Chelsea remain in the hunt for a Champions League qualification place but can the Blues pick up maximum points from their final Premier League fixture away at Newcastle on Sunday? Mark O'Haire previews the encounter...
"Newcastle have concluded their home campaign by providing profit for Under 2.5 Goals punters in eight of their past 10 St James’ Park outings."
Newcastle v Chelsea
Sunday 13th May, 15:00
Newcastle performing despite recent results
Newcastle have lost four consecutive games since passing the 40-point mark by beating Arsenal in mid-April but their midweek performance when going down 1-0 to Spurs at Wembley was not one of a team who were already thinking of the end of the season.
Rafa Benitez's boys created the better openings in the first half with Jonjo Shelvey hitting the post and Jamaal Lascelles' header forcing a good save. After falling behind, the Magpies continued to impress and Jacob Murphy should have equalised but he smashed his shot from inside the area over the bar.
The Toon limited Spurs to just a handful of chances, and attacked with intensity in the capital. However, they will be without Kenedy for this contest due to the terms of his loan deal, while Islam Slimani is available again after suspension in what's likely to be his last game before returning to parent club Leicester.
Chelsea chasing a Champions League berth
Chelsea's hopes of playing Champions League football next season were dealt a major blow in midweek as the Blues were unable to clinch a vital victory against Huddersfield at Stamford Bridge. The relegation-haunted guests produced a defensive masterclass en-route to earning a 1-1 draw in West London.
Huddersfield didn't manage a single shot in the first half but took a surprise lead after the break. Antonio Rudiger then wasted two glorious chances before the FA Cup finalists finally equalised in fortuitous fashion - a clearance striking Marcos Alonso in the face before flying into the net.
Huddersfield goalkeeper Jonas Lossl produced a wonderful save to push Andreas Christensen's header onto the post as Chelsea searched for a winner but it wasn't to be. Antonio Conte's team must now win here on Sunday and hope Liverpool lose at home to Brighton to qualify for the Champions League.
Chelsea have been chalked up as [1.61] shots to pick up maximum points and the Blues should recall Eden Hazard and Olivier Giroud to the team after the pair started on the bench in midweek. The Blues are chasing a fourth successive away victory with their previous three triumphs all arriving by one-goal margins.
Newcastle [6.60] are unbeaten in their past four St. James' Park outings against Chelsea (W3-D1-L0) and despite their recent run of results, have performed reasonably well. And with Rafa Benitez unlikely to deviate from his usual tactics against a Big Six club, the Magpies will aim to frustrate the capital club.
The draw is available to support at [4.20] but a more astute angle of attack may be to back Chelsea to win by exactly one goal again at 12/5. The Blues boast a W10-D3-L3 road record when excluding the top-two and five of Newcastle's seven home losses have been by similarly tight margins.
Newcastle have concluded their home campaign by providing profit for Under 2.5 Goals punters in eight of their past 10 St James' Park outings. The Magpies have conceded just six goals in those encounters, and never more than once in a match in that time.
Although 12/18 (67%) of Chelsea's away days have paid-out for Over 2.5 Goals hunters, four of their most recent six Premier League matches have fallen below the line, and with Newcastle expected to sit deep and frustrate, backing Under 2.5 Goals at [1.90] appeals.
Mark's 2017/18 Profit/Loss
Staked: 172.00 pts
Returned: 181.22 pts
P/L: +9.22 pts