Chelsea take on Newcastle this weekend in the Premier League, and it’s hard to not forsee a thrilling game. There’s three points at stake in what should be a brilliant atmosphere at Stamford Bridge.
If you have a free bet, and you’re going to use it on this game, back goals. It’s what anyone who has been watching a few months of Frank Lampard’s reign as manager will be predicting. Excitement, goals, and action at both ends. A 0-0 is hard to imagine.
This Newcastle side have struggled to really get out of first gear under Steve Bruce, not picking up 3 points from August until they were able to scrape a win over lowly Manchester United two weeks ago. But even the goal shy Magpies will fancy their chances of scoring past Kepa, who isn’t in great form.
Add in the injury that looks likely to force N’Golo Kante out of the game and a clean sheet looks unlikely on our part. But up front we have the red hot Tammy Abraham, one of the league’s top scorers and a dangerous threat in the penalty box.
He’s been getting the service he needs, and he’s been doing his job perfectly. Callum Hudson-Odoi set him up last week, and that connection could prove vital again. Frank Lampard will be desperate to keep his team’s easy goalscoring style flowing, and won’t be tempted to play more defensively against a weak Newcastle.
If Kante does miss the game, the manager has a variety of options to change up his team. We could see him switch to a midfield two and play wing backs, or alternatively, Ross Barkley and Mason Mount could play ahead of Jorginho in midfield. Mateo Kovacic trained today, so he too could easily feature.
That gives a great creative platform for the attacking band, and it looks set to be the in-form Willian on the right, and Hudson-Odoi, who scored twice in midweek for England’s U21s, on the left.
Those two, supported by that midfield, with Tammy to play off. It’s a tempting prospect. Pulling Mason a little deeper is an interesting move too, perhaps allowing us to see how he fits in that true Lampard number 8 role. He has better opportunities to shoot when playing centrally there, and having two more defensive players alongside him means he can still press high up the pitch.
At home, Newcastle can never be underestimated however, and we’ve seen how fragile this team’s mentality – and defence – can be.
The mental strength to overcome setbacks will develop slowly, and it’s something Lampard has to teach the players, along with the veterans in the team. The youngsters are keen to learn, but only dealing with the real thing will ever truly teach them.
That’s why playing this open style can be beneficial to the whole team. For as long as they are conceding goals and overcoming those deficits, they will be training themselves that they’re always in with a chance. As they mature, they can hopefully pick up the experience and nous to prevent themselves getting in sticky situations at all.
Chelsea sometimes feel wedded to the Jose Mourinho ideals that brought us our first great recent successes. Those teams were built on defensive solidity, and while there is plenty that this current crop could learn from the discipline and order of those teams, it’s important to remember that there are other ways to build teams.
It can be a frustrating watch to see them throw away leads, and sometimes games, through mistakes, but as long as their attacking skills allow them to fight back in games, they will continue to take heart.
The next month sees some easier fixtures, starting this weekend. It’s hard to not get carried away and hope we can pick up maximum points, and really catapult ourselves towards the Champions League. We can’t get ahead of ourselves, but playing at home against a relegation favourite we hope Frank takes off the brakes and lets his attacking players go all out to give everyone at Stamford Bridge another great day out.