Chelsea take on Newcastle United at St James’ Park on Saturday with the chance to enshrine their dominant start to the season in the club record books. Avoiding defeat would mean Chelsea will have begun the season with a record 15 league games unbeaten, as well as setting a new club mark for going 24 games in all competitions without a loss. Yet, manager José Mourinho insists he has no interest in amassing records, only silverware come the end of the season.
“I’m not looking for records, I’m looking for victories, points and if possible at the end of the season, titles,” Mourinho said in a spiky press conference on Friday. “We just want to win the next match, that’s all.
“The players don’t know the record. I wouldn't know about the record if you hadn't told me about it 20 times. The record I want is to win the Premier League three times with this club. That's the only record I want.”
The trip to Newcastle comes just a week after Chelsea’s last visit to the north east, when they dropped two points at Sunderland. Any disappointment from that result did linger long, with the London side bouncing back with a convincing 3-0 victory over Tottenham to remain six points clear of second placed Manchester City. But Mourinho is taking nothing for granted at St James Park, and suggested that Newcastle would raise their game considerably for the visit of Chelsea.
“It’s a difficult stadium to play at, because there are a few stadiums in this country where clearly when they see Chelsea shirts they play the game of their lives and when they play against other teams they look like they are playing friendlies,” he said. “Maybe it’s because, Chelsea, in the last decade, have become a strong team that everybody wants to beat.”
Chelsea continued their dominant home record over Tottenham despite being without top scorer Diego Costa. The Spain international striker will be back from suspension at the weekend, but Chelsea will now have to do without another of their influential regular starters, Nemanja Matic. The midfielder received his fifth booking of the season on Wednesday night.
Newcastle boss Alan Pardew will welcome back both Moussa Sissoko and Jack Colback from suspension, after the midfield duo sat out a 1-1 draw at Burnley on Tuesday. Having won five league games in a row to soar up the table following a poor start to the season, Newcastle have now taken just a point from their last two outings to fall back to ninth place. A meeting with the leaders is hardly the most promising opportunity to get back to winning ways, but Pardew has voiced his confidence that his side can take advantage if Chelsea have an off day, just as they did when winning 2-0 in the same fixture last season.
“Chelsea are sending out the right messages right now,” he said, according to Newcastle’s official website. “They are unbeaten but somewhere along the line they will slip up and hopefully on Saturday we can exploit any weakness they have. This is as good a Chelsea team I've seen, and I've been watching them since I was about 12, so I know them pretty well. I think Jose is pretty pleased with what he has but mentally we are in a strong position, with one defeat in nine.”
Newcastle will wait to see if captain Fabricio Coloccini is fit to start after missing four weeks with a calf injury, but they remain without goalkeeper Tim Krul.
Prediction: The loss of Matic to shield the back four is significant for Chelsea and the returning Sissoko will look to take advantage striding forward from midfield. Having conceded just three goals in their last seven matches, Newcastle also have the capability to keep things tight at the back and frustrate Chelsea for long periods, especially is Coloccini is back. But, while it may take a while, Chelsea, with Eden Hazard in superb form, joined by Oscar, Cesc Fabregas and Diego Costa, have too much quality not to score and they should secure a hard-fought win.
Newcastle 1-2 Chelsea
Kickoff time: 7.45 a.m. EST
TV channel: NBCSN
Live stream: NBC Sports Live Extra