21 min: Chelsea continue to dominate. A long passing sequence ends when Rudiger and Chilwell confuse each other and the ball rolls out of play. Right now, only Chelsea can stop Chelsea.
19 min: Manquillo has the opportunity to launch a Newcastle attack, with Chelsea committed upfield and players available on both wings. He hesitates and opts to play it backwards instead. Newcastle’s early ambition didn’t last long.
17 min: Chelsea stroke it around in a very pretty manner. Newcastle eventually get it off them, Hayden attempting to spring Saint-Maximin clear down the left. It’s all too agricultural and a heavy pass flies out of play.
15 min: The gambit doesn’t work. Werner is sent scampering down the inside-left channel again, and fires across the face of goal. Abraham is one size of boot away from converting in the middle. The ball continues harmlessly through.
14 min: Newcastle string a few passes together but don’t go anywhere in particular. An attempt to nix Chelsea’s momentum more than anything else.
12 min: Chelsea look extremely dangerous every time they go forward. They’ve pretty much taken up where they left off against Sheffield United a fortnight ago. Here’s Mary Waltz: “My pre-season thoughts on Chelsea: wild offensive output, sieve-like defensive, lots of 4-3 games. Reality: a disciplined title-contending squad. Lampard has morphed in to Jose without the psycho drama.” Yep, they’re looking good. There’s still plenty of time for a Mourinho-style meltdown, though. Leeds and Bielsa come to Stamford Bridge in a couple of weeks. Let’s see where we are after that.
GOAL! Newcastle United 0-1 Chelsea (Fernandez og 10)
Werner and Mount work a short corner on the right. Mount gets some space and fires across the face of goal. At the fat post, Fernandez can’t sort his feet out and bundles into his own net. He claims a push from Chilwell, but he wasn’t touched before he met the ball, so the goal stands.
9 min: Ziyech curls dangerously from the right. Abraham probably should score from eight yards, but allows Darlow to tip over. Corner. From which …
7 min: Abraham holds up for Kovacic, who rushes in from the right and tries to steer a shot goalwards. It’s high and handsome. Chelsea are beginning to dominate after Newcastle’s early flurry.
5 min: Ziyech pulls back for James, who volleys into a thicket. Blocked. Nice attempt at the classic Beckham-Scholes corner, though. Full marks for ambition and a pretty high score for execution too.
4 min: Werner makes his first run down the inside-left channel. He shoots low, hard and diagonally. It’s going into the bottom right, but Darlow spectacularly tips around the post. Corner.
3 min: Mendy flaps a bit at the corner, but does enough to guide it clear.
2 min: From the corner, Saint-Maximin probes down the right and wins another corner. Good start by Newcastle, this.
1 min: Some early Newcastle verve, as Joelinton wins a couple of free kicks by putting himself about. From the second, Fernandez is afforded a free header out on the right and Chilwell is forced to put behind for a corner.
And we’re off! Chelsea get the ball rolling, but only after the players take a knee. No room for racism. Black lives matter.
Here come the teams! Chelsea arrive first, sporting third-choice pink and purple. Newcastle then rock up in their famous black and white stripes. A snatch of the best running-out music in the league, and we’ll be off in a minute.
The managers have been speaking to BT Sport. Steve Bruce says he “couldn’t risk Wilson with the amount of games coming up … Almiron [as sub] has nothing to do with his agent, he’s been halfway around the world so it’s only right he starts on the bench … Chelsea are a very good side so we’re in for a very difficult game.”
Meanwhile here’s Frank Lampard on his defence: “Thiago travelled back from South America and with his age I have to look after him … some people would say they’d like to have five centre-backs of our quality, but to deal with it week to week and get them the game time, probably one or two of them don’t like me very much … it depends on how you train, how you are, and how you take your chance, so those are the rules.”
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Callum Wilson hasn’t made it. Newcastle had hoped the striker would recover from his hamstring injury, but he hasn’t even made the bench. He’s one of four changes to the team that went down 2-0 at Southampton, with Fabian Schar, Jeff Hendrick and Miguel Almiron dropping to the bench. Ciaran Clark, Javi Manquillo, Isaac Hayden and Joelinton are the men taking their place.
Chelsea are in If It Ain’t Broke mode. Only one change to the team that saw off Sheffield United with ease: Antonio Rudiger replaces Thiago Silva, who is rested in the wake of international duty with Brazil.
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Newcastle United: Darlow, Manquillo, Fernandez, Lascelles, Clark, Lewis, Murphy, Hayden, Sean Longstaff, Saint-Maximin, Joelinton.
Subs: Schar, Carroll, Shelvey, Hendrick, Krafth, Almiron, Gillespie.
Chelsea: Mendy, James, Zouma, Rudiger, Chilwell, Kovacic, Kante, Mount, Ziyech, Abraham, Werner.
Subs: Arrizabalaga, Christensen, Jorginho, Giroud, Hudson-Odoi, Azpilicueta, Emerson Palmieri.
Referee: Craig Pawson (South Yorkshire).
The international break came at the wrong time for Chelsea, who were beginning to finally click under Frank Lampard. They would have surely played on, given the chance, having won their last four games to an aggregate tune of 13-1. Timo Werner scored five goals in his last four appearances; Hakim Ziyech was working his way into a groove; Edouard Mendy and Thiago Silva were sorting out the mess at the back in short order. They’d have happily kept going.
They could quite easily pick up where they left off. Today’s opponents Newcastle United have suffered a couple of heavy defeats at home already this season: 0-3 to Brighton and 1-4 to Manchester United. Another three-goal shellacking could be on the cards if Newcastle play like they did in those games, and Chelsea create the sheer number of chances they did against Sheffield United.
But football’s not always a rational business. Chelsea don’t particularly like coming to Tyneside; they’ve lost on five of their last seven visits, the latest a last-minute smash-and-grab by Isaac Hayden back in January. They lost this fixture 3-0 three seasons ago. These things shouldn’t matter, but so often do. Additionally, Newcastle may enjoy the boost of welcoming back the hamstrung Callum Wilson, who has scored six and set up one of Toon’s ten league goals so far this campaign.
Both teams will, in their own sweet way, fancy their chances. This is delightfully set up, a fine return to the Premier League after a two-week hiatus. Newcastle can spring to seventh if they prevail this lunchtime; Chelsea can go top. It’s on!
Kick off: 12.30pm GMT.
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