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English Premiership

Squad depth gives Chelsea edge

REMY-MARIBORNEWCASTLE, December 5- Chelsea striker Loic Remy believes his side’s convincing midweek victory over Tottenham Hotspur illustrated why the Stamford Bridge club are already clear favourites to land the Premier League title.

Jose Mourinho’s side travel to face Newcastle United on Saturday having consolidated their six-point lead at the head of the table with a 3-0 win over Spurs on Wednesday.

Remy, who made a goal-scoring appearance as a substitute against Mauricio Pochettino’s side, feels Chelsea are dominating the title race because of the squad’s strength in depth.

The win against Spurs was achieved without leading scorer Diego Costa, who was forced to sit out the game while he served a one-game suspension.

With the Spain international sidelined, Didier Drogba stepped in to lead the attack and found the target before making way for Remy in the second half.

And with Kurt Zouma deputising impressively for Gary Cahill after the England centre-back was forced off through injury, Remy believes the game highlighted the quality of Mourinho’s fringe players.

“We know the quality of Diego — he can score and is a really good striker. We like the way he’s playing. But this was a real opportunity for Didier and for me, to show we can win without Diego,” said the Frenchman.

“We need everybody. The squad is really strong and that makes the difference between us and the other teams.

“We will keep going to try and keep the distance from our closest opponent. It’s six points and that’s really good. We try to continue in this way.”

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Costa is expected to return against Newcastle, but Remy says he will be ready if Mourinho opts to field the France international against his former club.

“For me it’s important I took my chance,” he said. “Mourinho can count on me any time he wants. I want to play — that is why I work hard during training sessions.

“We have good strikers and the others are very professional. But every time the manager wants to use me, I try to do my best.”

– ‘Play our own game’ –

Chelsea return to the north-east seven days after dropping two points in a scoreless stalemate with Newcastle’s near neighbours Sunderland.

Manchester City’s win at Southampton 24 hours later allowed the champions to move to within six points of the leaders and Manuel Pellegrini’s side will draw hope from the fact Mourinho has never won at St James’ Park.

However, despite Sunderland’s dogged performance against Chelsea, Newcastle captain Steven Taylor says that Alan Pardew’s side will not adopt the same stifling tactics.

“I watched the game between Sunderland and Chelsea, but this is going to be a totally different match,” said the former England Under-21 defender, whose side have lost only once in nine matches.

“We’re at home, and we’ll be going out to play our own game. We’re not really set up to be defensive and to put a lot of players behind the ball, and I’m not sure we’d want to do that anyway.

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“We’ll be playing our natural game and looking to be positive, because that’s the way we play.”

Having impressed as a second-half substitute in the 1-1 midweek draw at Burnley on his return from a three-week injury lay-off, Taylor could partner Fabricio Coloccini at centre-back.

Winger Sammy Ameobi is struggling with a thigh problem, and Rolando Aarons is another week away from making his comeback following hamstring trouble.

But manager Pardew will be boosted by the availability of influential midfield duo Moussa Sissoko and Jack Colback after suspension.

“We’ve got one or two players coming back and it gives us further options,” said Pardew, whose side have prevailed in their last two home games against Chelsea.

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