Newcastle United v Blackburn Rover - Match Preview
Wednesday night`s visitors are Blackburn Rovers, led by former Toon manager Sam Allardyce. Can he stop the Mapies` winning run?
Chris Hughton will seek to extend his winning league run to 4 games, the best since Glen Roeder for Newcastle. The task is not an easy one against a club who have done well at St James` in the Premier League years getting results on 9 out of 14 matches as well as 3 cup draws. Hughton is the 7th manager in 7 games against Blackburn, none of them being Allardyce.
The Mags have not won this fixture in 4 attempts, the last victory coming in John Carver`s sole game in charge. The subsequent 4 defeats have come under 4 different Newcastle managers, with former Man Utd team mates, Hughes and Ince being responsible for Blackburn`s success. In 14 Premier League matches, the home side have only won 5, with 3 draws in the cups.
Sam Allardyce will be remembered for a style of football that all Newcastle supporters want to forget. In 11 Premier League games with Blackburn this season, they have yet to score more than twice, a feature that will also be remembered by the home supporters.
In fact, in the 70 league games since he was appointed, Blackburn have only hit 3 on 3 occasions, his first match against Stoke in their first top flight season for which he can claim little credit, ominously last season against a newly promoted Burnley, as well as, yes, the 2009 game against Newcastle at Ewood Park. The only win on the road this season was against promoted Blackpool.
Alardyce then will carry his own brand of self belief into the match. Opinionated as he is, the first name on the team sheet will be the goalkeeper who Sam has stated should be the England number 1, once error strewn Paul Robinson. Otherwise he will probably want to keep the same team that beat Wigan on Saturday, as far as possible.
The defensive line up sees another giant set to line up against Carroll, Congolese Christopher Samba. World Cup New Zealand sensation is set to join him in the shape of Ryan Nelson along with young English prospect, Phil Jones. On the right, we expect Spanish veteran, Salgado, who should at least understand his opposite numbers. Givet is the other defender who could feature.
Dunn is available for a return to midfield, having come on as a second half sub last time out. Former Newcastle target, Bett Emmerton is set for a midfield role with Pederson wide left where he has caused damage to Newcastle in the past. The much loved El Hadji Diouf will also be prominent.
p front, a Manchester United loanee, Mame Biram Diouf will play a part, probably alongside another scorer against Newcastle and former Toon target, Jason Roberts, starting in the absence of the injured Benjani.
Chris Hughton will also be likely to stick with a winning team as far as possible. Tim Krul now seems to have adapted to the pace of the Premier League and looks like making the goalkeeping jersey his own.
Defensive talisman, Simpson is set to keep his place, having been on the losing side in only one of his 41 starts at right back. He has never been on the losing side with Williamson, Coloccini and Enrique. Sol Campbell and Steve Taylor may have to wait their turn.
Barton will probably continue on the left as Tiote has made the holding role his own and Nolan is after all, joint top Premier League scorer. Gutierrez has little competition on the left. Hoping to play a part if Barton or Tiote pick up their 5th booking of the season will be Guthrie and Routledge, with Sam signing Smith also an option.
Up front, just a goal behind Nolan is his lodger, sharing the 6 goal honours with the exalted Berbatov, Drogba and Bent. Shola should continue although he did confess a doubt as to how often his injuries will allow him to play. This could allow a reversion to 4-5-1, but Ranger seems to be the preferred back up at the moment, despite Lovenkrands` impressive record of 12 goals in 12 home starts this year.
Referee for the occasion is Mike Jones who has a mixed record in his 3 Newcastle matches to date. The first was a defeat away at Man City, the next a 4-0 away win at Ipswich. His last outing was Newcastle`s last home defeat, against Stoke City.
Predicting the result becomes tough, given the strength of Rovers` record at St James`. Blackburn have not gained more points off any other Premier League club, in the same way that the next opponents, Fulham, have not gained more away wins against any other Premier League team.
So far this season Blackburn have followed each win with a defeat. Barton has pointed out that Newcastle are the "coupon busters", so anything is possible. It is hard to see a home defeat with the spirit of this team. Despite a defensive strength, Blackburn have yet to keep a clean sheet on the road, Newcastle scoring in every home game apart from Blackpool.
On balance, a draw or home win seem the most likely outcomes. In any event, the contrast of patient build up play from Hughton, with organised defence and percentage play from Allardyce will allow Hughton to show that he has learned from the Stoke debacle, and be even more worthy of a new contract than he has been in the last 3 games.
Newcastle v Blackburn at home:
68 W39 D16 L13 F125 A70
50 W30 D7 L13 F98 A59
remier League years
14 W5 D4 L4 F18 A14
Newcastle (from): Krul, Soderberg, R. Taylor, Simpson, Ferguson, Enrique, Coloccini, Williamson, S. Taylor, Campbell, Kadar, Smith, Tiote, Barton, Routledge, Gutierrez, Guthrie, Vuckic, Tavernier, Donaldson, Nolan, Carroll, Ameobi, Lovenkrands, Ranger.
Blackburn (from): Robinson, Nelsen, Samba, Salgado, Jones, Givet, Olsson, Pedersen, Dunn, Emerton, EH Diouf, MB Diouf, Kalinic, Roberts, Chimbonda, Hoilett, Linganzi.