Chelsea look to prove title credentials

07 February 2014 01:16

Jose Mourinho may have to revise his claim that Chelsea are outsiders in the fight for the Premier League title after they face Newcastle at Stamford Bridge on Saturday.

Mourinho maintained his side are the "little horse" in the title race in the wake of the Blues' impressive 1-0 victory over Manchester City on Monday.

In the eyes of many observers, Chelsea's performance as they brought City's 100 percent home league record to an abrupt end showcased Mourinho's men as genuine championship contenders.

And if results go their way this weekend, they could find themselves at the head of the table.

Leaders Arsenal sit two points clear of City and third placed Chelsea going into the latest round of matches and travel to face Liverpool a couple of hours before their main rivals' fixtures get underway.

Should Arsene Wenger's side falter at Anfield, Mourinho will be anxious his side take advantage.

The last time they played at Stamford Bridge, Chelsea were left frustrated after West Ham's resolute defending secured a scoreless draw, prompting Mourinho to condemn Sam Allardyce's tactics as "19th century football".

The responsibility for leading the attack against Newcastle will again fall to Samuel Eto'o, despite Fernando Torres making an unexpected return to training this week.

The Spain striker damaged knee ligaments in the January victory over Manchester United and was expected to be sidelined until the middle of this month, but the best he can hope for this weekend is a place on the bench.

Mohamed Salah, the £11 million signing from Basel, will hope to make his Chelsea debut after remaining an unused substitute at Eastlands.

And the Egypt international admitted his move had been accompanied with a weight of expectation from back home.

"For everybody in Egypt this is a dream," Salah said.

"To see one player playing in Chelsea, Manchester or Madrid, it's not easy for Egypt people to do that.

"Playing in Switzerland and for Basel is not like Chelsea.

"I hope I can play better here, do more than I did at Basel and I do a good career for me.

"I hope we can win the Premier League and the Champions League. It is not easy but this is a very good team and I hope we can win the League 100 per cent.

"To play in this League is fantastic and it is my dream."

Newcastle remain comfortably in the top half of the division, and with no danger of being sucked into a relegation battle and having already exited both domestic cup competitions, their season is in danger of fizzling out after suffering defeat in five of their last seven games.

However, Newcastle will look to continue their impressive recent record in London, having won on their four most recent visits to the capital.

Magpies manager Alan Pardew is without suspended top scorer Loic Remy and influential injured duo Fabricio Coloccini and Cheick Tiote, who picked up a knock in training this week as they look to record a rare league double over Chelsea, following the 2-0 triumph against Mourinho's side in November.

There is brighter injury news on Papiss Cisse, who hopes to return form a back problem, while Luuk de Jong is pushing for a first start following his loan move from Borussia Monchengladbach.

"Our season certainly isn't over," Pardew said. "I don't know all those teams below us, what their season revolves around because I'd rather be in our position than fighting for survival because that really is something we don't want to do.

"We're three points behind Manchester United and they still have aspirations of Europe, so why shouldn't we? We're eighth but I want to finish higher."

Source: AFP