Fifteen years ago, Newcastle and Blackburn were two of Manchester United’s main Premier League title rivals, although staving off the drop is the primary target for the pair these days, despite Alan Pardew and Steve Kean adamant that they are in charge of top half teams.
The Magpies have certainly enjoyed a bright start and sit fourth in the table after an unbeaten start to the season which includes Carling Cup victories away to Scunthorpe and Nottingham Forest. The best price available about a Newcastle win on Saturday is 10/11 (Ladbrokes – £50 free bets) and they certainly don’t seem to be suffering the loss of Joey Barton or Kevin Nolan at the moment.
Pardew has worked on making the defence a lot stouter and two goals conceded in five matches illustrates what a solid unit the Tyneside club have at the back, although they have found the opposition net on just four occasions. Demba Ba (6/1 Paddy Power – £100 free betting) is still looking for his first Newcastle goal, with Leon Best having managed three and he is a 6/1 chance to break the deadlock.
Blackburn arrive brimming with confidence after twice coming from behind to beat Arsenal last weekend, thus easing the pressure on manager Steve Kean who had been the subject of supporter protest before the match.
Perhaps Rovers aren’t as unlikely to win as the odds would suggest and Betfred’s 4/1 does look too big for a team that won at St James’ Park last season and should probably have more than four points on the board right now. Yakubu was the man of the moment against the Gunners and the Nigerian could be a difficult customer for the Newcastle defence to handle.