Sky Sports pundit Charlie Nicholas has tipped Newcastle United to frustrate Chelsea in a tight contest at Stamford Bridge, but notes that the clash is “everybody’s banker” this weekend.
The former Celtic and Arsenal striker feels Frank Lampard’s West London outfit will have just enough to cope with the resilient defensive unit Steve Bruce will name on Saturday, in a similar way to how the Magpies set up away to Tottenham Hotspur in August.
Newcastle allowed Spurs to heavily dictate proceedings in their third league game of the season, with Mauricio Pochettino’s men boasting 80.2% of possession and unleashed 17 shots to the Toon’s eight, per WhoScored data.
But Tottenham were unable to make anything of their efforts or time in possession, and were instead left empty-handed on home soil after Joelinton opened his United account with the sole goal of the afternoon.
The Magpies used the same setup to beat Manchester United last time out, when Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s Red Devils became the second team of the term to lose to Newcastle, despite enjoying more than twice as much of the ball.
However, Nicholas does not expect the system to work for a third time, and feels Newcastle boss Bruce will see the game as a ‘free swing’ that could be decided in the first ten minutes.
“This is everybody’s banker of the weekend, but Newcastle have gone to Tottenham and won, which people questioned,” Nicholas wrote in his weekly predictions for Sky Sports. “They then beat Manchester United at home, but it wasn’t sensational. Steve Bruce will be saying that this is a free swing.
“Chelsea have the youngsters and are playing well, but they will have a roller-coaster season, which is what I said from the start. These are the games that it took Liverpool years to overcome – these teams sit in and don’t threaten, but try to frustrate.
“Newcastle do this and they did it at Tottenham, this is the type of team they are. Chelsea will get there, but I don’t see them dominating unless they score in the first 10 minutes – I see it being tight.”
Nicholas’ score prediction for the game reflects his sentiment of the fixture likely being tight, as he only tipped Chelsea to emerge 2-1 victors in a weekend he backed Manchester City to thrash Crystal Palace 5-1 at Selhurst Park and Bournemouth to beat Norwich City 4-1.
Newcastle have showed in their wins over Spurs and Manchester United that they can keep it tight at the back, but the Magpies were also opened with ease by Norwich, while Leicester City had a field day when they hit the Toon for five.
So if Newcastle start at Chelsea as they did against Leicester, the scoreline could become embarrassing once more for the Magpies, and see that the game is decided early on, as Nicholas suggests.
Newcastle fans, will Saturday see your side suffer their fifth defeat of the season, or will the Toon take their third win against one of last term’s top six? Let us know in the comments below…
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