Chelsea v Newcastle

An early opportunity to put right Sunday’s abject performance at Craven Cottage, and to quell the growing feeling of unease amongst many Blues.

Despite our recent downturn in form it mustn’t be forgotten that we are still a relatively comfortable 12 points clear at the top of the Premiership table and in with a good chance of achieving the domestic Double of League and FA Cup.

To take a step closer to that we must first overcome a somewhat resurgent Newcastle United, the side responsible for our exit from this competition last season. Under Glen Roeder the Magpies have improved considerably although they were shown up by Manchester United and Liverpool in recent Premiership matches.

In team news, both Arjen Robben and William Gallas are suspended. Robben is serving the third of a four-match ban for receiving two red cards this season, while Gallas’s dismissal at the weekend for a reckless lunge on Fulham’s Heidar Helguson means he’s serving the first of a three-match ban.

Gallas’s absense will result in a shuffled back four. Jose Mourinho may choose to recall Asier Del Horno at left back and stick with the central pairing of John Terry and Robert Huth, who was denied permission to play for Germany against the USA tonight.

Newcastle have several players on the injury list, most notably Michael Owen who was at one time hoping to be back for this match. Titus Bramble, Steven Taylor and Jean-Alain Boumsong are out (Boumsong’s ban could be a blessing in disguise for Newcastle!), while Stephen Carr is doubtful. Alan Shearer is available and will no doubt be fired up as it’s his last chance to win some silverware with the Magpies.

Prediction: Our home record against Newcastle in recent times makes good reading: the Magpies haven’t won at the Bridge since 1986 and the last four meetings have ended 3-0, 5-0, 4-0 and 3-0. The fact that tonight is a Cup tie obviously levels the playing field somewhat, but surely we have too much quality for them? A repeat of the fourth round replay performance against Everton would be nice, but I’d settle for 1-0!

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Chelsea 1 – 0 Newcastle · Update

A battling but ultimately frustrating performance.

We’re in the semi-finals of the FA Cup, and that’s all that really matters.

See the BBC’s quick match highlights here (1:20 Realplayer Stream). If anybody wants a copy of the video, drop me an email via the Contact page.

Match reports: Black & White & Read All Over; BBC Sport; Sky Sports; ESPNSoccernet; Official Chelsea FC Website; The Guardian; Daily Telegraph; The Times; The Independent.

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