Chelsea head to the snowy north-east on Sunday, aiming to show the midweek Champions League win was the start of an upturn in fortunes. Club historian Rick Glanvill and club statistician Paul Dutton begin the build-up...
TALKING POINTS The champions visit Tyneside for the first time in 18 months this weekend, and it will be the first time we have played away to a team that came up from the Championship in May.
The last time we lost to a recently elevated side was way back in April 2001 at Stamford Bridge, when Charlton defeated us with the only goal of the game.
|KEY STATChelsea are unbeaten in our last 57 games against newly promoted teams, with 50 wins and seven draws.|
After the gloom of back-to-back league defeats, the Chelsea of 2010 quietly achieved the club's best ever start to a Champions League campaign by completing five successive wins on Tuesday. Marseille in two weeks' time is now a match than can be played and enjoyed without pressure.
Only four teams have ever won all six games in a Champions League group stage: AC Milan in 1992/93, Paris Saint-Germain 1994/95, Spartak Moscow 1995/96 and Barcelona 2002/03.
None of those went on to win the trophy, though the Milan of Costacurta, Baresi, Rijkaard, Van Basten et al were runners-up - to our final opponents in Group F, Olympique Marseille.
Whose bright idea was this yellow winter ball? The Premier League leaders were doing perfectly well up to the end of October with the proper blue and white one. Okay, so it has been running for some seasons now between November and February.
And maybe the snow or sleet predicted makes a dazzling yellow ball more appropriate. But since Blackburn on 30 October (not even November!) our attacking players' aim appears to have been blurred by this gaudy sphere. On Tuesday the problem seemed to have spread to the Champions League ball too.
Chelsea managed almost 60 shots on goal in the games away to Birmingham and at home to Žilina, of which only nine were on target in each game and just two actually hit the back of the net. The 32 against Brum was the highest recorded by a side this season in the Premier League.
Both games presented themselves as the type in which Frank Lampard often pops up as the match-winner, with a long-range shot, late run into the box, or incisive touch.
It is not simply absence making the heart grow fonder: Frank, who hasn't played since late August, again had one of the highest ratios of shots being on target in the present Chelsea squad, let alone midfielders.
The loss of his influence throughout the team has also prompted a tactical rethink from Carlo Ancelotti. During the last two matches the Italian has switched to two holding midfielders and two wingers in a 4-2-3-1/4-4-2 system that has provoked a marked upturn in performance.
It came close to working the oracle at St Andrew's, but no breakthrough past in-form Ben Foster would come.
However Žilina became the second team in six games to take the lead and succumb to the Blues - the other being Blackburn at the end of October.
Frank Lampard was on target the last time we played on Tyneside in April 2009, a 2-0 win with Florent Malouda also on target from his subtle assist.
Alan Shearer was the emergency manager back then, but there was no great passion in the relegation-haunted stadium. It will be a more fervent atmosphere this weekend despite the early kick-off time and the Geordies having lost or drawn four of their last five home games.
By the way, the FA Cup third round draw takes place on at 6pm on Sunday evening, live on ITV1. Chelsea will be ball number 11.
Two sides can leapfrog leaders Chelsea on Saturday. Arsenal, though, have drawn three of their last five visits to Villa Park. Blackburn last avoided defeat at Old Trafford five years ago. Stoke have a decent track record against Man City over the last few years, while Liverpool-Tottenham is often a fixture that favours the hosts.
Barclays Premier League fixturesSaturdayAston Villa v Arsenal 12.45pm - Sky Sports
Bolton v Blackpool 3pm
Everton v West Brom 3pm
Fulham v Birmingham 3pm
Man Utd v Blackburn 3pm
Stoke v Man City 3pm
West Ham v Wigan 3pm
Wolverhampton v Sunderland 3pm
SundayNewcastle v Chelsea 1.30pm - Sky Sports
Tottenham v Liverpool 4pm - Sky Sports
|Barclays Premier League table|
Barclays Premier League race for the Golden Boot Carlos Tevez (Man City) 9
Andy Carroll (Newcastle) 8
Johan Elmander (Bolton) 8
Florent Malouda 7
Tim Cahill (Everton) 7
Kevin Nolan (Newcastle) 7
Barclays Premier League leading assistsNani (Man Utd) 9
Chris Brunt (West Brom) 7
Didier Drogba 6
Peter Crouch (Tottenham) 6
Andrey Arshavin (Arsenal) 6
Matthew Etherington (Stoke) 6
Barclays Premier League race for the Golden Glove (clean sheets)
Petr Cech 8
Joe Hart (Man City) 7
Ben Foster (Birmingham) 6
Edwin van der Sar (Man Utd) 6
Simon Mignolet (Sunderland) 5
Pepe Reina (Liverpool) 5
TACTICAL BRIEFChelsea were the only English club to have a nominee in each team category of the Fifa/Fifpro World XI for this year: goalkeeper Petr Cech, defenders John Terry and Ashley Cole, midfielders Michael Essien and Frank Lampard, and forward Didier Drogba. Unfortunately we could again be without several of those big hitters this weekend through suspension for Essien (the last of three) and injury to others.
Nicolas Anelka is five goals away from joining Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink and Frank Lampard in the top ten of all-time Premier League goalscorers. He will depose Dwight Yorke - formerly of Toon's big rivals Sunderland.
It will be interesting to see how Carlo Ancelotti sets his team up for this tricky away trip. Having seen his youngsters do well against Žilina and his available personnel click with two defensive midfielders deployed in that game and also at Birmingham, he may be inclined to start with that system against Newcastle's 4-4-1-1.
The hosts have had a strange season, often performing better against the more difficult sides, and away from St James' Park. They beat arch rivals Sunderland 5-1 at home but have lost there to the likes of Blackpool, Stoke and Blackburn.
Chris Hughton's team did beat a much-changed, ten-man Chelsea team 4-3 in the League Cup at Stamford Bridge despite resting a few players themselves.
Yet they were spanked 5-1 by Bolton at the Reebok last weekend, with the score already 4-1 before Fabricio Coloccini was ordered off the field.
An elbow, a head-butt and a punch may sound like the average ladies' night out on the infamous Bigg Market, but such incidents on the playing field have rendered three of Toon's regulars unavailable.
They are missing both centre-backs, Coloccini and Michael Williamson, for different incidents involving the same player, Bolton's Johan Elmander. The pair had been ever-present starters in the league so far.
The Magpies are fortunate they have cover in that area. The absences open up the prospect of another outing for Sol Campbell against Chelsea, possibly with Steven Taylor returning to the first team after a long spell recovering from injury.
Campbell played in the Magpies' 4-3 League Cup win at Stamford Bridge and came on as a sub at Bolton, while Taylor last figured in January. They have briefly played together for Newcastle's Reserves.
Influential midfielder Joey Barton is also suspended for the last of his three-match ban for clobbering Morten Gamst Pedersen.
Chris Hughton likes to have two holding midfielders and two wide men. He puts either Shola Ameobi or Nile Ranger in alongside impressive top scorer Andy Carroll, or asks Kevin Nolan to tuck in just behind him.
Goalie Tim Krul's run in the side started just before our League Cup meeting following Steve Harper's shoulder injury. He has yet to be beaten from outside the box this season in the league.
WE HAVE HISTORYChelsea are looking to extend our unbeaten league run against Newcastle to seven games since the 1-0 defeat at St James' Park the end of our Premier League winning 2005/06 season. That was Newcastle's only win in our last 10 league meetings.
After the Blues visited St James' Park back on Saturday 25 March 1961 there was only one name on everyone's lips, and it wasn't that of the Geordies' Wales international goalie, Dave Hollins.
The older brother of future Chelsea star John, Hollins had to retrieve the ball from his net six times that afternoon, and on four occasions Jimmy Greaves (pictured below), playing his 150th league game, was the reason.
It was an occasion for records. This was the first time in our top-flight history that the Stamford Bridge club had hit six away from home, and Greaves's contribution made it 35 for the season personally, exceeding his own previous club record by three goals. His total league goals tally had also reached 118.
Under other circumstances Ron Tindall's brace would have been celebrated. Duncan Neale netted late-on for the hosts to complete a 6-1 scoreline.
Oddly, it had been a very even first-half, with Newcastle denied a possible penalty when Peter Sillett crunched Ivor Allchurch in the box. Then, 'with masterly opportunism', as Len Shackleton reported, Greaves 'cracked in four perfect goals' and Chelsea 'skated home'.
Newcastle were relegated a month later.
Our away Premier League record at St James' Park is:1993/94 Drew 0-0
1994/95 Newcastle won 4-2
1995/96 Newcastle won 2-0
1996/97 Newcastle won 3-1
1997/98 Newcastle won 3-1
1998/99 Chelsea won 1-0
1999/00 Chelsea won 1-0
2000/01 Drew 0-0
2001/02 Chelsea won 2-1
2002/03 Newcastle won 2-1
2003/04 Newcastle won 2-1
2004/05 Drew 1-1
2005/06 Newcastle won 1-0
2006/07 Drew 0-0
2007/08 Chelsea won 2-0
2008/09 Chelsea won 2-0
CHELSEA STATSThe defeat at St Andrew's on Saturday was the second time this season we have lost back to back games following Newcastle (League Cup) and Man City in September and was the first time we had lost consecutive league games in 165 matches.
Three league defeats in four is our worst run for over four years when we lost against Blackburn and Newcastle at the end of 2005/06 when we had already secured the Premier League title and beat Man City on the opening day of the following season and then lost three days later at Middlesbrough.
It is 421 games and 11 years since Chelsea last lost three successive Premier League matches (Liverpool away 0-1, Arsenal home 2-3 and Derby away 1-3) in October 1999.
Having failed to score once in the Premier League last season (at Birmingham), we have failed to notch a goal in five of our last nine games.
Michael Essien's header against Fulham is our only goal in over six hours of Barclays Premier League football.
Chelsea have scored the most goals (28) with Man Utd and Arsenal and conceded the fewest (nine) in the Premier League this term.
The Blues have won 10 points out of a possible 21 on our travels with victories at Wigan, West Ham and Blackburn, a draw at Aston Villa and defeats to Man City, Liverpool and Birmingham.
Chelsea have gone 22 games since a score draw, the longest run in the Premier League.
|Last six results|
|Nov 3||Spartak Moscow (Champions League h)||W 4-1|
|Nov 7||Liverpool (a)||L 0-2|
|Nov 10||Fulham (h)||W 1-0|
|Nov 14||Sunderland (h)||L 0-3|
|Nov 20||Birmingham (a)||L 0-1|
|Nov 23||MŠK Žilina (Champions League h)||W 2-1|
2010/11 Barclays Premier League scorers Malouda 7, Drogba 6 (1 pen), Kalou 5, Anelka 3, Essien 3, Alex 1, Ivanovic 1, Lampard 1, Benayoun 1. Total 28.
MILESTONESPetr Cech is aiming for his 150th clean sheet in his 282nd game.
John Mikel Obi could make his 100th Premier League start as well as his 150th start in all competitions.
Florent Malouda should rack up his 100th Premier League appearance.
Paulo Ferreira could make his 100th Premier League start.
Salomon Kalou needs a brace to reach 50 goals for Chelsea.
NEWCASTLE STATSFormed 1881
Major trophies4 League championships, last in 1927
6 FA Cups, last in 1955
1 Inter Cities Fairs Cup in 1969
1 FA Charity Shield in 1909
6 FA Cups, last in 1955
1 Inter Cities Fairs Cup in 1969
1 FA Charity Shield in 1909
Newcastle have been Premier League runners-up twice in 1995/96 and 1996/97. Their last major piece of silverware was the Inter Cities Fairs Cup in 1969 when they beat Hungarian side Ujpest Dozsa 6-2 over two legs.
Only Chelsea, Man Utd and Arsenal (with 17) have scored more league goals at home than Newcastle's 15.
Newcastle have won more points away from home than at St James' Park this season. Only West Ham have won fewer at home.
This term they have won eight points out of a possible 21 at St James' Park with wins against Aston Villa and Sunderland, draws with Wigan and Fulham and defeats to Blackpool, Stoke and Blackburn.
United have won three away games at Everton, West Ham and Arsenal.
Manager Chris Hughton
Days in charge: 544
|TOON IN THE PREM|