Ahead of the game this afternoon, Match of The Day commentator Conor McNamara has been analysing the Newcastle v Chelsea match.

Like many other pundits, he didn’t think Newcastle deserved to win at Cardiff last week.

Conor McNamara wondering just how much though Kenedy’s last minute penalty miss might cost Newcastle in the longer run.

As he also points out, a defeat for Newcastle today would almost certainly see Rafa and his players heading into the international break with only one point from 12, as it is Man City away next.

Whilst Rafa Benitez has the problem of getting collective quality from his team, over and above their individual parts, Chelsea’s Maurizio Sarri has the ‘problem’ of finding space for so many quality players he has at his disposal. One stunning statistic is that Chelsea’s last two buys, a goalkeeper and a defensive midfielder, cost more than all 33 players Rafa has signed in his 5 transfer windows at Newcastle.

Chelsea fans are hoping to see Hazard start at St James Park but Sarri said on Friday that if he did, then the Belgian attacking player would probably last no more than an hour as he works back to full fitness.

As for Newcastle fans, the biggest plus today is that for whatever reason(s), Chelsea have found life very difficult at St James Park in recent times.

The last five visits bringing four Newcastle victories and a draw, plus there have been 12 goals for the Magpies in these five previous clashes.

In fact, Newcastle have 11 PL home wins against Chelsea, with only two clubs having beaten the blues more times on home turf – Arsenal 12 times and Liverpool 13.

Whilst on the subject of Premier League records overall, if Newcastle concede today it will be the 2,000 PL goal they have leaked, only five other clubs have ‘achieved’ that so far.

Much was made of Kenedy not making a successful pass to a teammate in the entire first half v Cardiff but it has been a team problem overall as well. Going into this weekend, Newcastle had a successful pass completion of only 65% in their first two matches, Cardiff with 62% the only club to do worse on this front.

Against a team of Chelsea’s quality, if Newcastle give the ball away so regularly then there will be only one outcome to the game surely.

Time for everybody to step up their game and help keep this hoodoo over Chelsea going.

All eyes on Rafa’s team selection, with DeAndre Yedlin expected to return from injury, who will fill in for the ineligible Kenedy, and maybe most importantly, will the manager finally give Rondon and/or Muto a start?

Match of The Day commentator’s notes:

Conor McNamara:

“While they probably didn’t deserve it, Newcastle really should have won at Cardiff last weekend.

“Kenedy’s penalty miss was a huge blow to Rafael Benitez.

“Those extra points could be very important come the end of the season.

“Chelsea hope that Eden Hazard is ready to resume a central role, having being limited to brief cameos so far under Maurizio Sarri.

“A slow start is nothing new to Newcastle.

“This is the sixth successive top-flight campaign they’ve failed to win either of their opening two league games.

“Things might get worse before they get any better for Benitez.

“After Chelsea, Newcastle play Manchester City away next.”

Killer Facts:

Chelsea have lost 11 Premier League fixtures at Newcastle, only sustaining a greater number of defeats at Arsenal (12) and Liverpool (13).

The Magpies have won just once in their last seven Premier League matches, losing five and drawing one.

Their average passing accuracy this season is just 65%. Only Cardiff, with 62%, have been more wasteful.

Newcastle are one goal away from becoming the sixth club to concede 2,000 in the top flight.

Newcastle v Chelsea Match Betting:

NUFC win 19/4Draw 3/1Chelsea win 13/20

NUFC win 3-0 110/1Rondon to score last goals 19/2At least 3 match goals in first half 6/1

All Newcastle v Chelsea betting HERE