Having just awoken after the South Wales snooze-fest, thoughts turn to the arrival of Chelsea this Sunday, and their fancy London ways.

My heart went out to our travelling support last Saturday. Having to make a round trip of well over 600 miles for a lunchtime kick off speaks volumes about much that is wrong with today’s SKY dominated game. For them to watch such a lifeless performance from Newcastle and then have that final kick in the nuts on 96 minutes…… Well, I just hope those that stayed down there at least had a decent night out! I was as pissed off as the next Mag, but didn’t have to negotiate my way back to Tyneside.

After two games, with only a point to show for our endeavours I guess there are plenty of other teams you’d pick to play next in place of a somewhat rejuvenated looking Chelsea. They’ve started pretty well, with a straightforward victory at Huddersfield and then earning local bragging rights as they dispatched Arsenal in a five goal thriller at Stamford Bridge. Six goals in two games? I might have to dig out my man sized Pampers for this one.

Where do Rafa’s Mags go from here? What can he do to get us back on the front foot? Does he need to shuffle his pack?

Despite the shitty hand Tubby Johnson dealt him (once more) this Summer, our Manager does have a number of new players to call on. It’s a bit of a head scratcher to see Messrs Joselu & Clark having so much game time whilst Rondon and the two new Centre Halves either watch from the bench or the Stand.

Ayoze Perez was one of the reasons we climbed the league in early to mid 2018. However, when he reverts to type he can be such a frustrating player to watch. He’s flounced around in our first two games, losing possession, twisting at officials and generally achieving little. Would now be the time to introduce Muto properly?

When we easily defeated an out of sorts looking Chelsea at the back end of last Season, our Midfield pairing of Shelvey & Diame comprehensively held sway. Jonjo has started this season very well in my opinion. He had a decent game v Spurs and stood out like a diamond in the rough during the Cardiff slog. His partner (not literally), Mo has had a go, but has looked a little leggy, particularly at Cardiff. We have Ki waiting in the wings. A player who has had a previous successful relationship with Shelvey (again, not literally) at Swansea City. Could this be his opportunity?

Finally, I don’t like to be a Nasty Pastie but I hope not to have to watch Manquillo again. If our friends down the road wouldn’t mind giving us our £4.5M back, that would be nice! I’m not going to go too gung-ho about some of our Geordie youth as I haven’t seen much / any of them playing. However, I have watched a bit of the U23 5-0 demolition of sunderland and reading some Twitter / Chron opinions, I can’t help feeling that Jamie Sterry might be a better stand in if Yedlin is still fettled. If our American Soccer guy is ok to get back on the team roster, then Sterry for the Mannequin on the bench?

Likewise, I know he’s now suspended for this game but is there much point in using Hayden when he so clearly wants to be away? Rafa apparently halted a loan exit to Pompey for Sean Longstaff. I urge you, if you can find some footage via the internet, watch his amazing ball through for the 5th goal v the mackems. It’s absolutely superb. Perhaps, he is worth a place on the bench too?

The point I’m trying to make is that Rafa has some options. With Kenedy also missing this weekend, surely now is the time to change things around a little? To have any chance on Sunday we need to be more than just hardworking and compact. We need to have more threat going forward.

Chelsea have some excellent players, particularly in the attacking sense. However, a scan at the highlights of their game v the Gunners will show you that they can certainly be got at. How Arsenal didn’t score five, only the likes of Aubameyang & Mkhitaryan know. Some of the Chelsea defending looked pretty ropey.

Once more, the bookies will have our superior opposition as clear favourites. Their new properly radge looking coach, Sarri will have them up for it. And with Hazard, Pedro et al flying at us, it’s hard to see them not notching once or twice. However, I believe that some of the changes I’ve mentioned above will be made by Rafa and I actually fancy us to get something out of the game.

I’m going for an entertaining 2-2er in this one…..


Nick Clark
@Clark5Nick on Twitter