Newcastle heads to Stamford Bridge to battle Chelsea
LONDON (SE) - Chelsea's expectations for the Premier League season will be high going into a fascinating encounter with Newcastle United at Stamford Bridge on Saturday afternoon.
Newcastle finished higher than Roberto Di Matteo's side in the league last season, but the impact of new signings Oscar and the impressive Eden Hazard has been immediate, prompting hopes of a title challenge for the Blues.
"The manager stressed beforehand that we haven't been top of the league for a long time and, although it's early, it's nice to be sitting there," said defender Gary Cahill. "It is something we needed to address this season and it has been drilled into us.
"It's important that we challenge this year and we have made a good start."
The Blues came from behind against Reading to win 4-2 in midweek, with Cahill scoring the equaliser and Fernando Torres putting the Blues ahead, and the centre-back is expecting big things from the Spanish striker this season.
"Maybe he (Torres) will relish being the main man this season. He has done that at the start of the season and has been great for us. It is good to see him score so early in the season.
"He has dealt with pressure before and that won't be any different for him this time. He is the main man this year and has got off to a fantastic start. Fernando has worked hard in training like he always does. Even when he doesn't score, he works hard for the side. To get off the mark already is great and he was scoring goals in the European Championship for Spain so he has taken that sort of form into this season."
Newcastle followed up a great summer in which they kept all of their star players with a hard-earned 2-1 win over Tottenham on the opening day of the season, and manager Alan Pardew has revealed that his side's efforts have earned them some high-profile admirers.
"I had a text from Jose Mourinho yesterday wishing me all the best and it's things like that which make you realise things are good," revealed Pardew. "I don't usually get texts from him so it shows we're getting noticed."
Newcastle have doubts over the Ameobi brothers, who both have hamstring problems, while Fabricio Coloccini is still struggling with a thigh injury. Chelsea's David Luiz will hope to shake off a knee problem that kept him out of the win over Reading, but new signing Marko Marin is out with a hamstring injury.
The home team has not won any of the last seven meetings between these sides. Five goals were scored in the two league games last season, with the away team scoring all five – a 3-0 win for Chelsea at St James' Park and a 2-0 win for the Magpies at Stamford Bridge. That victory for Newcastle was their first ever at the Bridge since the start of the Premier League, having gone 18 straight visits without a win. Demba Ba scored his first goal in 14 matches with the opener against Spurs last weekend, which was also his first for Newcastle since the arrival of compatriot Papiss Cisse.