NEWCASTLE VS CHELSEA
– Match kicks off at 12.30pm
– Newcastle XI: TBC @ 11.30am
– Chelsea XI: TBC @ 11.30am
Chelsea can go top of the Premier League table if they beat Newcastle at St James’ Park this afternoon. The Blues travel to St James’ Park looking for a third straight top-flight victory and face a Magpies side who have had mixed fortunes this term.
Frank Lampard’s side are the division’s top scorers but the Chelsea boss is expecting a tough encounter.
He said in his pre-match press conference: “I do know that Newcastle is always a very difficult game.
“I played in those games and they were always very difficult. Particularly for us, we have the difficulties of the early kick off, I am not using it as an excuse but it is just a fact. A factor for us.
“Steve Bruce is a great manager and he deserves great credit for the job he has done and the way he organises his team. It is a tough game on all fronts.
Lampard was also strongly critical of the scheduling, which means Thiago Silva will play no part having only returned from international duty for Brazil on Thursday afternoon.
He added: “That 12.30pm slot, how often does it need to be there? If you look over the course of a season, I don’t know how many times, is it five international breaks and you’ve got players going away.
“It is absolutely not the optimum way to have players preparing for a Premier League game, which is an incredible brand all around the world so you want the best of the brand.
“It is very difficult for us to prepare for this game anywhere near where we want to. I want us to play to our best but it is very difficult circumstances.”
Newcastle boss Steve Bruce meanwhile expects today’s visitors to have a real say in the title race this season.
He said: “They have bought exceptionally good players, and that makes life a little bit easier if you are Chelsea I suppose.
“Of course, you have to find the right balance and they certainly seem to have got that.
“They look a very good side. I believe personally they will be there or thereabout with the changes they have made.”
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