Newcastle and Chelsea kick off on Sunday with the home side looking to continue their trend of upsetting the Blues whenever they come to town and pick up their first win of the Premier League season in the process.
Chelsea, meanwhile, are looking to build on a highly impressive start to the season and will see St James’ Park as one of the best places to do so despite their unimpressive recent record as visitors.
Here are three key battles that could decide the encounter.
1. Alvaro Morata vs Jamaal Lascelles
Donning his new number of 29, Alvaro Morata has looked a renewed presence since the arrival of Maurizio Sarri and opened his account for the season last weekend, scoring Chelsea’s second against Arsenal.
Charged with handling Chelsea’s resident poacher will be the ever-impressive Jamaal Lascelles, whose borderline frightening improvement in Newcastle’s central defence since their promotion back to the Premier League will serve as unwelcome opposition for Morata.
The majority of Morata’s goals tend to come from crosses, so if Lascelles is at his best, then he could win the headers at the heart of it and cut off his supply. If not, it could be another successful day in front of goal for the Spaniard.
2. Jonjo Shelvey vs N’Golo Kante
This one will be a battle between two midfielders with skillsets on the opposite end of the spectrum, with Shelvey’s strengths lying in his vision, his range of passing and his propensity for a screamer.
Kante’s game, meanwhile, is… well, everything else you’d ever ask of a midfielder. Even in his new role further up the pitch, however, he’ll be tasked with getting in Shelvey’s face and not allowing the Hollywood passes that could cut any team open to materialise.
Shelvey, meanwhile, will have to find space to play in amid the vast blanket that is Kante’s heat map – no easy task for any midfielder.
3. Marcos Alonso vs Matt Ritchie
The classic battle of the lethal wide man vs the marauding full back that is often the undoing of the bigger teams, Marcos Alonso will have to be on his toes to handle Ritchie – especially in his new role as a full back in a back four, rather than his familiar wing back position.
Ritchie has been Newcastle’s most consistent, potent threat over the last season or so, and coming inside onto his left foot, he can service the unlocking of any defence.
Alonso isn’t half bad as full backs go however, and as a model pro, will know he has to be on his defensive game against a livewire such as Ritchie.