Just one game to go before we close shop.
It sounds ridiculously impossible, but the next time we watch Newcastle play a Premier League game we will be doing so having opened our Santa-dropped presents. Reminder: it’s November 12th.
Jesus Christ, never better said.
Anyway, it’s a pleasure and an honor and a blessing to have the lads playing football for the last time before the World Cup at the comfortable confines of St James Park, hosting Chelsea on a late Saturday kick-off game.
The Blues arrive in Tyneside with more than a few banged-up folks around their team: Kepa, Kante, Chilwell, Fofana, Reece, and Chukwuemeka are all definitely off today’s matchday squad, and Jorginho is still up in the air and a serious doubt to feature in the middle of the Chelsea lineup considering he’s got a bad ankle and already missed the Blues elimination from the Carabao Cup last Wednesday at the hands of the Citizens.
Some blue shades are stronger than others, I guess.
Mired in a battle against giants PSG and Real Madrid—the unquestioned no. 1 teams from their respective cities and country capitals, contrary to Chelsea—to sign the latest Brazilian wonderkid and more worried about landing him than winning actual games these days, odds are the Blues find themselves a bit lose at SJP and make their already-bad-looking seventh-place EPL position available for Liverpool to take over, relegating them further down the table after onboarding the Qatari plane.
That’s not Newcastle’s concern, though, as the Magpies can just worry (worry?) about their own business to keep the title-contending run going. Yes, that’s correct. The Men in Black & White are sitting third and unbeaten since the last day of August. It’s been four victories in a row with multiple four-goal games and wins over the likes of Tottenham Hotspur.
Just this past midweek, on top of everything, Newcastle also saw Crystal Palace off the EFL thanks to a penalty-shootout win—something Chelsea can’t quite say after dropping their game 0-2 to Pep’s men.
On the opposite end of Chelsea’s injury spectrum sits Newcastle. The Magpies might not be able to count on World Cup-bound Callum Wilson today as he seems to be going through the effects of an illness and he might be rested ahead of the international flight to Qatar. Wilson, mind you, already missed the game against Crystal Palace but you know how that one ended, though.
Howe has been quoted saying that “we’ll wait and see,” before adding that “[Wilson] has been training separately from the group this week. He had an illness so he’s been away from the group, he’s been working well but I need to make a decision if he’s fit enough to play.”
Feels good when even in moments like this in which your team might miss one of their best players you still know the rest of the lads will step up, see those three points hanging in there, and grab them to put them in the bag. What a time to be alive.
FotMob.com predictions at the upcoming Starting XIs from the Magpies and the Blues are in, so let’s go through what could be coming from Newcastle’s Eddie Howe.
- Not Available: Isak (thigh), Darlow (ankle), Krafth (knee), Ritchie (calf), Dummett (calf)
- Doubtful: Wilson (illness), Fraser (calf), Darlow (ankle)
- With this being the last game before the World Cup, nobody will want to pick up an injury that leaves him out of the tourney. That said, Newcastle face a hella strong opponent and a win here can be massive for the season so I don’t expect any player to shy away from this game. Howe won’t point fingers at anyone—read Wilson, Callum—if there are one or two missing names in the lineup, but I’d trust him dearly as I don’t really believe these types of professional guys are here to put on such insecure and scared feelings.
- Nick Pope is playing no matter what and that doesn’t really have to do with his role in the England international side. He should be the starting goalie for The Three Lions, but Jordan Pickford will start the games because it’s Gareth Southgate calling the shots. Shame.
- Kieran Trippier and Callum Wilson are the two internationals carrying the biggest doubts here. If Wilson has actually trained, even by himself, this week, I see no point in leaving him out, ill or not. It’s a player that has been in the organization for years, that knows Howe’s system to the tiniest of details, and that just won’t have a problem mingling with his teammates just because he spent a week training separately from them. Trippier is the best defender in England’s WC squad and they’d better have him fit, but it’s Howe picking players this Saturday and not Southgate so you bet he’ll make the XI.
- Botman missing on the Netherlands squad and Burn on the English list is going to be great news for Newcastle. Call me crazy but I wouldn’t like to go against two such large lads a bit mad at the news popping during the last 48 hours if I was a Chelsea forward. No, sir.
- It won’t happen because 1) it’s Chelsea even if they’re sitting 7th and 2) it’s Howe who doesn’t rotate players to save his life... BUT. What if Howe goes absolutely bonkers and deploys ASM on the left wing and Joelinton as the lone striker leading the forward line today and press-biting like a dog up front!? That’d be incredibly demonic and I’d love to watch it. Again, wet dreams but not too much when it comes to the actual odds it happens. Ah...
- Pretty straightforward midfield trio with Bruno, Longstaff, and Willock absolutely entrenched in Howe’s brain to fill the middle of St James’.
- If Wilson doesn’t play it is going to be Chris Wood starting at the top of the formation. Not sure how that works in this team, as it never has, but we’ll have to just adapt and endure it for however long it lasts today.
- Not convinced Saint-Maximin should get straight back into the starting lineup just because he’s fit. Today might be a good day for him if Wilson misses the XI and opens up a hole, but if that’s not the case how do you justify leaving Murphy/Joelinton out? Newcastle have four consecutive Premier League wins with one of these two featuring on the left offensive flank in all of those matches. ASM is great, don’t get me wrong, but you gotta go with the hot hand.
CHN Predicted Lineup
DEF Trippier - Schar - Botman - Burn
MID Longstaff - Bruno - Willock
WNG Almirón - Joelinton
- Date: Saturday, November 11th
- Kick-off: 17:30 BST / 12:30 EST / 10:30 PST
- Location: St James’ Park, Newcastle (England)
- Broadcasts: Sky Ultra HD, Sky Sports Premier League, BBC Radio 5 Live, Sky Sports Main Event, SKY GO Extra (UK), Telemundo Deportes En Vivo, Peacock, SiriusXM FC, NBC, UNIVERSO NOW, UNIVERSO (USA), fuboTV (Canada)
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Howay the Lads!