Newcastle host Blackburn Rovers this Saturday at a sold out St James’ Park for Mick Lowes’ last commentary game on BBC Radio Newcastle. After 25 years of following Newcastle to virtually every game, but resisting the urge to swear at our defending, his retirement is well earned.
Blackburn, under the management of Owen Coyle sit just inside the relegation zone. Six years into the unpopular regime of the Venky family, Blackburn are struggling for attendances and performances, the latter not helped by the sale of a number of the star players. Jordan Rhodes goal presence, whilst overlooked at the Boro is missed at Ewood park.
Grant Hanley is not available to face his former team, joining Colbck and Aarons as confirmed injuries. Shelvey is available pending his misconduct hearing, also joining Dummett on the precipice of a one game ban for accumulating five yellows.
Blackburn can call on former Smoggie Marvin Emnes, but former mag Guthrie is out. Other absentees include Adam Hanley, Elliott Ward, Gordon Greer, Scott Wharton and Tommie Hoban.
I’ve went for some changes, because I feel Rafa will rotate in some players rested post the international break. I do think Shelvey will play with Colback out, as Rafa won’t take games for granted. Maybe Ritchie will get rested for Gouffran, the former wasn’t at his best at Leeds but along with Shelvey adds an extra level of creativity
Blackburn have a manager with experience, and he know what he has to do to win games.
We are doing well but before any game I send the same message: Focus on the game & 3 points. It is more important than ever.
Blackburn have played well recently. We’re talking about a good team that are in a bad position. We have to be concentrated.
It shows the strength of Newcastle’s squad that Grant, who we all know is a very good player and a really nice young man, has found himself on the bench and only started a few games.
But football can change quickly. In Grant’s case, when you are out of the team you have to make sure you are working your socks off on the training ground so when the chance presents itself you are ready to take the chance and stay in the team, irrespective of what club you are at.
BBC Radio Newcastle and also via beta.nufc.co.uk worldwide for free (if it works).
Want to discuss the game, before, during or after? Our discussion thread is the place. Well it’s a place for it, it’s not the only place strictly speaking.
After two weeks of thrill-a-minute international fixtures, boring old club football has returned. Newcastle travel to Elland Road with a strong compliment of support to take on a Leeds team that have been revitalised under Garry Monk. The Yorkshire team sit just outside the play off places and will be looking to claim their biggest scalp of the season so far while Newcastle will be hoping to further increase the gap between them and the chasing pack.
This fixture has produced some crackers in previous years, a 4-3 in 2001 with goals from Bellamy, Shearer, Elliott and Solano was a particular highlight. Historically Newcastle only just have the edge over Leeds having won 38 games to Leeds’ 37 and go into this match looking to extend an 8 game winning streak and match a record set in 1994.
Leeds are unbeaten in 5 and manager Garry Monk has never lost against Newcastle in his capacity as a manager.
The game will have special significance as both sets of fans plan to pay tribute to the late, great Gary Speed who died 5 years ago.
On international duty, Aleksander Mitrovic scored as Serbia rescued a point against Wales. Meanwhile Grant Hanley and Matt Ritchie suffered a loss against the best international side in footballing history. Hanley in particular came in for some strong criticism for his performance. Elsewhere Adam Armstong netted a hattrick for the England U-20s against Nigeria.
Perpetually injured Rolando Aarons is yet again injured and will now be out for the rest of the season. Jonjo Shelvey will be available after pleading not guilty to a charge of racial abuse towards Wolves player Roman Saiss however it is unclear whether Benitez will pick him. Matt Ritchie is once again available for selection after serving a one match ban.
It is unclear whether Dwight Gayle, who was involved in an unsavoury incident on a night out, will make the squad
Jesus Gamez, Achraf Lazaar, Rob Elliot, Massadio Haidara and Daryl Murphy are all still doubts however all have been in training recently.
Ireland international Eunan O’Kane is a doubt for Leeds as is former Sunderland midfielder Liam Bridcutt.
UK TV: Live on Sky Sports
beIN Sports 2 Australia/New Zealand
beIN Sports 11
Digi Sport 1 (Cz/Svk) +HD
Eleven HD (Belgium)
Eleven Sports Singapore
Eurosport 2 Russia
Fox Sports 2 Africa
SportKlub 1 (Serbia) +HD
SportsMax 2 (West Indies)
SuperSport 5 Africa
Viasat Sport Premium (Sweden)
Viasat Urheilu (Finland) HD
UK Radio: None
Local Radio: Live on BBC Radio Newcastle (available worldwide via NUFC TV club subscription service).
A tough game ahead, discussion thread is here.
After an October that featured a 100% win record and Mitro being generally mental, the Rafalution rolls on at St. James’, with optimism, attendances and general positivity all on the up. A home game against a Cardiff City side which picked up just 4 points in October and lost to Wigan 0-1 last week, then, should be another step in the right direction.
Cardiff’s latest manager, Neil Warnock AKA Colin w*****, will be celebrating his 1 month anniversary at the helm of the blue/redbirds, and is presumably already preparing himself for “eccentric” boss Vincent Tan’s next move – 6 managers in 6 years tells only half the story of a club run so shambolically that QPR under Tony Fernandes look positively balanced and forward-thinking. Sitting in 21st place with 15 points, 4 wins and just 13 goals to their name – with 23 goals against – this looks a daunting prospect for Craig Bellamy’s former club. By contrast, Newcastle are sitting top with 34 points, 32 goals scored and just 12 against.
The history of this fixture does not paint a great picture for Cardiff either – of the 54 meetings between the sides, Newcastle have won 25, to Cardiff’s 16 (with 13 draws). Added to this, with the exception of an 3rd round FA Cup victory at SJP in 2014, City have not won against the Toon since 1981 – a 1-0 win at their place. Our recent league meetings – in the 2013/14 season and the 2009/10 Championship season – have seen 4 Newcastle wins, by an aggregate score of 11-2 (bolstered considerably by our 5-1 win in February 2010).
In summary, all the stats and the history are pointing towards a Newcastle win – and with both Dwight Gayle and Mitro on fire, it would be brave to bet against them. In other words, this is the perfect opportunity for Newcastle to be Newcastle and lose 0-1.
Matt Ritchie misses out after collecting his fifth yellow of the season, but Jesus Gamez, Achraf Lazaar, Rob Elliot and Sadio Haidara could all be ready to return to the squad. Dwight Gayle may also return from a Hamstring injury – but it seems unlikely that Rafa would drop Mitrovic after four goals in two games against promotion-chasers Preston. Daryl Murphy remains a doubt.
Rickie Lambert is set to miss a second game due to a serious leg gash – depriving Cardiff of their joint second-top goalscorer (with 2 goals, alongside Peter Whittingham and Joe Ralls), with Anthony Pilkington (3 goals) leading the chart for the Bluebirds. Other danger men include Junior Hoilett and Marouane Chamakh (“danger” in the loosest sense of the word).
Gayle is fit. I am really pleased to have 2 players scoring goals. The competition is really good for the team & us. Mitrovic is a worker. Gayle is the same. As a manager you have to be really pleased with 2 strikers scoring goals. Both Gayle & Mitro can score goals & at some point can play together. I will not say well, but they can play together.
No complacency is what we are telling the players. I am happy because I can see the team progressing every week. He (Warnock) is a manager with great Championship experience & we expect a tough game. Cardiff City are improving now.
– R. Benitez
I have to say how much I admire him. What’s gone on in the past will not go away, I was disappointed at the time, but that’s gone. I’ve got nothing but admiration for him, to stick with it.
To be relegated and then to stay, he’ll be on a good salary but it’s not money that motivates you at this stage of our career. He wants to win and see the project through. I was surprised he stayed but it shows what he thinks of the club. He was at Real Madrid two years ago, he went down but he stuck with them. It shows it’s a special club.
You’re in football for games like this. 50,000 screaming in black-and-white and lowly Cardiff. David and Goliath. You’ve got to enjoy it, it’s a bonus game. They’ve won seven on the trot but it’s another challenge.
– N. Warnock
Tony Harrington – second Newcastle game of the season for the Cleveland referee. He was in the middle for our 1-0 win at Bristol City.
Given our form, their form, and literally everything else, we surely have to win this game. I’m going to say another goal for Mitro, and Atsu to finally score.
Newcastle 2 – 0 Cardiff
No UK TV coverage.
No overseas TV coverage.
No national radio coverage.
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How do you think we’ll get on in this game? Have your say in our discussion thread.