Newcastle face another testing away trip following an international break for the second time in succession, with a trip to Chelsea backing up the visit to Liverpool after the previous one.

It has been a difficult opening set of fixtures to start the season for Steve Bruce and his side, but despite not looking the part against the sides expected to be in and around them in May, they have managed to play well against the so-called ‘big six’ sides.

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After a great win against Manchester United last time out, Bruce will be hoping to follow it up against Frank Lampard’s side, but it will not be an easy task, with Chelsea having won their last four games in all competitions.

Early team news

Newcastle’s injury situation has greatly improved, and are no missing just Florian Lejeune and Matt Ritchie with Isaac Hayden still suspended.

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Jonjo Shelvey seems to have recovered from his minor injury, but it would be a huge shock to see him displace Matty or Sean Longstaff in the starting XI, after they dominated their Man United counterparts two weeks ago.

Chelsea are now suffering with the horrendous injury list Newcastle had a few weeks ago, as Lampard could be without no fewer than eight players.

Ruben Loftus-Cheek and Marco van Ginkel are already ruled out, while Andreas Christensen and N’Golo Kante both only given a 25 per cent chance of being available, and although Antonio Rudiger is rated 50-50, he is unlikely to be involved.

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Emerson, Reece James and Mateo Kovacic provide Lampard with better news, as all are listed as having a 75 per cent chance of returning.

Referee: Andre Marriner

The West Midlands official takes charge of Newcastle immediately following the international break for the second time in succession, with him also being in charge of the defeat at Liverpool in September.

There were no major incidents in that game, and he did not even need to brandish a card of any colour to either team.


It will be his first game in charge of Chelsea, and his sixth overall this season. He has been relatively quiet in the previous five games, with him showing just 11 yellow cards, no reds and he has not awarded any penalties either.

Points to prove

Matty Longstaff will be out to show his spectacular debut against Man United was not a flash in the pan. He will also be looking to once again impress, and put himself in the frame for a sustained run in the starting XI, even when Hayden returns from his ban.

There has also been talk of a new contract being dangled in front of him in the coming weeks, and he will want to prove he is worthy of his improved terms.

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For Chelsea, what could be a patched up midfield will be hoping to show the fans the injury crisis they are currently suffering will not have as big an effect as feared.

Ross Barkley, assuming he plays, will be out to show he has what it takes to win over fans, who have been critical of the former Everton midfielder on social media.

Likely formations

Bruce is likely to stick with the same formation that served him so well against Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side a fortnight ago, meaning it will again be a 5-4-1.

It will also likely be the same personnel, unless he opts to bring Paul Dummett back into the fold in place of Ciaran Clark. It also meaning another chance for Miguel Almiron to nab his elusive goal.

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Lampard has played 4-3-3 in his last three Premier League games, although he tinkered with the formation for the EFL Cup and Champions League matches.

He is likely to stick to his preferred lineup against Newcastle though, as much through a potential lack of midfield options as much as it being his favoured set-up.

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