Sun, Feb 20, 2005 - Page 22 News List

Newcastle to face Chelsea in FA Cup

EUROPEAN FOOTBALL Beating the Blues would help to salvage an otherwise bad season and avenge a 4-0 loss to Chelsea in December, who dominate the league

AP , LONDONAP, PARISAP, KIEV, UKRAINE

This is Newcastle's shot at stopping Chelsea's quest for four titles.

The Blues have already reached the League Cup final against Liverpool and, with a nine-point lead in the Premier League, most have conceded them that trophy, too.

To stay alive in the other two competitions, Chelsea must survive Newcastle in the FA Cup and Barcelona in the Champions League.

First comes Newcastle today at St. James' Park.

The Magpies are hungry going into the fifth-round match.

"We are at Newcastle United, it's a big, big club and we haven't won anything for a long time," said Newcastle assistant manager Alan Murray. "We are working very hard to make sure we change that."

Newcastle hasn't won the top-league in England since 1927, and it's been 50 years since the club won the FA Cup.

Beating Chelsea would salvage a bad season and avenge a 4-0 loss to the Blues in December.

Seven other FA Cup fifth-round matches are set for this weekend.

Newcastle should be buoyed by Thursday's 2-1 victory at Heerenveen in the first-leg of the round of 32 in the UEFA Cup. Alan Shearer and Lee Bowyer scored for the Magpies.

Newcastle hopes to recall midfielder Nicky Butt, who has been out with an ankle injury, and forward Kieron Dyer. Dyer missed Thursday's game with a viral infection.

Chelsea can't afford to look ahead to Wednesday's high-profile match at Barcelona. For many, it's the most anticipated game of the season, pitting Chelsea's Jose Mourinho -- who won the Champions League last season with Porto -- against Barca and coach and former Dutch star Frank Rijkaard.

The other big match of the weekend comes Saturday when Wayne Rooney returns to Everton with Man United.

Rooney is sure to get a rude welcome at Goodison Park.

The 19-year-old England striker grew up as an Everton fan, joined the club and then left in the offseason in a ?27-million (US$50.7 million) move to Manchester United.

Interestingly, Everton struggled with Rooney. But without him this season, the Toffees are holding down fourth place -- which would yield a Champions League place next season.

Everton will have a striker problem.

New signing James Beattie starts a three-game suspension after last weekend's red card against Chelsea. Australian forward Tim Cahill is also banned and Duncan Ferguson, who has a habit of scoring against the Reds, is doubtful because of a back injury.

Midfielder Mikel Arteta is likely to get his first start after moving from Spanish team Real Sociedad.

Ruud Van Nistelrooy is likely to return to the Man U bench after being out for two months with an Achilles tendon problem. Van Nistelrooy could test his fitness Saturday, preparing for a starting debut against Barcelona.

The only other fifth-round game to feature two Premier League teams is Bolton vs. Fulham, while five more meet clubs from the lower divisions.

Because of the cup action, no Premier League games are scheduled this weekend while Championship League leader Ipswich, which holds a five-point advantage, has a tricky game against fourth-place Preston on Friday.

Second-place Wigan hosts Leeds on Saturday with third-place Sunderland visiting Brighton.

Jeremy Clement scored in injury time to help first-place Lyon salvage a 1-1 draw at Monaco on Friday.

Clement headed in Juninho's cross just seconds before the game's end, depriving Monaco of a win that would have reignited the championship race in the French first division. Lyon leads with 53 points after 26 rounds of matches. Monaco is in third place, nine points behind, and has played one fewer match than Lyon.

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