Chelsea vs Newcastle United: 3 things to look out for

Newcastle United v Chelsea FC - Premier League
Newcastle United v Chelsea FC - Premier League / Ian MacNicol/GettyImages

Chelsea faces a packed schedule during the festive season, with their upcoming challenge being the EFL Cup quarterfinal against Newcastle United on Tuesday. The domestic cup remains the crucial avenue for Chelsea to secure a spot in European football next season. Despite a recent loss to the visitors at St. James's Park a couple of weeks ago, Chelsea is optimistic about their upcoming fixture. The advantage of playing at home should bolster their chances of securing a favorable result this time around.

Three Chelsea things to look forward to

1. Will Christopher Nkunku make his Chelsea debut?

The debut of the French international was a prominent discussion point leading up to Saturday's victory over Sheffield United. However, manager Mauricio Pochettino opted to provide the 26-year-old with more time before introducing him to the game. Pochettino has once again suggested that Nkunku might make his official debut in Tuesday's fixture.

Newcastle will pose a more formidable challenge for the hosts than Sheffield United. Despite Eddie Howe's side grappling with injuries, considerable quality in the squad is enough to provide a robust competition against Chelsea. After three consecutive losses, Newcastle bounced back to winning ways by defeating Fulham on Saturday. Already out of the Champions League, the EFL Cup presents a genuine opportunity for them to claim their first silverware in 68 years. The confidence boost from their previous victory over Chelsea adds to their determination in this upcoming fixture.

2. How will the rotation affect the starting lineup?

Pochettino highlighted the significance of giving players a break during the busy festive season with a flurry of matches. Enzo Fernandez was one high-profile player who started Saturday's match as a substitute. Additional rotations are possible for Tuesday's game as part of the head coach's strategy to manage player workload effectively.

Unfortunately, injuries have made rotation a bit challenging. Despite this, there is a possibility of Malo Gusto making a return to the lineup if Pochettino decides not to persist with centrebacks as fullbacks. If Fernandez makes a comeback as anticipated, Mykhailo Mudryk might start from the bench. Nicolas Jackson, who scored against Sheffield, could retain his place in the lineup based on his goal-scoring performance.

3. Will home comfort propel Chelsea to the last four?

At the start of the season, Chelsea faced challenges securing results at home compared to their away performances. However, a reversal has taken place in recent times. The team is now encountering difficulties in obtaining favorable results when playing away, with factors such as the quality of opposition contributing to this trend. Despite these challenges, the West London side has showcased resilience on their home turf, remaining unbeaten in the last four matches while winning three.

The significance of the upcoming match will heighten the atmosphere within the stadium, with the stakes involved likely to lift both the crowd and the players. The introduction of Nkunku should further elevate the excitement within the stadium. Pochettino and his players must be fully prepared for the crucial Tuesday match, understanding the importance of a positive result.