Blackburn beat Newcastle 2-1 at St. James’ Park back on Wednesday 10th November, and it proved to be sweet revenge for former Newcastle manager Sam Allardyce.
But Blackburn were helped immensely in that game by sloppy defensive work from the Magpies, the same sloppy defending that saw Newcastle 4-0 down at home last Saturday after just 25 minutes.
This time Cheick Tiote made his first serious mistake in a black and white shirt, when he tried to dribble his way out of the penalty area after just 3 minutes, and was caught in possession and Newcastle were 1-0 down.
Another sloppy goal was conceded in the second half, when a high ball was played though the center and that was Blackburn gifted a second goal which turned out to be the winner.
Both clubs have new managers since that time, with Alan Pardew coming in for the sacked Chris Hughton, who couldn’t agree terms yesterday to take over WBA, and former Liverpool and Fulham manager Roy Hodgson got the job.
Steve Keen took over from the sacked Sam Allardyce at Blackburn Rovers in December.
After last Saturday’s heroics at St. James’ Park, it’s small wonder that manager Alan Pardew wants a more solid display from the Newcastle side tomorrow and a 1-0 win would be just great.
And there’s no doubt that one big key to the game tomorrow for Newcastle is for the defense to be a lot more solid than it was last Saturday, when in that first half it looked just pathetic. If the fantastic turnaround hadn’t happened last Saturday, let’s face it we would have talked a lot more about relegation this week.
We have to hope that most of the poor football played by Newcastle last week in that first half was in the mind, with Andy Carroll leaving the club, but from now on this Newcastle side have to start picking up points, and wins would be very nice.
With Andy gone, and Shola out of the side with his injured cheekbone, Newcastle brought in new boy Shefki Kuqi yesterday, and we expect the 34 year old experienced striker to be on the bench tomorrow afternoon.
And indeed we expect manager Alan Pardew to keep the same side that got Newcastle into big trouble in the first half last week, and then miraculously got Newcastle out of trouble – all within 90 minutes of pure drama – in a game that will go down in the annals of history as one of the greatest comebacks ever by the Newcastle United club.
Ben Arfa, Ryan Taylor, Steven Taylor, Dan Gosling, Shola Ameobi, Stephen Ireland and Phil Airey are all out injured right now, and will not take part in tomorrow’s game.
We are hoping that both Leon Best and Nile Ranger will both be fit, after both had to withdraw from International games in midweek.
This is the side we expect Alan Pardew to field tomorrow afternoon:
Simpson Coloccini Williamson Enrique
Barton Nolan (c) Tiote Gutierrez
Subs: Krul Perch Ferguson Campbell Guthrie Ranger Kuqi
Last week it was set plays where Newcastle were really dangerous, and completely dominated Arsenal in that second half.
And we have to hope that tomorrow, that’s where we will set up most of the chances, and certainly in the second half all the lads last week showed great determination and character.
We’d like to see that from the very first whistle tomorrow afternoon, and not be 4-0 down when the lads finally decide to start playing, or when they get a blast from manager Alan Pardew.
Newcastle and Blackburn are both on 31 points, with Newcastle having a much better goal difference and having played one game less than Rovers, so these games are important to win, but the last thing we want is to drop all 3 points against a side beneath us in the league.
In order to win the game tomorrow, Newcastle will need to get off to a good start, and then defend solidly and hope that Best, Lovenkrands and then Nile Ranger in the second half, and maybe even Shefki Kuqi, can get some goals.
It’s a really important game tomorrow, because with just 13 games to go in the league, and Newcastle only 5 points above the drop zone, the next few games will be very important to Newcastle’s season.
And since Blackburn have already taken 3 points off Newcastle this season, it would be very nice to even up the score.
A win would be absolutely terrific, and what we are hoping for tomorrow afternoon.