Where: Stamford Bridge, London, England
When: Saturday, August 25, 2012
Time: 12:30 p.m. ET
TV: FOX Soccer
Live Stream: FOX Soccer 2Go (link)
Gamecast: Soccernet.espn.go.com (link)
Note: The Chelsea v. Reading match aired Wednesday at 2:45 p.m. ET. The results of that match were not known at the time that this piece was published.
Newcastle United squares off against Chelsea at Stamford Bridge on Saturday in continuing Premier League play.
Both clubs won their first match by slim margins to start the season.
Newcastle came away victorious at home 2-1 over Tottenham. Hatem Ben Arfa caught keeper Brad Friedel leaning on a penalty kick in the 80th minute. The goal was especially dramatic since Spurs’ Jermain Defoe had scored just four minutes prior.
Demba Ba made it one-nil in the 54th minute for Newcastle. Tim Krul later held strong after Ben Arfa’s goal in the waning minutes to withstand Tottenham’s last-ditch efforts.
Meanwhile, Chelsea’s win over Wigan at the DW Stadium appeared a bit more lopsided on the scoreboard. The 2-0 mark was actually misleading since the scoring occurred within the first 10 minutes. Legendary Petr Cech faced a relative onslaught the rest of the way but kept Wigan at bay.
The noteworthy development out of this match was newly acquired midfielder Eden Hazard deftly setting up both goals for Chelsea. He was only officially credited with one assist, however.
No matter—Hazard received effusive praise from his new boss Roberto Di Matteo (h/t soccernet.espn.go.com).
…he was outstanding. He combined very well with his teammates, was a threat, exactly what we were looking for…he’s got a lot that he can bring to our team.
As for Saturday’s upcoming matchup, Newcastle faces much stiffer competition on Chelsea’s home turf.
Scoring had been a concern for the Blues prior the game against Wigan—but not anymore if the early goings are any indication of future success.
Eden Hazard apparently didn’t get the memo, as he assisted (officially or not) on both goals, including one to Frank Lampard. Expect Hazard to continue to facilitate to Daniel Sturridge and Fernando Torres against Newcastle (however much Torres remains a wild card).
Which team comes out victorious?
Another player who’ll create trouble for the Magpies is dynamic midfielder Oscar. The 20-year-old Brazilian showcased his speed and overall skill set in limited action in the Wigan matchup. And it goes without saying that keeper Petr Cech will present a formidable obstacle in goal.
Cech’s counterpart, Magpies keeper Tim Krul, acknowledged that the match will be thoroughly challenging. He also stated, however, that he and his teammates have full confidence in each other and that they “don’t fear anybody” (h/t BBC Sport).
We’ll have to wait and decide if that amounts to vacuous rhetoric.
Chelsea, for its part, must concern itself with Demba Ba and Papiss Demba Cisse, the Magpies’ leading scorers from last year. Ba put on an impressive showing last game with a goal and near-goal against Tottenham.
The Blues must also find the correct way to best utilize Torres in the post-Drogba era, especially when it comes to putting shots on goal against the stout Tim Krul.
Newcastle finished one point ahead of Chelsea in the 2011-2012 Premier League standings. That should supply another element of intrigue, as the Blues look to finish higher than sixth and bring their Champions League success into the EPL.
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