Chelsea v Newcastle preview
Top-four rivals go head-to-head at Stamford Bridge
Last Updated: 02/05/12 10:33am
Chelsea and Newcastle are both chasing UEFA Champions League qualification and will be looking to end Wednesday night in fourth spot.
Events at the Reebok Stadium, where Bolton play host to Tottenham, could conspire against the Blues and Magpies, leaving them both on the outside looking in, but remaining in the top-four hunt will be the overriding ambition at Stamford Bridge.
Chelsea have fired themselves into contention on the back of a productive run of results that has seen them book final dates in the FA Cup and UEFA Champions League and rediscover their touch in the league.
They hit capital rivals Queens Park Rangers for six on Sunday, with a revitalised Fernando Torres hitting a hat-trick to suggest that he is close to recapturing his form of old.
The Blues are, in fact, unbeaten in their last six Premier League outings and have netted 13 times during that run.
Their record against Newcastle also bodes well heading into a midweek meeting with the Magpies, with the Blues having gone nine games without defeat against the North East outfit.
The one concern for Roberto Di Matteo heading into a crucial top-of-the-table encounter will be that Chelsea have kept only one clean sheet in their last five league games.
Newcastle will be hoping to take full advantage of any defensive frailties on Wednesday, as they go in search of their first league victory at Stamford Bridge since November 1986.
They have failed to take three points from any of their 17 previous Premier League visits to West London.
The capital has not been a happy hunting ground for the Magpies all season, with just two points taken from their last seven journeys south.
It has not just been in London that they have struggled of late, though, with five defeats suffered in their last eight games on the road.
The last of those came at Wigan on Saturday, with a 4-0 reversal bringing a run of six straight wins to an abrupt halt, and Alan Pardew will be demanding a positive response to that setback.
Chelsea will still be without injured defensive duo David Luiz and Gary Cahill in midweek.
But Branislav Ivanovic returns from suspension and is likely to partner John Terry at the heart of the Blues' back four
Di Matteo has refused to rule Cahill and Luiz out of Saturday's FA Cup final against Liverpool, but will not risk them against the Magpies.
Danny Simpson is Newcastle's only fresh injury concern.
The right-back picked up a minor ankle problem in the defeat at Wigan, but is expected to make the game at Stamford Bridge.
Wingers Gabriel Obertan (ankle) and Sylvain Marveaux (groin) will travel after returning to training, but midfielder Sammy Ameobi (knee) is still working his way back to full match fitness and central defender Steven Taylor (Achilles) remains on the sidelines.
Possible starting XIs
Chelsea: Cech, Bosingwa, Ivanovic, Terry, Cole, Lampard, Essien, Mata, Sturridge, Torres, Kalou.
Newcastle: Krul, Simpson, Williamson, Coloccini, Santon, Ben Arfa, Cabaye, Tiote, Gutierrez, Cisse, Ba.
Barclays Premier League
|8||West Ham United||23||36|
|15||West Bromwich Albion||23||22|
|19||Queens Park Rangers||23||19|