Following successive 2-1 losses at home v Spurs and Hull, Chris Hughton takes his rag-tag assortment of troops into battle at SJP knowing that a loss could leave the club bottom of the table by the end of the weekend. Quite simply billed as a relegation six-pointer for us in September tells the gravity of our current situation which it seems pretty difficult to get out of or your head around.
We go into the game off the back of four losses, a 3-0 trouncing by Arsenal followed by a 2-1 loss at home to Hull in ‘that` protest game. That was then followed up with a 3-1 reverse at the Boleyn v West Ham before Wednesday`s Carling Cup no-show v Spurs (2-1). Whilst there looks some comfort in the fact we`re scoring, Xisco`s reply v Hull and Owen`s pair v the Hammers and Spurs were little more than consolation strikes when the games were already long dead and buried.
As for the defence, 10 goals in four games might seem half decent in comparison to Portsmouth`s recent humpings but it belies the fact our back four is consistently chopping and changing, ensuring there is a total lack of cohesion and leadership. Left back continues to be the problem area, with Edgar, N`Zogbia and Bassong all failing dismally to perform in that slot. Enrique seems to have developed Marcelino Syndrome and inspires no-one with confidence whilst Taylor and Coloccini seem to be so far apart that you could herd a flock of sheep between them.
None so far from Hughton / Ince.
Newcastle Team News:
In terms of the squad, expect a bench of bairns as we attempt to muster a squad of 18 players. Confirmed as out are:
Martins, Beye, Viduka, Guthrie, Smith, Barton, Enrique and LuaLua.
That leaves a predictable team of:
Given, Geremi, Colo, Taylor, Bassong, Butt, Cacapa, Duff, N`Zogbia, Xisco, Owen.
Player to watch: Michael Owen
Our only hope for redemption.
Blackburn Team News:
For Rovers, confirmed as out are:
David Dunn, Vince Grella, Steven Reid, Aaron Mokoena and Benni McCarthy.
Paul Robinson is also struggling to make it in nets, meaning Jason Brown could be set for a start. Rovers lined up against Everton with:
Robinson (Brown 12), Simpson, Ooijer, Khizanishvili, Olsson, Villanueva (Roque Santa Cruz 72), Kerimoglu, Warnock, Treacy (Pedersen 75), Derbyshire, Fowler.
Subs Not Used: Samba, Nelsen, Kane, Roberts.
The previous league game saw the following team v Fulham:
Robinson, Simpson, Samba, Nelsen, Warnock, Emerton, Andrews, Pedersen (Kerimoglu 60), Treacy (Derbyshire 75), Roque Santa Cruz, Roberts (Villanueva 65).
Subs Not Used: Brown, Ooijer, Mokoena, Fowler.
Player to watch: Roque Santa Cruz
Definitely the man to watch with a fantastic record in his debut season in England. Surprised he never went to Spurs or Man City but that`s Blackburn`s gain.
Match Facts & Stats
Pinched from the BBC:
Crisis-ridden, up for sale Newcastle are on the longest current losing run in the Premier League and aiming to avoid a fourth successive league loss against a Blackburn side who’ve won their last eight Premier League trips to North-East clubs.
This match pits the joint bluntest attack in the highest league with one of the poorest defences.
Both these clubs faced Premier League opposition in the Carling Cup on Wednesday night; Blackburn put out Everton but Newcastle tumbled to a fourth successive domestic defeat, losing 1-2 to Tottenham in front of a paltry 20,577 at St James’ Park.
Blackburn are on the look-out for their fourth consecutive Premier League victory over Newcastle home and away, and their fourth on the spin at St James’ Park, having not conceded a single goal there since September 2004.
Newcastle are chasing their 50th league victory over Blackburn.
Distance between the clubs: 128 miles (206 kilometres)
A stagnant 1-1 draw.
Everton, Live on Sky, 4pm on Sunday 5th October.