Chelsea have rarely enjoyed their trips to St James’ Park in recent years, but Frank Lampard will be hoping to reverse the trend when his side face Newcastle United on Saturday lunchtime.
The Blues currently find themselves on a run of four straight wins and eight games without defeat – form which has earned them a spot just three points behind Premier League leaders Leicester City – and there will be confidence that they can keep that momentum going against Newcastle.
Ahead of the game, here’s what Lampard had to say.
“Christian Pulisic is not fit for Newcastle, but he’s stepped up his training slowly. It’s been quite a problematic injury so we will stay cautious.
“Kai Havertz is back, his isolation is over. He tested negative two days ago, so he’s just started training that’s more on his own to get individually some of his fitness back after two weeks at home.
“Thiago Silva has just landed. He just messaged me this afternoon so he probably won’t be going to Newcastle because of the length of the journey and timings.
“We are still waiting for some of the results of the tests that we now have to do as players are back from internationals. Unfortunately some of our players are arriving back this afternoon, some played last night so with the 12:30 kick off on Saturday there are clearly a lot of challenges for us.”
“Christian has had a problematic injury and I think it is normal, every player is different. Christian had a history of muscle injuries before he came to us and he has had them again. Everything about Christian, how he is around the training ground and how he prepares is absolutely perfect.
“We need to try and find the right balance between playing, training and resting throughout the week. He is a young player still and it is not abnormal, we will find a solution and I don’t want to make more out of it than it is because we want Christian available with his ability, but at the minute he is injured and in the short term he is a work in progress.
“We have a great medical team here and we are very joined up in trying to get the best out of Pulisic as we possibly can.”
Midfielder Mason Mount was not afforded a rest over the international break, instead starting all three of England’s games.
“I get Gareth Southgate’s position in playing him. He played three games. He was the only player in the England squad of all the European playing players at club level that played three games. I know it adds to his games, but I understand Gareth’s position and I understand where he will be with that.
“I think it shows how much Gareth sees him and relies on him and trusts in him. I have done from time in management. It’s nice to see a lot of positivity around Mason. It is well deserved.
“Maybe he’s a player that has more quality passes in pressing moments in a game than a showreel of stepovers and flicks. Maybe that’s not as exciting to the modern fan, but for us managers, I think you can see how much we rely on him.
“Everything about Mason is that he has a great attitude, he’s a fit young man and will have a lot of games coming up that I will need him to be fit for.”
“There are so many facets to it. As a leader, in simple terms, you have to be someone the team wants to follow and set a marker for it. I think in the modern day, it has to be someone who is at close quarters with their players.
“I think man management is such a huge part of your job. The squad we have now, the squad which is a really strong squad, I have to make sure I am close to them all professionally and slightly off the pitch as well so I can get the best out of them individually and collectively.
“That’s man management and being humble. A humble leader is always someone I would have reacted to in regular conversations with their players.”
Centre-back Kurt Zouma has won more aerial duels than any other player in Europe’s top ten leagues, and he’s comfortably ahead of any Premier League competition.
“I saw that stat and I am not surprised. It is a fantastic stat and the level he is at, he will be very important for us and he has been very important for us this season at both ends of the pitch. It is something we looked at in the off season, we could have been better at times, certainly in terms of defending our own box.
“That’s the standard we need to keep. There are reasons we have had a decent run of clean sheets and not conceding many goals and Kurt is a factor in it. He has been a big part of that, every centre back and player in our team need to be switched onto the aerial threat against teams with individuals who can be dangerous in games.”