Chelsea try and try and try to pull themselves out of the fire, but their feet keep getting singed more and more. They've played better since Guus Hiddink took over as manager, but they've still managed just one win in their last five matches and three in their last nine. They have yet to lose in that time, yes, but Chelsea players and fans alike will definitely be hoping for all three points against Newcastle on Saturday as they try to pull further away from the relegation zone and closer to dignity.
Newcastle won't be a walkover, though. Chelsea had to rely on a dramatic late comeback against them at St. James' Park in September to just get a draw, and while the Magpies have had plenty of their own struggles since then -- they sit just one point clear of the relegation zone, after all -- they're also coming off a big win and have the extra edge of desperation to help push them through. This will be by no means an easy game for Chelsea, and they're going to have to fight tooth and nail to get that much-needed win.
Key player -- Georginio Wijnaldum (Newcastle)
Wijnaldum beat the daylights out of Chelsea when last these teams met, but at the time he was in an incredible vein of form that included him scoring four goals in a single match not long after that. He's been colder of late, failing to find the back of the net in almost a month, but he's put in a couple of good performances since then even if he hasn't scored. Crucially, the same midfield woes that let him run rampant on Chelsea still exist, so if he can find some of the same gaps he did earlier in the season -- well, it could be a very long and bad day at the office for Chelsea's defense if he does.
Key matchup -- John Terry (Chelsea) vs. Gary Cahill (Chelsea)
That looks odd because it's two players from the same team, and partners in central defense even, but keep with it for a moment. Terry and Cahill used to have an excellent partnership for Chelsea, but this season it just hasn't worked very well. They're rarely on the same page, they don't cover for each other well, and they make a lot of mistakes in both communication and teamwork that they never used to. With Kurt Zouma out injured, these two need to fix their problems and fix them very quickly, or Chelsea will end up with a result that they really don't want from this match.
Chelsea injuries and suspensions
Out: Kurt Zouma, Radamel Falcao In doubt: Diego Costa, Loic Remy
Newcastle injuries and suspensions
Out: Paul Dummett, Chancel Mbemba, Siem De Jong, Kevin Mbabu, Vurnon Anita, Massadio Haidara, Tim Krul, Gabriel Obertan, Curtis Good In doubt: Daryl Janmaat, Jack Colback,
Match Date/Time: Saturday, 12:30 p.m. ET, 5:30 p.m. local
Venue: Stamford Bridge, London, England
TV: NBCSN (U.S. - English), NBC Universo (U.S. - Spanish), Sportnet One (Canada), Sky Sports 1/HD (U.K.)
Online: NBC Sports Live Extra (U.S.), Sportsnet World Now (Canada), Sky Go (U.K.)