Chelsea v Newcastle United

The last two weeks have passed by at a pace akin to Sami Hyypia in full flight. We’ve had to endure the deluded gloating of United fans, tabloid tales of player infidelity, a number of daft transfer rumours and reports of Roman Abramovich’s ‘henchmen’ meddling in team affairs. (The latter so annoyed Jose Mourinho that he cancelled Friday’s pre-match press conference, which will no doubt encourage the Red Tops to undertake more creative writing.) So it is with great relief that we return to Premiership action.

Mourinho has an almost a full strength squad to choose from, the only injury doubt being Arjen Robben with hamstring trouble. Didier Drogba is suspended after picking up five yellow cards this season, allowing Hernan Crespo the opportunity to lead the line after recovering from a minor knock picked up on international duty with Argentina. Wayne Bridge is back in contention after playing the first half for England last weekend. Frank Lampard will equal David James’ record of 159 consecutive Premiership appearances.

Newcastle will be without Alan Shearer, the player who almost ended Bridge’s career earlier this year, and Stephen Carr because they’ve both yet to fully recover from hernia operations. Albert Luque has recovered from a hamstring injury but will not be risked.

Chelsea old boys Scott Parker and Celestine Babayaro will be making their first appearance at Stamford Bridge since signing for Graham Souness in the January and summer transfer windows respectively.

Prediction: The signing of Michael Owen has revived the Magpies’ fortunes somewhat; they’re currently on a three-game unbeaten run after beating Sunderland, West Brom and Birmingham.

We on the other hand have lost our last two matches, the first time that this has happened under Mourinho.

But our record against the Magpies at home is good; they haven’t won at the Bridge since 1986 — the last three meetings alone ended 3-0, 5-0 and 4-0. Newcastle’s weakness is still in defence (without goalkeeper Shay Given they might still be in a whole heap of trouble) so this match is the perfect opportunity to get the Blue Machine firing on all cylinders again by scoring a few goals. 3-1.

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Chelsea 3 – 0 Newcastle United · Update

Three second half goals got things back on track. Once Joe Cole gave us the lead shortly after the break the result was never in doubt. Hernan Crespo’s sublime finish a few minutes later put the final nail in the Magpies’ coffin (make sure you watch Match of the Day). Damien Duff’s deflected last minute goal topped off an enjoyable afternoon.

See Cole, Crespo and Duff’s goals here (downloadable zip files).

Match reports: BBC Sport; Sky Sports; ESPNSoccernet; Sporting Life; Official Chelsea FC Website; 4thegame; Sunday Times; Independent on Sunday; The Observer; Sunday Telegraph; The Guardian; The Independent; The Times; Daily Telegraph; Black and White and Read All Over.

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