Newcastle United boss Rafael Benitez looks like he could be leaving the club in the summer when his contract runs out at the end of the season. If he does, he will go with a lot of mutual love and respect from the supporters, just as he witnessed at Liverpool.
But as he prepares to take his Magpies side to Chelsea on Saturday, Benitez will be expecting a much colder reception at Stamford Bridge. The Spaniard took charge of the Blues for the majority of the 2012/13 season, guiding them into the top four and winning the Europa League, but he has never been forgiven for his role in the rivalry between the club and Liverpool while in charge at Anfield between 2004 and 2010. It is fair to say he doesn’t have much good to say about those fans either, though.
Nowadays, Chelsea are managed by the man who would replace Benitez at Napoli, Maurizio Sarri. There is plenty of respect between the two men, but that will all be put to one side as Newcastle try to get a first win in almost a month at a place they’ve only taken three points from once in the Premier League era, Stamford Bridge.
The Magpies hover just two points above the relegation zone heading into this one. Defeat, while expected, could have serious ramifications.
January transfer window frustrations rumble on for Benitez. But that isn’t the case for Sarri. He could be closing in on a deal to sign former Napoli striker Gonzalo Higuaín to bolster his attacking options.
With no recognised striker taking the goalscoring responsibility, Eden Hazard has stepped up again. He will be licking his lips at the prospect of facing Newcastle, a side he has a great record against having scored twice in this fixture last season.
We are backing Chelsea here and we wouldn’t look away from Hazard scoring again, either. Use your Paddy Power Free Bets to join us, while separately betting on the Belgian to score first at 16/5.
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