Newcastle v Chelsea: Table-toppers backed on Tyneside

Managerless Newcastle take on European champions Chelsea at St James' Park on Saturday. Mark O'Haire highlights his best bet from the Premier League showdown.

Newcastle fail to fire at Palace

A magnificent overhead kick from Callum Wilson earned Newcastle a share of the spoils against Crystal Palace last weekend in the club's first Premier League outing since the departure of Steve Bruce. Despite the change in the dugout, the Magpies were second-best for the majority of the match at Selhurst Park under interim boss Graeme Jones.

However, just after the hour-mark Wilson sent an acrobatic volley past Vicente Guaita after Palace had failed to clear a corner to level proceedings to give the Toon a 1-1 draw. Newcastle undoubtedly rode their luck - Palace twice hit the woodwork, enjoyed 75% of the ball and out-shot the Magpies 15-6 - and Jones acknowledged they must improve.

Speaking post-match, Jones said: "It is a base for us to start. I would like for us to be better on the ball but that doesn't come overnight. It takes time and we've concentrated on trying to shore up a little bit and not concede as many goals. We have to improve, we have to be better but I have to give the lads credit, mentally and physically."

Chelsea extend winning streak

Mason Mount scored a hat-trick as Premier League leaders Chelsea thrashed rock-bottom Norwich 7-0 at Stamford Bridge last weekend. Thomas Tuchel's side were 2-0 up inside 18 minutes as Mount and Callum Hudson-Odoi scored their first goals of the season, with Mount turning provider to set up Reece James for a third goal before the interval.

Fellow defender Ben Chilwell notched for the fourth successive game to extend Chelsea's lead shortly after the restart, before Max Aarons' own goal and Mount's late double wrapped up an easy win. And the Blues followed up their fine victory by progressing to the League Cup quarter-finals with a penalty shoot-out success over Southampton in midweek.

With Romelu Lukaku and Timo Werner still sidelined through injury, Tuchel may again ask Kai Havertz to start through the centre of Chelsea's attack. The German scored against Saints from that position on Tuesday night and looks most likely to fill the vacant position again this weekend. Elsewhere, N'Golo Kante and Christian Pulisic are hoping to return.

Winless Toon make little appeal

Newcastle have lost five of their last six Premier League meetings with Chelsea, winning the other 1-0 in January 2020. The Magpies have been beaten in two of their last three St James' Park showdowns with the Blues, although the Toon have competed reasonably well in this fixture over the last decade, returning W5-D2-L3 over the past 10 home match-ups.

Newcastle 10.00 remain winless after nine rounds (W0-D4-L5) and rank third-bottom for Expected Points (xP). The hosts are yet to keep their sheets clean and have conceded the second-most Premier League goals - the Magpies are also amongst the worst for Expected Goals (xG) against, chances conceded and shots allowed from inside the penalty area.

Chelsea 1.41 have churned out three successive Premier League wins since losing to Manchester City to maintain their position at the summit. The Blues have, however, overperformed according to the underlying metrics, netting eight more goals than xG suggests, and conceding eight goals fewer than their xG against figure suggests.

Business as usual for Blues

Newcastle have been one of the Premier League's great entertainers over the past nine months or so, although caretaker chief Graeme Jones has suggested he's keen to find a degree of defensive organisation and resilience going forward. Therefore, the time might be right to oppose a high-scoring contest at St James' Park with Under 2.5 Goals at 2.22.

But a more appealing play would be following the tried-and-tested Chelsea option - Chelsea to win and Under 3.5 Goals at 1.88. A whopping 39 of the Blues' 44 fixtures across all competitions under Thomas Tuchel have seen Under 3.5 Goals bank, whilst all bar three of the visitors' Premier League triumphs in that time has seen this wager click.

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