Newcastle v Blackburn preview
Magpies put unbeaten record on line against improving Rovers
By Steve Pass. Last Updated: September 23, 2011 3:35pm
Ben Arfa: Could be involved against Rovers after Forest return
Newcastle welcome Blackburn to St James' Park aiming to maintain their unbeaten start to the Premier League campaign.
Alan Pardew's side have taken nine points from their opening five games to sit in fourth place in the fledging top flight table.
While the Magpies have scored only four goals in that run, they have conceded just two to boast the best defensive record in the Premier League.
They go into this game on the back of Tuesday night's 4-3 Carling Cup win at Nottingham Forest, which was preceded with a 1-1 league draw at Aston Villa.
Blackburn also go into this clash full of confidence, having picked up a morale-boosting 4-3 win over Arsenal in the league last time to lift themselves off the foot of the table.
Steve Kean's side then followed it up with a midweek 3-2 win over Leyton Orient in the Carling Cup to make it three games unbeaten in all competitions.
History is also on Blackburn's side - Rovers have won six and lost none of the last seven Premier League matches against the Magpies, while they have won on their last five league visits to St James' Park.
Newcastle midfielder Hatem Ben Arfa could be in line for his first Premier League appearance since October 3 last year.
The France international played 70 minutes of Tuesday night's Carling Cup win at Forest, his first competitive action since breaking his leg in two places, and although manager Pardew does not want to rush him back, he may figure at some point against Rovers.
Striker Shola Ameobi is a doubt with a shoulder problem, while Davide Santon has returned to training after having fluid drained from his knee but will miss out, as will Alan Smith (hamstring), Haris Vuckic (broken hand) and Mike Williamson (broken arm).
For Blackburn, David Goodwillie, Morten Gamst Pedersen and Michel Salgado are all fit for the trip north.
The trio's return means Rover boss Kean has almost a full squad to choose from. Only David Dunn (calf) and Ryan Nelsen (knee) remain sidelined.
Possible starting XIs
Newcastle: Krul, S Taylor, Simpson, Coloccini, R Taylor, Gutierrez, Cabaye, Tiote, Obertan, Best, Ba.
Blackburn: Robinson, Salgado, Samba, Dann, Givet, Formica, Lowe, N'Zonzi, Yakubu, Rochina, Hoilett.
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