Danny Guthrie - Newcastle United News

After last week’s somewhat controversial draw with Manchester United, Newcastle complete the third and final part of their trilogy of contests with last season’s top three when they host struggling Chelsea at St James’ Park (note I didn’t use the ugly name of Ashley’s sickening company).

The Stamford Bridge outfit are out of sorts this season since the appointment of Andre Villas-Boas and find themselves way off the league pace and looking far from the team they once were. For the first time in years, the names of Fernando Torres and Didier Drogba don’t strike fear into defences around the country…more like sniggers.

On Tuesday, the Blues crashed out of the Carling Cup at the hands of Liverpool and this midweek they face a must-win game against Valencia if they are to progress to the knockout stages of the Champions League, something owner Roman Abramovich has made no secret of wanting to win.

Two more defeats for Villas-Boas and he could find himself being handed his p45 and joining the dole queue along with Steve Bruce, who was shown the door by that lot up the road earlier this week.

Headlines this week have been dominated by the sudden death of Toon legend Gary Speed, and the former Geordie midfielders’ passing will be mourned with one minutes applause before kickoff come Saturday lunchtime. Scarves and the hymn “Bread of Heaven” will be sung before kick-off in a show of support for the man who made over 200 appearances for the Magpies.

On the pitch, Cheick Tiote will still be missing with a knee injury and Mike Williamson still isn’t back from his problem. Sylvain Marveaux won’t see any action for a while after undergoing groin surgery recently. Jonas Gutierrez will serve the first of his three-match suspension for his sending off at Old Trafford, while Leon Best is back in training.

Chelsea are still without the injury-prone Michael Essien but John Terry will be back from suspension, providing there is no late changes to the ongoing race allegations against Anton Ferdinand.

A win for Newcastle will move them up to third, with a defeat potentially sending the Magpies down to 7th, depending on other results.