Chelsea-Newcastle United Preview

Chelsea head coach Graham Potter has credited Eddie Howe with "galvanising" Newcastle United ahead of his team's visit to St James' Park on Saturday.

The Blues sit seventh in the Premier League with 21 points after suffering back-to-back defeats, and are six points adrift of third-placed Newcastle with a game in hand as the World Cup break looms.

Asked whether Newcastle's development was ahead of schedule following their emergence as top-four contenders, Potter was quick to credit his counterpart.

"I think it's a reflection of the job Eddie Howe has done," he said. "They're good in all phases of the game. I really like what they're doing and how they're playing. I could speak for half an hour about how nice Eddie is and how much I admire him, because he's galvanised the team and the club is moving forward.

"Everyone will feel better if we can get the three points before the break, but we know that Newcastle will be fighting for them too. It will be an exciting game."

This week, Newcastle were boosted by the news that three of their players will represent England at the World Cup, with Callum Wilson joining regulars Nick Pope and Kieran Tripper in the Three Lions' squad.

Wilson has made a fine start to the season, scoring six goals in 10 Premier League appearances, and Howe was delighted to see his form rewarded.

"Callum has had a difficult career. It has not always been about successes. He's risen from the lower leagues to the national side for a World Cup," Howe said. "It has been brilliant to witness first-hand, and when you see how it has been achieved… it's the dedication and consistency of his work, a positive mindset.

"The lads were really pleased for him, he is a popular member of the squad. Not just for Callum, but others too. You can never take being in that squad for granted."

PLAYERS TO WATCH

Newcastle United – Kieran Trippier

Only Kevin De Bruyne (45) and Andreas Pereira (34) have created more chances for team-mates in the Premier League this season than Trippier (32). The England full-back's tally of 32 chances created is at least twice as many as any other Newcastle player has recorded this season.

Chelsea – Raheem Sterling

Sterling has been involved in six goals in his last six Premier League appearances against Newcastle, scoring five and assisting one. Meanwhile, only against Bournemouth and Watford (nine each) has he bettered his tally of eight Premier League goals versus Newcastle.

KEY OPTA FACTS

- Newcastle United are playing a Premier League game starting the day in the top three for the first time since November 2011, when they lost 3-1 at league leaders Manchester City. This is the first time they're facing Chelsea while above them in the table since May 2012, when they won 2-0 at Stamford Bridge.

- Newcastle have won their last four Premier League games, last winning five in a row between October and November 2014. They have won their last two matches by 4-0 and 4-1 scorelines respectively, and last netted four goals in three consecutive league games in October 1961.

- Chelsea have lost their last two Premier League games, as many as they had in their previous 15 (W8 D5). The Blues haven't lost three consecutive league games since doing so in November 2015 under Jose Mourinho.

- Only five clubs have had fewer shots in the Premier League this season than Chelsea (151), with their average of 11.6 shots per game being their lowest on record in a single campaign (since 1997-98).

- Meanwhile, only Liverpool and Manchester City have had more shots than Newcastle (208) in the competition, with their average of 14.9 shots per game representing their highest since 2013-14 (15.2).