Premier League champions Chelsea may have taken the driver's seat as they look for a turnaround to their season. The Blues take on a struggling Newcastle on Saturday at the St. James' Park, and a win on the night will give them four wins on the trot this season, in all competitions.
Jose Mourinho's side started their winning run after getting past Maccabi Tel Aviv in the group stage of the UEFA Champions League last week, and two days later, they got past rivals Arsenal at home, in what turned out to be a fractious London Derby.
They also earned a win over Walsall in the League Cup third round in the midweek.
The ball is now in the court of Chelsea, whether they would want to continue their momentum, or let complacency get the better of them. "Newcastle are always a difficult opponent especially when they play at home," Chelsea midfielder Nemanja Matic told the official Chelsea website.
"It really doesn't matter where they are [19th] in the table. It's going to be difficult and we have to be 100 per cent ready. In the Premier League every team can on their day play like the best team in the league, and I think when Newcastle play against Chelsea they have always have a special motivation. Winning the last three games has been very important for our confidence and now the next few games will be crucial. We are in a moment where we have to take all three points and give everything for that," the Serbian added.
Steve McClaren's side are struggling in the campaign after bagging just two points from their opening six league fixtures. But it must be recalled that the Tyneside outfit ended Chelsea's 23-game unbeaten streak last season.
And McClaren feels it's only confidence that brings results, as he looks forward to a favourable result at home. "We sit players down after every game and if necessary we read the riot act, or if necessary congratulate them and build up confidence," the English manager said. "Wednesday's game [1-0 loss against Sheffield Wednesday in the League Cup] was no different. It's what we do. The key thing we have talked about is that we are going through change. Change is painful and hard some people do not like it. Everybody has been clamouring for change and that's why I'm here."
Chelsea - Besides goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois, who is sidelined until December, Mourinho will have a fully fit squad with Willian, Oscar, and Pedro, successfully recovering from their injuries. And in the absence of Diego Costa (who is facing a three-game ban), Colombian forward Radamel Falcao or former Newcastle striker Loic Remy could start.
Newcastle - McClaren will have a tough time, with several of the players -- including Papiss Cisse (back), Steven Taylor (hamstring), Paul Dummett (hamstring), Emmanuel Riviere (knee), and Cheick Tiote [knee] -- still on the sidelines.
Midfielders Jack Colback and Rolando Aarons are also struggling with calf problems. Massadio Haidara (knee) however looks fit to start the game. Striker Aleksandar Mitrovic is also set to return after the completion of his three-match ban.
Newcastle - Krul, Janmaat, Mbemba, Coloccini, Haidara, Colback, De Jong, Sissoko, Thauvin, Wijnaldum, Mitrovic.
Chelsea - Begovic, Ivanovic, Cahill, Zouma, Azpilicueta, Matic, Fabregas, Pedro, Ramires, Hazard, Remy.
Where to watch Live
Newcastle vs Chelsea kicks-off at 5:30pm BST (10pm IST, 12:30pm ET).