko, Fabregas, Alonso, Hazard, Morata

Newcastle: Darlow, Yedlin, Lejeune, Clark, Mbemba, Hayden, Merino, Ritchie, Perez, Murphy, Mitrovic

Score prediction: Chelsea 3-0 Newcastle United

The game has been selected for Sky Sports TV coverage. You can also follow the match by tuning into BBC Radio Newcastle's live commentary, courtesy of the official NUFC website.