Nemanja Matic, Branislav Ivanovic and David Luiz try to block a freekick during the English Premier League game against Manchester City, 3 January. Reuters
Newcastle have had a very Newcastle week - Alan Pardew has lost arguably his best player, while also seeing the big-talking, but hardly any walking Joe Kinnear resign from his post as director of football. That was sandwiched by a poor 3-0 loss at the hands of rivals Sunderland in the Tyne-Wear Derby, and it doesn't get any easier for Newcastle with rampant Chelsea waiting in the wings for their English Premier League clash on Saturday.
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The game is scheduled for a 3 pm GMT (8.30 pm IST) start with live coverage on Star Sports 4 and Star Sports HD2. The game can also be caught live online in India HERE. Catch the action in the US via live streaming HERE, while Australia viewers can do the same HERE. Viewers in North Africa and the Middle East can live stream the match HERE, with the same option available for rest of Africa viewers HERE.
The Blues have been in brilliant form of late, with the outstanding 1-0 win at Manchester City on Monday night - the first team to get any point out of City at home in the Premier League this season - only emphasising just how far this side have come under Mourinho since the start of the season.
Chelsea are currently two points behind Arsenal, but could see that gap extended to five if Arsenal beat Liverpool in the early game. Mourinho is keen to increase the lead from fourth-placed Liverpool, so that his side can fully concentrate on the title race.
"We are still third but the good thing is that we can feel a little bit of space after Liverpool, who are fourth, and the other teams," Mourinho said. "It's a big objective for all of us to finish in the top four and, if possible, the top three, with direct qualification for the Champions League.
"When you see the gap after Liverpool it gives us some stability and when you have that stability you feel better to get results which allow you to stay near the top of the league.
"We've improved and we've trained well. The younger players are getting stronger, the stable players are stable and the team is playing very well.
"I said that even after a bad result against West Ham -a 0-0 draw]. Before the City game I said it was more important to play really well and show the direction we want to go in than to get the result. We did both at the same time but we'll just go game by game."
For Newcastle, who host Tottenham after the Chelsea match, it will be all about finding that rhythm without Yohan Cabaye in their team, with Pardew electing for a not-too-exciting long ball style in the Sunderland game. The Magpies, of course, will not have much of possession at Stamford Bridge; so hitting Chelsea on the counter with some precise and quick passing will be vital to come away with a positive result.
"We can't replace him [Cabaye] with an individual player because what he brought us, we haven't really got anybody in the group who can do that, so we have to change our style a little bit," Pardew said. "Obviously against Sunderland, it didn't go well and we have to find a way that's going to work for us to keep us in with a shout of maybe Europe or the top eight.
"It's an important period because we have got two really tough games -- I think everybody would appreciate that -- but we really do need to put a performance on the pitch that contains enthusiasm, desire and a real purpose, and that's what we are going to do."
Team news: Chelsea: Fernando Torres has returned to training, but will not be risked by Mourinho. Marco Van Ginkel remains a long-term absentee. "He's almost there, but not there," Mourinho said. "We won't risk him, if it was the last game of the season I would say let's go and do it. But we have lots of matches to play and it's not right to risk him now.
"If we lose a player now we lose him for a long time, it's not the moment to lose players, it's the moment to help them out. Tuesday is a much better possibility. We have a couple of little things that we need to assess, not really injuries, but in terms of injuries it's only Nando and Van Ginkel."
Newcastle: Pardew was dealt another blow with Cheick Tiote ruled out for three weeks with a hamstring injury, with the midfielder joining the likes of Yoann Gouffran, Fabricio Coloccini and Ryan Taylor on the sidelines. Gabriel Obertan and Papiss Cisse are doubts, while Loic Remy serves the second of his three-match suspension.
Expected lineups: Chelsea: Cech; Ivanovic, Cahill, Terry, Azpilicueta; Matic, Ramires; Willian, Oscar, Hazard; Eto'o.
Newcastle: Krul; Debuchy, Williamson, Yanga-Mbiwa, Santon; Sissoko, Anita; Marveaux, Ben Arfa, Sammy Ameobi; Shola Ameobi.
Prediction: 2-0 to Chelsea
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