Routledge relishes a clash with Cole

27 November 2010 08:44
WAYNE Routledge is hoping to fire Newcastle United to their second victory over Chelsea in the space of two months, but the winger accepts he will have to outshine the best left-back in the world if he is to succeed at St James' Park tomorrow.

Having failed to start any of the Magpies' last eight league games, Routledge is in line for a return to the starting lineup after appearing as a second- half substitute at Bolton last weekend.

Newcastle's trip to the Reebok Stadium resulted in their heaviest defeat of the season, and Chris Hughton is expected to make changes when Premier League leaders Chelsea visit Tyneside for tomorrow's televised encounter.

If Routledge is promoted to the right of midfield, he will find himself in direct opposition to in-form England international Ashley Cole.

Cole's early-season performances have seen him described as one of the leading left-backs in world football, but while Routledge feels the accolades are deserved, he insists he is capable of outshining his fellow Londoner.

He's a bit older than me,

said the 25-year-old. I came up against him for Crystal Palace (when Cole was still playing for Arsenal), but it was a long, long time ago.

If he's not the best leftback in the world then he's definitely one of them. He goes forward, he can defend well and he rarely gives the ball away. He recovers unbelievably well with his great positional sense if you get past him.

He attacks very well in an attacking side where both full-backs bomb straight on to provide extra width to the team. He gets up and down the flank unbelievably well, but I'm used to going forward and tracking back in the position I play.

It'll be a very testing game for all of us. There are no easy games in the Premier League, but that's especially true of Chelsea with the squad they have.

Born and raised in Sidcup, South-East London, the majority of Routledge's childhood friends are supporters of Arsenal.

The winger himself grew up supporting Liverpool his family roots originate on Merseyside so he is hardly short of motivation as he looks to help inflict Chelsea's third Premier League defeat in succession, something that has not happened since October 1999.

As a kid I supported Liverpool,

said Routledge. My family is from there, so that's where my allegiance is. My favourite player growing up was John Barnes. He was my idol, the one I looked up to.

But a lot of my mates support Arsenal. Obviously Arsenal had a bad result last weekend (losing 3-2 to Tottenham), so they want me to do well and the team to get a result on Sunday.

But might Chelsea's recent struggles not count against Newcastle

After suffering surprise defeats to Sunderland and Birmingham, will Carlo Ancelotti not be doing all he can to ensure his side does not complete an unwanted hat-trick tomorrow

It's not something to be fearful of, said Routledge.

Obviously they're hurting, it's not that many times where they lose a few games on the bounce, so you have to be wary of them, but we've got nothing to fear. You have to go into every game thinking you can win.

After sweeping all before them in the opening weeks of the season, Chelsea are suddenly displaying a vulnerability that augurs well for Newcastle's chances.

They were comprehensively outplayed by Sunderland two weeks ago, and failed to beat Birmingham goalkeeper Ben Foster last weekend.

A scrappy Champions League victory over Zilina will have done little to calm their nerves, and while Newcastle have to overcome a disappointment of their own following last weekend's capitulation at Bolton, Routledge feels the openness of the Premier League title race should guarantee a string of surprise results throughout the rest of the season.

A couple of weeks ago, everyone thought Chelsea were walking away with it, but they've had a couple of bad results and that just shows how open the league is, he said.

Everyone's back together again and it's a very open race at the top.

I wouldn't say you're seeing daft results, but recent matches have shown how open the league is. Any team can beat any other one on a given day. That's the way it's going, it's really open this year.

We've just been promoted, so we're going to have ups and downs. It's how you bounce back from the downs that counts most.

After Saturday's result, everyone's looking forward to it. We want it to come round as soon as possible, and there's no better team to play against than the champions in front of a full house and an amazing atmosphere. I can't wait.

Source: Northern_Echo