Eeh By Gum It’s FA Cup Time! Newcastle vs Blackburn preview

Posted on January 6th, 2012 | 35 Comments |

Blackburn Rovers fans.
Blackpudding Rovers fans: Up for t'cup on Satda!
Newcastle United will begin life without striker Demba Ba and midfielder Cheick Tiote in the FA Cup third round clash with Blackburn Rovers. Both are off to represent their countries (Senegal and The Ivory Coast) in the African Cup Of Nations.

But would either of them have been selected anyway even if they had been available?

The third round of the FA Cup used to be something which was seen as a major event in the English football calendar. Not only did it throw up the exciting possibility of a big club being drawn against a minnow, but for the bigger clubs it represented the first step in what could just possibly be a money-spinning path to the FA Cup Final – a fantastic day out in the full glare of the media, with all of the pomp, ceremony, posh new suits and possible glory that it throws up.

Sadly, times are changing and the romance of the FA Cup is changing with it – perhaps even sliding the same way that the League Cup has gone. Money is king in the modern game and some clubs are taking a different approach to the competition. As a result, we have seen teams shying away from fielding their best line-ups for fear of the extra injury risk to key players. For Premier League clubs, the difference in TV pay-outs attached to end of season league positions means that the risks are assessed more keenly.

Teams fighting relegation are in a particularly challenging situation, and often take the view that league matches have to be the priority. Which brings us nicely to Blackburn Rovers.

The Blackburn Perspective

We’ve all seen the mess that Blackburn have been in for quite a while now. Leaving aside the recent upwards blip against Manchester United, they’re in serious trouble and there exists what seems to be open warfare between, on the one hand, the Blackburn fans and on the other, the club’s owners (Venkys) and the Manager (Steve Kean). Kean, to his credit, has conducted himself professionally and with dignity in the face of some disgraceful personal abuse, for which the perpetrators should hang their heads in shame.

This match presents a difficult choice for Blackburn Rovers. If you were Steve Kean faced with a cup tie against Newcastle United, what would you do? Welcome the Cup tie with open arms and hope for a run to lift both the fans and the team? Or stick firmly with the view that the Premier League has to be the priority and the FA Cup is about as welcome as a hole in the head? Birmingham City won the Carling Cup last season but were relegated. Did the cup run lift them in their fight against relegation? Apparently not.

The United Perspective

Newcastle United on the other hand have a different decision to make. We’re not going to win the Premier League and it’s become extremely unlikely that we’re going to be relegated – with only 7 more points needed to reach the 40 point mark usually regarded as good enough. The League Cup came and went, by coincidence also against Blackburn – losing in strange circumstances last October. There’s an outside chance we may qualify for Europe if we do well enough in the 18 games we have left to play, but why not have a really good go in the FA Cup – where we might only have to win 5 or 6 games? Our squad is, as we know, thin in parts – an injury to Fabricio Coloccini for example would be a devastating blow, but on the other hand, this squad has proven this season that it’s the “best of the rest” outside the top 5 or 6 and may just be on the threshold of being a very good side – and some sensible dealing in the January transfer window could equip us with the extra players we need to achieve that. It would only take a small change in stance from our illustrious owner to perhaps make something special happen here.

Many of us are resigned to the notion that Mike Ashley sees the club as two things. A money making cash cow – milk the fanbase, buy players cheap, sell them for a profit, trouser the proceeds; and also as a vehicle with which to advertise his Sports Direct business. But in football, nothing sells better than success and maybe Ashley should think carefully about what winning the FA Cup, for example, would mean for him in business and publicity terms.

Yes I did say winning the FA Cup – and why not? Certainly United are off to a good start, this is the first time we’ve been drawn at home in the 3rd Round of the FA Cup for 5 years – the omens are good, including that win against the reigning Premier League champions what’s-their-names the other night!

Fans Perspective

Irrespective of the view that some clubs now seem to take of the FA Cup, there is no doubt that we, the fans, still get excited about it. Those of us who were lucky enough to be part of the great cup runs and visits to the Wembley/Millenium stadiums in the fairly recent past know that it’s such a special event which provides excitement and memories to last a lifetime. I would love it, just love it if we beat Blackburn and then went all the way!

In bullish mood, can I just say that The Fourth Round draw is on ITV1 at around 5.30pm on Sunday January 8th and should an unlikely replay with Blackburn be required, it would probably take place on Wednesday January 18th.

Statistically Speaking

As some of you already know, I don’t take too much notice of past statistics. Certainly, the further back they go, the less relevant they are in my book. Different players on different occasions. Anyway, here’s what I’ve managed to pull together!

Blackburn Rovers have won the FA Cup six times, although the first 5 of these were in the late 1800s and the sixth time was 1928.

In the FA Cup we’ve had a few tussles over the years. The last time we met in the competition was in January 2000 when we won at Ewood Park in the 5th Round. That was the year we lost to Chelsea in the semi-finals and somebody sat on me flag and broke it.

A more worrying statistic is that Rovers have a canny record at St James’ Park (did you see what I did there?) having won six times in their last ten Premier League visits here.

United Team News

The game will come too soon for midfielder Danny Guthrie, who is expected to return to training after a groin injury on Monday, while Peter Lovenkrands (calf), Steven Taylor (Achilles) and Sylvain Marveaux (groin) remain on the sidelines. At the time of writing this, there are also question marks over Cabaye and Ryan Taylor who picked up knocks in our glorious victory over Manchester United.

United (Likely squad): Tim Krul (G), Elliot (G), Steve Harper (G), Danny Simpson, Ryan Taylor, Davide Santon, Shane Ferguson, James Perch, Fabricio Coloccini, Mike Williamson, Tamas Kadar, Yohan Cabaye, Gabriel Obertan, Hatem Ben Arfa, Jonas Gutierrez, Sammy Ameobi, Dan Gosling, Mehdi Abeid, Haris Vuckic, Leon Best, Shola Ameobi.

Alan Pardew will need to decide whether this is an opportunity to give Hatem Ben Arfa a chance from the start up front or possibly in midfield. He’ll probably go with the familiar 4-4-2 formation with Shola Ameobi as the new Demba Ba.

Blackburn Rovers Team News

Blackburn have been plagued with injuries this season.

Gael Givet could be set to make his first start since being substituted at Sunderland last month with heart problems. He has since recovered from a minor procedure to correct the problem and played the final 20 minutes of Monday’s home defeat to Stoke City.

Martin Olsson is set to return to Rovers’ starting line-up for the first time in two months. Steve Kean: “Martin has trained all week and this is a great opportunity for him to get back in senior action”

Manager Steve Kean will also assess hamstring victims Martin Olsson and Junior Hoilett, who scored in the league visit to St. James’ Park earlier this season, which United won 3-1. Blackburn are also likely to be without Paul Robinson, Ryan Nelsen, Vincenzo Grella and Scott Dann.

Blackburn Rovers (Likely Squad): Mark Bunn (G), Christopher Samba, Jason Lowe, Grant Hanley, Gaël Givet, Steven N’Zonzi, Rubén Rochina, Morten Gamst Pedersen, Morten Gamst Pedersen, David Dunn, Junior Hoilett, Martin Olsson, Yakubu, David Goodwillie, Mauro Formica, Jason Roberts, Simon Vukcevic, Jordan Slew, Nick Blackman, Adam Henley, Josh Morris, Jake Kean.


I expect United to win this one at the first attempt. Going for 3-1.

NUFCBlog Author: UTD111 UTD111 has written 59 articles on this blog.

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35 Responses

  1. Another great match preview UTD111, it really seems to be your forte – though the other ones are great too!

    This one was quite thought provoking too.

  2. TOONARMYELITE, I’ve changed your link from the Newsnow redirect to the real one as you can’t click back from redirects once you’ve read them.

    Who’s a red faced twonk anyway, ‘Arry ‘Otspur?

  3. Newcastle have been linked with Juventus striker Vincenzo Iaquinta and even a loan return for Andy Carroll who joined Liverpool in a bank-busting £35 million deal a year ago. But, given Pardew’s recent success in the French market, a move for Montpellier striker Olivier Giroud could be the most likely. The Magpies have also been heavily linked with West Ham defender James Tomkins after Steven Taylor was ruled out for the rest of the season through injury.

    January 6, 2012 at 7:43 pm

    “aye not noticed his face lmao always looks like hes about to explode”

    Aye, your reet Toonarmy, not as red as Fergie’s nose mind! Like alot of people, I always think of Droopy the dog when I see ‘Arry.

  5. A good cup run is a thought but only that. I remember how much good it did for the Smogton-by-the-seaside-ers who reached the final but got relegated, not that we are going to mind. I think the Blackburn game has come at an ideal time, as you say Alan P wont be fielding too many first teamers, and it gives him a chance to run out the likes of Abeid and HBA so they are ready for the league matches to come. Dont get me wrong, I remember watching the FA cup when I was little on what was virtually the only colour set in the town and it was like a party, we were there hours before kick off for Arsenal v Liverpool and it was THE big occasion. Great days, sadly gone now. Jeff Stelling has been saying how we aren’t going to do much in the league anyways, so we should push for a trophy but thats setting our sights too low I think. Europe is where the cash is and the half-ton sweatpant hawker knows that well. The big problem with cup runs in this age is its exhausting for those teams who have a thin squad. In other words, us. Go for silver but stay on the top places track no matter what.

  6. Qwerty says:
    January 6, 2012 at 7:54 pm

    “Newcastle have been linked with Juventus striker Vincenzo Iaquinta and even a loan return for Andy Carroll who joined Liverpool in a bank-busting £35 million deal a year ago.”

    I really don’t think that Liverpool are gannin’ to lend us Andy Carroll after the Llambiasgate tapes Qwerty!

    “No – he’s worth f*** all.”

    “It is about control. We had the control. We knew the Torres deal was there. We drew that f****** deal, perhaps the ultimate.”

    “So £30m? F*** off! Don’t waste my time and I slammed the phone down.

    “£35m? Everybody including Pardew all agreed.

    “But the £35m they wanted to pay over four years. It was rubbish. Mike (Ashley) said — and he is a brave boy Mike I promise you — get all the £35m up front.

    “We got it all up front and then they never paid us on time and we charged them 12 grand f****** interest.”

  7. Great work UTD111,
    i agree with worky, you rock at this particular discipline mate.

    I wish i could get bothered about the fa cup, but i just can’t anymore.
    Obviously, as it gets closer to the final & we’re still in it , it gets more exciting, but only the last couple of games.

  8. Will be interesting to see the lineup, and see if AP was just completely bs’ing us about the cups. I know what my guess is. Another follow-up to “we’re pushing on with what we got” that will never be answered. “If you’re serious about going deep into the cup, don’t you need to score goals to do that?”

  9. Hundreds of storys about Spurs and Ba’s release clause out there atm. Any guesses how much it would be?

  10. maze202 says:
    January 6, 2012 at 10:58 pm

    “Hundreds of storys about Spurs and Ba’s release clause out there atm. Any guesses how much it would be?”

    ‘Arry Redknapp’s been blabbing about it maze:

    He said:

    “Demba Ba’s done great, hasn’t he, everybody’s looking at him suddenly,”

    “Anybody could have had him a year ago. Full credit to Alan Pardew, he took him.

    “He’s done a fantastic job. What a strike-rate he’s got. He’s probably the most in-form striker anywhere at the moment.”

    And in a move which is likely to anger his counter-part Alan Pardew, Redknapp suggested Ba has a release clause in his deal.

    “They say there’s a release clause in his contract, that’s what we all hear.”

    “He’s certainly done well and it will be interesting to see what happens there, but at the moment he’s doing great things for Newcastle.”

    “He’s off to play in the African Cup of Nations so he’s going to be away for a month or so, so that’s a difficult one.

    “At the moment Newcastle have got him and I’m sure Alan wants to keep him. He’d be disappointed if he had to lose him. He’d be difficult to replace.

    There are rumours that the release clause is £10 million, but I think that was the Daily Fail so you can’t rely on that.

  11. As for Europa league. There is only one place in the league for that, 5th. One place for the league cup and one place for the ra cup. So extra places in the Europa league entirely depend on who wins the cups, who are in the final and who end the year in the top 4. If both finals are contested by clubs finishing in the top 4 then 6th and 7th place in the league will get us into Europe. Alternatively a FA final with a top 4 team should also get us into Europe. So at this moment in time its all to play for. Although the fa cup might not be as golden as it was it does pave they way for mike to clamber on free advertisement across Europe. So I can see AP taking the cup very serious. Who knows if either man u or city or both get to the Europa final 8th place in the league might be good enough. But all the same if we @ Newcastle united fc @ st. James park @ the strawberry @ sports redirect are nothing but a marketing tool then with advertising and naming rights in favour of the sports typhoon. Then this season will be one to build on. I wouldn’t be surprised if we made a good push for either a top 4 spot or a cup final this year. Ashley is recruiting for European staff already. If you look at the direct website under the jobs tab his European steps are marked out.

  12. Igor up to his old skanky transfer wheeler dealing shenanigans again.
    Oily auld get.


  13. CLiNT FLiCK says:
    January 6, 2012 at 11:29 pm

    “Igor up to his old skanky transfer wheeler dealing shenanigans again.
    Oily auld get.”

    Clint, leave poor ‘Arry alone and don’t be so mean! The poor man’s got his trial this month. That money was just resting in his account, like Father Ted.

    prophet stephen c says:
    January 6, 2012 at 11:31 pm

    “And yes typhoon as he’s been nowt but a whirlwind since he got here.”

    Stephen, typhoons and whirlwinds tend to blow in, then blow out again.

  14. Sad but true, the FA Cup looks like going the way of the British Heavyweight Championship, the Monte Carlo Rally or the Yorkshire-Lancashire Cricket Match – great events in their day but now for the also rans.

    And the annual England – Scotland game! I bet most fans would have it back.

    When I was a lad my Dad said the the greatest match (60,000+) was Army v Navy (both football & rugby) – it’s still played but the Times appears to be the only paper that reports it.

    Another great match was Oxford-Cambridge at cricket which as considered a first class fixture until the ’60s and all the players going on to sign for their counties.

    But when you rename the 3rd division the 1st division & the 2nd division the Championship everything else is also devalued.

    That’s progress

    And they all had fantastic trophies – not like the cheap ugly jug the PL awards.

  15. A landmark we will miss – Tottenham will soon become the first club to have conceded 1,000 goals in Premier League matches. To date, they have conceded 999 in 752 PL games. The big one will come against Everton (11 Jan), Wolves (14 Jan), Manchester City (22 Jan) or Wigan (31 Jan).
    And Pele could have scored the lot himself!

  16. Aye Worky, a fantastic sight every year on the newsreels showing the mass of drivers racing across the track and leaping in their cars at the start!

  17. I say protect anyone who’s at all injured. We can’t afford to lose the likes of Cabaye or even Raylor right now. Given that the FA cup usually goes to the big dogs anyways and Citeh will probably win the League Cup, there’s an excellent chance that there will be a total of 3 Europa spots available and we have a pretty decent chance of getting one of them. Our squad is too thin (esp w/Ba and Tiote out for a month or so) to be risking starting 11 players on a cup run. If we had more strength in depth, I’d say go for it. But not now. Put out some of the fringe players + HBA and the sturdier starters. Rest the players no could use a rest. Home match against Blackburn is a decent enough opportunity.

  18. Sorry for being thick, but when did they change the rule – I thought the loosing FA Cup finalist qualified if the winner was already in europe by league position?

    Bit of a change from Fairs Cup days when only one club per city entered – I think we qualified a couple of times after finishing 9th !

  19. Supermac says:
    January 7, 2012 at 12:41 am

    “Aye Worky, a fantastic sight every year on the newsreels showing the mass of drivers racing across the track and leaping in their cars at the start!”

    It was a horrific sight sometimes too though Supermac. 80 odd dead and hundreds injured in 1955 and they didn’t even stop the race!

    I’m really into my motor racing but I have very conflicting emotions about those days. To be a racing driver in those days meant that you were as likely to die behind the wheel than not. That’s why I admire drivers from those days far more than the current ones. I get mad when idiots start saying things like Schumacher is the greatest driver ever. Whatever he does, it will never be the same as what drivers like Jim Clark and Fangio did back in those days. Fangio won one out of every two Grand Prix’s he drove. No one else will ever do that.

  20. This stuff about Ba’s alleged release clause. The Daily Mail reckon it’s £10M. Howeer they have also published details of his dodgy leg:

    “There have been long-standing fears over an injury to his right leg that Ba first sustained with Belgian club Mouscron, but he has regained full mobility.
    Surgeons hammered a 25cm nail into his leg as part of the operation to save his career and there were fears he would not be able to play again.”

    Read more:

    So who exactly is going to pay £10M (or more if it’s an auction) for a player with that risk attached to them?

  21. Gotto say, Demba Ba’s finish was top drawer when he put that first one in shearer in his heyday would have been proud of such a finish . The fact that he did it against one of THE best back four defenders in premiership and england player Rio , shows his class !

    However losing him to the africa nations cup is a disaster just when he is now playing at his best we lose him ! We will have difficulty in cover for both him and tiote , this release clause is just a joke !

    We are still a feeder club for others to feed off until we have a board with ambition and a backbone to support the players retentiion and the manager’s ambitions !!

    Watch the jan window with interest up the toon ve blackborn 2-1 hopefully !!

  22. Pot and kettle spring to mind, you critisise Rovers fans for barracking Kean , wah about your treatmnet of Allardyce and Ashley.
    Undelievable Jeff !!

  23. In my defence Max, I never said that we don’t have a vindictive mindless minority too……

    The point in all of this is that there’s a human being at the other end of all the vitriol

  24. UTD111 says:
    January 7, 2012 at 3:13 pm

    “there’s a human being at the other end of all the vitriol”

    Derek Llambias? Human being you say? ;-)

    Seriously, we we like that even with Big Sham? I used to stick up for Joe Kinnear and he didn’t get anything like Steve Kean, especially not at games. Ashley and Llambias are a different kettle of fish entirely.

  25. I was trying to differentiate between the fans who totally disagree and make their feelings known….and erm, the other ones! – who overstep the mark and resort to a degree of personal abuse that simply isn’t acceptable.