Newcastle United will be looking to extend their nine-match unbeaten run in the Premier League when they make the trip to Stamford Bridge this afternoon to take on Chelsea.
However, their incredible run of form will face its biggest test yet, with their hosts boasting nine wins from their last ten games in all competitions.
Eddie Howe’s side will do well to come away from west London with a result, but based on recent form, they have no reason not to play in exactly the same way in which they have been doing of late.
However, having played at Southampton on Thursday night, it would make sense for the 44-year-old to make some changes, and giving Jacob Murphy a rest would certainly be sensible.
The 27-year-old has played 308 minutes of league football over the last four matches, having had just 391 minutes in the top flight in the previous 12 games since Howe’s appointment.
Moreover, the winger has struggled in front of goal, with his opening weekend strike against West Ham still his only goal of the campaign thus far. Indeed, in 95 appearances for the Magpies, Murphy has only found the back of the net on five occasions, contributing eight assists in that period.
Across his 22 league appearances this season, the winger is currently averaging just 32.1 touches per game and one shot on target every five matches.
Furthermore, the Englishman was subject to criticism from Martin Keown in recent months when Murphy appeared to dive in order to win a penalty against Aston Villa, with the ex-Arsenal defender calling him a “cheat”.
You would have to argue that, with that sort of record, the 27-year-old won’t last much longer under the new regime at Newcastle, with PIF having incredibly ambitious plans for the Tyneside outfit.
With the absence of Allan Saint-Maximin, Newcastle have few alternatives. However, Miguel Almiron was introduced off the bench in the latter stages of Thursday night’s victory at St Mary’s and could certainly be a contender to take Murphy’s place from the start.
The Paraguayan is yet to register a single goal or assist in 22 appearances this season, another worrying record in Newcastle’s attacking department. However, the 28-year-old is certainly due some game time, having played just 51 minutes since the turn of the year.
Nicknamed ‘Miggy’ by the Geordie faithful, the attacking midfielder is certainly popular, with pundit Don Goodman labelling Almiron as “all-action, all energy” earlier this season. In what will most likely be a game where Newcastle have less of the ball than their opponents, having a hard-working player like the Paraguayan could certainly be of use to Howe and co.