Newcastle United and Chelsea continue their preparation for the upcoming Premier League season with a friendly battle at the Mercedes-Benz Stadium on Wednesday night.
While the Magpies head into the game in Atlanta having posted a 3-3 draw with Aston Villa, Chelsea defeated Brighton & Hove Albion in a seven-goal thriller over the weekend.
Eddie Howe witnessed his side secure Champions League qualification last season in part due to their formidable defensive record, yet that solidity has not been presented during three friendlies this summer.
Newcastle have conceded as many as six goals against Gateshead, Rangers and Aston Villa, although they have still come through those games with two victories and a draw.
After wins in the opening two fixtures, the Magpies went up against Villa on Sunday evening, coming back from 2-0 and 3-1 deficits to post a share of the spoils.
Howe’s side found themselves two goals down in the opening 11 minutes, an experimental back three proving ineffective, but the Englishman will be delighted with the character to fight back against potential top-four rivals in 2023-24.
Vast improvements will be expected against Chelsea, another team who arguably sit in the same bracket as Villa, but withstanding Mauricio Pochettino’s new-look team will be a tough ask.
With 13 players having departed the Blues since last season, this is also an experimental time for Pochettino as he assesses which younger players are suitable for the senior ranks next season.
Further signings will follow in due course, but the Argentine can only be left delighted with nine goals being scored against Wrexham and Brighton last week.
Chelsea’s cause versus the latter was helped by a second-half dismissal, with the West Londoners responding with a ruthless streak as Mykhaylo Mudryk and Nicolas Jackson responded with eye-catching efforts.
Pochettino made no secret of his displeasure at some of the goals that Chelsea conceded, and his defence will be pushed by a Newcastle side that are also full of goals.
Nevertheless, Chelsea seem to be growing in confidence in just a few weeks under Pochettino’s watch, leaving supporters salivating at the prospect of a much-improved period under the former Tottenham Hotspur boss