Since the Premier League came to being, Anfield is the only away ground in which Chelsea have tasted defeat more than St James’ Park. This corner of the north east has proven an unhappy hunting ground for the Blues, losing 11 of their 24 games away to Newcastle United since 1992.
They have won just seven times and last season’s opening day victory was their first on Tyneside since 2011. Jose Mourinho never won a league game there in two spells with Chelsea and it is worth recalling his quote in 2015 when Chelsea came from behind to draw 2-2.
“I’m really sorry I only have three substitutes because if I could, I’d make six,” Mourinho said at half-time of that game as his team looked shell-shocked by their revved up hosts.
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It means that Frank Lampard was on the end of too many bruising encounters, losing five times on Tyneside as a Chelsea player, to take tomorrow’s game lightly – irrespective of the hosts’ injury struggles and his team’s exceptional record on the road this season, bettered only by runaway leaders Livepool.
With Manchester United facing Jurgen Klopp’s side on Sunday and Tottenham and Sheffield United facing tricky away ties against in-form Watford and Arsenal respectively, there is a chance for Chelsea to strengthen their grip on fourth place.
But Lampard said: “It is an opportunity but every game in the Premier League remains vital and this is the same as all the others.
“Even though we have good away form in general, every game brings new challenges. Going to Newcastle, I know it as a player and I know it now. The emotion of the crowd, they are a very organised team with the manager that they have.
“Also the threats they have, they have got some good results this season. We will be taking nothing lightly or expecting anything because of our away record.
“We have to…