Newcastle .v. Rovers
St. James' Park
5th May 2007
Europe is still a possibility thanks to last weekends mauling of Charlton but results continue to go against the Rovers, it would appear destiny and fate are transpiring against us.
We have played some tremendous football this season but come undone due to injuries and weak showings against the struggling sides. Indeed for the past two seasons now, had we started a season strongly we would be talking about very different things.
Alas affairs are as they are and we must win again against the Toon army, led by the erm…world superstar that is Michael Owen. He is not the player of old but Rovers must be on their guard as he seems to enjoy scoring against us.
Newcastle is once again unfortunate to be decimated by injuries but if there is one side who can sympathise then it is Rovers. But all emotion aside, Rovers have to win again to keep their meagre hopes of qualification alive.
Newcastle boss Glenn Roeder: 'Newcastle has always been an easy touch for speculation. But it goes straight over the top of my head. I have not given it a second's thought.The only thing I am concentrated on is getting the boys in the right frame of mind to go and win against Blackburn. It has been the toughest season I have ever worked in.'
Blackburn boss Mark Hughes: 'We must obviously win our last three games, but we have to be mindful of the focus on Michael Owen. He hasn't quite got his match awareness back and we can go and quieten the Newcastle crowd down. We were excellent against Charlton last week, and there was a real drive and determination in our play.'
Aaron Mokoena on Europe: "'The league is tight at the moment, but we still have a chance of making Europe. However, if it comes down to playing in the Intertoto then ok because we want to play in Europe next season and we'll do whatever it takes.'
'It has been a long season but we know we have three important games coming, starting tomorrow."
Newcastle United Team News:
Newcastle are once again hit hard be injuries and withdrawals. Two key players and former Rovers stars, Damien Duff and Shay Given are absent. They are joined by Antoine Sibierski, Kieron Dyer and Emre who are all out.
Scott Parker and Nicky Butt are also struggling but are in with an outside chance of making an appearance. Michael Owen and Shola Ameobi are likely to feature with Owen expected to start.
Newcastle from: Harper, Srnicek, Solano, Carr, Babayaro, Taylor, Bramble, Onyewu, Moore, Ramage, Butt, Parker, Milner, Dyer, N'Zogbia, Martins, Owen, Ameobi, Luque, Carroll
Player to watch: Michael Owen
Well all the media eyes will be on Michael Owen. He will be key for Newcastle, but is he ready for first team football? We will have to wait and see in baited breath. If he is then messes Nelsen and co could be in for a busy afternoon. But I have my doubts.
Blackburn Rovers Team News:
There is no David Dunn, which is a shame considering his recent form, and Zurab Khizanishvili.
Other than that Mark Hughes has a full quota. Matt Derbyshire is pushing for a start and Tugay is likely to return from the start.
Rovers from: Friedel, Emerton, Nelsen, Samba, Warnock, Bentley, Mokoena, Pedersen, Roberts, McCarthy, Nonda, Enckelman, Tugay, Henchoz, Derbyshire, Peter, Gallagher.
Player to watch: Matt Derbyshire
It`s unlikely that he will start but whereas all eyes will be on a former England great, he could upstage him and could he be replacing him on the International stage any tie soon? A goal again today would certainly help that case.
Match Facts & Stats
Both clubs are on the verge of Premier League goal scoring milestones. Newcastle need two more to reach 800 goals in the top flight, whereas Rovers need four for 700.
Rovers have won only twice in 25 League and Cup meetings with Newcastle at St James' Park. Both of those have been 0-1, and have come in the last three visits. Last season a controversial Morten Gamst Pedersen goal piled the pressure on then Newcastle boss Graeme Souness.
Scored in each of the last eight top flight matches, and failed to score in one of the last 10.
Completed 31 top flight matches without a goalless draw, since the 0-0 at Sheffield United on 9 September.
Their Premiership matches have featured 20 penalties - more than any other club (nine for, 11 against).
Martin Atkinson is the man in the middle controlling things. Well maybe.
This will be a tight game but unfortunately it will be the venue that sees Rovers competitive season end as Newcastle will complete their first double of Rovers in Premier League history. They are just one of those sides and despite Rovers` fine form of late Newcastle will be buoyed by Owen`s return and this will prove the deciding factor. Two Owen goals will condemn Rovers to an outside chance of the Intertoto.
Next up is a trip to the dreaded London suburbs to Tottenham