Chelsea face Newcastle in the Premier League’s late kick-off on Saturday, and Newcastle must be licking their lips at this game in that case.
The Magpies do markedly better when their game is on TV, and indeed they have done quite well against Chelsea over the last few years. Chelsea are harder to beat than they were under Jose Mourinho at other points this season and they are still unbeaten under Guus Hiddink this season.
The prize this time will, as always, be three points. But on Saturday there could be a little bit more to play for. Newcastle, for all their investment in their playing squad over the last two transfer windows still find themselves in a real relegation scrap. Chelsea, on the other hand, are still only seven points above the relegation zone, and defeat to Newcastle would leave them only three points above the Magpies. If, after a victory on Saturday evening, Newcastle are still considered to be in a relegation battle, then surely the same would have to be said for Chelsea, too.
This, it turns out, is a big game. And here are some stats to whet the appetite.
Newcastle United have taken more points off Chelsea (13) than any other team in the last five seasons.
Guus Hiddink has still only lost one of his 21 matches as a Premier League manager (W13 D7 L1) and is unbeaten in his last 16.
Chelsea haven’t won any of the four Premier League games that Kurt Zouma hasn’t started in this season (W0 D2 L2) and have conceded 10 goals in these matches.
The Blues are on the current longest unbeaten run in the Premier League; nine games (W3 D6 L0).
Steve McClaren has collected just one win and seven points in 11 Premier League games as a manager against Chelsea (W1 D4 L6) – this was a 3-0 home win for Middlesbrough in February 2006.