Di Matteo expecting tough test against ‘impressive’ Newcastle

The interim Chelsea boss stressed that "every game is a must-win" as the Blues look to secure a top-four finish, and confirmed that Gary Cahill and David Luiz remain sidelined
Chelsea manager Roberto Di Matteo is predicting a tough test when his side entertain Newcastle on Wednesday evening.

The Blues face Alan Pardew’s men at Stamford Bridge knowing that anything but a win will seriously damage their hopes of a top-four finish this season.

Barring a shock 4-0 defeat to Wigan on Saturday, the Tyneside outfit have been in excellent form of late, and Di Matteo is expecting a difficult encounter in what he perceives to be the first of three "must-win" games.

He told the club’s official website: “Every game is a must-win. We have to try our best, they have been in good form, on a very impressive run and it will be a tough game.

“They have a very good squad, quality individuals, good goalscorers, so I'm not very surprised, they've done very well this season.

“Papa Cisse is a very good player, he's had a big impact, both at Newcastle and in the Premier League. He's not the only one, though – they have Ben Arfa, Demba Ba, Cabaye, Tiote, a very strong team.

“We all have an equal chance, the same amount of games to play, it will be difficult because at the end of season you play against teams who are fighting against relegation, so it's tough.”

Di Matteo confirmed that Chelsea have few injury concerns ahead of a crucial phase of the season in which they face an FA Cup final date with Liverpool before the Champions League final meeting with Bayern Munich at Allianz Arena.

“Gary Cahill and David Luiz are still out, but they are the only two injuries we have,” the 41-year-old said.

“We need to check their progress on a daily basis, but we have Branislav Ivanovic back from suspension and we have a few options.

“They're progressing well, but it's impossible to put a date on it, hopefully they will be ready before the Champions League final.”

Fernando Torres bagged his first Chelsea hat trick in Sunday’s 6-1 rout of QPR, and his manager admitted he was delighted to see a number of players hitting form at the right time.

“I was always happy with him,” he continued. “As a manager, I don't care who scores, but for a striker scoring goals is vital for confidence. Everyone is scoring at the moment and that's great for the club that we have so many options.

“It's not about one player, it's about the team, we are in a good moment with good momentum, the players enjoying it on the pitch, nothing else matters.”

Roy Hodgson was confirmed as the new England boss on Tuesday afternoon, despite months of speculation linking Harry Redknapp with the job.

And Di Matteo, who preceded Hodgson as West Brom manager, believes the 65-year-old is the right man to take on a tough job.

“They are two very good candidates, it's a difficult job for anybody,” he added. “He's a gentleman, a very good coach and has all the experience needed for the national team.

“He has a lot of respect in every country; he has worked in Switzerland, Italy and England. He's a nice man who gets results wherever he goes. Roy has got so much more experience than me, and he's moulded a very good Premier League team.”