Newcastle take on Blackburn Rovers in the 3rd round of the FA Cup this afternoon, and we have to hope we can win this game, to register our second win on the trot at St. James’ Park.
Newcastle will now be without Demba Ba and Cheick Tiote for up to the next six games, so a big question today will be whether Newcastle can score goals without Ba, who has scored Premier League 15 goals this season.
Certainly the terrific Yohan Cabaye goal from a free kick on Wednesday shows that Newcastle are a very good team from set plays, and maybe we can score some goals from them.
We expect Ryan Taylor to keep his position on the right wing this afternoon, because he looked good on Wednesday night and he’s a better right winger than he is a left back.
Set plays are also a Blackburn Rovers’ specialty with big Chris Samba always a threat on set plays with his tremendous heading ability.
We have to hope that Mike Williamson is in the same form again as he was on Wednesday night, when he seemed to win most balls in the air for the Newcastle defense, in the historic win over the Red Devils.
The keys for this game will be fairly simple – and the first one is if the Newcastle defense perform as solidly as they did on Wednesday night, against one of the top teams in Europe, when the lads looked so sold against Manchester United.
Blackburn Rovers should be less of a threat than a team with players like Rooney and Berbatov in it, so we are looking for another clean sheet if at all possible.
And then another big question is whether some of our players can get on the goal trail, as both Peter Lovenkrands and Leon Best did early last year when Andy Carroll surprisingly left for Liverpool.
It would be great if Newcastle can go on a good run in the FA Cup this season, because we showed on Wednesday that we can beat any side with our best eleven playing out there.
This is what manager Alan Pardew said yesterday about the FA Cup:
“I take it seriously because it has been a great for me. I haven’t won it but as a lesser team (Crystal Palace) we were seven minutes from winning it and West Ham did brilliantly to get to the final and we almost won it.”
“This team is better than those two teams, so we can win it. We need a bit of luck and to focus on the competition.” “Too many players in the Premier League don’t focus on this fixture.”
“They class the Premier League or Champions League above it and therefore you get the odd freak result and I am on my guard against that.” “I think in terms of the teams in the country right now, we have a chance of winning it.”
“There have been some situations which have devalued it, a lot which have been well documented. But for the likes of us, a team which is trying to grow and teams which realistically don’t have the depth of squad to win the title, which we haven’t, it’s a competition which you have to go and try to win.”
“You look at those bottom sides and they are probably thinking, ‘We don’t need a distraction of a Cup run’, but you still want that momentum.”
“Its a two-fold thing, but for those clubs who feel they have good stability in the Premier League you will attack it with everything.
“I think it would be nice if it went outside the top six, but it rarely does. The stats are amazing and show that when it gets to those final stages the top teams do focus on it, because it is very important for managers of those clubs to win trophies.”
“Liverpool, City, United, Arsenal, Chelsea – winning the FA Cup for any of those managers reinforces their philosophy and takes them forward for the next year.”
Newcastle have won the FA Cup six times in 1910, 1924, 1932, 1951, 1952 and 1955 and it’s about time we won it again.
We had gone over 10 years since we had last beaten Manchester United, and that was back in late 2001 when Roy Keane got in a fight with Alan Shearer because of sheer frustration near the end and was sent off, and that was when the great Bobby Robson was our manager.
It is definitely possible for Newcastle to end some of these winless streaks, and if we get a good draw in the FA Cup, it’s certainly possible to go on a good cup run.
The team for today will be the same side that started Wednesday with two players coming in for Cheick Tiote and Demba Ba.
We have to think that Leon Best will come straight in for Ba, and we think Haris Vuckic will get a start next to Yohan Cabaye, who we are assuming is fit, as he was said to have a tight thigh when he came off on Wednesday night.
So this is the starting eleven we think Alan could pick for today:
Simpson Coloccini (c) Williamson Santon
Taylor (R) Cabaye Vuckic Gutierrez
Subs; Elliot Perch Abeid Gosling Ameobi (Sa) Ben Arfa Obertan
We are assuming Danny Guthrie and Peter Lovenkrands are still not fit for this game, but they should be available maybe for next Saturday’s home game against 4th bottom QPR.
The London side will be without Joey Barton, who is on a three match ban for butting a Norwich player and rightly being sent off in the last game, and of course Joey is pleading his innocence again – but what’s new?
Still no room on the bench for 31 year-old Alan Smith, who continues to get £60K/week but cannot even make a seat on the bench on Tyneside.
If some club will come along and pay his wages he could end the last six months of his contract on loan at some other club, and he will be wanting to show his skills to get another contract at another club this summer, when he will become a free agent.
It’s very important that Newcastle win this game this afternoon, since a defeat will end our last chance of winning something this season.
And after Wednesday’s performance we can beat any team over 90 minutes – given we have our best team out there.
It’s possible Newcastle could win the FA Cup this season – but we need the luck of the draw and for our players to keep playing like they did when they demolished Manchester United three days ago.
Howay The Lads!!