Newcastle United vs Chelsea: Five Key Battles

Juan Mata 2

Newcastle United's reinforcements brought instant returns in the midweek win at Aston Villa, but they face a sterner test this weekend, with Chelsea bringing a familiar face to St James' Park.

Demba Ba returning to St James' Park is the big headline this weekend. How will he and his new teammates get on against his former club's recent additions?

Mapou Yanga-Mbiwa vs Demba Ba

The young French player could make his first start for the club this weekend, and whilst he won't be familiar with Demba Ba himself, his team mates will no doubt be able to give him the low down on the Senegalese striker. Rafa Benitez has continued to regularly start Fernando Torres ahead of Ba, but given their relative form, Ba will surely be given the nod this weekend. If Yanga-Mbiwa has a strong debut against the former Newcastle striker, Pardew's side will be able to neutralise much of Chelsea's threat.

Papiss Cisse vs John Terry

Whilst Ba is gone, Cisse is very much still part of Newcastle's attack, and a recent upturn in form might give fans hope he is about to embark on a similar second half of the season as he did last year. Chelsea's defence is fragile at the moment, and John Terry has only recently returned to the starting eleven. If Terry isn't fully match fit, Cisse could enjoy a profitable afternoon.

Moussa Sissoko vs Juan Mata

Sissoko enjoyed a fantastic debut for his new side against Villa, laying on their opening goal with a lovely pass to Cisse. He will likely play a more restrained role against Chelsea on Saturday, and will no doubt be involved in his side's attempts to stop Juan Mata controlling the match. The Spaniard has been one of the stand out players of the season, and is essential to Chelsea's chances of success. If Sissoko can stop Mata getting space in the final third, and burst forward to bolster his side's attack when they have the ball, he could be key to the result of the match this weekend.

Yohan Cabaye vs Ramires

Cabaye's return to fitness is as vital as any of the new signings Newcastle made in January, and the Frenchman's stunning goal against Villa could be the starting pistol to the second half of his team's season. Chelsea don't have an out and out defensive midfield at the moment, and Cabaye's clever passing could create a real threat for Newcastle. Ramires' mobility makes him useful defensively and going forward, but if Cabaye and the rest of the Newcastle midfield can get on top of him early in the match, the Frenchman might be able to dominate the centre of the park.

Mathieu Debuchy vs Ashley Cole

Debuchy and Cole will be central to both of their respective team's attack and defence on Saturday, with each providing a valuable outlet on their flank. Cole and Debuchy will be keen to combine with their attackers and try and overload each other, and if which of them gets more of the ball in the opposition half will be a good indication of how the match is balanced.

image: © Ben Sutherland

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