Charlie Nicholas has a simple message ahead of Sunday.
Talking about Rafa Benitez taking his team to Stamford Bridge, the Sky Sports pundit states ‘Newcastle United want out of this competition’.
Nicholas points to the Premier League match only three days afterwards at St James Park, when Burnley are the visitors.
In contrast to the home team, Sean Dyche’s players will have had 11 days rest since losing 1-0 at home to Manchester United.
Their FA Cup dream having ended at the first hurdle, hammered 4-1 by Manchester City.
Charlie Nicholas predicts a ‘relatively comfortable afternoon for Chelsea, especially if both Morata and Fabregas are fit to return.
Chelsea also play three days after the Newcastle match, they have Bournemouth at home and are involved in a fight for Champions League qualification.
With League Cup defeat to Arsenal on Wednesday night, the FA Cup represents surely Chelsea’s only possible chance of winning something this season.
From Newcastle United’s perspective, this season has arguably shown that with the exception of Jamaal Lascelles, there is very little difference in quality between Newcastle’s best 18 or so players.
So unless Rafa played an entire second choice team, it is difficult to claim that any side he puts out will be significantly weaker than his first team.
Norwich only conceded one goal in over three and a half hours of FA Cup football against Chelsea.
The last six games in all competitions have seen Chelsea score two goals in total in five of them, as well as last weekend’s four goal win at Brighton, when they carried a lot of luck.
Willian was man of the match at Brighton but limped off on Wednesday with a hamstring problem, so whilst Antonio Conte clearly has a better level of player than Rafa Benitez, it will be interesting to see just how many of his match winners start the game. Goalkeeper Courtois is another who is currently out injured.
As for whether Rafa Benitez wants out of this competition, who knows. If Newcastle did get through then at least the fifth round weekend would see a clear week before and after the game, allowing him to play whatever team he wants without fear of affecting fitness for Premier League matches.
As you can see from the odds below, rather than the massive 22/1 odds they were to win at Manchester City, Newcastle are ‘only’ 6/1 to win on Saturday, so can NUFC confound the ‘experts’?
Charlie Nicholas talking to Sky Sports:
“I think Chelsea will enjoy a relatively comfortable afternoon.
“Especially if Alvaro Morata and Cesc Fabregas are available again.
“Newcastle United want out of this competition with the issues they have in the Premier League.
“Epecially with a crucial home game against Burnley to come on Wednesday night.
“Prediction is Chelsea 2 Newcastle 0 and Pedro to score first goal.”
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