Don’t know about you, but I’m getting sick of the sight of Blackburn Rovers! We’ve played them three times already this season and of course they were never off the TV screens during the really vicious fan protests against their manager Steve Kean and owners, the Venky chicken moguls of Pune in India.
Having said that, after the weird loss to them earlier in the season in the League Cup, we’ve since beaten them at St James’ Park in Premier League and the FA Cup so it would appear we have the measure of them. Let’s hope so, because Liverpool’s win last night sees them temporarily occupying the 5th spot that is rightfully ours.
I sympathise with Steve Kean, who I think has conducted himself professionally and with dignity during the period of nasty personal attacks he has had to endure. I feel for his family and friends too. I wish him well for the future and hope he justifies his position as Blackburn Manager and has a run of success. But Steve, if you’re reading this – can you start all that after tonight mate?
As I mentioned earlier, Liverpool’s win last night sees them, for 24 hours at least, occupying a fifth place in the table which will be ours if we play to our capabilites between now and the end of the season, and if our much-vaunted strike force can remain fit and score a hatful of goals. The only blot on the landscape is the club’s abject failure in the January Transfer Window to sign the central defensive cover we so clearly need. We’ll just have to keep our fingers crossed on Willo and Captain Colo – the latter of whom is beginning to show signs of wear and tear lately.
To this game then, three points are essential to keep our pre-eminent position amongst the Premier League’s so-called elite, and to keep the pressure on Sky telly, ITV and the BBC to occasionally acknowledge that the noisy lot from the North are actually still in there pitching. Nothing less will do. Get your team selection and tactics right Pardew – that’s your job.
Blackburn Team News
Steve Kean has no new injury worries ahead of the game. Centre-back Christopher Samba can be expected to return to the starting line-up after Kean refused to let him move on – but what state his head will be in is anybody’s guess. It remains to be seen whether any of the three players Blackburn brought in yesterday were registered in time to feature in this game.
Striker Ayegbeni Yakubu is suspended.
Newcastle United Team News
Our Senegal duo Demba Ba and Papiss Demba Cisse should be back on Tyneside today but it will apparently all be a little too late to be involved in the squad. Unless of course Pardew is pulling one of his fast ones?
Captain Coloccini will be available after shaking off the groin injury or knee injury (depending on who you believe) which kept him out of Saturday’s 1-0 FA Cup fourth round defeat at Brighton. Yohan Cabaye’s appeal against the ridiculous FA charge will be heard some time today, so if successful he may still feature in the team.
What The Managers Are Saying
Steve Kean: “We know Newcastle very well, We know they’re a team who could miss a few players (with the African Nations Cup), but we’ve only lost one game in the last five and we were unlucky we didn’t get a draw in that Stoke game. We went to the tough away games – Anfield, Old Trafford and Everton, got points from that and managed to beat Fulham with 10 men. We’re in a good vein of form and we’re confident we can keep the run going.
Alan Pardew“I’m disappointed with the result on Saturday, although I wasn’t disappointed with the performance, and the physical and mental technical stats were as good as we’ve had, the result was wrong and that’s something we’ve got to put right at Blackburn and against Villa. The next two games are very, very important.”
“We’re in such a great position to attack that top six, and that’s what we’ve got to do.”
I expect Alan Pardew to manufacture a win from this game, although I’m not sure where any United goals are going to come from. Leon Best couldn’t score in a night club with a blonde on either side (see previous article), and Shola? well, What do you think?
Blackburn Rovers (Likely Squad): Paul Robinson, Martin Olsson, Gael Givet, Scott Dann, David Dunn, Morten Ganst Pedersen, Radosav Petrovic, Steven Nzonzi, Jason Lowe, David Hoilett, David Goodwillie, Mark Bunn, Grant Hanley, Adam Henley, Mauro Formica, Simon Vukcevic, Ruben Rochina, Anthony Modeste, Chris Samba.
Newcastle United (Likely Squad): Tim Krul, Rob Elliot, Steve Harper, Danny Simpson, Ryan Taylor, Davide Santon, Shane Ferguson, James Perch, Fabricio Coloccini, Mike Williamson, Tamas Kadar, Yohan Cabaye, Gabriel Obertan, Hatem Ben Arfa, Jonas Gutierrez, Dan Gosling, Mehdi Abeid, Haris Vuckic, Leon Best, Shola Ameobi, Peter Lovenkrands.