Newcastle return to Carling Cup action against Blackburn at Ewood Park this evening, with a place in the Quarter Final being the prize for the winner of the game.
Newcastle have faced Scunthorpe and Nottingham Forest away from home so far in the cup this season and have been triumphant in both of them after extra time. 120 minutes will be something that we’ll be aiming to avoid this time with a big game up against Stoke on Monday.
Blackburn have been lucky enough to have played both of their cup games this season at home, and they’ve beaten Sheffield Wednesday and Leyton Orient to get to this stage in the competition.
Newcastle currently sit 4th in the Premier League table level on points with Chelsea and just a point behind last year’s Champions Manchester United. However Blackburn’s start to the season has been completely different and they currently sit bottom of the table after a 2-1 home defeat to Tottenham. The poor league position and fan protests is something which in normally linked with Newcastle, it’s a nice change to see problems like that elsewhere.
These two teams have met already this season with Newcastle coming out victorious in a 3-1 win with Demba Ba scoring a hat trick and “Junior” Hoilett scoring for the visitors.
Newcastle are still unbeaten in all competitions this season and will be looking to carry on that record in a competition that Pardew and the boys are looking to win. Saying that, I still expect some changes to be made from Saturdays side that beat Wigan.
Reports coming out of the press are suggesting that Steve Kean will make plenty of changes for the Carling Cup game in order to focus on the league, which they’re currently struggling in.
Blackburn could again be without veteran full back Michel Salgado after the ex-Real Madrid man missed the 2-1 defeat to Tottenham at the weekend with a hamstring problem. Central midfielder David Dunn and centre back Ryan Nelsen also remain sidelined by injuries.
Vince Grella and Scott Dann also are out of the fifth round cup tie leaving Rovers short of options at the back and in midfield. Steven N’Zonzi is suspended for the game after picking up his 5th yellow card of the season against Tottenham on Sunday.
The Rovers boss is expected to choose from: Robinson, Bunn, Olsson, Samba, Givet, Lowe, Hanley, Anderson, Ribeiro, Pedersen, Petrovic, Vukcevic, Aley, Cotton, Rochina, Hoilett, Formica, Blackman, Yakubu, Goodwillie, Roberts.
I’d expect Newcastle to pick a stronger team than they did against Nottingham Forest but not quite their strongest team against Blackburn. I imagine that most of our fringe players and returning stars will be given a run out.
Newcastle are once again without long term absentee Mike Williamson who is struggling to recover from an injury he picked up against Scunthorpe in the second round of this competition.
News this week was brought to our attention that Shola Ameobi would miss 4-6 weeks with a hamstring strain which he picked up against Wigan. That leaves us without the option of a “big man” off the bench. Cheik Tiote also picked up an injury at the weekend and is racing against the clock to be fit for the Stoke game on Monday.
Steven Taylor is also reportedly going to miss the game against Blackburn after breaking his nose in a clash of heads in the Wigan game at the weekend. That should give an opportunity to James Perch who was my Man of the Match in the Carling Cup tie against Nottingham Forest.
Tim Krul and Rob Elliot are vying for the goalkeeping spot for this game as Steve Harper has moved to Brighton on a one month loan deal to get some game time under his belt.
The likes of Davide Santon, Sylvain Marveuax, Hatem Ben Arfa and Dan Gosling are players I’d expect to start as they’re on the fringes of the team and trying to play their way back to full fitness. Haris Vuckic, Mehdi Abeid and Sammy Ameobi will all also be in the managers thinking and will at least make the bench.
Possible Newcastle line up; Rob Elliot, Davide Santon, James Perch, Fabricio Coloccini, Shane Ferguson; Dan Gosling, Yohan Cabaye, Danny Guthrie, Sylvain Marveuax; Hatem Ben Arfa, Leon Best.
Facts and Stats
Blackburn won the only previous League Cup encounter, beating Newcastle on penalties in the fourth round in the 1998-99 season.
Blackburn were unbeaten in seven games against Newcastle until their 3-1 defeat at St James’ Park in September.
Blackburn won this competition in 2002, but that was when they’re manager wasn’t the second worst manager in the league, behind the legendary Steve Bruce.
Blackburn have not beaten a Premier League team in the cup since eliminating Chelsea on penalties in 2009.
Last season was the first time in four years that Blackburn failed to make the quarter finals, something which Newcastle haven’t done in the last four years.
Newcastle have never won the League Cup.
Newcastle have only managed two wins and one draw from their last five visits to Ewood Park. The draw was a 0-0 one last season when we completely outplayed them and failed to score, Lovenkrands hitting the bar with a golden opportunity. That was actually the last time Jose Enrique put in any effort for the club.
Newcastle have won their last four away games in the competition against Accrington Stanley, Chelsea, Scunthorpe and more recently Nottingham Forest.
The referee is Robert Madely and he’s officiating in his first Newcastle game, hopefully he’ll give us a couple of kind decisions as a first game treat. The game is an 8pm kick off UK time and there will be 3,000+ Newcastle fans making the trip, anybody else looking to go can purchase tickets on a cash turnstile at Blackburn.
There is no UK TV or overseas TV streaming so I have a feeling it’s going to be a real struggle to find a stream, and people who don’t live in Newcastle may even struggle to get a radio stream and be stuck with the inevitable Blackburn loving on Sky Sports News, the joys. A highlights show is on at 11:20 on BBC1, which will definitely be worth a watch if it’s a positive result, we’ll be one of the last on mind.
I’m optimistic but also nervous for this game, it’s a potential banana skin against a team who are bottom of the league but we should be able to create chances and score goals against a shaky defence. This is a decent tie and we’ve avoided the bigger teams in the competition so this is a winnable passage into the quarter final if we play to the best of our ability.
Howay the lads!