Get set for a cracking match as the surprise package of the 2011-12 season; Newcastle United host misfiring former champions Chelsea in Saturday's early game. Andre Villa-Boas has already claimed this is a huge game for the Blues.

Before the season kicked off you’d have been forgiven for thinking this fixture was a three-point banker for the London club. However the first season for Andre Villa-Boas in charge of the Blues and Alan Pardew's first full season in charge of the black and whites has rewritten the rulebook. Newcastle United are above Chelsea in the league, and have the better recent form! This means that Saturday's lunchtime kick-off is technically a six pointer for a Champions League position.

History paints a very interesting picture

Out of the last five games (in all competitions) there have been three draws and two away wins; one for Newcastle and one for Chelsea. The last time these teams met (towards the end of last season) Newcastle recorded a worthy point in a 2-2 draw. The meeting before that at St James Park (as it was then called back in November 2010) ended with another scoredraw at 1-1.

Yohan CabayeIf you think this game will end drawn you can pick up soccer odds of 12/5 on the teams sharing the points come the final whistle. Looking at things another way; Newcastle have just taken a (1-1) point from Old Trafford, a ground where Chelsea recently lost 3-1…add those scores together (if you feel like it) and you get 4-2 to Newcastle, worth a LOL bet at 80/1. If you do want to bet on a draw avoid betting on 0-0 (even at 9/1), we know both sides can score and concede goals this season. Chelsea have scored nine in their six games away from home and Newcastle have scored 10 on home soil (those numbers average out to a 2-1 home victory, available at 12/1) . 

A rose by any other name…

It could be a match to match the occasion, as this is the first game played at the Stadium Formerly Known as St James’ Park. Andre Villas-Boas' Chelsea have won just one of their last four games in all competitions and face a Toon side who are yet to be beaten at home this season.

Newcastle boss Alan Pardew claimed that Chelsea will be intimidated by the home crowd on Saturday, "We have one of the big clubs coming to us and they will fear coming to us in front of 52,000 Geordies." The sportsbooks must think it’s possible as they have a Newcastle win at 14/5.

Newcastle were until recently one of the undefeated sides (home and away) in the Premiership, but in their last five games (in all competitions) you will see two wins, two losses and a draw, totalling just seven points. However it is worth mentioning that one loss was in the Carling Cup and the other was an away defeat to table topping Manchester City. Chelsea have recently been beaten by QPR (and Arsenal and Liverpool) in the League and were dumped out of the Carling Cup by Liverpool on Wednesday night. That Carling Cup exit was a doubly terrible defeat as it marks the second time Liverpool had beaten Chelsea inside 10 days, the other defeat being a 2-1 reverse in the league. Despite some shaky results Chelsea's last Premier League game was a resounding 3-0 demolition of Wolverhampton Wanderers that made it look as if normal service had been resumed.

Newcastle will need to remain steady at the back if they want to make Chelsea sweat. Newcastle United midfielder Yohan Cabaye is confident that the Magpies can get a result against Chelsea on Saturday, "We learned from the City game, we learned not to give Man United too much respect. Against Chelsea, we have to play like we did at Old Trafford.” If you fancy the Frenchman to back up his talk and be the first goalscorer he’s worth a punt at 14/1. However Newcastle are without a Premier League win against Chelsea in their last eight attempts, going all the way back to May 2006.That’s probably why a Chelsea win is available at Evens.

For balance, and because of Chelsea’s recent form, I also feel that if Newcastle open the scoring and go in leading at half-time they could well end the game taking all three points; Newcastle winning both halves is worth some soccer betting action at 11/2. The shortest half-time full-time odds with the sportsbooks are on Chelsea winning both halves at 11/5 and I think if they want to take all three points from their trip up north, they will have to get on the scoresheet early (as they did against Wolves) so this bet is also worth a couple of pounds. All in all I feel that Newcastle will put up a spirited fight against Chelsea, but won't (quite) take all three points. I'm backing a draw in this game.

Prediction: A 1-1 draw, available at 11/2.