The Magpies come up against their bogey team this weekend with Alan Pardew’s men yet to taste defeat in league and cup. The harmonious feeling that is now flowing through the club is a refreshing change from the drama and turmoil that usually makes the headlines. Credit should go to Pardew and chief scout Graham Carr for their recruitment drive this summer with Yohan Cabaye, signed for £4 million from French champions Lille, looking like an absolute steal. His performance in last week’s draw at Aston Villa was a joy to behold with the midfielder unlucky not to open his account for the club with former Magpies keeper pulling off three world class saves to deny him. Newcastle showed a growing resoluteness that is becoming a hallmark of Pardews reign and the manager seems to be able to squeeze every ounce of determination from his players. Tuesday’s 4-3 Carling Cup thriller at Nottingham Forest proved that with his troops refusing to give up eventually wining the tie in the dying embers of extra time through a Fabricio Coloccini goal. Another positive from that game was the return of Hatem Ben Arfa who appeared in black and white for the first time in nearly a year whilst fellow Frenchman Sylvain Marveaux also impressed giving Pardew a welcome selection headache.
What a difference a week makes with Blackburn now a high after two wins in the space a few days shifting some of the pressure from boss Steve Kean’s shoulders. The Scotsman pulled off an unlikely comeback to take all three points at home to Arsenal last week before seeing his side beat Leyton Orient 3-2 in the Carling Cup. It is certainly a massive turnaround for Kean who was the subject of protests before the game at Ewood Park last week. He definitely silenced his critics with Blackburn running out 4-3 winners gaining their first Premier League win of the campaign. It’s been a rough ride for Kean since he took over from Sam Allardyce but the signing of goal poaching Yakubu from Everton looks like a shrewd bit of business after he notched two on his debut. With confidence now beginning to rise a trip to Newcastle will provide a much sterner test although Kean should be positive of coming away with all three points with St James’ Park a welcome source of wins over the last few years. They recorded a 2-1 victory in this fixture last season and would certainly go for a repeat of that on Saturday.
Davide Santon, Alan Smith, Haris Vuckic and Mike Williamson are the only injury concerns for Newcastle.
Blackburn on the other hand welcome back David Goodwillie, Morten Gamst Pedersen and Michel Salgado. David Dunn and Ryan Nelson miss out on the trip to Tyneside.
Yohan Cabaye – The French midfield playmaker has made Kevin Nolan a distant memory at St James’ Park with his box-to-box style of play. Will be intent on breaking is Newcastle duck this weekend after last week’s duel with Given saw the keeper come out on top.
Junior Hoilett – With pace and skill in abundance the young winger could be deployed on the right to have a go at makeshift left back Ryan Taylor. Will be expected to get the ball down and run at the defender at every opportunity.
Fancy winning a million pounds??