Tonight’s home game against Blackburn Rovers is another very important game for Newcastle, and we’ll get a chance to see just how good this team really is.
Yes, we know, we say that stuff for every game, but it’s also true that every single league game is important for Newcastle this season, so we can achieve our goal of being in the Premier League next year at this time.
However, what has happened over the last three games, which we have won, and two of those games were away from home, is not only have the lads been playing some of the best football seen at Newcastle for many a year, but the lads are now in 5th position in the league, as high as we’ve been since the great Bobby Robson was managing Newcastle.
Blackburn at home is a game we would expect to win, so because we’ve often not done that this season, tonight could be a difficult game to get the 3 points, but we’re sure that manager Hughton is drumming into his players to forget the last two games, the 5-1 pounding of Sunderland, and the great display to take all three points at the Emirates, and only concentrate on what’s in front of them, and that’s a tough Blackburn Rovers tonight.
Newcastle will be playing 3 games in 6 days, and therefore Chris will need to start using his squad, and not give certain players too much playing time, because injuries could then happen, and that’s why we’ve got a good squad in any case, so we can get through heavy periods like this.
Newcastle do not have many new injuries, and we’d still be surprised if Chris doesn’t start the same team for the 4th game running, and we expect the line-up to be as follows.
Simpson Coloccini Williamson Enrique
Barton Nolan (c) Tiote Gutierrez
Subs: Soderberg Campbell Taylor (S) Taylor (R) Guthrie Lovenkrands Ranger
One of the problems Chris has right now, with most players now fit, is finding room on the bench for some of his established men, so no room on the bench for Routledge, Smith, Perch, Kadar, Smith, Xisco, Vuckic or a fit again Best.
We’re fairly sure Chris will start with an unchanged side, but not sure what the bench will exactly look like tonight, to be truthful.
We expect Chris Hughton to play 4-4-2 more often now that Cheick Tiote is so dominant for Newcastle in the middle of the park, and who would have thought we would ever have played a 4-4-2 formation at Arsenal? And won the game too?
But the manager has shown he can be very courageous in his team selections, and Chris always goes for all 3 points, and he’ll have a game plan worked out to win tonight, based on what he’s seen of Blackburn this season.
We expect big Sam’s side to play a very defensive game, and make it very difficult for Newcastle to score, so an early goal will be all important for the Magpies, although if it doesn’t come, the lads will have to be very patient. A winner scored in the last minute will still get the side all 3 points.
Blackburn do not score many goals, and have just 11 goals in their 11 league games so far, with just 5 of those coming away from home, where they’ve only won one and drawn one in their 5 games on the road.
So it may not take many goals to get the win tonight, but one key to this game is that Newcastle continue to play very well and very tight in defense, and no mistakes.
And then maybe we can even get our second clean sheet in a row, and only the second one since Steve Harper was injured in the 1-0 win at Everton.
That’s one thing we have not been too good at in the league, with only 3 clean sheets in 11 league games so far – and that’s not enough. The other clean sheet was in the 6-0 hammering of Aston Villa in our very first home game of the season, back in August.
If we hadn’t done so poorly at home against Blackpool, Stoke and Wigan this season, we would be expecting a win tonight, but we know we cannot take anything for granted with this Newcastle side – yet.
But the target for tonight is all 3 points, however we can do it, and if we can win, then it would be terrific if we could also keep a clean sheet.
And if we can get the 3 points, and Man United can beat Man City at Eastlands, then we’ll be up to 4th position in the Premier League.