Newcastle United v Chelsea – BBC Sport


Newcastle United head coach Steve Bruce says his team’s injury problems are the worst he has encounteredTEAM NEWS

Newcastle United’s injury crisis is beginning to ease, with forward Allan Saint-Maximin returning after a month out with a hamstring injury.

Seven players are still sidelined and Andy Carroll is a doubt, but Joelinton and Fabian Schar are available.

Chelsea have no new fitness concerns, although N’Golo Kante continues to be assessed for a hamstring problem.

Marcos Alonso is in contention following a thigh injury but Christian Pulisic remains out.

MOTD COMMENTATOR’S NOTES

@Guymowbray: Perception is everything. In Steve Bruce’s words, Newcastle “did okay” in losing 1-0 at Chelsea in October, which is, to many, an accurate synopsis of their season.

Just okay? Given a never-ending long list of injuries, an improvement of eight points on this time last year aids any argument it has been better than might have been expected in Bruce’s first season.

Chelsea are eight points down on a year ago, but the view of their progress in Frank Lampard’s first campaign as a Premier League manager has generally seemed positive.

They are up and down, however, and – though favourites to win – will be wary of a positive home reaction to that elusive Joelinton goal and Allan Saint-Maximin’s return.

VIEW FROM THE DUGOUT

Newcastle United head coach Steve Bruce on making new signings in January: “We’ve got one or two plates spinning and we hope that we can add to the squad by the end of the month.

“What I’ve said from the start is we’ve got one or two targets in mind; if they don’t come off, then I’m not just going to jump into the window for the sake of it.

“They have to improve us if we’re going to act.”

LAWRO’S PREDICTION

Chelsea swatted Burnley aside pretty easily last time out and this is a good opportunity for them to build on that.

Prediction: 1-2

Lawro’s full predictions v King Gary star Tom Davis

MATCH FACTS

Head-to-head

Newcastle…