Blackburn v Newcastle preview
Rivals go into Ewood Park clash in poor form
By Steve Pass. Last Updated: 30/11/07 11:01am
Allardyce: Under pressure
Both teams go into this clash at Ewood Park in poor form, having failed to win in any of their last four league games.
Blackburn have drawn twice in that run, while Newcastle only once, and both suffered heavy home defeats in their last game - Blackburn going down 4-0 to Villa on Wednesday, and Newcastle losing 3-0 to Liverpool on Saturday.
The poor runs mean Blackburn have dropped to 9th in the Premier League with 23 points from their opening 14 games, while the Magpies are languishing in 11th place, with 18 points from their first 13 games.
Despite this poor run, Blackburn's start to the season still remains their best since 1997-98, when they had 27 points by the same stage and went on to finish sixth in the league.
Mark Hughes will be the far happier manager than counterpart Sam Allardyce, who is now under-pressure after a bright start to his reign as Newcastle boss.
Some of the Magpies faithful have turned on Big Sam after the last two performances at St James' Park - the 3-0 loss to Liverpool, preceded by the 4-1 defeat by Portsmouth.
To lift the pressure, Allardyce will be hoping for a similar result to the one in the corresponding fixture last season, when the Magpies won 3-1 at Ewood Park, thanks to a brace from Obafemi Martins and goal from Steven Taylor, while Morten Gamst Pederson replied for Blackburn.
Big Sam is hoping Abdoulaye Faye will return for the game, as well as last season's goalscorer Taylor.
But star striker Michael Owen will still be out, despite returning to training this week, as will Damien Duff, who is back in light training after undergoing operations on his foot.
For Rovers, skipper Ryan Nelson will be suspended after his red card against Villa in midweek.
Benni McCarthy and Roque Santa Cruz are likely to lead the line after returning in the Villa game, while Robbie Savage could feature after making the bench for the Villa match following knee surgery.
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