Newcastle United host Blackburn Rovers on Saturday as they bid to capitalise on a good start to the 2011/12 Premier League season.
The Magpies sit in fourth place in the table after five games despite having only picked up 2 points out of the last six and they will be keen to get back to winning ways at St James Park. The new found positivity around the club will be gretly welcomed by manager Alan Pardew and owner Mike Ashley both of whom have come in for some fierce criticism over their transfer policy ion recent months.
The departure of first Kevin Nolan and then Joey Barton fuelled the ire of the Toon Army’s – who were already smarting after the sale of Andy Carroll to Liverpool in January – but the acquisition of Yohan Cabaye is proving to be an astute move as he fills in capably in the centre of midfield while Leon Best’s goalscoring form has offset the loss of the £35m man.
Add to that the imminent return – possibly even on Saturday – of the immensely talented Hatem Ben Arfa, the acclimatisation of Sylvain Marveaux and the return from injury of Italy international Davide Santon and the future looks bright for Newcastle.
But Blackburn will be no pushovers. The Lancashire side have won six of the last seven encounters between the side and will be buoyed by their thrilling 4-3 win over Arsenal last weekend. They will also welcome back Morten Gamst Pedersen, Michel Salgado and David Goodwillie to add further strength in the squad.
Shola Ameobi is Newcastle’s only fresh injury doubt ahead of the match.